Notably Good Experiences with Philosophy Journals


As stories of philosophy journal horror stories continue to come in, one commenter made a suggestion.

[Jim Picôt, “Love Heart of Nature” (photo of shark swimming in a heart-shaped school of salmon)]

If part of the reason for sharing such stories was to possibly reveal some common problems or patterns with an important part of the world of academic philosophy, then, says Kaila Draper, “Maybe we should have a thread about really good experiences with referees and journals so that more patterns can be detected.”

Good idea!

Readers, if you’ve had a delightful, beneficial, super-efficient, caring, understanding, or even just notably good experience with a philosophy journal, please share it.

And just to get it out of the way, while we are very happy for you, “They accepted my article!” doesn’t qualify.

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WiseGuy
WiseGuy
4 months ago

Ergo is the model journal! They are fast, they are open access, and they show very little dogmatic prejudice against niche topics, areas, and methods. And this is coming from someone who has been only rejected from there so far!Report

Nicolas Delon
Nicolas Delon
Reply to  WiseGuy
4 months ago

I came here to say that. They have, so far, only rejected my papers but always with comments, including when they were not sent out for external review. Their platform will tell you literally everything you may want to know about where your paper’s at in the review process. And they’re fast! And open-access!

Any journal that doesn’t try to work even half as well as they do has some explaining to do.Report

TT but not T
TT but not T
Reply to  WiseGuy
4 months ago

One feature of Ergo that I really appreciate as a referee is their policy of sending referees an email, once the paper has worked its way through the process, with information about the verdict, the other referee’s comments, and the editor’s report. Writing a responsible report takes a non-trivial amount of time and effort, so it’s really nice to get feedback on the outcome of the process. I wish more journals would do this!Report

Frustrated
Frustrated
Reply to  WiseGuy
4 months ago

Ergo was very fast and transparent during the actual review process, but in my experience with the journal, they have been pretty slow when it comes to publishing accepted papers. (Or maybe things are just incredibly slow there right now.)

I am still waiting for a paper of mine that was accepted over a year ago to appear. Given the way things have been going, I’ll be lucky to have it published two years after I first submitted it. Since there is no option for a pre-publication online view of the paper, it’s not widely available to people working in the area, and I’m now worried that it will seem out-of-date by the time it appears.

I submitted to Ergo because I heard such great things about it, and I was pretty happy with the review process. But this very long wait period, without at least having the option for a pre-publication view, is not something I’d want to go through again.Report

Ben Bradley
Ben Bradley
Reply to  Frustrated
4 months ago

Very sorry about this. The publication process slowed down significantly in the past year. There is a hopeful development on this front, which is that the publishers are implementing a new system that should greatly speed up the process. We are hoping our current backlog will be cleared up pretty soon as a result.Report

An Entity
An Entity
Reply to  Ben Bradley
4 months ago

And nothing is stopping the author from posting the penultimate draft on his/her website, with the phrase “forthcoming in Ergo” next to the title.Report

Frustrated
Frustrated
Reply to  Ben Bradley
4 months ago

I really appreciate the update, Ben.Report

Nicolas Delon
Nicolas Delon
4 months ago

I’ve had only one experience with the *Australasian Journal of Philosophy*, a rejection, but it was excellent. The process was swift and the comments I received were thoughtful and constructive. They desk-reject very few papers and still manage to turn in verdicts usually under three months, it seems, usually with comments.Report

not yet tenured
not yet tenured
Reply to  Nicolas Delon
4 months ago

I second this.Report

down with AJP
down with AJP
Reply to  Nicolas Delon
4 months ago

My experience with the AJP has also been quite good. My paper was rejected in under a month with comments that were very, very good. Cheers to the AJP.Report

TT but not T
TT but not T
Reply to  Nicolas Delon
4 months ago

I also had a great experience with AJP. When two referees made suggestions pulling in slightly different directions, the editor’s report included advice on how to steer between them. I’ve also refereed for them in the past, and I really like their guidance to referees. (“It hardly needs saying that we would like referees to assess the paper, as far as possible, with regard to the quality of its argumentation, rather than in terms of the compatibility of its conclusions with their own positions and philosophical commitments. Writing a report is different from writing a reply.”)Report

