Editors at Philosophy & Public Affairs Resign; Will Launch New OA Journal


The executive, associate, and advisory editors and all of the editorial board members of one of the most influential journals in moral and political philosophy, Philosophy & Public Affairs, have resigned en masse.

According to their statement (below), crucial aims of scholarly journals are “not well-served by commercial publishing.” Philosophy & Public Affairs is published by Wiley, the sixth largest publishing corporation in the world by revenue (over $2 billion annually).

The outgoing editors and editorial board members will be launching a new diamond open-access journal to be published by Open Library of Humanities (OLH), and will be occupying at the new journal the same positions they held at Philosophy & Public Affairs. (Current editor-in-chief of Philosophy & Public Affairs, Anna Stilz, is not among the statement’s signatories. In answer to an inquiry about that, she replied, “I cannot comment on this at this time.” That said, it is worth noting that Stilz has been publicly critical of Wiley in the past—see, for example, the updates on this post.)

Readers may recall the similar resignation last year of the editorial team at the Journal of Political Philosophy, another Wiley journal, and that team’s creation of Political Philosophy, also a diamond open-access journal published by OLH. At least 11 Wiley journals have seen mass editorial resignations since 2018, according to Retraction Watch.

The as-of-yet-unnamed new journal will be open for submissions beginning in September.

In the statement below, the editors and editorial board members announce their resignation, explain their reasons for it and for their creation of an open-access journal, and discuss issues related to submissions currently under review at Philosophy & Public Affairs.


The following is a statement from the executive, associate, and advisory editors and all the members of the editorial board of Philosophy & Public Affairs.

We are unanimously resigning from our editorial roles at Philosophy & Public Affairs, published by Wiley, and launching a new diamond open-access journal published by Open Library of Humanities (OLH). All of us will play the same editorial roles in the new journal and will retain the aim of publishing the best philosophical work touching on matters of public importance.

We take this step because we believe that scholarly journals—including our own—serve important purposes, and that these purposes are not well-served by commercial publishing. For three decades now, academic journals have suffered from their ownership by for-profit publishers, who have exploited their monopoly position to sharply raise prices, unduly burdening subscribing libraries and shutting out other institutions and individuals from access to research. The recent rise of the author-funded “open access” model has only reinforced academic inequality, since scholars with access to fewer resources are unable to pay the fees that make their work freely accessible; it has also incentivized commercial publishers to try to publish as many articles as possible and so to pressure rigorous journals to weaken or abandon their quality controls.

Faced with this conflict between purpose and business model, we have decided to embrace the purpose and move to an alternative model.

The alternative—which our librarian colleagues have been urging for some time—is for libraries, universities, and other academic institutions to offer direct support for the publication of open-access journals, which are guided by independent scholarly judgment and freely available for authors and readers. We are delighted to have found precisely this model at OLH, an award-winning diamond open-access publisher supported by a consortium of libraries and funding agencies.

If diamond open-access journals are so good, why are they not already dominant? Partly because we all have day jobs and transitions take time. In addition, our careers depend on publishing in journals with name recognition, reputation, and high impact factors. These publications are now typically owned by commercial publishers. Colleagues often cannot afford to take a chance on untested journals. This is why, as editors of one of the leading journals in our field, we feel a strong responsibility to move toward a new, better, arrangement.

Our plan, if Wiley permits it, is to complete the reviews for all revised submissions received prior to this announcement. We apologize to authors who recently submitted manuscripts to Philosophy & Public Affairs, and we recognize the especially high cost to authors who have been revising their manuscripts, but who have not yet resubmitted. We very much regret these costs but saw no realistic way to avoid them. We hope to make the new journal worthy of these costs.

We plan to launch the new journal (whose name will be announced shortly) and begin accepting submissions in September 2024. Please send us your best work in moral and political philosophy and adjacent fields, take note of our migration in your hiring, tenure, and promotion decisions, and encourage your colleagues to do the same.

We are excited to embark on this new adventure. We hope you share our excitement and join us in making this new venture a great success.

