Wiley Removes Goodin as Editor of the Journal of Political Philosophy (Updated)
Robert Goodin, the founding and longtime editor of the Journal of Political Philosophy, has been removed from his position at the journal by its publisher, Wiley.
Goodin wrote to the associate editors and editorial board informing them of his firing, and in response many have submitted their resignations, including associate editors Sally Haslanger, Philip Pettit, Anne Phillips, and Amia Srinivasan, and editorial board members Kwame Anthony Appiah, Jane Mansbridge, Jeff McMahan, and others.
Reportedly, none of the current co-editors—Christian Barry (ANU), Nicholas Southwood (ANU), and Lea Ypi (LSE)—will be among the journal’s new editors, and current members of the team of associate editors have not been told by Wiley what its plans are for them.
So far, there has been no official explanation offered as to why Goodin was fired.
(Those with further information about Wiley’s decision and its fallout are welcome to contact me here.)
UPDATE (4/27/23): In response to messages from resigning editorial board members, Wiley has cited problems of “communication” with the editorial team but they have not provided any details of what such problems were, and those close to the journal have expressed skepticism about this explanation.
Anna Stilz (Princeton), a member of the Journal of Political Philosophy editorial board and editor-in-chief of Philosophy & Public Affairs, shared parts of an email she sent to fellow editorial board members.
Like many of you, I wrote earlier today to resign from Wiley’s Editorial Board… But now I’d just like to second [the complaint about] Wiley’s unreasonable demands and to add my perspective as Editor-in-Chief of Philosophy and Public Affairs, another Wiley-owned journal.
Wiley has recently signed a number of major open-access agreements: this means that increasingly, they get their revenue through author fees for each article they publish (often covered now by public grant agencies), rather than library subscriptions. Their current company-wide strategy for maximizing revenue is to force the journals they own to publish as many articles as possible to generate maximum author fees. Where Editors refuse to do that, they exert all the pressure they can, up to and including dismissal, as in this case. Though I am not privy to the details of Bob’s communications with Wiley, I can say that P&PA has experienced similar demands. A few years back we only succeeded in getting them to back down by threatening to file a lawsuit. They were quiet for a while, but recently their demands have begun to escalateUPOD again.
All political philosophers and theorists who care about the journals in our field have an interest in showing Wiley that it can’t get away with this.
A member of the editorial team of the Journal of Political Philosophy confirmed that Wiley has been pushing the journal to publish more articles per year—a demand they’ve made of other journals to varying degrees of success—because of the turn towards open-access publishing agreements. This person said, “I don’t think anyone has a problem with accepting more articles so long as they are of the same standard, but setting numerical targets that rise continually is not a way of expanding while ensuring preservation of quality.”
Readers may recall the editorial and advisory board mass resignation at the European Law Journal a few years ago, and the delay of Wiley’s approval of the associate editors’ choice of editor-in-chief at Philosophy & Public Affairs, an event clarified by Professor Stilz’s remarks above.
UPDATE 2 (4/28/23): Wiley was open to the current co-editors staying on, but they refused because they were unable to get adequate assurance that they would have (in the words of one of them) the “requisite editorial control and discretion to maintain the quality and reputation of the JPP in the face of Wiley’s desire to boost significantly and indefinitely the number of articles published by the JPP.”
UPDATE 3 (4/28/23): In a comment below, Anna Stilz provides more information about the kind of increases Wiley wants:
Wiley is not asking that we consider publishing a few more pieces that fall at the borderline and are tough judgment calls. They are asking that we increase the number of articles we publish by a factor of 10, and that we continue increasing that number year after year. This conflicts with the role of journals in our profession, which is to curate a body of well-vetted, high quality work for an audience, to provide feedback that improves people’s arguments, and to serve as a signalling device that validates the importance of someone’s work when they go up for tenure and promotion. If the top political philosophy journals now have to publish 50 articles per year, 100 the next year, 200 the next, and so on infinitely, it no longer means anything to have your article published in these journals. And the role of the Editorial team also becomes superfluous–if the aim is to rush as many articles to publication as possible, why provide careful comments?
Meanwhile, a source reports copies of “countless resignation letters” of editorial board members in their inbox.
UPDATE 4 (5/9/23): A statement of non-cooperation with the Journal of Political Philosophy until “full editorial independence of the editors over the journal’s publications is restored” currently has 990 signatories.
