Rejection letters, correspondence, and miscellanea from the otherwise empty annals of the Journal of Universal Rejection.

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Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Spotlight on Associate Editor: Karl M. Petruso

Biographical Sketch for Karl M. Petruso, Ph.D.

Dr. Karl M. “Karl” Petruso is a professor of anthropology and recovering archaeologist who has excavated mainly in the Mediterranean—Greece, Egypt and Albania—over the past four decades. He specializes in Bronze Age economics (which is much less complicated than modern economics, what with all those financial collapses, mortgage defaults and so forth).

In his spare time Dr. Petruso is Dean of the Honors College at the University of Texas at Arlington, where he oversees some 600 hyperachieving, very nice undergraduates. He has clocked 21 years in Texas, a state whose citizens’ security will likely soon be enhanced by a law permitting college students to carry concealed firearms on campus. Because, hey, if you have no idea who’s packing heat, you’re likely to be very nice to everybody. (Did Dr. Petruso mention that he really likes his students?)

In addition to writing for the usual dry-as-dirt archaeological journals, Dr. Petruso is the only person he knows who has actually been published—twice, no less—in the Journal of Irreproducible Results. His seminal deconstruction of the stuff university faculty post on their office doors, which appeared in Academe 92 (2006), continues to generate offprint requests that now total in the high single digits.

Dr. Petruso’s hobbies include watching The New Yankee Workshop and The Woodwright’s Shop, programs that make him feel both skilled and productive, and suggest that any beautiful woodworking creation can be completed from scratch in a tidy twenty-four minutes flat.

Full disclosure: Dr. Petruso has himself experienced the sting of rejection. He recently received a breathtakingly insolent response to a manuscript submission from the obtuse editor of a formerly well-respected Chicago-based critical inquiry journal that shall not be named here because Dr. Petruso is, after all, a discreet professional who neither holds a grudge nor wallows in self-pity. In the fullness of time, he might even post that heartless response on the JofUR blog. His Psych Department colleagues advise him that doing so may well bring closure. And healing.

Lately Dr. Petruso has been giving consideration to founding his own academic journal, one that will be rather more collegial than JofUR. Provisionally titled Flying Dutchman, his journal will publish manuscripts in all disciplines so long as they have already been rejected by at least one other peer-reviewed journal (e.g., the JofUR). His business plan predicts that FD will appeal especially to young assistant professors desperate to show their P&T committees that they have something in print or in press. To offset the enormous start-up costs typically faced by scholarly journals, FD will charge a review fee of $50 per typescript page (double-spaced, minimum 12-point font). Every manuscript accepted for publication—that is, every manuscript submitted—will be guaranteed a review decision within 24 hours after the check clears.

But founding yet another academic journal in these economically challenging times is intensely hard work. Dr. Petruso is exhausted just thinking about it. Yes, he believes he will crank up PBS, apply a cool compress to his forehead, and lie down to watch a rerun of “Continuous Arm Rocking Chair, Part 1” before investing any more energy in the endeavor.

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