The president of the International Studies Association said on Wednesday that he would seek a committee’s review of a proposal that would bar editors of the association’s journals from blogging, after that proposal drew widespread criticism from scholars.
The proposal stemmed from a meeting of the association’s executive committee, and is on the agenda for the group’s governing council, which meets the day before the ISA’s annual meeting, in March. Any changes in the ISA’s policies must win the approval of the governing council.
Stephen M. Saideman, a professor at Canada’s Carleton University who is a member of that council, posted the text of the proposal on his blog this week.
A background statement on the proposal said that the ban had been inspired by the association’s “commitment to maintaining and promoting a professional environment at its meetings and other organized activities.” The proposal would change the group’s conduct policy so that it includes the following:
“No editor of any ISA journal or member of any editorial team of an ISA journal can create or actively manage a blog unless it is an official blog of the editor’s journal or the editorial team’s journal.”
The policy, if adopted, would require “either stepping down from any such editorial responsibilities, or removal of affiliation with, and any participation in, external blogs for the duration of ISA editorial duties.”
Harvey Starr, a professor at the University of South Carolina at Columbia who serves as the ISA’s current president, on Wednesday sent an email to the ISA’s executive committee and governing council saying that he planned to suggest that the proposal instead be turned over to the ISA’s Committee on Professional Rights and Responsibilities. The committee’s aim is “to facilitate and promote the professional conduct of all ISA members.”
In that message, Mr. Starr said the goal of the original proposal was “to protect academic freedom while fostering civil discourse and freedom to express valid professional evaluations of the work of others in the contemporary world of social media.” He also cited issues that can arise if people confuse ISA editors’ personal blogs with their journals’ editorial policies.
“Clearly, however, this is a far more complex issue, and your voices have been heard,” he wrote.
The committee’s task would be “to come back in a year with any appropriate recommendations or options,” he added. “As always, this will provide time for all interested and/or affected parties to provide input to the committee in its deliberations on the issue.”