Maybe we as a discipline should *urgently* start taking cues from the mathematicians. For some time now, the mathematics community has been shifting away from (for profit and even university) presses. Timothy Gowers has lots of lovely posts on his blog detailing the logistics and the history of this movement (see for example https://gowers.wordpress.com/2015/09/10/discrete-analysis-an-arxiv-overlay-journal/ or https://gowers.wordpress.com/2017/07/27/another-journal-flips/).
In addition to the protecting us from the whims of the publisher, these steps lead to an open-access and inclusive publishing environment. For all the talk of diversity and inclusion in philosophy, the publishing axis (maybe justifiably) gets left out. People who, on social media and blogs, voice strong opinions about diversity and access issues in philosophy still keep on publishing in journals owned by Elsevier, Springer, Wiley, OUP, CUP, and the likes.Report
Another case, this time from neuroscience: https://www.theguardian.com/science/2023/may/07/too-greedy-mass-walkout-at-global-science-journal-over-unethical-feesReport
While I don’t recall this being widely reported, didn’t Wiley do the same thing to the Philosophical Forum a few months ago when they just suddenly assigned a new editor without explanation?Report
No, they didn’t suddenly or randomly assign a new editor. The previous editor retired, and they searched for a new editor, with me being the resulting choice, as they liked my ideas about the direction I wanted to take the journal. Wiley has also never pressured me to publish more articles. A lot of generalizations are being made in this whole thing about Wiley’s general that simply aren’t true.Report
“All political philosophers and theorists who care about the journals in our field have an interest in showing Wiley that it can’t get away with this.”
How might those who aren’t on the editorial board go about showing Wiley this?Report
We can post, on this blog and others, an open pledge signed by as many political philosophers and political theorists we can get, not to:
-join JPP’s editorial team or board
-review for JPP
-submit to JPP
unless and until Wiley restores the Editorial Team to control of JPP on terms of full editorial independence about what and how much to publish in their journal.Report
I think this is a great idea, but I think the person taking the initiative to write and post such a pledge that all of us can then sign, should first get in touch with Bob Goodin and his co-editors, Lea Ypi, Nic Southwood and Christian Barry, to ask what they think is most helpful. Sometimes there is ‘inside information’ that helps to know what the best strategy is (of course, Anna, it could be that you have this information, and have come to the conclusion such a pledge is the best action right now, in which case the earlier we can sign it, the better).
I would also think sharing an email address to Wiley’s highest-level decision makers to tell them we’ve signed such a pledge, might additionally help to increase pressure).Report
I am drafting a statement now and will be following this advice.Report
It is very easy for privileged academics who make 6 figures per year to say that, but for people who are trying to earn tenure or just getting a scholarship to make ends meet, getting published in journals such as the JPP is very helpful (if not necessary)Report
As a privileged academic (albeit, sadly, not one who earns 6 figures a year), I appreciate that we are all in different circumstances and we all have different needs right now. I would not criticise a postgraduate student who needs to get as many publications as possible to even have a career in the field for being quite reluctant to sign on to this pledge (or really anyone else for that matter).
However, what is at stake here is the continued existence of JPP in anything remotely like its current form. It benefits absolutely no one — least of all people starting out in the field — for editorial independence over our journals to be destroyed by publishing houses looking to maximise their profits. (I have nothing against them profiting from their business, just not at the cost of what we do.) You might as well stick your paper up on your own website and expect people to read it or take it seriously.
This is especially the case for graduate students at and early career academics from non-prestigious universities. If a paper in JPP no longer means anything, then it can no longer be a way for someone from not-Princeton or not-Arizona to demonstrate that they’re pretty damn good at political philosophy. Hiring departments, conference organisers, etc., will come to rely, even more than they do now, on institutional pedigree.Report
I mostly agree with what you say, and I’m pretty sure that people who advocate for this petition are not acting on their own interest. But two remarks are worth making:
1) If having a strong publishing record in top journals is what makes you tenured, then it is non-tenured scholars who have the highest interest in publishing in these journals, not tenured scholars, who can always stick their papers up on their own websites (provided that all they care about is people reading their work). Having said that, tenured and renowned scholars are free to publish wherever they want.
