Entries tagged with “publication”.

I’m getting a bit better at updating my website…probably because I have more to update. Specifically, I’ve put up some new work on the publications page. There, you will find:

On the preprints page, I have two new pieces up:

Also be sure to check out the HURDL website. We’ve got new pubs up, and the last member of the lab (Bob Greeley) finally has a bio up!

Since returning to academia in August of 2012, I’ve been pretty swamped. Those who follow this blog, or my twitter feed, know that my rate of posting has been way, way down. It’s not that I got bored with social media, or tired of talking about development, humanitarian assistance, and environmental change. I’ve just been swamped. The transition back to academia took much more out of me than I expected, and I took on far, far too much work. The result – a lot of lost sleep, and a lapsed social media profile in the virtual world, and a lapsed social life in the real world.

One of the things I’ve been working on is getting and organizing enough support around here to do everything I’m supposed to be doing – that means getting grad students and (coming soon) a research associate/postdoc to help out. Well, we’re about 75% of the way there, and if I wait for 100% I’ll probably never get to introduce you all to HURDL…

HURDL is the Humanitarian Response and Development Lab here at the Department of Geography at the University of South Carolina. It’s also a less-than-subtle wink at my previous career in track and field. HURDL is the academic home for me and several (very smart) grad students, and the institution managing about five different workflows for different donors and implementers.  Basically, we are the qualitative/social science research team for a series of different projects that range from policy development to project design and implementation. Sometimes we are doing traditional academic research. Mostly, we do hybrid work that combines primary research with policy and/or implementation needs. I’m not going to go into huge detail here, because we finally have a lab website up. The site includes pages for our personnel, our projects, our lab-related publications, and some media (still under development). We’ll need to put up a news feed and likely a listing of the talks we give in different places.

Have a look around. I think you’ll have a sense of why I’ve been in a social media cave for a while. Luckily, I am surrounded by really smart, dedicated people, and am in a position to add at least one more staff position soon, so I might actually be back on the blog (and sleeping more than 6 hours a night) again soon!

Let us know what you think – this is just a first cut at the page. We’d love suggestions, comments, whatever you have – we want this to be an effective page, and a digital ambassador for our work…

First up on my week up update posts is a re-introduction to my reworked livelihoods approach. As some of you might remember, the formal academic publication laying out the theoretical basis for this approach came out in early 2013. This approach presented in the article is the conceptual foundation for much of the work we are doing in my lab. This pub is now up on my home page, via the link above or through a link on the publications page.

The premise behind this approach, and why I developed it in the first place, is simple. Most livelihoods approaches implicitly assume that the primary motivation for livelihoods decisions is the maximization of some sort of material return on that activity. Unfortunately, in almost all cases this is a massive oversimplification of livelihoods decision-making processes, and in many cases is fundamentally incorrect. Think about the number of livelihoods studies where there are many decisions or behaviors that seem illogical when held up to the logic of material maximization (which would be any good livelihoods study, really). We spend a lot of time trying to explain these decisions away (idiosyncrasy, incomplete information, etc.). But this makes no sense – if you are living on $1.25 a day, and you are illogical or otherwise making decisions against interest, you are likely dead. So there must be a logic behind these decisions, one that we must engage if we are to understand why people do what they do, and if we are to design and implement development interventions that are relevant to the needs of the global poor. My livelihoods approach provides a means of engaging with and explaining these behaviors built on explicit, testable framings of decision-making, locally-appropriate divisions of the population into relevant groupings (i.e. gender, age, class), and the consideration of factors from the local to the global scale.

The article is a straight-ahead academic piece – to be frank, the first half of the article is not that accessible to those without backgrounds in social theory and livelihoods studies. However, the second half of the article is a case study that lays out what the approach allows the user to see and explain, which should be of interest to most everyone who works with livelihoods approaches.

For those who would like a short primer on the approach and what it means in relatively plain English, I’ve put up a “top-line messages” document on the preprints page of my website.

Coming soon is an implementation piece that guides the user through the actual use of the approach. I field-tested the approach in Kaffrine, Senegal with one of my graduate students from May-July 2013. I am about to put the approach to work in a project with the Red Cross in the Zambezi Basin in Zambia next month. In short, this is not just a theoretical pipe dream – it is a real approach that works. In fact, the reason we are working with Red Cross is because Pablo Suarez of Boston University and the Red Cross Climate Centre read the academic piece and immediately grasped what it could do, and then reached out to me to bring me into one of their projects. The implementation piece is already fully drafted, but I am circulating it to a few people in the field to get feedback before I submit it for review or post it to the preprints page. I am hoping to have this up by the end of January.  Once that is out the door, I will look into building a toolkit for those who might be interested in using the approach.