Junior Philosopher
Junior Philosopher
Reply to  Nicolas Delon
4 months ago

I on the other hand am still waiting for an initial verdict on a paper submitted to AJP in mid-2019, having followed up multiple times, so things aren’t perfect there. It’s particularly difficult because this is my flagship paper and I am only employed on a casual basis, hoping to secure a permanent academic job.Report

Stephen Hetherington
Stephen Hetherington
Reply to  Junior Philosopher
4 months ago

When I (the AJP Editor) read your posting just now, I was very surprised, to say the least. But you are right: yours is our oldest submission, and it should not have been allowed to become so old qua submission. I’m glad that you have mentioned it, so that I could get the assoc ed to act on this immediately. The ref who had agreed to write the report has not done so, and somehow we missed it. (We do try, but mistakes occur!)Report

Junior Philosopher
Junior Philosopher
Reply to  Stephen Hetherington
4 months ago

Thanks for the reply. I feel a bit bad now for having dragged it into public view, that was arguably bad form, born out of frustration. I know mistakes happen and I don’t take this case to mean that the AJP isn’t generally well run.Report

Stephen Hetherington
Stephen Hetherington
Reply to  Junior Philosopher
4 months ago

No problem. I do understand that sort of frustration. All of us want all of this to work well!Report

Samuel Kampa
Samuel Kampa
Reply to  Nicolas Delon
4 months ago

When I read the title of this post, the first journal that came to mind was AJP. I received excellent comments with fast turnaround, and the typesetting and style-setting process was expedient and transparent. I have no complaints.Report

Helen De Cruz
Helen De Cruz
4 months ago

Philosophy of Science. Only did once, they rejected the paper but the comments really helped make the paper so much better and it ended up in a good place still, upon my submission to a new journal. It would really have been a different paper without those excellent referee reports, delivered in a timely manner.Report

Gunnar
Gunnar
Reply to  Helen De Cruz
4 months ago

I have had the same experience with Philosophy of Science. They’ve given me several rejections, but always with excellence feedback that helped me get the papers published at very good venues elsewhere.Report

A Philosopher
A Philosopher
4 months ago

I had an excellent experience with the Journal of the American Philosophical Association. I submitted a paper and the editor gave me an R&R on the basis of two referee reports. One report was very positive and detailed, raising good concerns that they wanted me to address in revisions. The other report was short, mean-spirited, and gave no grounds for rejecting the paper other than the reviewer’s unsupported opinion that it was a bad paper. Unlike some journals, which often reject papers on the basis of BS reports like that, the editor rightly ignored the report in favor of the good report. I revised the paper, addressing all of the first reviewer’s feedback, and JAPA published it. That’s how to run a journal.Report

Ian
Ian
4 months ago

I sent a paper to the Journal of Political Philosophy which was on an issue in the history of political philosophy. Their policy is to consider papers in the history of political philosophy that “build to a larger philosophical point.” They rejected my paper on the grounds that it focused more on the history than on building to a larger philosophical point. Fair enough. They are welcome to decide what mix they want in papers they consider. But what was great about it was that I got the rejection with a nice note from the editor *the day after I submitted*. I appreciate a quick turnaround!Report

Bryan
Bryan
Reply to  Ian
4 months ago

Ditto, x3! JPP is just terrific in this regard. The unfailingly swift desk rejections are also unfailingly polite and thoughtful, and clearly evince a substantive engagement with the submission. Other than one time a submission of mine was deemed worthy of sharing with referees, each of my three desk rejections arrived within 24 hours of submission. I don’t know how Bob Goodin does it, but he’s a force of nature.Report

Instructor Gadget
Instructor Gadget
4 months ago

AJP and Ergo are the best. I almost always get rejected by them. But I always get helpful, quick feedback. Those two journals are an amazing bright spot in our profession.Report

Instructor Gadget
Instructor Gadget
Reply to  Instructor Gadget
4 months ago

I should add Analysis here too. Awesome, quick feedback in the style of AJP.Report

