Tuesday, January 18, 2011

The top philosophy journals: initial results

Readers will be aware of the philosophy journal poll I have been hosting here. The poll was comprehensive in that it covered over 140 philosophy journals, most of them suggestions by readers. These journals cover the full spectrum of the discipline. There have been more than 36,000 votes cast already and I believe we can draw some initial findings. Journals are each assigned a score: this is the percent (%) chance that voters will select this journal as their favourite if asked to choose between this journal and a second journal chosen at random.

The first finding is that there appears to be a top tier of philosophy journals -- this is not controversial -- that is relatively small -- this latter part may be more controversial.

From the poll, the top tier of philosophy journals appears to consist of the following publications:

1. Journal of Philosophy 87

2. Philosophical Review 84
3. Philosophy & Phenomenological Research 83
3. Nous 83 
5. Mind 82 
6. Ethics 80

I say that these appear to be the top tier as each were no. 1 or 2 at some point during the voting (unlike other journals). Each would be selected at least 80% of the time if paired with a second journal chosen at random.

A further finding is that the second tier of journals -- which we might classify as chosen at least 60-79% of the time when paired with a second journal chosen at random -- is perhaps surprsingly large. This second tier might consist of the following journals:

7. Philosophical Studies 79
8. Synthese 77
8. Philosophy & Public Affairs 77
10. Analysis 76
10. Philosophical Quarterly 76
10. American Philosophical Quarterly 76
10. Philosophers' Imprint 76
10. Monist 76
10. Canadian Journal of Philosophy 76
16. Journal of the History of Philosophy 75
16. Pacific Philosophical Quarterly 75
16. Midwest Studies in Philosophy 75
16. Proceedings of the Aristotelian Society 75
20. Australasian Journal of Philosophy 74
21. British Journal for the Philosophy of Science 73
21. European Journal of Philosophy 73
23. Erkenntnis 72
24. Philosophy of Science 71
25. Philosophy 70
25. History of Philosophy Quarterly 70
25. Ratio 70
28. Journal of Moral Philosophy 69
29. Oxford Studies in Ancient Philosophy 68
30. Notre Dame Philosophical Reviews 67
31. Philosophical Papers 67
32. Journal of Philosophical Logic 67
33. Journal of Philosophical Research 66
33. British Journal for the History of Philosophy 66
33. Utilitas 66
33. Mind and Language 66
33. Journal of Ethics 66
38. Southern Journal of Philosophy 65
39. Review of Metaphysics 64
39. Philosophical Investigations 64
39. Kant-Studien 64
42. Metaphilosophy 62
42. Philosophy Compass 62
42. Journal of Political Philosophy 62
42. Philosophical Topics 62
42. Philosophia 62
47. Hume Studies 61
47. Linguistics and Philosophy 61
49. Journal of Ethics & Social Philosophy 60

The next third tier of journals are those chosen about 50% of the time (from 40-60%)  where paired with a second journal chosen at random:

50. Phronesis 59 
51. Journal of the History of Ideas 58

51. Journal of Aesthetics and Art Criticism 58
53. Ethical Theory & Moral Practice 57
53. Philosophical Forum 57
53. Inquiry 57
56. Oxford Journal of Legal Studies 56
57. Political Theory 55
57. Social Theory & Practice 55
57. Philosophical Explorations 55
57. Journal of Social Philosophy 55
57. Economics & Philosophy 55
62. Law & Philosophy 54
62. dialectica 54
62. Public Affairs Quarterly 54
62. Acta Analytica 54
66. Social Philosophy & Policy 53
66. Theoria 53
66. Journal of Applied Philosophy 53
69. Faith and Philosophy 52
70. Political Studies 51
71. Journal of Value Inquiry 51
72. Harvard Law Review 50
73. Studies in History and Philosophy of Science 49
73. Philosophy & Public Policy Quarterly 49
73. Philosophical Psychology 49
76. Bioethics 48
76. International Journal of Philosophical Studies 48
78. Politics, Philosophy, Economics 47
78. Kantian Studies 47
79. History of Political Thought 44
80. Legal Theory 43
81. Hypatia 42
82. Philosophical Writings 41
82. southwest philosophy review 41
84. Apeiron 40
84. European Journal of Political Theory 40
84. American Journal of Bioethics 40

The remaining results for other journals are as follows:

87. Environmental Ethics 39
87. Logique et Analyse 39
87. Philosophy Today 39
90. Ratio Juris 38
90. Studies in History and Philosophy of Modern Physics 38
90. Business Ethics Quarterly 38
93. Journal of the British Society for Phenomenology 37
93. Ethical Perspectives 37
93. Public Reason 37
96. Hegel-Studien 36
97. Philosophy & Social Criticism 35
97. Res Publica 35
97. Philosophy in Review 35
97. Philo 35

101. Neuroethics 34
101. Ethics and Justice 34
103. Philosophy and Theology 33
104. International Journal of Applied Philosophy 32
105. Phenomenology and the Cognitive Sciences 32
106. Review of Politics 31
106. Jurisprudence 31
106. Research in Phenomenology 31
109. Journal of Philosophy of Education 30
109. Review Journal of Political Philosophy 30
109. Philosophy East and West 30
112. South African Journal of Philosophy 29
112. Kennedy Institute of Ethics Journal 29
114. Teaching Philosophy 28
114. Review Journal of Philosophy & Social Science 28
114. Critical Review of International Social and Political Philosophy 28
117. Journal of Global Ethics 27
117. APA Newsletters 27
119. Transactions of the C. S. Peirce Society 26
120. Bulletin of the Hegel Society of Great Britain 25
121. Adam Smith Review 23
121. Archiv fur Rechts- und Sozialphilosophie 23
121. Imprints: Egalitarian Theory and Practice 23
124, Theory and Research in Education 22
125. Polish Journal of Philosophy 21
125. Epoche 21
125. Fichte Studien 21
125. Symposium: Canadian Journal of Continental Philosophy 21
125. Asian Philosophy 21
130. Think 20
131. Archives de Philosophie du Droit 18
131. Collingwood & British Idealism Studies 18
131. Owl of Minerva 18
131. New Criminal Law Review 18
135. Journal of Indian Philosophy 17
136. Continental Philosophy Review 17
136. The European Legacy 17
138. Education, Citizenship, and Social Justice 15
139. Reason Papers 14
139. Associations 14
139. Journal of Indian Philosophy and Religion 14
142. Studia Philosophica Estonica 13
143. Derrida Today 5