Signed,

Outgoing Executive Editors

Jonathan Quong, University of Southern California, USA
Patrick Tomlin, University of Warwick, UK

Outgoing Associate Editors

Arash Abizadeh, McGill University, Canada
Nico Cornell, University of Michigan, USA
Garrett Cullity, Australian National University
Marc Fleurbaey, Paris School of Economics, France
Johann Frick, University of California, Berkeley, USA
Joe Horton, University College London, UK
Sophia Moreau, University of Toronto, Canada
Kristi Olson, Bowdoin College, USA
Japa Pallikkathayil, University of Pittsburgh, USA
Gina Schouten, Harvard University, USA
Zofia Stemplowska, University of Oxford, UK
Adam Swift, University College London, UK

Outgoing Advisory Editors

Charles R. Beitz, Princeton University, USA
Joshua Cohen, Apple University, University of California, Berkeley, USA
Alan Patten, Princeton University, USA
Arthur Ripstein, University of Toronto, Canada
Seana Shiffrin, University of California, Los Angeles, USA
R. Jay Wallace, University of California, Berkeley, USA

Outgoing Editorial Board

Elizabeth Anderson, University of Michigan, USA
Cheshire Calhoun, Arizona State University, USA
David Estlund, Brown University, USA
Archon Fung, Harvard Kennedy School, USA
Barbara Herman, University of California, Los Angeles, USA
Pamela Hieronymi, University of California, Los Angeles, USA
Frances Myrna Kamm, Rutgers University, USA
Niko Kolodny, University of California, Berkeley, USA
Jeff McMahan, Oxford University, UK
Liam Murphy, New York University, USA
Debra Satz, Stanford University, USA
Samuel Scheffler, New York University, USA
Amartya Sen, Harvard University, USA
Tommie Shelby, Harvard University, USA
Amia Srinivasan, Oxford University, UK
Jeremy Waldron, New York University, USA
Stuart White, Oxford University, UK
Gideon Yaffe, Yale University, USA


A PDF of the statement is here.

UPDATE 1 (5/22/24): I’m informed by some of the editorial team that the journal’s founding editors—Marshall Cohen, Tim Scanlon, and Tom Nagel—were consulted about this decision and fully support it.

UPDATE 2 (5/23/24): Inside Higher Ed reports on the story.

UPDATE 3 (5/24/24): Tyler Cowen (GMU), at Marginal Revolution, says: “I am rooting for them, but can they succeed?”

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Daniel Weltman
1 month ago

Sic semper Wiley (etc.) journals! Now is a good time to encourage your institution/library to become an OLH supporter. I’m sure it’s a lot of work but if lots of philosophy journals would swap over like this it would be pretty neat, I think.

Barry Lam
1 month ago

*applause….*standing ovation….

counterpart
counterpart
1 month ago

Competing business interests aside, Wiley ought to be boycotted for their crimes against typesetting.

Endtimes
Endtimes
Reply to  counterpart
1 month ago

Endnotes instead of footnotes? Directly to jail.

counterpart
counterpart
Reply to  Endtimes
1 month ago

I can tolerate endnotes! But I can’t tolerate .2″ margins and tiny sans serif fonts. I hope whoever got promoted for uglifying our journals is enjoying themselves.

reply guy
reply guy
1 month ago

I had a reply piece under review there, which I suppose is now lost to the ether. Any recommendations on other good journals that might accept reply pieces to papers originally in PPA?

SCM
SCM
Reply to  reply guy
1 month ago

I expect the thing to do will be to inquire with the editor about its status, and possibly resubmit it to the new journal. Ideally the new journal will be as close to a direct continuation of PPA as possible. If there have already been reviews of the piece for PPA (which may be done by the journal AEs — I don’t know), the new journal might honour those reviews (especially if it is the same group of people). No doubt this will add months to the timetable, which I imagine is very frustrating, but I don’t think you should assume your work on the paper as a PPA submission is all for naught. (I am no way affiliated with PPA or the new journal, so have no inside knowledge here.)

Daniel Weltman
Reply to  reply guy
1 month ago

The Journal of Ethics and Social Philosophy will accept it.

Duncan
Duncan
1 month ago

Well, this is the strangest rejection letter I’ve ever received.

Postdoc
Postdoc
1 month ago

Are there legal or procedural hurdles to allowing those who have R&Rs at PPA (not me, so I don’t make this proposal from self-interest) but who have not yet resubmitted to submit to the new journal with the promise that the editors will send along the letter detailing the revisions to the referees and that the editors will try to secure the same referees who reviewed the piece initially? Since this journal is likely to start with an already strong reputation, it would be nice for those who had advanced in the process with PPA to be treated by the new journal as though their submission is a resubmission.

doctoral student
doctoral student
1 month ago

I have a question about these new open-access journals: are they indexed in Scopus and Journal Citation Reports (JCR)? I ask this because in my country at least articles published in journals that do not appear in these rankings, even if they have a very good reputation, count for very little.