Jill Hernandez
Jill Hernandez
Reply to  Instructor Gadget
4 months ago

We have a running joke that Analysis is so good, they send your rejection before you submit.Report

tenure track humanoid
tenure track humanoid
4 months ago

The best journal experience I’ve had is the Journal of the APA. (I may be biased because they accepted my paper, but I still think that the process was really good.) They were fast, both sets of reviewer comments were extremely helpful and professional, and the editor clearly also read my paper with a lot of care (for example, he noticed a problem with a passage from someone else I was quoting that I hadn’t noticed, and, when I clarified that the quote was accurate, offered to contact that person to double check that it was an error in his text and then proposed a solution).Report

Michel
Michel
4 months ago

My experiences at the Australasian Journal of Philosophy and the British Journal of Aesthetics have always been superb. The verdicts have always been timely, and the comments have always been meticulous, fair, helpful, and kind–including for rejections. When I get verdicts back from them, I’m confident that the referees read and carefully considered the entire paper, footnotes and all.

I’ve only ever sent a single paper to Synthese, but my experience there was superb as well. I received three sets of comments, each of them extremely helpful and very meticulous. And I got them very quickly (in a little over two months). I felt like the referees were on my side and really wanted to do their best to help me publish the paper, there or elsewhere. Likewise, I very much enjoyed my single experience with the Canadian Journal of Philosophy.

I’ve had lots of good and very good experiences, too. I’ve been pretty lucky!Report

TOM
TOM
4 months ago

I have one that seems like an anomaly and I couldn’t believe it. The *proofreader* caught a reasonably substantive mistake in my paper! It wasn’t really an error in reasoning but I had stated a principle in a way that was different to how I had stated it earlier in the article. I was so grateful, it was a substantial error that somehow wasn’t caught by me, the editor, or either of the (otherwise conscientious) referees.Report

Another Ancient Person
Another Ancient Person
4 months ago

Since people were mentioning ancient philosophy journals in the other post, I thought I would say that I always had good experiences (meaning fast turnaround) with the following journals: JHP, Apeiron, Phronesis. I don’t mind irritable or poor referee reports, as long as my paper gets back to me quickly. And, in cases where I have published with these journals, working with the editors and staff was easy.Report

Pro-JMP
Pro-JMP
4 months ago

I am strongly pro-Journal of Moral Philosophy after two swift and instructive experiences.Report

Sam Duncan
Sam Duncan
4 months ago

I’ve only ever had good experiences with the British Journal for the History of Philosophy and the Southern Journal of Philosophy, which have accepted some of the things I’ve submitted. BJP is particularly remarkable in that they desk reject very little and still manage to get reviews done in a timely fashion. (The BJP will gently and politely and but very, very persistently remind referees if they don’t get their reviews in in about ten weeks. Ask me how I know….)
I also agree with the love Ergo and Journal of the APA are getting. I’ve no complaints even though I’ve gotten nothing but rejections from both. Ergo’s system with its distributed review system, which makes sure the editor actually knows something about the area you’re writing about, triple anonymity, and the dashboard that lets authors know exactly what’s happening with their papers is a model for the profession.Report

Tom Hurka
Tom Hurka
4 months ago

This goes back a while, to the early 1980s, when I submitted a paper to Ethics, which Brian Barry had started to edit and turn into the leading journal it is today. The paper was 30 typed pages, quite long by the standards of the day (though an Analysis note by today’s). Brian’s letter back said he thought the paper’s main idea was strong but could be covered in a paper of 10 pages. Taking him to mean 10 journal pages (thank God), I still had to make significant cuts and he was right — the shorter paper was much better. That has influenced my writing ever since, and I think many of the 30-journal-page papers published these days have better 20-page papers hiding inside them.