I’m really excited by this approach, and the things that are emerging from it in different places (Mali, Zambia, and Senegal, at the moment). I would love feedback on the concept or its use – I’m not a defensive or possessive person when it comes to ideas, as I think debate and critique tend to make things stronger. The reason I am developing a new livelihoods approach is because the ones we have simply don’t explain the things we need to know, and the other tools of development research that dominate the field at the moment (i.e. RCTs) cannot address the complex, integrative questions that drive outcomes at the community level. So consider all of this a first draft, one that you can help bring to final polished form!

So, some of you might have wondered where the guy who ground out a lot of longish (too-longish?), wonky blog posts has gone over the past year and a half or so. Well, the transition back to academia was much bumpier than I had anticipated. Funding for research takes time to arrive, as does the support (i.e. skilled labor) necessary to make that research happen. And then there is the fact I teach two classes a semester – and they are not small classes. I just finished my annual reporting for 2013, and because of this exercise I know that I taught 261 students last year. In four courses – one of which was a 12-person graduate seminar, so you do the math on my average undergraduate class size. It’s…not ideal.

I’m also now dealing with a complete reversal of my situation back in 2009-10, when I decided to leave academia for a while and go work at USAID. Back then, I felt completely disconnected from development policy and implementation. I was frustrated and bored. Now, I have a small lab running five different projects, only one of which is “pure” research. But we are not fully staffed yet – we’re about to search for a research associate to take up some of the load – and the result has been a lot of nights with less than six hours of sleep. This is hard, but as I remind people, it beats being ignored.

So, until about a week ago, I simply could not get my head above water long enough to blog. I think that is going to change over the next few months, as we get things under control in the lab. So, for that small but dedicated fanbase of the longish, wonky development blog posts, soon you will have more to read.

In the meantime, I’ve finally updated my personal homepage. There are new publications up, new preprints up, and a new mission statement on the home page. This week, I will walk you through these new pubs and ideas. I’m also at work on a new lab page. This will introduce you to a new cast of characters, and a new set of projects, that should keep things interesting around here for a while. I’m not yet sure about the relationship between the lab and this blog – I have to work that out. But the lab will have a twitter account, likely an Instagram account (we’re going to be going a lot of places), and the web page will have project-related videos. It should be pretty cool.

Thanks for bearing with me over the past year and a half. Watch this space – it should get interesting.

A recent article in the Chronicle of Higher Education notes that Elsevier, the Dutch academic publishing giant, has started issuing takedown orders to Academia.edu, a social-networking website for academics where many members post .pdf versions of their work for sharing. In fact, I received a notification from Academia.edu yesterday that one of my posted articles had received a takedown notice from Elsevier – it is a piece I am the fourth author on, but I still like the piece and find myself greatly annoyed this happened. On the other hand, it was sort of inevitable – I’ve published a good bit, and a lot of my stuff is available in various forms in various locations, so sooner or later one of those repositories was going to receive a takedown notice.

The Chronicle article is fine – basically, a rehash of the ongoing debate about academic publishing, profit models, and the rights of researchers to disseminate their research findings. But the comments section of the piece is a microcosm of why this debate persists – basically, the commenters sit on two sides: “information should be free and accessible” versus “if you don’t like it, stop signing contracts/publishing with journals that restrict your rights as an author.” This is not helpful – most academics want their work to be free, and we are not idiots when it comes to the contracts we sign when we publish. We sign them BECAUSE WE HAVE TO.

For those who are not academics, let me walk you through the problem. For academics in research-focused universities (and increasingly in teaching-focused institutions) a record of publication is our legitimacy, our standing in our discipline, our leverage for higher salaries or new jobs. And while the pervasiveness of electronic resources and networks have started to change the publishing landscape, as of now there still exists a hierarchy of journals in each discipline. And for most of us, that hierarchy matters – you simply must publish at least some pieces in the top tier of journals if you are to be tenured and promoted, and if you are to be taken seriously within your discipline. This is institutional reality. And guess who controls nearly all of those journals? For-profit academic publishers like Elsevier.

