I didn’t think this happened anymore, but apparently some philosophy journals still reject or decline to consider manuscripts because they don’t conform to the journal’s or publisher’s style requirements.
We’re not talking about length limits or spacing, but things like the use of contractions, citation methods, spelling, formatting of sections, and so on, as discussed in this post from several years ago. There’s no reason not to hold off imposing conformity with these requirements on a piece until after it is accepted, and plenty of reason not to insist that authors, given the situation with philosophy publishing, repeatedly make these superficial-yet-time-consuming alterations each time they submit their manuscript to a new journal. Further, if a journal’s policy is that initial submissions need not conform to their house style, that should be explicit in the journal’s instructions for authors. As I wrote in the earlier post:
Many of us, we’ll admit, already engage in the practice of ignoring style guidelines on initial submissions. But that is a luxury afforded largely to those for whom the timeliness of an article’s acceptance may not be that important, e.g., those with secure, tenured employment. Those who need a publication soon—for the job market or for tenure, say—are less likely to take this risk. It would be good for them to know whether they are wasting their time.
As I said, I thought the practice of rejecting or declining to consider manuscripts based on lack of conformity to house style had bit the dust, but a philosophy professor informs me that some journals still insist on it. She asked that such journals be named here as a way to encourage them to alter their policies, and mentioned the following as journals that had recently returned manuscripts of people she knows for not meeting formatting and style requirements: Philosophia, Journal of Ethics, Ethical Theory and Moral Practice, and The Pluralist. The editors of these journals are welcome to let us know if that is indeed their policy, to explain why it is still in place, or to inform us that it has changed. Readers are asked to share which journals have rejected or declined to consider their submissions because of lack of conformity to house style. (Also, please note that this joke has already been made.)