Brian had instituted the system Ethics uses now, where Associate Editors vote and also write comments. There were a fair number of those, but his letter advised me to take some of them into account but to feel free to ignore certain others. I think this is something editors inviting resubmits should always do. Asking an author to “respond to the referees’ comments” isn’t very helpful when e.g. one referee says there should be more on topic A and the other says the discussion of A should be cut out. As someone says in the other thread, it’s the editor who makes the final decision, and the editor will have views about which issues raised by the referees are important and which are not. The editor should share those views with the author.

This is of course more work for a (doubtless overworked) editor, but not if they don’t send out many R&R’s. And that’s my final point: I think the overall effect R&R’s, in at least many cases, is to make papers worse, by requiring authors to add discussions of objections that most readers won’t think of, where those discussions clog up the paper and obscure its main positive point. If the R&R process were used less often, it could be used better — as it was, way back, by Brian Barry..Report

Recent PhD
Recent PhD
4 months ago

Ergo is the best I’ve experienced so far. The system provides sufficient information, and for my submission that went out for review, it was 6 days until the first two reviewers were sought; after reviewers refused the task, subsequent reviewers were all sought in one day or two. The decision also came quickly. It arrived the same day the last report came in, and the decision on the revision in three days after resubmission.

Another paper was desk rejected in three days.Report

Rex
Rex
4 months ago

Southern Journal of Philosophy did me a good turn about 15 years ago. They rejected my paper in a reasonable amount of time, and sent one reviewer’s brief but constructive comments. SJP thought the paper was a bit narrow for them in any case, but I published it elsewhere within six months.Report

Unknown
4 months ago

Lots of people supporting the journal of the APA. My experience has been very different. I had an R&R. 11 months ago, I sent page proofs. I heard nothing for 10 months. I then received an email saying “We sent you the proofs, we need to know if you accept the changes.” But I never received the proofs, and no one followed up for 10 months (they gave me 3 days to send the proofs, and didn’t follow up for 10 months!). During this time, I emailed the editor twice. Both times he told me that I should be patient, that the pandemic has put everything on hold. And yet I received a message after 10 months saying that my article was on hold because they never received the proofs … which they did not send to me. So the editor told me to be patient without checking with the publisher (Cambridge), who would have told him that they never received the proofs (again, because I never received them). I brought this to the attention of the editor, and he was fully unsympathetic. I thought an apology or an explanation was due. He offered nothing of the sort, and told me I was out of line for asking about the article again. I finally received an apology from the production company (Cambridge), but still nothing from the editor.Report

Daniel Weltman
4 months ago

I submitted a paper to Public Affairs Quarterly. In addition to referee comments, the editor (David Boonin) left pretty extensive and helpful comments on the paper. I’ve had some useful editor comments before from journals but they’ve been one or two sentences. Also, now that I think about it, he also sent along an issue of the journal to use as an example to conform my manuscript to the journal style (since it had been accepted). That’s a nice little time saver compared to other journals that just say “put it in the house style” and then I have to go look that up.Report

Joona Räsänen
4 months ago

Medicine, Health Care & Philosophy. After receiving the acceptance letter, I received the proofs of my article the next day. After returning the proofs, the paper was published online the next day. So it took two days for them to publish the accepted paper. Maybe this has more to do with the publisher (Springer) than the journal (I haven’t published in other Springer journals). Anyway, this is how it should be done.Report

François Kammerer
François Kammerer
4 months ago

#1 ERGO! They are fast, efficient, transparent (I really like that they keep you informed in details about the status of your paper, and that you can read the referee’s reports as they arrive) and open access. Also, their typesetting process was also very thorough (much more than with other journals) and actually improved the paper I had forthcoming there.
Only (small) drawback: I experienced a long lag between acceptance and publication there. It is not a huge problem though (acceptance matters more than publication in the internet era), and I think that it was due to organizational problems that their new donation systems should allow them to solve.

I think that every journals should be like Ergo. In fact, I think that authors who do not have to play the prestige game (e.g. because they have tenure) should systematically submit their best work to Ergo first, and that reviewers should systematically prioritize Ergo’s request, as to create enough pressure on the rest of the system to become more like Ergo.

#2: I have had a few very good experiences with Synthese (both acceptance and rejection). I was always provided with useful comments, in a timely manner.Report

Finnur Dellsén
4 months ago

I would like to praise two journals, and two people in particular working for those journals.