Peter Hamilton
Peter Hamilton
Reply to  doctoral student
1 month ago

Wow you’re a philosophy student and take no account of the argument and ethics.

Kenny Easwaran
Reply to  Peter Hamilton
1 month ago

I’m sure they took account of the argument and ethics, and thought that they were clear enough. However, this person had a question about a related practical matter, so they asked about that, rather than asking about the thing that they thought was clear and straightforward.

doctoral student
doctoral student
Reply to  Peter Hamilton
1 month ago

I did understand the argument, but apart from doing political philosophy, I would like to make a career in academia, and as a doctoral student I am in no position to change the rules I need to abide by in order to make a career. I am glad you have no practical concerns, I really am…

any editor
any editor
Reply to  doctoral student
1 month ago

New journals are not automatically included in those journal indices. Someone at the journal needs to apply for evaluation with the index. Typically this requires a track record of a few years of publishing to demonstrate that the requirements of the index are met. This new journal will not be in the indices for a few years at least.

Kate Norlock
Reply to  doctoral student
1 month ago

Scopus journals tend to be for-profit publishers’ journals because the corporations provide the necessary supports and infrastructure that promotes acceptance of the application to be indexed. Applications to all of the different indexes takes effort but OA journal editors do apply. You’ll find some OA journals of repute indexed on Scopus like Philosopher’s Imprint, but you won’t find Ergo (yet), which is also well-regarded.
It is hardest to get Scopus, in my limited experience. They recently rejected my application to index Feminist Philosophy Quarterly mainly on the grounds that we don’t have an “editor in chief,” which was exceptionally disappointing because we have a cooperative team-based editorial model that I think is excellent. So I’m asking my colleagues at our next meeting to agree to a more hierarchical structure just to get indexed in Scopus (sigh).

Kate Norlock
Reply to  Kate Norlock
1 month ago

I should add: It is also the case that being indexed in Scopus does not automatically indicate quality, as if all of them are/would be considered better than all absent journals. I’ve seen Ergo listed as a well-regarded journal in polls and lists that don’t include most of these Scopus-indexed journals:
Scopus indexed Philosophy journals (listofjournals.com)

doctoral student
doctoral student
Reply to  Kate Norlock
1 month ago

Thank you very much! And of course I agree: the quality of an article does not necessarily depend on the ranking of the journal. But I guess most philosophers still abide by these rankings when submitting their work. In fact, I have seen very few (if any) top political philosophers whose work is not published in Ethics, PPA, JPP, Political Theory, APSR, AJPS, EJPT, and so on. So I think that we are partly responsible for reproducing these perverse incentives…

Kate Norlock
Reply to  doctoral student
1 month ago

I’m saying even more than you take me to be saying: The quality of the journal does not depend on its being indexed in Scopus at all. (I think Ergo is top-notch and a lot of the Scopus-indexed journals never appear on polls/lists of highly regarded journals.) But I am certain you’re right that philosophers with prestige tend to uphold the prestige-economy. I don’t see their names appearing in less prestigious journals very often.

James Cummings
James Cummings
Reply to  Kate Norlock
1 month ago

Well then, Scopus sounds very much like a malignant AI. Could someone help me pull the plug on this beast?

Daniel Weltman
Reply to  doctoral student
1 month ago

I think many philosophers have not heard of SCOPUS and most of those who have heard of it are only vaguely aware of what it is. Of those who are vaguely aware of what it is, fewer still are aware of its rankings. Of those aware of its rankings, fewer still abide by them in the sense of consulting the rankings when it comes time to submit a paper. In fact I would be surprised if anyone publishing in Ethics, PPA, JPP, Political Theory, APSR, AJPS, etc. does so on the basis of the SCOPUS rankings of those journals.

My impression, rather, is that academia is subdivided into those of us lucky enough to be working in contexts where people important to our careers pay the proper amount of regard to SCOPUS rankings (zero) and those of us unlucky enough to be working in contexts where people important to our careers pay some degree of attention to the SCOPUS rankings. People in the first category ignore the rankings (as everyone on this planet ought to) and publish in those fancy journals for other reasons (e.g. because their peers consider the journals fancy). People in the second category are usually unlucky enough to have all sorts of ridiculous publication metrics to meet, but luckily there are plenty of junky SCOPUS journals, and so one tends to publish in those instead, since that’s much easier than getting a paper in (say) Ethics.