2) We do not know what will happen if the editorial team and policy change. But, if judging by most comments, it is Goodin who established the JPP, then Wiley has shot itself in the foot, so there is no longer any need to boicot this journal, since it will collapse under its own weight.Report
Re: 2. I think it is extremely likely that the journal will either cease to exist or will limp on as a shell of its former self. There is no reasonable possibility that Wiley will be able to maintain it in anything like its current form, as a top journal in the field, given the collapse of its current board. They need to step back and reach some agreement with the board about the future of the journal. I believe the best solution is likely to be that the journal moves somewhere else, but that is not for me to decide.Report
I think that those who are seeking greater access to the pages of journals are missing a key point – Wiley and other publishers using this model (described by Stilz) are giving you what you want. They are willing to publish more articles because they care little about quality. Calls for journals to publish more fits nicely with the model Wiley is working with. But the net result is that one more publication will mean very little, and will just increase the volume of papers that go unread. Watch what you ask for. We are about to get itReport
But the quality of the papers and the profit are not independent of each other. If the JPP increased the number of papers it publishes substantially (as Stilz has said Wiley wants to do) without caring much about their quality (as you have said Wiley wants to do), then people would not esteem the JPP as they do today, and as a result the profit Wiley makes from it would substantially decrease. I think this is basic economics. Do you think Wiley will risk making such a stupid move?Report
If the JPP increased the number of papers it publishes substantially (as Stilz has said Wiley wants to do) without caring much about their quality (as you have said Wiley wants to do), then people would not esteem the JPP as they do today, and as a result the profit Wiley makes from it would substantially decrease. I think this is basic economics. Do you think Wiley will risk making such a stupid move?
There is, of course, an emperical question about what will happen here. But, there is precedent for low-quality journals that publish a very large (sometimes shockingly large) number of papers per year, including, it seems, some by Wiley. The Web of Science has just de-listed a number of these, including at least some Wiley journals. This is fueled by academic cultures where bean-counting is more important than quality – a feature of more countries than we’d like to admit. It seems less likely to afflict philosophy than some other disciplines, but it looks like this is the general direction that Wiley is pushing. It should be resisted. See here:
(My thanks to someone on facebook for the link – I can now no longer find who it was.)Report
The good papers that are rejected by PPA, JPP, etc, find homes — they are already being published.
Increasing the number of published pieces in JPP and PPA woul dbe beneficial for the political philosophy community. The top political philosophy journals publish very few pieces each year, which puts political philosophers at a disadvantage compared to those in other affiliated disciplines, and leads to difficulties in job opportunities, research bids, and promotion cases. I think increasing the number of published pieces in our top journals is necessary to prevent political philosophy as a field from falling behind other fields.Report
I am struggling to make sense of this comment.
If the good papers rejected by JPP and PPA are being published elsewhere, then people are getting their good papers published eventually. (There are lots of issues with the time it takes to get papers reviewed but that’s not what is in question here.)
You may mean that not enough papers are being published in the *top* journals. But if enough papers that are being rejected by PPA and JPP (and Ethics) are pretty much as good as the ones accepted, then the journals that publish them will in short order come to be seen as pretty much as good as those journals. And if the papers that are being rejected aren’t as good as the ones accepted, well, that’s what being a top journal means. If you want a publication in a top journal to be a major achievement, it has to be something that is difficult.
But in any case, the issue at hand here is not whether there are sound academic reasons for JPP or PPA to accept more papers. The issue at hand is the fact that an editor seems to have been fired by a publisher for resisting financial reasons to publish more. If that is what has happened, it is utterly egregious and something that we as a community simply cannot tolerate. (I’ll add that firing *Bob Goodin*, who has been the driving force building JPP into a top journal over the years, is just a whole new level of upfuckery.)
Assuming the explanation is accurate, I recommend an immediate strike at JPP. No philosopher should submit there or review for them or be involved in editorial decisions until academic autonomy over the journal can be restored.Report
The strike idea seems exactly right to me. I’ve published in JPP in the past, and reviewed papers for them several times, but I will no longer submit there, or referee for them, until this issue has been resolved. Wiley’s actions here (in particular, firing Bob Goodin) are egregious.Report
I am struggling to make sense of your reply. You restate the view that it has to be difficult to get into a top journal, but overlook the comparative point I was making. Making it really very hard means that political philosophers at a disadvantage compared to those in other affiliated disciplines. It is difficult for them too, but not as hard. e.g. It is not as hard to get into APSR as it is in Ethics.
On your second point, I find the financial reasons distasteful and prefer the journal models of open access, or at least association-owned. But the motivation doesn’t seem to be the issue — it’s the substance of the issue which is the expansion of the journal.Report
The problem seems to be with how the meanings and significance of ‘top journal’ are determined.
Like SCM, I would have thought ‘top journals’ were determined in large part by the quality of material published and the selectivity of the journals.
So if the papers published in the putatively ‘second tier’ journals are on a par with those published in the ‘top’ journals, then why don’t those other journals have a similar claim to being added to the list of ‘top’ journals? If the answer is a function of selectivity, then again making the ‘top’ journals less selective will simply decreased the perceived value of publishing there.