The first is the Australasian Journal of Philosophy, which has excellent reviewing practices and an exceptionally responsive, helpful, and meticulous editor, Stephen Hetherington. I know this from personal experience, and from the experience of several people I know. Given the volume of submissions to AJP, I find it hard to believe that Prof. Hetherington is just one person.

The other journal is the British Journal for the Philosophy of Science. Again this journal has extremely good reviewing practices, and an excellent set of editors and associate editors. But I would like to single out its managing editor, Elizabeth Hannon, for special praise. All my interactions with her, as an author and as a reviewer, have been extremely smooth and efficient, and I know she is a significant force behind some of the really nice innovations from BJPS in recent years (such as Referee of the Year).Report

Jordan
Jordan
4 months ago

I’ve had great experiences with Thought, Analysis, and Bioethics recently. Always less than 2-3 months. The comments are usually extensive, insightful, and concise.Report

Dan
Dan
4 months ago

I’ve had good experiences with Canadian Journal of Philosophy, European Journal of Philosophy, Synthese, Journal of the History of Philosophy, among others. Some of these accepted my work some didn’t (multiple times) but in all cases I received substantive comments, and more importantly from my point of view, in a timely fashion.

Re Ergo. I’ve never submitted to it, but thought of it, as they don’t impose word limit on submissions, and in a few occasions I had fairly long papers ready to go. However, they’re not indexed in SCOPUS, and my university (maybe not only mine) puts a lot on emphasis on having publications indexed there, to the extent that something published in a non-SCOPUS journal might not count for prizes/promotion etc.Report

Ben Bradley
Ben Bradley
Reply to  Dan
4 months ago

Thanks for letting us know about this, Dan. We are looking into getting indexed in SCOPUS.
Thanks also to everyone else who said nice things about Ergo here, it is good to hear it! I would also put in a plug for JESP. I’ve always had good experiences with them, and they are open-access too.Report

curious
curious
4 months ago

While numerous very strong Journals have been mentioned, the shortlist flagship journals are mostly absent. Where’s the love for Mind, Ethics, Phil Review, J Phil, PPA, etc.?Report

Michel
Michel
Reply to  curious
4 months ago

A few of those have long-standing reputations for horrible wait times and nasty comments. Some have been trying to turn things around for a while now, but it takes a while for a reputation like that to go away.Report

Kaila Draper
Kaila Draper
Reply to  curious
4 months ago

I received amazingly good comments from the editors at Phil Review and PPA. Not really a fan of the process at the other journals you mention though I hear Mind is trying to improve.Report

Daniel Weltman
4 months ago

Another (small) good experience: the Critical Review of International Social and Political Philosophy took 10 days to go from accepting my paper to posting the pre-print online. (Granted, part of the speed depended on the extremely minimal and perhaps non-existent copy editing, which wouldn’t be to everyone’s taste, but I didn’t mind.) That’s ridiculously fast! I had a relatively messy Microsoft Word document and it got typeset in a flash.Report

Linda Barclay
Linda Barclay
4 months ago

I have only had good experiences with the Journal of Applied Philosophy and the Journal of Social Philosophy. Reasonable turn around times, and balanced and fair explanations from the editors (even when it’s a reject!). I’m lucky enough to be ‘tenured’ so I avoid those journals on my ‘hit list’.Report

SomeKantian
SomeKantian
4 months ago

I’d like to throw in a good word for Kantian Review. The whole process went very smoothly, relatively quickly, and they have always been extremely considerate.Report

Anne S.
Anne S.
4 months ago

Environmental Values – always extremely helpful comments from knowledgeable and engaged reviewers. Meticulous copy editing (the most detailed I’ve ever experienced).Report

