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11/25/2012

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Moti Mizrahi

I wonder if Phil Rev is still considered the top journal in philosophy. And if so, why? Is it just the brand name? Surely, it’s not the editorial practices. According to Andrew Cullison’s journal surveys, Phil Rev takes an average of 5.39 months to get back to authors, most papers don’t receive comments, and the average quality of comments in not high. Also, Phil Rev doesn’t have a manuscript submission system, which allows authors to track the review process, and it doesn’t have an “online first” feature, so it will take an average of 6.16 months for a paper to appear in print. So, from an author’s perspective, I just don’t see why Phil Rev should be considered the top journal in philosophy (other than simply an obsession with a brand name).

Chike Jeffers

Excellent comment, Moti. I have no reasons to defend Phil Rev's perceived place at the top - it is purely this fairly common perception that motivates my desire, for the particular reason I mentioned, not any independent agreement with the perception.

Any thoughts on what journal or journals might, on better grounds than common perception, be taken as occupying the top?

Kenny Pearce

Here at USC, the perception seems to be that Phil. Studies is the best generalist journal for early career researchers to try to get into. My understanding is that this is because it is the most prestigious/selective journal which has good editorial practices, including genuinely double blind review and reasonable turnaround time.

This is just my perception of the general perception here; I haven't taken a survey or anything, nor have I attempted to determine whether this matches the facts about Phil. Studies and other similarly prestigious journals.

I work in history of philosophy, and in history JHP is the holy grail. They have quick turnaround time and good editorial practices, but very few early career people get papers in just because of the unbelievably low accept rate. Also, their quick turnaround time is made possible by the fact that most submissions are rejected without comments. Finally, they like long (>10,000 words) papers, so papers submitted there may not be able to be published elsewhere without significant cuts. All of this makes JHP a pretty tough target.

Moti Mizrahi

Thanks, Chike. I should say that my comment was not meant to challenge you to defend the common perception that Phil Rev is the top journal in philosophy. I was wondering if this perception is nothing more than a relic from a distant past (like the Smoker).

In any case, review time, time to publication, quality comments, and easy electronic submission are more important to me, as an author, than (perceived) prestige. From my experience, AJP, Philosophia, Phil Studies, and Synthese (just to mention "general" journals) are better than Phil Rev when judged based on the aforementioned criteria.

Marcus Arvan

Funny, but I've had nothing but good experiences with Phil Review. Not that they've accepted any of my stuff, mind you, but they've always gotten back to me in around 3-4 months. I've also had excellent experience with Phil Quarterly, who have always gotten back to me in 2-3 months, usually with great comments. For my part, I think the Journal of Ethics and Social Philosophy is an excellent place. Their turnaround time is incredibly fast (usually 1-2 months), they almost always provide good comments, and last but not least, they're open access!

Chike Jeffers

Kenny and Marcus, thank you for your comments and Moti, thanks for your follow-up comment. Kenny and Moti's comments remind me that I should strongly consider Phil Studies as a place to send some of the papers I'm working on or planning to work on in the near future.

Kenny, on history of philosophy: let me say a word in praise of the British Journal for the History of Philosophy, where I've just gotten a paper accepted.

First, some background on the paper: it is about an ancient Egyptian text, which I read as a work in political philosophy. I tried some political philosophy journals without success (we're talking quick rejections). Then I turned to history of philosophy. In a move the advisability of which I go back and forth on, I sent an abstract of the paper to contacts at JHP and Philosophy East and West, asking whether it would be worth my while to submit the paper. (Here was the thought: JHP publishes work on history of Western phil, PE&W on history of Asian phil, but in both cases, that's broadly construed - both publish work on medieval Islamic phil, wherever the thinker(s) in question come from - so it was worth seeing what they'd say about a paper on ancient Egyptian thought.) Both journals said no, don't bother sending the paper.

So, at this point, I'm feeling like working on ancient Egypt has put me geographically between a rock and a hard place... but then I submitted the paper to BJHP and, lo and behold, one month later, a revise-and-resubmit. What was most impressive, though, is the fact that they sent the paper for review to Egyptologists. Here I was, feeling like no one wanted to take ancient Egypt seriously and BJHP sent the paper to people who take ancient Egypt seriously for a living!

Anyway, the paper went through 2 revise-and-resubmits but it has now been accepted, undoubtedly improved given, among other things, the linguistic knowledge of my referees (had I waited until I learned ancient Egyptian to write the paper, it wouldn't have been written). I have a lot of respect for BJHP after this experience.

Kenny, has your experience with them been positive as well, assuming you have submitted there? What are your thoughts on other history of phil journals like HPQ?

Kenny Pearce

I haven't submitted to BJHP before, but I know something about their review process, and I likewise have a very positive impression. SOME of the stuff they publish is just as good as anything in JHP, but they are much less selective than JHP, so as a line on a CV, BJHP would be less impressive to me. One the other hand, for the reasons I noted in my first comment, I wouldn't expect ANY early career researcher (even one destined for greatness!) to have a paper in JHP.

One of the things that's great about BJHP is that they do like papers like yours that might not fit anywhere else. This is useful for drawing our attention to neglected chapters of the history of philosophy.

I might rank HPQ and Journal of the History of Ideas just barely above BJHP in prestige, but they both publish very specific sorts of papers on opposite ends of the spectrum from each other (HPQ papers MUST demonstrate their relevance to contemporary philosophy, while JHI is a pure intellectual history journal). As far as editorial procedures, I have had good experiences with both. JHI is an interesting case because it is interdisciplinary. I had a paper on the history of philosophy of religion published in it, and I suspect that both referees worked on history of religion in either history departments or religion departments - that is, I don't think either were philosophers. (However, one of the referees noted - as a matter of neutral description - that my paper was "very much in the analytic style" which suggests some familiarity with contemporary philosophy.) There are both pros and cons to being interdisciplinary in this way.

JHI actually is the first place I probably would have sent a paper like yours, unless one of your aims is to make the case that contemporary philosophers have something to learn from ancient Egypt. But in any event BJHP would have been my second choice, and it would have been a close call.

All that said, let me add the disclaimer again that I'm an early career person like everyone else here, and I'm just giving my impressions. It would be useful to know what people actually on hiring/tenure committees think of the prestige of these journals. It would also be useful to know which journals senior people read when doing research. But my impressions are formed in large part by how often I see journal cited, how often famous people publish in then, and how often things I read in them are good, so hopefully my impressions are worth something!

Chike Jeffers

Yeah, JHI would have been more of a last resort, because the paper is indeed aimed at philosophers... its aim is to revise our sense of the history of philosophy and there is a section relating the text to current trends in political philosophy. But it's good to know more about JHI in case some future paper may fit there, so thanks for the info.

Your impressions of the rankings are useful. It's nice for my purposes that BJHP is the second ranked journal on this list once you exclude generalist journals: http://leiterreports.typepad.com/blog/2010/11/best-quality-journals-in-the-history-of-philosophy-the-results.html

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