I get that there might be a bit of a ‘de re’ vs ‘de dicto’ thing going on here, where the meaning of ‘top’ journals is determined in some (temporarily) fixed social/institutional way that is insensitive to article quality or journal selectivity. In that case your proposal makes sense as a way of gaming the irrationality baked into the existing system.Report
There is a kind of market inelasticity here. If JPP published only awful articles over the next year, it would still have some prestige a year from now (although quite a bit less), because we’re slow to adapt. But this won’t last all that long. The top journals are not like the top universities, which have massive resources to maintain their status. Reputation and regard is pretty much the whole currency for journals.
Indeed, JPP is a case in point. I think it used to be true that PPA was the single top journal in political philosophy (ignoring the political philosophy published in Ethics). But in large part because of Goodin’s work at JPP, I think we now have a situation where an article in PPA and an article in JPP are pretty much in the same ballpark. Maybe many still give PPA the edge but a number of people do think of JPP as now the top journal for political philosophy.Report
But if the paper that is rejected at JPP gets accepted at, say, Social Theory and Practice, that’s fine! Because people know that STP is a pretty good journal too (I hope), even if it’s not as high status as JPP.
If, say, the top X% of papers in political philosophy are published in three or four journals, but the top X% of papers in some other discipline are published in one or two journals, there’s no disadvantage to political philosophy here. Rather, there will just be a recognition that three or four journals publish the the top X% of papers, whereas in our disciplines only one or two journals are top tier. So what? If anything, having more journals publish the top X% of papers allows for even finer gradations as to what’s a truly impressive achievement. I’d rather have a paper in Ethics that APSR. Why? Precisely because it’s “not as hard to get into APSR as it is in Ethics.”Report
The disadvantage comes when a pol philosopher has a pretty strong paper that ends up in a second-tier (but still pretty good) journal like STP and competes against someone in another field pretty strong paper — of the same quality — that ends in a first-tier journal like APSR. Hiring committees, funding bodies, etc. will often (if not always, of course) prefer those who have hit the top journal(s) in their field.Report
And, on the flip side, when someone lands a strong paper in Ethics, PPA or JPP, they’ll ceteris paribus fare better than someone who lands a strong paper in APSR precisely because they’ll know the former journals are somewhat more selective.Report
Wiley is not asking that we consider publishing a few more pieces that fall at the borderline and are tough judgment calls. They are asking that we increase the number of articles we publish by a factor of 10, and that we continue increasing that number year after year. This conflicts with the role of journals in our profession, which is to curate a body of well-vetted, high quality work for an audience, to provide feedback that improves people’s arguments, and to serve as a signalling device that validates the importance of someone’s work when they go up for tenure and promotion. If the top political philosophy journals now have to publish 50 articles per year, 100 the next year, 200 the next, and so on infinitely, it no longer means anything to have your article published in these journals. And the role of the Editorial team also becomes superfluous–if the aim is to rush as many articles to publication as possible, why provide careful comments?Report
A factor of 10? Sound of jaw hitting floor.Report
It’s a huge service to readers to have a few selective journals where, if the editors are doing their job properly — as they may not always but, one hopes, usually do — one can keep abreast of important new developments and contributions in the field without having to wade through dozens or hundreds of published pieces. Think of a selective journal like Ethics, PAPA, or JPP as a labour-saving device.Report
Hi Tom, I think this is the best argument I have seen all day for the status quo. And I agree it would be useful to have places like that, but we should dis-associate this from prestige production and status signaling. And they should probably be more like regular (opinionated) state of the field and/or survey articles (of a sort not uncommon in the sciences and once usual in philosophy dissertations). I would be delighted to start a journal like that with you.:)Report
Good luck starting a journal which (a) is recognized by the community as letting readers keep abreast of the important developments and contributions in the field, but (b) does not confer prestige on those people whose developments and contributions are judged important!Report
Well, fair, some prestige might be inevitable. But I bet the signal would be much much lower than the current system we have set up in philosophy. (Mention in review articles don’t produce that much prestige at once.) But i am just floating that: my current official proposal is: no more journals with <10% acceptance rates.Report
Eric, how is what you are envisioning different from “Philosophy Compass”? And they publish many more articles than PAPA, Ethics, or JPP. (Admittedly, these articles are all rather short).Report
Maybe PC fills this particular need sufficiently.Report
Another benefit of selective journals is that, assuming they are triple-blind, they don’t suffer as much bias as choices to cite. If people choose to cite certain groups disproportionately, giving members of these groups a leg up, at least there’s a blind process for giving members of others groups equal chance of publishing in a selective journal.Report
Yes, while I advocate for considerably lower acceptance rates and much greater experimentation in journal practices, I agree it would be a great shame if recent move toward triple masked review would come undone. That has real advantages.Report
JPP is NOT triple blind, whereas Ethics and PPA are.Report
Yes, which I’ve always thought was a shame. I was responding to the general claim that journals should be less selective, though I think selective+double blind is better than determining promotion and hiring based on more biased metrics, like citation count or reference letters.Report
JPP most definitely does not conceal the identity of the author from the Editor. My colleagues and I used to have competitions to see who could get the fastest desk rejection from Bob Goodin. The record among us stands at 10 minutes.
