NDPR Now Welcomes Book Review Proposals

Last month’s discussion of book reviews discussed, among other things, the decline in the number of reviews published by Notre Dame Philosophical Reviews (NDPR). A policy change may reverse that trend.

NDPR does not accept unsolicited book reviews, and has to date only published book reviews that it has invited people to write.

Now, it will accept unsolicited book review proposals from prospective reviewers. If the proposal is approved, then the person making the proposal will be invited to submit a review.

The new policy is on the NDPR website:

Reviews are commissioned and vetted by a distinguished international Editorial Board. We do not accept unsolicited reviews, but welcome proposals for reviews from suitably qualified reviewers (in the normal course of affairs, a qualified reviewer will have received a doctoral degree in philosophy or other relevant discipline). In the event that a proposal is received, we will vet it in the normal way with our Editorial Board before determining whether to issue an invitation to write a review. 

The current editor of NDPR is Christopher Shields (UCSD).


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Paul Wilson
1 month ago

A welcome development and a testimony to the growing influence of the Daily Nous.

Marc Champagne
1 month ago

Given that 1) folks who reach out with a suggested review cannot be surprised by the book they engage with, and given that 2) this element of surprise can be valuable — we don’t want to merely confirm what we already know, and given that 3) nepotism and citation cartels are a thing, it might be worthwhile for the NDPR site to make explicit the origin of each review.

V. Alan White
Reply to  Marc Champagne
1 month ago

Excellent points.

Daniel Weltman
Reply to  Marc Champagne
1 month ago

I don’t know about 1). Can’t I pick a book more or less at random and decide to review it?

Matt L
Reply to  Marc Champagne
1 month ago

I’m not sure I understand these worries, especially 1). What do you mean be “surprised by the book they engage with”? Why, if I know of a book that sounds interesting, and I wrote to the NDPR and asked if they’d like me to review it (I think that’s the imagined process) would I be any less “surprised by the book” than if a journal or the NDPR approached me and asked me to review the book? I’m really not seeing the issue here, but maybe I’m missing something.

On 3), just as the editors would, typically, try not to ask students to review the work of their dissertation advisors, or other cases that might be considered nepotism, I assume they’d not accept proposals to review in those cases, either. Might some people try to game good reviews by offering to do the same for others? I suppose so, but I doubt this is a huge problem in philosophy. (My own advice to people is, in most cases, think twice before accepting review requests for books by people you’re friendly with, because it can be unpleasant if your have to be critical, but of course it’s still possible to do a fair review.) I guess the chance of bad behavior is somewhat higher here with this process, but not that much, and it can be worked against.