Let me lay this out in a simple scenario: You are a tenure-track assistant professor, and after a few years of research, data analysis, and writing, you’ve finally gotten a manuscript accepted by one of the very top journals in your field. You NEED this publication to ensure that your tenure file, which will go into review in the coming year, will be reviewed positively. Soon after your notification of the article’s acceptance, you receive the publishing contract from Elsevier/Springer/whoever and it says the usual restrictive things about not posting your own work. You hate this, as it means that those without access to academic libraries and interlibrary loan will likely have to pay $30 or more to access your article – in other words, nobody outside of academia will access or read your work. But if you refuse to sign, the publisher will not publish your manuscript. Here is your dilemma: at this point, do you withdraw the manuscript and send it to a new journal with more liberal author rights? If you do, you are certainly sending it to a lower-ranked journal, and you will have to go through peer review all over again, ensuring that the manuscript will not be accepted or published by the time your tenure file is submitted…which will really hurt your tenure case. Or do you sign the stupid contract because you absolutely must have this publication?

I think everyone reading this knows which way this decision is going to go. So do the publishers. This is why the model persists, people – not because academics are stupid, but because we are trapped in an institutional model that gives us very few degrees of freedom on this issue. It’s also not because academics are greedy. Note that I never talked about money, because academics DO NOT GET PAID FOR THESE ARTICLES. At all.

This is why I argued that a real change in this model will require disciplinary reorientations/reorganizations that recognize a whole new set of publishers/journals as legitimate/important outlets. It is the only way academia can really undermine the for-profit academic publishers and end the practice of restrictive publishing and dissemination contracts, as it would make the boycott/avoidance of such publishers a real possibility within the institutional realities of academia today.

Until disciplines, or at the very least particular institutions that are seen as academic leaders, start to recognize alternative journals or means of publication as legitimate outputs that will facilitate a path to tenure and promotion, we will be having the same conversations about academic publishing. Of course, there is one other possible lever that I have raised before – the White House could issue an executive directive reorganizing federally-funded research such that copyright does not attach. Federal employees currently publish in academic journals without transferring copyright (in these situations, there is no copyright to transfer to a journal), so there is a model in place for this. In the end, this makes a great deal of sense no matter how you feel about academic publishing, as these publications represent findings that were obtained via the expenditure of public money, so allowing private profit from such “public goods” is pretty perverse.

The White House appears to have considered this, but there has been little recent noise on this front – perhaps because of major exertions by the publishers to neuter this effort. My guess is that the decision-makers in the White House don’t really understand academic publishing and the institutional structures that maintain it (as opposed to OSTP, which is staffed with people who do, but serve in a mostly advisory capacity to the decision-makers). If they did, they would realize that most arguments for the persistence of exclusive publishing rights with for-profit academic publishers in the era of the Internet make no sense at all. It’s harder for an industry lobby to win an argument when those they are lobbying actually understand the rules of the game…

So, a while back I decided to talk about how I negotiate peer review, semi-liveblogging my response to a revise and resubmit request from a pretty big development journal (see part 1, part 2 and part 3).  Well, I now have a response to my resubmission . . .

No.  To quote: “after much deliberation, the editors have reached a rather difficult decision. [The editors] feel that they cannot accept your revised paper.”

Yep, I have gone from revise and resubmit to outright reject.  This is . . . unusual, to be honest. More unusual, however, is the rationale for the rejection.  To quote from the decision:

What makes this difficult is that [the editors] recognize that you have in fact taken account of what the referees said, and have tried to accommodate their comments, but the editors feel that what has emerged from the revision process is not an appropriate paper for Development and Change.

Translation: you did what we asked, and addressed the referee comments, but in doing so you ended up with a paper that we think belongs at another journal.  Well, fair enough, this happens.  But why it is not appropriate is a little odd:

While they still believe that there is an interesting idea at the core of your paper, they don’t feel that the revisions have solved the initial problems, and they are not convinced that further rounds of revision would be any more successful. The intended contribution of the paper appears to be theoretical, but the paper hasn’t managed to work out that contribution in a way that will be accessible / comprehensible to our readers.

Soooo . . . I have an interesting paper, but the editors more or less think their readership can’t deal with the complexity of the argument.  [Note: I am disregarding the assessment that my revisons have not solved the initial problems, since they already have said that I took account of the referees’ issues – this is a contradiction I am just going to leave aside. That, and they did not show me any reviewer comments, so I have no idea what I did not resolve]  One of my colleagues has called this the oddest rejection he has ever seen.