Whatever the bad behaviour from Wiley, the practices of the editor have also fallen short of what most people these days like to claim they would like to see from a high-quality academic journal. When it is well-known among Australia philosophers that the editor works with notions of ‘has got it’ and ‘has not got it’ then it is probably time to move on.Report
It seems likely that a paper rejected in a matter of minutes did not receive fair consideration. I suspect that authors on the other side of those decisions generally come from less privileged and prestigious backgrounds than those rallying to defend Goodin. These bad practices have gone on for years. Those calling for a boycott have done little to call them out, either now or before, in large part because they benefit from the status quo.Report
It seems likely that a paper rejected in a matter of minutes did not receive fair consideration.
I don’t think this is obvious. It will often be perfectly possible to tell in a matter of minutes if, say, a paper plausibly fits the subject matter of the journal. (So, a paper offering mostly doctrinal analysis of a legal issue, or, perhaps slightly more controversially, but not much, I think, a paper exploring the metaphysical grounding of value, or many similar things, can be seen to not fit in the scope of JPP, and so rejected in minutes. Similarly, a paper that is primarily a work in the history of philosophy might be rejected, even though it’s very good, as the journal just doesn’t publish that sort of work.) Or, editors may think they have published too many pieces (and perhaps have some waiting to come out still) on a particular topic, and don’t want it “taking over” the journal. That the paper is one more contribution to that topic can (even should!) be apparent in a few minutes. And, of course, sometimes it’s possible to tell that a paper just isn’t up to the standards of the journal from a quick read of the first couple of pages. (With graduate students, and even undergraduates, trying to publish earlier and earlier, no doubt this more and more common.) In any of these cases, and no doubt others, a desk rejection within a matter of minutes is not implausible and isn’t a sign of not receiving fair consideration.
Do any of these scenarios explain the supposed actual cases here? Of course I don’t know, but I do know that it’s unfair and unreasonable to simply assume that there must be bad behavior on Goodin’s part to explain these situations.Report
Could there be circumstances where a rejection in a matter of minutes was fair? Sure. Few would object to the quick rejection of an aesthetics paper submitted to a journal like JPP. The broader point is that there are tradeoffs between speed and fairness at journals. One of JPP’s virtues was that it was quick and efficient. But if an editorial team gives quick rejections to the bulk of the papers it receives, they are making some of those decisions for papers in areas of political philosophy outside their expertise without first consulting others with that expertise. The fact that this process is not blinded, since JPP does not use triple blind review, exacerbates the risk for bias and unfairness in the process.Report
I don’t necessarily object to the claim here (or necessarily agree with it – although I’ve refereed for JPP a couple of times, I don’t feel like I have enough first-hand, or even close second-hand, experience to have a strong opinion either way) but I do want to note that the more plausible position here is a big step back from the fist one claimed, which wasn’t very plausible at all. As philosophers, we’d do much better to take care to make plausible claims when discussing matters like this one. I take it as obvious that the difference between a rejection that is “quick” and one that is done “in a matter of minutes” is clear and material.Report
The journal states that its aims are to foster new approaches and to provide a forum for debate. I winced when Anna Stilz and others claimed that the journal’s role is prestige production and status signaling. Those are perverse values and incentives that perpetuate inequities in academia and beyond. They’re more abhorrent than Wiley’s profit motive because Wiley is a for-profit company after all. Scholarly publishing is a billion-dollar profit-making machine perpetuated by authors who willingly play the prestige game. If scarcity and rejection rates are what drive you, are things like $12k APCs any surprise?
There are many other ways to curate research and mitigate information overload.Report
I’m curious where Anna said that the journal’s role is “prestige production and status signaling.” What she has said is that:
the role of journals in our profession … is to curate a body of well-vetted, high quality work for an audience, to provide feedback that improves people’s arguments, and to serve as a signalling device that validates the importance of someone’s work when they go up for tenure and promotion.
