The state of the journal, January 2021

A note from the Co-Editors of Isis, Alexandra Hui and Matthew Lavine.

Like many scholarly journals, Isis has seen its normal rhythms disrupted by the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic and the ensuing economic and political turmoil. After an initial decline in article submissions in the spring of 2020, we received an unusually large number in the second half of the year. 

At the same time, however, there has been a remarkable constriction in the number of available reviewers. In late 2019, nearly 70% of our initial reviewer invitations were accepted. A year later, that rate has fallen to just above 25%. Reviewers who have accepted our invitations to review manuscripts have often needed extra time to complete their reports. The reasons for this decline are as obvious as they are understandable, and the Isis office is moving as quickly as it can to find suitable reviewers for the manuscripts in our pipeline.

We mention this in the interests of transparency: even as we have made an efficient editorial timeline a high priority, we are seeing the time that manuscripts spend under consideration rise as a result.

But we also want to record here, for our collective disciplinary memory, another data point about the profound effects this crisis has had on our institutions, and on our colleagues’ lives.

We are enormously grateful to the authors, reviewers, and readers of Isis, who inspire us with their continued engagement in the life of our discipline under these trying circumstances.