Some Resignations Make Sense

Another possible mass resignation at an Elsevier journal — but this time, the reasons seem right

There have been a few showy editorial board resignations this year, including a memorable one involving two Elsevier journals. I’ve been unsympathetic to these in general, only because the people resigning seem to be posturing and unreasonable.

One recent threatened mass resignation makes more sense.

Peter Lloyd, Editor-in-Chief of the hybrid OA journal Design Studies and a Board member of the Design Research Society (DRS), the society affiliated with the journal, was pushed by his Elsevier executive publisher (Lily Khidr) to drive acceptances up from ~35 per year to 250 or more, a seven-fold increase generated by a desire to drive up prices and secure more APCs.

According to Times Higher Education, Khidr said in a message the low acceptance rate was “a recipe for closure,” a heavy-handed threat.

Design Studies has been around since 1979, and was acquired by Elsevier in 1995 as part of another deal. Its goal is to help readers understand “design activity across all domains of application, including engineering and product design, architectural and urban design, computer artefacts and systems design.”

The impact factor of Design Studies has increased dramatically over the past decade, from 1.3 in 2013 to 3.9 in 2023.