That seems to me to be a *very* different idea and hardly “abhorrent” at all.Report
Annie, given the update from Christian Barry in the Chronicle that the proposed increase at JPP was really rather moderate, can you clarify please what exactly was the proposal made at PPA? You appear to imply a much larger increase was proposed at PPA, e.g. you said on the Leiter blog that it was “35 articles within 60 days”.
I think it is important for transparency to know the details.Report
As I posted on Leiter and also told the Chronicle reporter, the demand we received from Wiley in 2019 was that we needed to accept 35 articles within 60 days. This was part of a mandate to improve the journal’s performance to the publisher’s “reasonable satisfaction.” P&PA historically has published 12-16 articles per year. We were told that our historic publication schedule was no longer financially viable for the company, and so it would have to change. We threatened a lawsuit and in April 2020, Wiley finally backed down from its demands. Wiley has not renewed the demand to P&PA that we increase the publication rate since that date, though general communications from the company’s executive team do continue to stress their focus on maximizing article growth as much as possible.Report
Does this mean 10 per year or times 10? Because the other information we saw suggested they wanted a long-range target of about 10 more per year, over a span of a few years time.Report
If the former editors of JPP are interested in starting up an open-access political philosophy journal I would be happy to consult with them about what is involved.Report
I feel like Bob could get the same editorial board over to a new open-access startup in a heartbeat. He could run it exactly the way he ran JPP, if only the logistical issues could be worked out. It’s reputation would probably be equal to JPP’s in no time.Report
The immediate issue here is Wiley’s actions with regard to JPP. But if this is part of a broader pattern of behaviour then we need to be aware that the stakes here are extremely high. There is a serious risk, if not probability, that JPP will now be destroyed. But the same risk arises for all other philosophy journals that Wiley publishes. It would be a disaster if we lost JPP; a disaster and a catastrophe if we lost JPP and PPA, etc. But if Wiley is happy to destroy JPP, then why not other journals too?
If Wiley cannot make enough money from publishing philosophy journal to cover its costs, consistent with editorial independence, then we and they need to part company. This means that switching to a different mode of publication is not so much advisable as absolutely imperative.Report
I can tell you this is certainly not going on with the journal I edit, The Philosophical Forum, which is published by Wiley.Report
I am very happy to hear that about the Philosophical Forum. I hope it stays that way, and does so in part because the philosophical community in general unambiguously expresses in the present case that such shenanigans will not be tolerated.Report
In the discussions of what to do, there are often two main strategies: 1) stop providing free labor and 2) develop and support non-profit alternatives such as Ergo.
But I wonder if there is a third alternative: deprive for-profit publishers of their profit, by letting librarians know that they do not need to subscribe to particular journals?Report
If I’m understanding it correctly, subscriptions are becoming a small part of the financial equation. It’s the publishing fees, supplied by grant bodies, where the real money is. Cancelling subscriptions to bad journals might help, but it isn’t the kind of existential threat it used to be.Report
Actually I think so-called ‘read and publish’ agreements are becoming the model of choice: paid by an institution like a subscription, but for authors associated with the institution to publish in a journal/with a publisher without paying article charges. Publishers love, because the revenue is the same and it continues to come from their existing customers; authors like, because publication charges go back to being invisible, and readers like, because open access. See here: https://caul.libguides.com/read-and-publish.Report
My understanding is a lot of University libraries get bundled subscriptions, making it difficult (perhaps impossible) to cancel specific journals individually.Report
University libraries are already depriving Wiley and other for-profits of their profit, because U.S. university library budgets have lagged inflation for years and the pandemic resulted in some even deeper cuts. Publishers are increasingly turning to APCs in order (in part) to offset the loss of university-library subscriptions, as I understand it.Report
What is Wiley’s motivation for wanting more articles published? Is it just that, the greater the number of articles, the higher the total fees Wiley will collect in open-access agreements (in which, as I understand it, the author of an accepted article pays a fee in return for which the article is open-access online)? If that’s the explanation, then Wiley’s demand for more articles does not seem to be an effort to counter any real threat to its existing profit margins. Even if a lot of authors choose open-access agreements, large research libraries would still have to subscribe at least to the hard-copy version of the journal(s). And, unless every author chooses an open-access agreement, libraries would have to subscribe to the electronic version as well. Assuming, that is, that the quality of the journal is maintained.