So, I think it’s unfair to say philosophers are the ones responsible for the perverse incentives. In my experience it’s entirely administrators in universities or government officials who use SCOPUS ratings for anything other than a source of random numbers to gaze upon for the purposes of contemplating the Forms or clearing one’s mind of distractions.

You might say that even if philosophers ignore the rankings, they still “abide” by the rankings by submitting to highly ranked SCOPUS journals. I think that’s unfair too. If I make up the Danny List which ranks philosophy journals according to my favorite criteria, and it turns out people mostly submit to journals high on the Danny List, nobody can fairly accuse anyone of abiding by the Danny List and thereby propping it up. The Danny List happens to track what people are doing for reasons that have nothing to do with the Danny List. Ditto SCOPUS.

That, at least, is granting your assumption that people follow the SCOPUS rankings by preferring the highly ranked SCOPUS journals to the lower ranked SCOPUS journals (and to non-SCOPUS journals). But they don’t, I think. People rate Moral Philosophy and Politics, Res Publica, Kantian Review, the Journal of Value Inquiry, Law and Philosophy, and plenty of other Q2 SCOPUS journals over many Q1 SCOPUS journals. And Kate has pointed out quite correctly that many journals held in high esteem, like Ergo, are not even indexed by SCOPUS in the first place.

curious
curious
1 month ago

I am wondering if from our perspective as academic philosophers there is ANY downside to this particular move or to this being done wholesale by philosophy journals. I can’t think of any downsides from our perspective (I don’t mind Wiley making less money), and a bunch of upsides. But is this the case? I am not trying to play devil’s advocate, I am just wondering if I am missing something.

Kate Norlock
Reply to  curious
1 month ago

Downsides may include the offloading of more service to individual philosophy professors (and depending on where you work, using your personal or research funds to do it). In my experience, launching a fully diamond-OA journal means locating your own publishing platform, to an extent designing your own website, sorting your own editorial policies and writing them and researching how other DOAJ journals do them, applying to all the indexes, writing grant applications for money to pay a copyeditor and a student assistant, finding and hiring either of those… My co-editors and I have done this and much more for free with no course releases or anything because we believe in the worth of having Feminist Philosophy Quarterly but it’s a lot at first. (Thank heavens it’s easier now, up and running for ten years!) The first time I told someone we did this with our research funds and internal grants until we could get a big external grant, she was amazed that we would even try. It’s not nothing.

Fool
Fool
Reply to  Kate Norlock
1 month ago

It’s worth noting that Open Library of the Humanities (the new location for the journal discussed in the opening post here) handles itself most of the things Kate Norlock discusses here. Creating a new diamond open access journal entirely by oneself is indeed a vast effort. The effort of shifting a journal to be hosted and run through OLH is somewhat less vast.

Peter Finocchiaro
Peter Finocchiaro
Reply to  curious
1 month ago

I think the indexing concern that doctoral student mentioned above is worth taking seriously. High-prestige journals doing this move negatively impacts those philosophers who rely on these indexes for hiring, tenure, promotion, etc. I think (but I’m not sure) that that will disproportionately affect philosophers in the so-called Global South or other lower-prestige places. If someone at an elite department publishes in this new journal, then the fancy people who look at their CV will know that it is just PPA under a different business model and give credit accordingly. Not everyone can rely on the knowledge of fancy people, though, and some of us are restricted by (obviously) inflexible markers of prestige like indexes

Kate Norlock
Reply to  Peter Finocchiaro
1 month ago

Well, if it was done ‘wholesale’ by all Philosophy journals then this would be a non-issue, haha! But realistically, since all journals won’t do this, I’d say that it will only have the impact you’re describing on scholars at schools who care only about Scopus indexing and not about h-index or anything else, AND this would only be a problem for the three or four years that it takes the journal to apply and build an archive.
[Anecdata: I’ve only ever worked in North America but my two undergrad (‘lower-prestige’) institutions wouldn’t care about this at all.]

Peter Finocchiaro
Peter Finocchiaro
Reply to  Kate Norlock
1 month ago

Well, to speak of my own anecdata, my contract requirements are specifically for publications in A&HCI- and SSCI-indexed journals, which excludes a lot of great journals that I’d love to publish in (and sometimes do, they just don’t count toward this requirement). Scopus isn’t part of it, nor is h-index.