Some further reflections. While there are several exceptions, it would be interesting to analyze any correlation between the age of a journal and its position in the rankings. There are several surprises on the list, this list does not correspond to my own opinions (I would have ranked many journals differently), and I do not believe that there is much difference between journals ranked closely together.

I also purposively put some selections in to see how they might play out. For example, I added Harvard Law Review out of curiosity and I was surprised to see of all journals exclusively publishing law and legal philosophy journals it appears to come second to the Oxford Journal of Legal Studies and above other choices. (I was surprised legal philosophy journals did not score much better.) I added several journals edited by political scientists, such as Political Studies, and was surprised to see they did not score as highly as I had thought. Roughly speaking, journals with a wider remit performed much better than journals with a more specific audience. I also added at least one journal, Ethics and Justice, that I believe is no longer in print. (Can readers correct me on this? I hope I am in error.) It scored 34% and came in at 101st.

What I will do shortly is create a new poll that will only have the top 50 philosophy journals from this poll roughly speaking. Expect to see this new link widely advertised shortly.

In the meantime, what do readers think we can take away from the results thus far? Have I missed anything?

Tuesday, January 04, 2011

Why publish journal articles?

There has been much attention on journals and journal practices recently on the Leiter Reports, as well as elsewhere. The Association of Philosophy Journal Editors (APJE) has been relaunched by Carol Gould and me. Additionally, the APA has a subcommittee looking into journal practices at present as well.

Journal articles are highly important for academic careers. There are many reasons given for perhaps the more obvious benefits:

1. Journal articles as a seal of approval.
Journal articles are a seal of approval (of sorts). When a journal accepts an article for publication, it is giving its support to the essay's "publishability" (is this a word? Well, it is now!). This stamp of approval says to the wider community that an essay has a particular importance as judged by the journal and its associates.

Not all seals of approval are the same. One example is that not all journals run the same review process. Thus, journal x may be double-blind while journal y is triple-blind. Or journal x may use one referee while journal y will use two or three referees. There are also differences in persons used. Some journals may have a more prestigious list of editorial board members and referees to use in assessing essays than another. Therefore, even if two journals had the same formal procedures for assessing essay submissions, papers would be assessed by academics with very different backgrounds.

A further comment is worth noting. Many critical of journal practices have focussed their attention almost entirely to the mechanics of review: what procedure is followed, how long reviews take, etc. These are highly important issues, but far from the only central concerns. Others include how referees are selected and who these referees are. A further concern is the standard that referees employ in assessing submissions. Thus, the same referee might recommend different decisions for different journals. This is not always problematic. It may be that paper x submitted to journals y and z falls outside the remit of journal y but not journal z: there is then nothing specifically problematic about a referee recommending rejection for one journal and acceptance at another for the same paper on such grounds. Things are different where the remit of the journal is not at issue, but judgements about the necessary standards of publishable quality are an issue. The blog Ethics Etc had an interesting poll where many colleagues said that they would employ different standards.

In the end, getting published in a journal is a seal of approval by a certain team -- journals should be seem as a collective project involving editors, editorial boards, referees, and authors -- although there may sometimes be questions about the relative value of one seal approval versus another.

2. Journal articles as an academic job qualification.
In large part due to the fact that journal articles are understood as a seal of approval, journal articles also are often tickets to academic jobs as they are seen as academic job qualifications. Let me elaborate. Candidate x may be qualified for an academic job without articles. However, earning tenure regularly involves satisfying some standard of research productivity which, in turn, regularly involves demonstration of publications.

Furthermore, journal articles may be helpful to those candidates who come from more modest academic training grounds. Perhaps their department was not in a top ten list, but nevertheless the quality of research is quite high by candidate x as in the evidence of an article in journal y. The journal article as seal of approval can also play an additional role as providing further job qualifications both to acquire a new position and to earn promotions.

While many focus on the related (1) and (2) points above, I believe that there is a third element often overlooked:

3. Journal articles as academic brand awareness.
(I can already see readers cringe at my use of business-speak....I share your pain!) The article as seal of approval is a leading reason behind the importance of publishing in academic journals. However, I believe that there is something more to be said about this importance often overlooked, namely, articles are an excellent medium to communicate ideas. Suppose there are journals x, y and z. Some libraries may get all three; some libraries will have some combination of them; some libraries will only subscribe to one of them. Publishing in more than one journal is not simply a sign that you have earned several seals of approval by different journal communities, but an opportunity to reach a wider audience. This should give many reason to publish in more than one journal: it offers a better opportunity to communicate your ideas to more people. This is not to say that academics should publish the same thing again and again. However, often one's work explores new issues in a field where one has engaged in previous research on different issues. A person's work is often composed of papers that together make up a larger project on a set of issues, questions or concerns. Publishing in multiple venues may offer better brand awareness about your research project than if you stuck with a single venue.

The above are some reflections on academic publishing. What have I missed?

UPDATE: Many thanks to Brian Leiter for kindly noting this post on the Leiter Reports!