Which leads to a second point: I don’t understand why Wiley doesn’t understand that forcing a respected journal that publishes, say, 30 articles a year to publish 100 or 200 will turn its valuable property into something that libraries may not even want to subscribe to, because the journal will have lost its reputation and prestige. Forcing the journal to publish 200 articles a year may backfire on Wiley economically because many libraries will likely cancel their subscriptions, and those cancellations may not be compensated for by the open-access fees. This is speculation, of course, but it seems to me a possible outcome (although I have no inside knowledge of Wiley’s financial situation or the economics of its journal operations or the precise mix of factors that librarians use to determine which journal subscriptions to buy).Report
The threat to Wiley and other publishers is the following: Many journals are moving towards being entirely OA and online-only, thus removing any need for libraries to pay for subscriptions. Author fees are then meant to replace this lost income. A journal that accepts only a very small number of papers might not covers its basic running costs—at least not without increasing author fees beyond their current barely acceptable level. But of course for-profits want to do do a good deal more than merely meet costs, hence Wiley’s ludicrous targets.Report
Thank you for the explanation.Report
What’s puzzling to me purely from a business perspective is, surely Wiley realizes that the reason people are trying to publish in their journals and are willing to pay fees to do so is because of the journals’ selectiveness?Report
Predatory journals fill their pages, and money looks the same no matter who it comes from.Report
The following can both be true:
1. JPP and journals like it should increase the number of papers they publish significantly.
2. Wiley’s actions are badly explained and violate editorial independence in troubling ways.
On 1: I basically view such journals as in the business of prestige production and that, as structured, actually undermine advancing and disseminating scholarship in a timely fashion. They also create a weird lottery for junior scholars and way too much pressure on referees because entirely adequate papers end up being refereed at too many journals before they find a home.
On 2: it’s my understanding that publishers are being pushed into their stance by their open access agreements with universities and (national) grant agencies, which understandably want slots where publicly funded research can appear. One can be critical of the content of these agreements (I think they are flawed in lots of ways). But they are serving the public good more than our journal’s low acceptance rates.
I certainly don’t support a sudden regime change where journals have to publish tenfold more articles on a short notice. That is undoubtedly harmful and unwise. But existing acceptance rates in philosophy are comparatively low and if publishers get us to change this by nudging us in the right direction, it will ultimately be for the better.Report
A quick Google search shows that Wiley publishes 24 philosophy journals, including some of the highest prestige ones that everyone wants to publish in. Is the goal to get Wiley to restore complete editorial discretion or to abandon ship and create something better? Because I can think of a quick way to solve either problem involving resignations at those other 24 journals. This is not a large field for which we need to coordinate a lot of people to change things.Report
Though JPP has served an important role in the field of political philosophy, its editorial processes have not exactly been exemplary. This is the same journal whose all-white editorial team published an issue on Black Lives Matter that failed to feature any authors of color: https://dailynous.com/2017/05/26/philosophical-symposium-black-lives-matter-without-black-authors/
If JPP used a triple blind review process, then maybe it would have an excuse. But unlike Ethics and PPA, it does not have triple blind review. JPP desk rejects the bulk of papers is receives, around 70%, without authors having the benefit of blind review from the editorial team. Given everything we know from psychology, it’s highly implausible that Goodin and his editorial team are entirely free from bias in making those decisions and never give preference to authors to whom they have some connection. Despite a move to triple blind review at other philosophy journals, Goodin and his editorial team have resisted such a move.
Though I don’t endorse the financial motives driving Wiley’s decision, the shakeup at JPP could potentially have benefits. First, the leading journals in political philosophy and ethics — JPP, PPA, and Ethics — publish a paltry number of articles each year. For Ethics and PPA, each publishes around 3 original research articles per issue, with 4 issues per year. For JPP, it publishes around 6 original research articles per issue, with 4 articles per year. I’m skeptical that the quality of these journals would plummet if they published significantly more articles than they do now. Philosophy journals have some of the lowest acceptance rates compared to other fields: https://dailynous.com/2018/05/24/insanely-low-acceptance-rates-philosophy-journals/. This is just one way that philosophy as a field likes to shoot itself in the foot, similar to its poor practices in citing others. Many journals in other fields already publish significantly more articles and continue to be well respected. PNAS publishes an issue every week with more original research articles than JPP publishes in a year.
