Session on the Journal of Political Philosophy at Upcoming APA

The upcoming Eastern Division meeting of the American Philosophical Association (APA) will include a session on the Journal of Political Philosophy, in light of the uproar following the decision of its publisher, Wiley, to fire the journal’s editor and founder, Robert Goodin (ANU).

The decision, made in April, is scheduled to take effect at the end of this month.

In protest of the decision, the rest of the journal’s editorial team and its advisory board resigned.

The decision prompted a statement of non-cooperation with the journal that, as of today, has been signed by 1107 academics who work in areas covered by the journal. The statement says:

In light of:

      • the recent decision taken by John Wiley and Sons to terminate Prof. Robert Goodin’s editorship of the Journal of Political Philosophy at the end of 2023,
      • the consequent resignations of the vast majority of the journal’s editorial board,
      • and the inadequate explanation offered by Wiley as to their decision,

we the undersigned resolve, from the point at which Prof. Goodin is no longer the editor of the journal, to:

      • decline any invitation to join the editorial board of the journal, 
      • refuse any request to review papers submitted for publication in the journal, and
      • refrain from submitting any papers for publication in the journal

unless and until:

      • the decision to terminate Prof. Goodin’s editorship is rescinded,
      • full editorial independence of the editors over the journal’s publications is restored, and
      • all questions concerning the future relationship between Wiley and the journal are resolved to the satisfaction of the editorial board as recently constituted.

The session is being put on by Wiley as part of the group program. Here’s the description:

Wiley is hosting an open session as a space for the community to discuss the Journal of Political Philosophy. Dr. Hannah Reed, Journal Publisher, and Rebecca Walter, Director of Social Sciences & Humanities Journals, will talk openly regarding recent events, will be happy to field questions, and welcome engagement from the community to guide the journal to a successful future.

It is taking place Wednesday, January 17th, at 11:00am.

Philosophers who work in political philosophy and related areas, philosophers concerned with the relationship between for-profit publishers and academic workers, and philosophers who value editorial independence, among others, may be interested in attending the session.

It is not known whether Wiley’s efforts to constitute a new editorial team for the journal have been successful.


University of Luxembourg Philosophy
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2 months ago

I am very happy that Wiley are doing this. I look forward to hearing that they have fired the incompetent parties responsible for this debacle, have agreed to sell JPP for a single Australian peppercorn, and are now committed to participating in academic publishing in a way that respects the fact that their job is simply to provide a service to academics, not to tell us how many papers to publish or who our journal editors will be.

Kenny Easwaran
Reply to  SCM
2 months ago

I had forgotten that the controversy here was that Wiley wanted the journal to publish more papers. This seems very a propos in light of a recent discussion on this blog of quantitative journal rankings:

One set of quantitative rankings discussed in the paper cited there involves the h-index. The paper points out:

Another feature of the h-index is that it is sensitive to the number of articles a journal publishes per year. Harzing and van der Wal (2009) give the example of two well-known economics journals, one “small” journal publishing 15–20 highly cited papers, and one “big” journal with 160–170 not very highly cited papers. The “big” journal ends up with the highest h-index

The basic idea is that a journal that publishes 24 articles a year (like JPP) just can’t have an h-index higher than 24, no matter how many times each of those papers is cited, while a journal that publishes several hundred articles a year might be able to get an h-index of 25 or 30, as long as a few dozen of those papers get fairly well cited.

The sensitivity of h-index to total number of publications is sometimes said to be reasonable (after all, an author who publishes more total papers, or a journal that publishes more total papers, is in some obvious sense making a larger contribution to the field than an author or journal that publishes fewer papers). (In the previous discussion, some people noted that Synthese and Phil Studies were the two highly-ranked journals whose position on the reputational survey and on the bibliometric measures had greatest disparity – this seems to be in part because these two journals publish a lot more papers than the other highly-ranked journals, and thus score much higher on h-index type metrics.)

Whether or not this is a reasonable property for a journal ranking to be based on, the fact that just increasing one’s total publication numbers is a straightforward way to move higher on certain metrics might be a motivation for why some publishers push journals to increase total publication numbers (even beyond the collection of open access publication fees, which were the focus of discussion in that early thread).

(Incidentally, does anyone know the history of how Synthese and Phil Studies ended up publishing so many more papers than some of the other highly-ranked journals? The fact that both of them are with Springer makes me wonder if there were incidents like the one that Wiley has been trying to pull with the Journal of Political Philosophy, but which succeeded.)

Just saying
Just saying
2 months ago

Wiley is a company trying to make profit. If some of their journals are not making money since these journals do not publish enough papers they will shut them down. The editorial team of the JPP can move the journal elsewhere if they are not happy with the arrangement with Wiley.

Reply to  Just saying
2 months ago

Since Wiley unfortunately owns the journal, moving it elsewhere is not a unilateral decision that the editorial team can take. A different journal can of course be established elsewhere as a successor to JPP, but there would be some value in continuity if Wiley agreed to sell the journal to the editorial team, or ANU, or whomever, for a nominal amount. Many philosophy journals have moved from Wiley to other publishers over the years, so there is no reason why they can’t allow the same thing to happen here.

Björn Lundgren
Björn Lundgren
Reply to  SCM
2 months ago

Presumably, many of the journals that have moved were not owned by Wiley, but merely hade a publication agreement with Wiley.

2 months ago

May it go the way of Lingua (now Zombie Lingua), replaced by Glossa:

Björn Lundgren
Björn Lundgren
2 months ago

Oddly, unless I’m blind, the current journal website includes NO information about who edits the journal.

Nicholas Tampio
1 month ago

Where will the Wiley meeting be on January 17 at 11am? May we attend if we are not registered?