Demography is a scientific journal that publishes peer-reviewed research on a broad range of topics related to the study of human populations. Part of our intellectual growth as a field is to encourage debate and exchange, and the forum the journal provides for this activity is a Commentary. Commentaries are designed to focus on the scientific issues raised in a published paper and to reflect current conversations in the field.
In the August 2017 issue (Vol. 54, No. 4), we published a paper by Daniel Goodkind on the population averted by China’s birth restrictions. This paper generated a heated reaction from several scholars both in e-mails to the co-editors and in discussions in other forums online and in print. Early in this conversation, and consistent with our philosophy, we welcomed the submission of commentaries, coupled with the opportunity for the author to respond. Further, we waived the typical word-length restrictions that are placed on commentaries published in Demography.
Three commentaries and an author reply were received and are included in this issue of Demography. These commentaries have not been subject to a standard review, but the co-editors and members of the PAA Publications Committee read these materials and strongly urged the authors to focus on the scientific questions about China’s family planning programs.
It is important to note that the commentators raised questions about how this original submission was handled. Given the journal’s double-blind review policy, we can only say that Goodkind’s manuscript was first submitted to Demography in April 2016, was revised to meet the journal’s word-length requirements, and then formally entered into the review system in May 2016. The manuscript underwent the standard review process. This entailed a double-blind review in which three expert reviewers were solicited and provided critical reviews. The paper was revised and resubmitted (October 2016), accepted (January 2017), and ultimately published (August 2017).