Tushar Irani
4 months ago

I had a long but overall very positive experience with Oxford Studies in Ancient Philosophy, thanks primarily to the judiciousness and critical feedback provided by the current editor Victor Caston. The summer after I received tenure in 2017, I submitted a 50-page paper to OSAP that I’d been tinkering with on and off since my dissertation. About 9 months later I received two reports, an R&R and a rejection. Both reports were clearly by senior scholars in my field who had published on my topic. The R&R was helpful and provided a lot of good feedback, requests for clarification, and criticisms. The rejection report was less than a page and contained a number of misreadings and (I felt) unfair reactions to the main ideas in the paper. On his own initiative, Caston overruled the rejection and provided his own 5-page single-spaced editor’s report, encouraging me to revise and resubmit. That report included general and specific comments on my paper, down to page and line numbers, pressing me on just the right points and generously offering suggestions to help shore up the argument. It took me a year to resubmit, mostly due to a persistent diffidence about my views, but I eventually revised the paper and submitted a second version in the summer of 2019. There followed another wait of 8 months for a new report from the R&R reader, this time with a recommendation to publish with revisions. Caston was less positive. He again supplemented the reader report with a lengthy editor’s report of his own: 11 pages of detailed comments on every aspect of the paper, prodding me to make further improvements and close additional loopholes he’d found. So another R&R, but with no further need for outside reader reports things now went very quickly: within a month I submitted a third version of the paper and five days after that it was reviewed and accepted conditionally — again, amazingly, with a further 7 pages of critical comments from the editor.

Was it worth it? I’d certainly not recommend the process for those whose careers depend on a positive outcome. Still, the month or so working on the final version of this paper was one of the most intense and philosophically rewarding scholarly experiences I’ve had. My views developed immeasurably, due entirely to Caston’s scrupulosity. By the end of the process he’d written almost 25 single-spaced pages on three versions of the paper, and despite the pandemic having taken off by this point he generously exchanged lengthy e-mails with me about several key points in the argument. With each version of the paper I was a little more sure I’d put things away, only to be dazed and delighted to discover I could improve things further. It’s a great intellectual gift to be shown how one’s ideas are never final while also being provided with the encouragement to refine them. Thanks Victor!Report

Michael
Michael
4 months ago

I published a few things recently in the philosophy of sport – at Sport, Ethics and Philosophy, and Journal of the Philosophy of Sport – and I don’t know if philosophers of sport are just generally good people or what, but in each case the experience was a good one. The reviewer’s comments were all really helpful and improved the paper. The editors at both journals were also really good about communicating, and always made it clear what I needed to do to make the articles worthy of publication.Report

Brandon
Brandon
4 months ago

I had a great experience with Southern Journal of Philosophy; the paper was rejected, but I got the news 2 months to the day that I submitted, and included were comments from 2 reviewers that, while short, were very helpful to me in improving the paper.

I also want to commend the staff and editors at Inquiry. What trouble I did have with my paper there — ultimately accepted, after a looooong time — was due to excessive reviewer tardiness over a couple rounds of revisions, not due to the editors; and the editorial staff were wonderful and very responsive to my inquiries and concerns. I was treated like a human being, and for that I’m grateful.

I noticed someone mentioned that Mind is trying to improve, and that is also consistent with my experience of the editors, however, they can still be at the mercy of reviewers who cling to the bad old ways. Such was my experience, anyway. I hope it’s gotten better.Report

Johnny Brennan
Johnny Brennan
4 months ago

I have to sing the praises of Philosophy & Technology. The turnaround was very reasonable. I received two reports that were both supportive and enthusiastic while asking for significant changes. The turnaround after the paper was accepted up to the early online publication was exceptionally fast. I was later asked to review a paper for them as well, and I was pleasantly surprised at how thorough and thoughtful the reviewer guidelines were. They made it a point to have reviewers think of themselves as mentors and to always refer to the paper rather than the author. Basic stuff about charitable reading that we teach our students. When they made a decision, I was sent a copy of the email sent to the author with the verdict and both reviewers’ comments. Very nice touch. I was impressed at every stage. Hats off to the editor, Luciano Floridi!Report

Always a postdoc
Always a postdoc
4 months ago

I have had the best experiences at AJP (several rejections, one acceptance). The referee reports are always done in a timely manner, and they often point out ways to improve the paper.Report