Inside the APA graphic.

Inside the APA: An Update on the Journal of the APA

by Amy Ferrer, John Heil, and Sally Hoffmann

Most learned societies in the US have had journals for decades, but not the APA! Though the possibility of launching a journal had been discussed occasionally for years, it wasn’t until 2011 that the ball really got rolling on an APA journal. That year, thanks to the hard work of Robert Audi and Dominic McIver Lopes, the APA board of officers approved an initial plan for a journal; the following year, the board reviewed proposals from presses; in 2013 the APA selected Cambridge University Press as the journal’s publisher and appointed an inaugural editor-in-chief, John Heil (one of the co-authors of this post).

Heil and his editorial team worked diligently for more than a year to prepare, with Sally Hoffmann (another co-author of this post) and her team at Cambridge, for the publication of the first issue in early 2015.

Now, nearly two years in, the Journal of the American Philosophical Association is well on its way to achieving its ambitious goals, and we thought it would be a good time to share an update on how things are going.

What were those goals? The original editorial statement set them out as follows:

  • Publishing papers that go out on a limb, papers that start trends rather than merely adding epicycles to going trends.
  • Publishing papers from early‐career philosophers as well as established philosophers already recognized for their work.
  • Publishing papers on topics that draw from and appeal to diverse philosophical constituencies and traditions.
  • Publishing readable papers that can be appreciated by philosophers not already steeped in the subject matter.
  • Providing a quick turnaround for submissions and the timely publication of accepted papers: no backlogs, no embargos.
  • Providing comments to authors aimed at improving papers and not merely singling out reasons for rejection.

Some of these goals are empirically measurable, others are not. The journal’s readers will judge whether we have succeeded in publishing papers that go out on a limb, papers that draw from and appeal to diverse philosophical constituencies and traditions. It certainly continues to be our goal, as John Heil noted recently: “The editorial team comprises philosophers with a shared vision for a journal of the highest standards that encompasses serious philosophy in all its amazing diversity. Our continuing goal is to publish work that benefits philosophy, philosophers, and, by extension, the world at large.”

We can say that, with volume two complete, the journal has published 81 papers from a range of scholars, early-career and established, men and women, US-based and international. To ensure a fair and transparent review process, the journal uses a triple anonymous review system with a team of six associate editors supporting the editor-in-chief. We are pleased to report that over the last 12 months, the journal has achieved an average turnaround time of 29 days per submission, well ahead of our original aim of 12 weeks. Papers are published online early via FirstView within eight weeks of acceptance. And the journal is highly selective, with a current acceptance rate of approximately 6 percent.

And the pieces we publish are making an impact: Rachel Barney’s paper, “[Aristotle], On Trolling,” is our most accessed paper, downloaded over 70,000 times in the first three months after launch. Gonzalo Rodriguez-Pereyra’s paper, “Grounding is not a Strict Order,” is our most cited paper thus far, having been cited four times within 12 months of publication.

We’re also very pleased at the accolades the journal has received. In addition to winning the prestigious PROSE Award for the best new journal in the humanities and social sciences, the journal has been accepted for inclusion in the SCOPUS database and is currently being considered for Clarivate’s Arts & Humanities Citation Index.

While the journal is enjoying a considerable degree of professional credibility, increasing submissions is a top priority. Long-term success will require that we double—or indeed triple—current numbers of submissions. This in turn will depend on (a) the perceived professional standing of the journal and (b) turnaround time for submissions. We have some control over the latter, and are doing well by just about every measure, but professional standing—whatever its degree of reliability—must be earned, and that takes time. We appear to be moving in the right direction, but, because the journal is new, it remains relatively under-appreciated.

So we hope you’ll help us continue to build that professional standing. Submit your next article to the Journal of the APA. Encourage your colleagues to do the same, and suggest that authors of excellent papers you see presented at conferences submit to the Journal of the APA as well.

And look for an increased presence of the journal at APA meetings: beginning next year, we’ll be hosting author-meets-critics sessions featuring commentary on selected papers published in the journal. Plus, you can always stop by the Cambridge University Press booth in the exhibits area at APA meetings to learn more about what’s going on with the journal, and keep an eye out for us or any member of the journal’s editorial team at meetings to ask questions and share your thoughts on the journal—we’re happy to hear from you!

Amy Ferrer has been Executive Director of the APA since 2012.

John Heil is editor of the Journal of the American Philosophical Association, professor of philosophy at Washington University in St Louis, and an Honorary research Associate at Monash University. He works chiefly in metaphysics, and his most recent book is The Universe as We Find It (Oxford University Press, 2012).

Sally Hoffman is Executive Publisher for Humanities and Social Science Journals at Cambridge University Press.

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