A physics journal that I barely knew existed, called Pattern Recognition in Physics, has survived two volumes (one being a special issue) before being cancelled by the publisher. This has already been discussed by Eli, over at Stoat, and by James Annan. Given that the letter terminating the publication actually says
The journal idea was brought to Copernicus’ attention and was taken rather critically in the beginning, since the designated Editors-in-Chief were mentioned in the context of the debates of climate skeptics.
Eli’s question about how this started in the first place, is probably the one to be asking (assuming anyone is actually that interested in understanding what’s happened). The main reason for the termination of the publication seems to be because the editors of the special issue concluded that
“doubt the continued, even accelerated, warming as claimed by the IPCC project”
which, in my opinion, is a rather embarrassing thing for the editors of a physics journal to be saying. It’s hard to see how anyone who understands basic physics could come to such a conclusion. The letter also says
In addition, the editors selected the referees on a nepotistic basis, which we regard as malpractice in scientific publishing and not in accordance with our publication ethics we expect to be followed by the editors,
which is rather damning. I’ve heard some argue that the field is small and so finding suitable reviewers was difficult. Really? Surely, if this is meant to be a general journal about physics, you could find plenty of people capable of reviewing the papers. Even a special edition that focused on climate science should have had plenty of potential reviewers. Presumably those who argue that the field is small, are actually suggesting that the number of people who likely agree with what the papers say is small – which is not quite the same thing.
Personally, I don’t quite understand the motivation behind a journal about Pattern Recognition in Physics. Firstly, it’s not obvious why pattern recognition is particularly relevant to physics. Physics has a large number of fundamental laws that can be applied in order to understand physical systems. Pattern recognition may play a role, but an entire journal? Also, in cases where it might be relevant, there are plenty of physics journals where one could submit a paper. I guess there’s nothing fundamentally wrong with a new journal (although there are lots, so another doesn’t seem that necessary) but the title makes me think that the subtitle should have been Trying hard not to assume correlation means causation.
Those who published papers in this journal, and who are now making claims of censorship, have a number of sensible options. If they really believe that their work has merit and would stand up to scrutiny, they can submit their papers to a different journal, or they can create a new journal that doesn’t rely on an existing publishing house. It’s not difficult and if the work really has merit, it will be noticed. On the other hand, if they don’t actually have confidence in their work, they can make a big fuss and claim there it’s a conspiracy to prevent their work from being published.