I am working as an editor for an edited book volume on covid-19.

I have come across a very peculiar chapter submitted by an author. In the chapter, the author discloses a personal incident where the author's father's friend passes away due to covid-19.

I am not sure what to do here i.e. whether to email the author as that paragraph seems very peculiar. Is describing such kind of incident, which I see as highly emotive and personal, allowed in academia for example book chapters or journal papers?

  • What field is this? If this is in social sciences, then I think this type of writing is acceptable. (But social sciences is not my primary field.)
    – JRN
    Jan 12, 2021 at 3:55
  • Is this a qualitative paper with interviews of people about their personal experiences?
    – Dawn
    Jan 12, 2021 at 4:08
  • It also depends on the "cut" of the book. If it is supposed to be used for teaching or as a handbook probably you should remove it.
    – Alchimista
    Jan 12, 2021 at 9:32
  • @JoelReyesNoche yes it is social science. Jan 12, 2021 at 11:56
  • Book chapters and journal papers are very different ... Jan 14, 2021 at 18:06

2 Answers 2


Since you are the editor of the volume, it is you who decides whether it is allowed. There isn’t any codified set of rules specifying whether any given content is allowed or not. That’s exactly one of the things editors are supposed to do - to edit.

Consider whether it makes sense to have such a paragraph in the volume given its topic and purpose. If you think it is appropriate, allow it. If not, don’t. If it is a borderline case, you can raise your concerns with the author and suggest that they change or remove the problematic paragraph, without requiring it outright.

  • 3
    Good answer. I would like to add it that above all, the editor should consider the readers of the book: would they be interested in reading the paragraph or not?
    – Louic
    Jan 12, 2021 at 8:29

There are many fields in which this would not be out of place especially if it is framed as data and then clearly interpreted (qualitative social sciences, in general). Or framed with theory and arguments to draw conclusions (humanities). In the end, you as the editor can decide where the goal posts are - what kind of offering the book is making, where the contribution sits. Then dialogue with the author about the relevance of the paragraph to the chapter.

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