The authors submitted seven "fake" papers to journals, which passed peer review and were accepted for publication, including Hypatia (more on that, below). They frame this, unhelpfully, as about "grievance studies," but that several of the papers did get accepted indicates that the journals in question have seriously flawed standards, to the point where one might wonder whether there is a Wissenschaft there at all.
Here is the fake paper that Hypatia accepted after two referee reports!
Title: When the Joke Is on You: A Feminist Perspective on How Positionality Influences Satire
Richard Baldwin, Ph.D., Gulf Coast State College
Thesis: That academic hoaxes or other forms of satirical or ironic critique of social justice scholarship are unethical, characterized by ignorance and rooted in a desire to preserve privilege.
Purpose: To see if journals will accept an argument that shuts down critiques of social justice scholarship as a lack of engagement and understanding, even if one engages fully and knowledgeably with the ideas to the extent of having a paper on them published in a leading academic journal. (This paper is also to anticipate and show understanding of the feminist epistemological arguments against our project and demonstrate their high estimation in the field by having them accepted in the leading academic journal of feminist philosophy. That is, to criticize our work that way, they have to cite us.)
Selected Reviewer Comments:
“This is a very promising essay and so revisions will be very helpful.” -Reviewer 1, Hypatia
“The paper is well written, accessible and clear, and engages in important scholarship in relevant ways. Given the emphasis on positionality, the argument clearly takes power structures into consideration and emphasizes the voice of marginalized groups, and in this sense can make a contribution to feminist philosophy especially around the topic of social justice pedagogy.” -Reviewer 2, Hypatia
“The topic is an excellent one and would make an excellent contribution to feminist philosophy and be of interest to Hypatia readers.” -Reviewer 2, Hypatia
“Excellent and very timely article! Especially nice connection with pedagogy and activism.” -Reviewer 1, Hypatia (second review)
“I have a couple of personal, very minor comments that I’ll put in below the referee’s praise. I hasten to add that I like your paper very much as well!” -Editor of Hypatia, acceptance letter
The Wall Street Journal article on this hoax has more detail:
One hoax paper, submitted to Hypatia, proposed a teaching method centered on “experiential reparations.” It suggested that professors rate students’ levels of oppression based on race, gender, class and other identity categories. Students deemed “privileged” would be kept from commenting in class, interrupted when they did speak, and “invited” to “sit on the floor” or “to wear (light) chains around their shoulders, wrists or ankles for the duration of the course.” Students who complained would be told that this “educational tool” helps them confront “privileged fragility.”
Hypatia’s two unnamed peer reviewers did not object that the proposed teaching method was abusive. “I like this project very much,” one commented. One wondered how to make privileged students “feel genuinely uncomfortable in ways that are humbling and productive,” but not “so uncomfortable (shame) that they resist with renewed vigor.” Hypatia didn’t accept the paper but said it would consider a revised version. In July it formally accepted another hoax paper, “When the Joke Is on You: A Feminist Perspective on How Positionality Influences Satire”—an argument that humor, satire and hoaxes should only be used in service of social justice, not against it.
Ann Garry, an interim editor of Hypatia, said she was “deeply disappointed” to learn that the papers, which went through double anonymous peer review, may be hoaxes. “Referees put in a great deal of time and effort to write meaningful reviews, and the idea that individuals would submit fraudulent academic material violates many ethical and academic norms,” she said. “It is equally upsetting that the anonymous reviewer comments from that effort were shared with third parties, violating the confidentiality of the peer-review process.” Wiley, Hypatia’s publisher, is investigating in accordance with industrywide ethical guidelines, she said.
Hypatia, whose reputation was already damaged by the misconduct of its Associate Editors and its aftermath, is presumably finished at this point as a journal anyone will want on their CV. The new editor of Hypatia, by the way, is Bonnie Mann (Oregon).
Full details about the submitted articles and the journals that accepted them are available from this information sheet prepared by the perpetrators of the hoax: Download Project Summary and Fact Sheet
(Thanks to many readers for pointers on all this.)