Professor Ivan Katchanovski, as you may recall, is the Ukrainian-Canadian academic who’s done all the work on Maidan massacre. Briefly, he argues that the massacre of police and protestors on the Maidan Square in February of 2014 was a false flag operation carried out by the Ukrainian far-right.
To date, Katchanovski has published one paper on the massacre in an academic journal and another in an academic book. He has also presented his work at academic conferences. However, the professor’s latest and most detailed study remains unpublished.
This was about to change, Katchanovski thought in November, when it was accepted for publication at an academic journal. Indeed, the paper was accepted “after minor revision” – which means the reviewers didn’t recommend any fundamental changes.
Yet about ten days later, Katchanovski received an email from the journal informing him that the paper had been rejected – without any further peer review.
Needless to say, this is highly irregular. Once a paper has been accepted, that’s it; there’s no final stage of submission where it can be rejected after having already been accepted.
In fact, the editor was very complimentary. Upon accepting the paper for publication, he (or she) said, “There is no doubt that this paper is exceptional in many ways.” He went on to describe “the evidence” as “solid”, adding that “on this” there is “consensus among the two reviewers”. In other words, both reviewers and the editor found the empirical part convincing.
We know the initial acceptance wasn’t a clerical error. The editor explicitly stated in his message of November 2nd that “I would rather side with referee 2 and suggest that the article is acceptable for publication”, pending some minor changes.
As Katchanovski noted in a Twitter thread, he tried to appeal the decision by soliciting support from a “world-famous scholar”, who described the paper as “very important, rigorous and substantial”. But his efforts were unsuccessful.
Remarkably, the editor then wrote to the journal demanding to know why the paper had been rejected “despite the review and editorial decision in support of publication”. He noted that it was “excellent according to both reviewers”. This suggests that other members of the journal’s editorial board overruled his prior decision.
Katchanovski’s studies are already available for free online, and have been read thousands of times. The only benefit of publishing them in a journal (aside from small improvements thanks to peer reviewers) is to give the papers ‘legitimacy’. Until they’re published in a journal, critics can dismiss them as ‘not peer reviewed’ (even though many of the claims are based on publicly available videos).
What’s absurd about this incident is that the paper did pass peer review; it just got rejected anyway.
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