I don’t really see how a ‘wholesale’ move would make it a non-issue. These requirements aren’t coming from philosophers to begin with, so if all philosophy journals were un-indexed then either I have to start submitting to non-philosophy journals or have an emergency meeting with the university president

an editor
an editor
Reply to  Peter Finocchiaro
1 month ago

My situation is also like Peter’s. My university only counts journals in certain indices, such as A&HCI, SSCI, and Scopus. Publications in venues not in at least one of those indices do not officially count for me and my colleagues. My understanding is that this model is common in east Asia and South America. It seems like other indices and rankings are important in different countries in Europe.

It’d be great if our colleagues in North America would refrain from assuming that the universities in the rest of the world evaluate research in the same way as those in North America.

Nicolas Delon
Nicolas Delon
Reply to  an editor
1 month ago

I work in North America but I’m surprised by the casual disregard of my colleagues for what appears to be a valid concern—albeit not an insurmountable one; it’s just a small handful of prestige journals we’re talking about. I have tremendous admiration for OA journals, submit to them when I can, and do not have to worry about Scopus or other indices. But I know that academics in Europe and outside of the Anglophone world are bound by different standards, and it seems very privileged and, frankly, a little too obnoxious to act as if the concerns that the philosophers upthread have raised are symptoms of rankings delusion or some sort of lack of appreciation for the true good journals.

Last edited 1 month ago by Nicolas Delon
Kate Norlock
Reply to  Nicolas Delon
30 days ago

I’m completely lost – where did casual disregard happen?

Nicolas Delon
Nicolas Delon
Reply to  Kate Norlock
28 days ago

Maybe subpar phrasing, but you and Danny seemed unwilling to simply acknowledge the concern raised as genuine and instead tried to convince Doctoral Student and Peter otherwise. If I misinterpreted your approach I apologize. Casual disregard simply meant that, as Peter put it, the worry should be taken seriously, and I didn’t really see it happening. (I think we can all agree Scopus is crap, but that’s completely irrelevant given the state of assessment metrics described.)

Kate Norlock
Reply to  Peter Finocchiaro
30 days ago

It would be less likely to be an emergency meeting and more likely to be a meeting with a dean and/or VP, right? If all philosophy journals announced such a move then the department would have to initiate a policy change, in most schools. Policy is form-able. But if you’re saying that the school you’re describing has no Philosophy department then that is rough. Sympathies (but again it’s unlikely that all journals will so do).

Gorm
Reply to  curious
1 month ago

Curious
There are downsides, and people have to realize that the big publishers (and the small ones too) add value to the publication process. Let me pick some low hanging fruit. Go look at the webpage for Feminist Philosophical Quarterly (I did). It looks quite unprofessional; it looks like a part-time out of the basement type of production. There is no sense of design. Does this matter? I certainly think so. And I imagine it affects who submits to the journal. After looking at the webpage I would not submit to it. As I said, this is low hanging fruit.

Charles Pigden
Charles Pigden
Reply to  Gorm
27 days ago

Totally disagree. In response to Curious’s post I checked out FPQ’s website (which I have never visited before) and found it perspicuous, easy to navigate and informative. A fair bit easier to deal with than many of the publisher-run websites.

Evelyn Rose
Evelyn Rose
Reply to  curious
1 month ago

Eccentrically, I much prefer reading journals in print, where possible. So one downside is that, if I am understanding correctly, this new P&PA won’t have print editions. (All things considered, I’m still in favour of the move, of course.)

Walter Horn
1 month ago

Such an impressive list of scholars who will be moving on. Tough to replace that group with equivalent value, I bet.

Dear Abby
Dear Abby
1 month ago

I’m just wondering if they’ll retain the letters submission option at the new journal? I thought this was a really cool idea and I’d hate to see it fall by the wayside. (Also, full disclosure I started to write one and I hope it’s not orphaned).

Tim
Tim
Reply to  Dear Abby
1 month ago

What was the letters submission? Don’t remember hearing about this. Thanks

Tim
Tim
Reply to  Justin Weinberg
30 days ago

Thanks for that Justin

Bob Hall
Bob Hall
28 days ago

I hope the new journal will be called Public Affairs & Philosophy

Thomas Brouwer
Thomas Brouwer
14 days ago

As these sorts of journal ‘reincarnations’ become more frequent, I guess it’ll create more of a need for some kind of resource that tracks them, so that people know where to redirect their papers. Presumably Wiley will just try to keep their version of the journal going with a new editorial board, and there will be some people out there that will submit to that journal because they think it’s still the same well-respected journal as it was before. Is anyone aware of a resource out there already doing that sort of coordinating work? I guess the more general point is just that the success of these sorts of manoeuvres depends a lot on our collective ability to create common knowledge about them.