The discussion continues between the Editorial Team and Board Members of Building Research & Information (BRI) and the publishers Taylor & Francis (T&F). In response to T&F’s decision to terminate the contract of the Editor-in-Chief, Richard Lorch, the Editorial Team and Board Members wrote an open letter detailing their grave concerns and reasons for their resignation. T&F have responded to this, and the Board have subsequently written an open reply. Both of these documents are copied in full below.
Open letter from BRI Editorial Team and Board Members to Taylor & Francis. Sent Thursday 1st March 2018
Dear Mr Heward-Mills
Thank you for your email of February 22nd 2018. We agree that there is scope for all parties to resume working together, but only if our primary concern that Richard Lorch remains as editor of Building Research and Information is addressed.
We have previously articulated numerous benefits that Taylor & Francis gains by having Richard in this role as well as the potential damage to the journal should it not be the case. With support through the petition for retaining Richard Lorch by the larger international academic and research community already nearly 800 signatures, the serious concerns for his dismissal clearly extend well beyond the Editorial Team and Board members.
We appreciate that you continue to “fully recognise Richard’s contribution as an editor-in-chief of more than twenty years, his on-going standing in the field, and the networks he has built.” However, we find the tone and content of your response disingenuous and dismissive of our primary concerns. In your opening statement you state that you “have read and listened to all of them”, yet the evidence does not support this claim. The earlier form letter you sent in response to editorial board members’ individual letters of concern merely confirmed the fait accompli and the letter to you from the BRI Editorial team on January 15th went unanswered.
There has been no evidence provided about why “rotation” is needed, why a particular fixed length of time is necessary and why Taylor & Francis only works to “the norm”. The evidence and assessments we presented to you – from many individuals and the collective Editorial Board – has been ignored. The decision-making process has not been transparent or justified and certainly not indicative of your willingness or interest in listening to our concerns or advice.
We would consider having representatives from the board meet with you to discuss this concern, and to help find an independent moderator for this meeting. However, before this meeting we need to be clear that the option of Richard remaining as Editor-in-Chief beyond the end of 2018 is on the table. Since we have strenuously defended this position, we are not able to meet to discuss a decision that has already been made unilaterally by the publisher or participate in a selection process for a new editor-in-chief.
We would be willing to meet if constructive progress is made during a meeting between Richard and the publishers to reconsider the termination of his contract. As a positive outcome for all parties, we again put forward a compromise solution of a transition period to at least the end of 2020 with Richard remaining as editor under the same conditions as before.
Dr Wim Bakens, CIB, Netherlands
Professor Gail Brager, University of California, Berkeley, USA
Dr. Sarah Burch , University of Waterloo, Canada
Professor Edwin Chan, Hong Kong Polytechnic University, China
Professor Raymond J Cole, University of British Columbia, Canada
Professor Ian Cooper, Eclipse Research Consults, UK
Dr Robert Crawford, University of Melbourne, Australia
Dr Sarah Darby, University of Oxford, UK
Professor Richard de Dear, University of Sydney, Australia
Dr Michael Donn, Victoria University Wellington, New Zealand
Dr Chrisna du Plessis, University of Pretoria, South Africa
Professor Kirsten Gram-Hanssen, Danish Building Research Institute, Aalborg University, Denmark
Dr Jessica Granderson, Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratories, USA
Professor Guillaume Habert, ETH Zurich, Switzerland
Dr Kathryn Janda, University College London, UK
Professor Charles Kibert, University of Florida, USA
Professor Niklaus Kohler, Karlsruhe Institute of Technology, Germany
Mr Adrian Leaman, Usable Buildings Trust, UK
Dr Mark D Levine, Lawrence Berkeley National Lab, USA
Professor Kevin Lomas, Loughborough University, UK
Professor Robert Lowe, University College London, UK
Professor Thomas Lützkendorf, Karlsruhe Institute of Technology, Germany
Dr Tove Malmqvist, KTH Royal Institute of Technology, Sweden
Professor Daniel Mueller, NTNU, Norway
Professor Shuzo Murakami, Institute for Building Environment and Energy Conservation, Japan
Mr Robin Nicholson CBE, Cullinan Studio, UK
Dr Sarah Outcault, University of California, Davis, USA
Dr Wei Pan, University of Hong Kong, China
Dr Sofie Pelsmakers, Aarhus School of Architecture, Denmark
Professor Bruno Peuportier, Mines ParisTech, France
Professor Gary Pivo, University of Arizona, USA
Mr Rajan Rawal, CEPT University, India
Professor Christoph Reinhart, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, USA
Professor John Robinson, University of Toronto, Canada
Dr Serge Salat, Urban Morphology Institute, France
Professor Kaixun Sha, Shandong Jianzhu University, China
Professor Geoffrey Qiping Shen, Hong Kong Polytechnic University, China
Professor Alan Short, University of Cambridge, UK
Professor Elizabeth Shove, University of Lancaster, UK
Professor Stefan Siedentop, Research Institute for Regional and Urban Development (ILS), Germany
Professor Philip Steadman, University College London, UK
Professor Fionn Stevenson, University of Sheffield, UK
Dr Yolande Strengers, RMIT University, Australia
Professor Henk Visscher, Technical University Delft, The Netherlands
Dr Faye Wade, University of Edinburgh, Scotland, UK
Professor Jennifer Whyte, Imperial College London, UK
Professor Harold Wilhite, University of Oslo, Norway
Professor Yi Jiang, Tsinghua University, China
Letter from Taylor & Francis to BRI Editorial Team and Board Members. Sent Thursday 22nd February 2018
Dear Building Research and Information editorial team and board,
Thank you for your open letter and your on-going messages of support and advocacy for Richard, which we have read and listened to since first raising transitioning the Building Research and Information leadership role to a fixed-term, rotating editor-in-chief position.
We would like to start by saying we very much endorse everything you have said regarding Richard’s work. As we have said in various correspondence and in our face-to-face meetings, we fully recognise Richard’s contribution as an editor-in-chief of more than twenty years, his on-going standing in the field, and the networks he has built.
As discussed with Richard, the practice of fixed-term, rotating journal leadership roles is a growing norm for scholarly journals. Having a time limit on these roles (i.e. journal editor and editor-in-chief) opens up opportunities for a wider variety of people to apply, who may not be able to commit to an open-ended position. However, we also recognise and acknowledge the upset this is causing the Building Research and Information editorial team and board.
We have been in contact with you via email to invite you to a meeting with the Taylor & Francis team, where we can fully discuss this decision, answer all your questions, and Richard’s on-going involvement on Building Research and Information (including the key Emeritus Editor role offered to him).
We look forward to hearing from you in the next two weeks and to picking up this discussion in person.
Taylor & Francis