Now, I want to be clear – the folks at the journal with whom I interacted throughout this process were very responsive and polite, and were kind even in their rejection (they were quite apologetic, actually).  I would submit to this journal again, though I admit to wondering exactly what aspect of my work might fit here, as I am confused by what they believe the capacity of their readers to be.

This, folks, is the nature of peer review – sometimes, you just have no idea what happened.  I am not privy to the internal conversations of the editorial board, and will not pretend to know exactly what happened here.  What makes this hard is that I did not receive any substantive comments on this second round of review, so I have no guidance at all on edits.  I am rereading the paper, adding a citation I had missed earlier, and making minor tweaks to the argument (the article I missed before actually strengthens the case for what I am doing in the manuscript).  I’ve sent it off to a trusted senior colleague to have a look, and to see where he thinks it might go next.  I will probably sound out the next editor in advance, just to make sure that s/he thinks the paper is appropriate before starting a long review process again . . .

Two years and counting, folks, since my initial submission.

Any editors out there interested?  Anybody?

Earlier this week, Linda Raftree pointed me to this article, which references another article that calls blogging without tenure “an extreme sport” because of the risks involved.  It is a little hard for me to comment on this specifically, as I did not start blogging until after I had tenure – not because I was afraid of blogging, but because it never occurred to me to blog before then (basically, my agent and my publisher pushed me to blog to promote my book).  I did plenty of “public sphere” writing, such as op-eds in The State (Columbia, SC).  Hell, right before I went up for tenure I published one titled “Governor’s energy report has no clothes.”  I walked into my chair’s office the day it was published, and he shook his head and said “not exactly keeping your head down, are you?”  The op-ed had no impact on my tenure at all.  In most cases, neither will blogging.

I think most academics are far too timid when it comes to public expression.  They fear reprisals against their careers, but rarely seem to be able to articulate where such reprisals might come from or how they might actually create harm.  I am sure there are indeed cases of highly dysfunctional situations where individual’s careers might be harmed by the public expression of their views on a given subject within their expertise, but such situations are volatile for many reasons and blogging is unlikely to ever be the cause of career problems.  In fact, I am convinced that there is far more upside to blogging than there might ever be a downside.  On the upside:

1) As I recently noted, my blog and twitter accounts appear to have done a great deal to spread my work around, and to get that work used (at least by other writers).  Find me a department that will complain about your rapidly rising citation counts.

2) You will develop a whole new community of colleagues, and they will bring new ideas and perspectives that you simply cannot get talking to people in your department, or even in your discipline.  These ideas and perspectives can be challenging, but if you can harness them, they can carry your thinking to new and innovative places.

3) When you develop a public persona, you can build a degree of freedom from problematic situations in your home institution.  You can cultivate a community in which there might be several people interested in giving you a job.  Further, universities love publicly-visible faculty, because they are easy to point to when someone asks what the faculty contribute to the larger society (and yes, this does get asked often).

4) You practice speaking in multiple registers: we all write academic articles, and if you are on the tenure track I hope you’ve figured that process out.  But do you know how to engage the person on the street?  Taxpayers fund a lot of research, and explaining to them why they should be happy they are funding yours is a worthwhile skill.  You can’t do that through a journal article, or in the language of your discipline.

On the downside:

1) Bill Easterly said it best: the blog is a hungry mouth.  It can be hard to keep up with posting, especially when you have a bunch of other stuff going on during the semester.

2) You will be exposed to griefers – the internet is a harsh place.  People will say nasty things about you and your ideas.  If you are fragile, do not try this at home.

Anyway, these are just my quick thoughts on blogging and academia, and I am sure my thoughts are incomplete and others will have something to add.  Indeed, you should check out Marc Bellemare’s recent post on things he has learned as an untenured blogger.  Speaking for myself, though, I have not regretted blogging at all, and aside from sometimes being exhausted after finishing a post, I have yet to see a serious drawback from doing so – but the benefits have been remarkable.


Following on my previous post, another thought that springs from personal experience and its convergence with someone’s research.  If you look at my Google Scholar profile, you will note that in 2011 my citation counts exploded (by social science standards, mind you – in the qualitative social sciences an article with 50 citations or more is pretty huge).  Now, part of this is probably a product of my academic maturation – a number of articles now getting attention have been around for 3-4 years, which is about how long it takes for things to work their way into the literature.  However, I’ve also seen a surge in a few older pieces that had previously plateaued in terms of citations.  This can’t be attributed to a new surge in interest in a particular topic, as these articles cross a range of development issues.  However, they all seem to be surging since I got on Twitter and joined the blogosphere.  Bascially, it seems a new circle (circles?) of interested folks now has access to my work and ideas, and the result is that my work is finding its way into a new set of venues/disciplines that it might otherwise not have reached.  It is hard to be sure about this, as my 18 months on the blog and 1 year on twitter are just at the edges of how long it takes to get an article written, submitted, accepted and published, but clearly something is happening here . . .