Second, if you look at the editorial boards for JPP, PPA, and Ethics, there is a great deal of overlap between them. Jonathan Quong, one of the most vocal critics of Goodin getting sacked, is an associate editor at PPA and Ethics, as well as an editorial board members of JPP. Quong does terrific work, but when you have the same people serving at gatekeepers at all the elite journals, that necessarily can limit the diversity in approaches and perspectives featured in the journals that everyone in the profession reads. An editorial board at JPP that looks significantly different than those at PPA and Ethics might not be the worst thing for the profession.Report
This newspiece starts with a wrongful sentence. Gooden has never founded JPP. He probably had the idea of it, put a lot of time, effort and professionalism in building the journal, running it, yet he did not found it.
A journal has an owner, who can be a person, an institution, a company, almost everything, depending on local IP laws. Wiley is not only the publisher, but the owner, which is the only problem here: they can do almost whatever they wish with their journal.
They can sell it, they can stop it, they can change its business formula from subscription to hybrid to OA APC and nobody else has a say. Editor in chief, editorial members, authors, reviewers, readers, whole communities have no control whatsoever on their decisions.
At the end of the last century, SPARC had applied the classical US political philosophy to journals by lauching the “declaration of independance” movement. Since then, dozens of journals, that is not the owners but the actual workers, have gone out of free labor and lack of community control (a non-comprehensive list is here).
I hope not only JPP committe but others will consider this move and for example go to MIT Press which would have welcomed them in their shift+open program.Report
Those of you who advocate for boycotting the JPP must be pretty sure that:
1) You can win this battle to get Goodin and the rest of the editorial team back, instead of just destroying one of the best journals in political philosophy, or else you can set up a journal which is as good and renowned as the JPP.
2) Wiley knows nothing about how to run its journals, and without the former editorial team the JPP is going to collapse by its own weight (not by the pressure of the boicot itself).
Even if the cause were just, if you are not sure you can put something better in place, then you better not boycott the JPP.Report
The boycott will not kill the journal. The boycott will convey to Wiley that they will kill the journal unless they retreat and reach some appropriate solution with the current team. There is zero possibility that JPP can survive as a top journal in the field if Wiley sees fit to remove editors because they refuse to turn the journal into a paper mill.Report
While I cannot speak for the situation at JPP, as the editor of another Wiley philosophy journal (The Philosophical Forum), I can say that Wiley has *never* pressured me to include more articles in the journal. Not once. This has simply not been my experience with them at all. On the contrary, I’ve found them very supportive even with the lower publication rate my journal has had in the last couple of years as I have tried to shift toward a more international focus for the journal. Much of what’s been said about Wiley’s practices toward journals in the last week just doesn’t match my experience with them.Report
This is not to say that such pressure wasn’t going on at JPP or to dismiss the concerns of the JPP folks. Rather, it’s only to say that this is definitely not the situation for all Wiley philosophy journals, because it’s not the situation for mine. My experience with them has been entirely positive and productive.Report
From the Chronicle: “According to Barry, Wiley’s original request was much higher. The journal had published 24 articles in 2022, per Barry. Wiley first proposed that the journal publish 30 articles in 2024, 32 in 2025, and 34 in 2026 — a more than 40-percent increase from its current level of production over a three-year span, Barry said.”
These requests from Wiley, even if their motivations are dubious, are hardly as outrageous as they’ve been portrayed. Elite journals’ resistance to providing more space to good work, in a world where there is more philosophy being written, reflects a certain NIMBYism that hopefully this incident can bring attention to and help overcome.Report
I appreciate your contributions to this conversation NPTSP. Although I can understand those who say that what they *really* object to is the threat of undermining editorial independence, I can’t say that I’m personally moved by that plea when it’s coming from editors who somehow insist that:
We should trust their decisions about what good and bad philosophy isTheir journals reject 90% or more of what’s submitted to them such thatPublishing 10 more articles a year would radically decrease the quality of their journalIf I’m to trust the editors then what they’re telling me is that, out of hundreds of submissions only 24 are worth publishing and that publishing any amount more than that would dilute the quality of their brand even if those same rejected articles end up being published, and often very influential, in other equally good venues.
If it were me, I would much prefer type 2 over type 1 errors and I haven’t heard any justification here from anyone about why the reverse is better. I’d rather occasionally publish a mediocre article (which they’re already going to be doing anyway) and publish more fantastic work (whose true impact our reviewers or editors didn’t fully appreciate initially) than to try to somehow preserve some ideal of only publishing work that my and my editor colleagues believe are the absolute best. Given the evidence to the contrary (that these same editors reject articles that go on to have high impact), more intellectual humility about quality seems justified.
Let *10* more flowers bloom!Report
I like your moderate Feyerabend stance … we do not need to say anything goes … but at least 10 more things should goReport