If we are to believe that the poll reflects the opinion of the philosophical community (and it is far from clear to what extent it does), this is arguably the worst possible outcome for those of us who (used to) read, submit to, and referee for Synthese on a regular basis. On the one hand, the journal's reputation seems to have suffered a significant blow and, although it is still hard to assess the extent of the damage, it seems pretty clear that some damage has been done and that there is no clear way to undo it to everyone's satisfaction. On the other hand, before this affair, the journal was almost unanimously considered one of the best-run philosophy journals and it is very likely that, if the EiCs were to resign, the journal would significantly suffer from it and would likely be not as well-run as it used to be for the foreseeable future.*
Having said that, at this point, nothing short of an official public retraction-cum-apology and a full disclosure of the events that led up to this situation would be able to salvage Synthese's reputation and, if a boycott is what it's going to take, then so be it! However, if (and I'm saying 'if') the buck ultimately stops with Springer, then a subscription boycott would be more effective, easier to implement, and fairer (both to the EiCs and to grad student and untenured faculty) than the submission/refereeing boycott that has been suggested so far.
The good people at Springer might want to keep in mind that most university libraries would be very happy to cancel their subscriptions to Synthese at the request of the faculty members who are most likely to use those subscriptions and that, once those subscriptions are cancelled, it would pretty hard to get the libraries to resubscribe, especially given the exorbitant cost of the annual subscription to Synthese (which, I believe, is about 3,000EUR or 4,200USD these days). So, as much as it would pain me to give up electronic access to Synthese, I'm afraid I would have to do so unless (Springer lets) the EiCs issue a statement to be published in print and on the journal website in which the EiCs:
- retract the disclaimer,
- issue a public apology, and
- fully disclose everything that went on (legal threats included).
As far as I am concerned, the ball is now on Springer's court. If you are interested in joining me, please feel free to say so in the comments. (I'd give Springer and the EiCs a month before contacting your library). In the meantime, I'm going to look for the e-mail address of the Reference Librarian for philosophy (in these times of financial austerity she will be delighted to be able to count on $4,200 more a year in her budget!)
* Incidentally, I think that some people (who don't regularly read and submit to Synthese) fail to understand this quandary. They also fail to understand that an academic journal is, in a way, a public good for the academic community that relies on it and that, if the reputation of a journal like Synthese were to be permanently tarnished by this affair, this would not be something in which to rejoice and no one of its regular users (the academic community that relies on it) would be any better off for it. (Of course, one could say 'Who cares? The hell with them!' but the regular users are exactly those whose weight one would like to have behind a boycott campaign. You cannot effectively boycott McDonalds if you have never been a customer of it.) Finally, they also fail to understand that antagonizing the regular users who are sitting on the fence by, more or less explicitly, insinuating that the undecided don't join the protest because of self-interest, cronyism, or bad faith is not only unfair but also counterproductive and divisive.