This seems to be borne out by some work done by Gunther Eysenbach examining the relationship between tweets (references to a paper on twitter) and the level of citation that paper eventually enjoyed.  Eysenbach found that “highly tweeted” papers tended to become highly cited papers, though the study was quite preliminary (h/t to Martin Fenner at Gobbledygook.  You can find links to Eysenbach’s paper and Martin’s thoughts on it here).  This makes sense to me – but it requires a bit more study.  I like what Fenner and his colleagues are trying to do now, capturing the type of reference made in the tweet (supporting/agreeing, discussing, disagreeing, etc.).  Frankly, references in general should be subject to such scrutiny.  As one of my colleagues once said, if citation counts are all that matter we should write the worst paper ever on a subject, jam it into some journal that did not know better, publicize it and wait for the piles of angry negative citations to pile in . . . only we just have to count the citations, not admit that we are being cited because people hate us!

The altmetrics movement is starting to take off in academia (see, for example, this very cool discussion) I have not yet seen any discussion, though, of what social media might do to journal prestige.  While there will always be flagship journals to which disciplines full of tenure-track faculty will bow, once tenure is achieved this sort of homage becomes less important.  Given what I am seeing with regard to my citations right now, my desire to have my work have impact beyond my discipline and the academy, and my concerns for the policing effect of peer review (which emerges most acutely in flagship journals – see my posts here and here), why should I struggle to get my work into a flagship journal when I can get a quick turnaround and publication in a smaller journal, still have the stamp of peer review on the piece, and then promote it via social media to a crowd more than willing to have a look?  If I (or anyone else) can drive citations through mild self-promotion via social media, does the journal it is published in really matter that much?  I wonder what sort of effect this might have on the structure of publishing now – will flagship journals have to become more nimble and responsive, or will they soldier on without changes?  Will smaller journals sense this opportunity and move into this gap?  Will my colleagues embrace the rising influence of social media on academic practice?

Does any of this matter?  Not really.  If the emerging studies on social media and citation are correct, and my trends are sustainable, then one day I will be one of the “important” folks with a lot of citations . . . and I will be training my students to engage in conventional and non-conventional ways.  I will not be the only one.  Those of us who engage with social media, and train our students to do so, will eventually win this race.  Change is coming to academia, but the nature and importance of that change remain up in the air . . .

Been a while . . . been busy.  And yes, I stole that post title from Ralph Nader . . .

As those who follow this blog know, one of my big concerns is with the walls that academia is building around itself through practices like the current incarnation of peer review in specialist journals. It’s not that I have a problem with peer review at all – I think it is an important tool through which we improve and vet academic work. Anything that survives peer review is by and large more reliable than an unvetted website (like this one, for example).

But the practice of peer review in contemporary academia has turned really problematic. Most respected journals are more expensive than ever, making access to them the near-sole province of academics with access to libraries willing to purchase such journals. The pressure to publish increases all the time, both in rising demands on individual researchers (my requirements for tenure were much tougher than most requirements from a generation before) and in terms of an ever-expanding academic community. The proliferation of published work that has emerged from these two trends has not really improved the quality of information or the pace of advances – there is still a lot of good work out there, but it is harder and harder to find in an ever-growing pile of average and even not-so-good work. And I have found peer review to often function as a means of policing new ideas, slowing the flow of innovative ideas into academia not because the ideas are unsupported, but because these ideas and findings run contrary to previously-accepted ideas upon which many reviewers might have done their work. This byzantine politics of peer review is not well-understood by those outside the academic tent, and does little to improve our public image.

So I am wondering where the tipping point is that might bring about something new. Social media is nice, but it is not peer-reviewed. I tend to think about it as advertizing that points me to useful content, but not as content itself (I have a post on this coming next). I still want peer-review, or something like it. So, a modest proposal: senior colleagues of mine in Geography – yes, those of you who are full professors at the top of the profession, who have nothing to lose from a change in the status quo at this point – who will get together and identify a couple of open-access, very low-cost journals and more or less pronounce them valid (probably in part by blessing them with a few of your own papers to start). Don’t pick the ones that want to charge $1500 in publishing fees – those are absurd. But pick something different . . .

This, I think, is all it would take to start a real movement in my discipline – admittedly, a small discipline, so maybe easier to move. Just making our publications open to all is a tiny first step, but an important one – once a wider community has access to our ideas, they can respond and prompt us for new ones. Collaborations can emerge that should have emerged long ago. Colleagues (and research subjects) in the Global South will be able to read what is written about their environments, economies and homes, improving our responsiveness to those with whom, and hopefully for whom, we work. First steps can be catalytic . . .

Remember the article on livelihoods I referenced in my last post?  The one that has been through 13-odd reviewers over the past 6 months?  Well, it came back this morning with that least satisfying of responses: revise and resubmit.  The reviewers disagreed on the strengths and weaknesses of the paper, but all of them wanted at least some small changes.

Now, this is hardly the first time I’ve had to deal with this.  Happens all the time.  But this review, like a number of others I have encountered in my career, highlights for me the need for strong editors at journals.  The email from the journal read, in part:

By the time of [the editorial board] meeting, we had received the reports of the external referees. You will find copies of their comments in the attached document. The editors feel that the referees have raised some important points and highlighted some shortcomings in the paper, which would need to be addressed through a round of revisions before we could proceed further. Please note that the editors are forwarding these comments as you might find them helpful; individual comments do not necessarily represent the views of the editors, or a consensus regarding the direction of any possible revision. [my emphasis].

Well, that’s just super.  It amounts to “here are some comments, which might or might not be relevant. Good luck!”  This gives the author nothing to work from, especially when some of the comments are contradictory.

So, a quick lesson for all of you budding academics out there.  Letters like this require a response asking for clarification.  I hammered out an email requesting a conversation with the editor.  Yes, that’s right, you can talk to the editors!  My first paragraph:

Thank you for forwarding the reviewer comments on my paper (Manuscript ID DECH-11-094 entitled “Livelihoods as Governmentality: Reframing the Logic of Livelihoods for Development”).  I appreciate the time and effort the reviewers put into the paper, and the consideration the editorial board has given my submission.  I would very much like to revise and resubmit this paper, but I need a bit of guidance if I am to do so in a productive manner.  Ideally, I would like to talk with the editor in charge of this submission to resolve some of my ideas for revision, and some larger concerns before moving forward.  I have summarized them, in a general sense, below:

(Note that this is polite – always be polite! It’s amazing how many people fail to do this.)

I then wrote 1500 words on what I proposed to do – with great specificity.  I hope to speak directly to the editor myself soon.  That way, I will know how s/he plans to treat the manuscript when they receive revisions, and how s/he views my suggestions – this is huge, as it will tell me what I can and cannot skip in the comments.

Oh, and one of the reviewers was a disaster – did not get the paper, wanted it to be the paper they would have written, etc.  I headed this person off with the following paragraph:

The comments of reviewer 1 are external critique – that is, they demand that the paper be something other than what it is, do not acknowledge the stated goals of the paper, or whether or not the paper achieved those goals.  The reviewer clearly did not engage with the core theory of the paper (for example in arguing the lit review was too confusing and should be cut down), instead demanding it be reframed as a gender analysis (which it is not) with relevance to policy (not the goal of this piece, which is more about foundational theory upon which policy statements might be constructed – policy relevance is also not a criteria for Development and Change).  The reviewer appears to be upset because the paper is not the gender and development paper s/he would have written (incidentally, I already wrote a paper closer to what they wanted and published it in World Development about three years ago – this paper is in part an effort to move past the limitations of that analysis), and instead of looking at the literature I am drawing on, they simply demanded I reframe and cite all the things they think are important.  Generally speaking, I try to take responsibility for moments when the reader becomes confused, treating this as a symptom of unclear writing or thinking on my part – I hope this is clear from my responses to the other reviewers’ comments.  However, the complete disengagement of this review with the paper as it was written, coupled with reviewer 3’s assessment of the paper as well-written, suggests to me that this reviewer’s concerns cannot be addressed without writing a completely different paper – and that paper would not make much of a contribution anymore (something they acknowledge). Suggested edits: none

Yep, you can make the case for the removal of reviewers from a revise and resubmit – especially if they will never approve the paper for what it is.

I’ll keep you posted on progress . . .