Online Journals

I may be rehashing an old discussion–if so, please direct me to it–but I am trying to get a sense of what’s going on with the online journals in our field. I am asking with a number of different hats on all at the same time. I’ve got a crowded head these days! I’m involved in several publishing projects, I’m an academic administrator who gets called on for her views about publishing in my discipline, and I’m also trying to decide where to send my own work.

In my own case, I am at a career stage where I can afford to worry less
about what others think about where my work is published but I also
want my work to be widely read. Numbers matter more than prestige. But
stability matters too. Will the journal in question still be there in
five, ten, twenty years? Also, the Canadian granting agencies are now
moving to require that our work which is funded by research grants from
tax payer dollars be published in places that are accessible to the
public. This pushes in favour of online publications in some ways, but
not others.  (It depends on whether the online publications have free
access; many traditional hard copy journals that also publish online
fail on this count.) This is itself an interesting ethical question
about the obligations of researchers to those who fund their research.
So, what’s your sense of online publishing and where it’s going in the
field of ethics? And if there is a good source for this discussion,
please point me too it. I’m feeling woefully under-informed.

6 Replies to “Online Journals

  1. I’m an interested party (see jesp.org), but I’ll throw in a few cents.
    I think you’re absolutely right that stability matters. Look for a backing institution that is permanent and committed, to be safe. Philosophers’ Imprint handled this well, and they also kicked off with a Kit Fine paper, which raised confidence.
    My view is that in the long run, online publishing will take over from paper publishing. It just makes so much more sense. It’s much faster, it’s much cheaper (so cheap to produce that it’s feasible to make access free), and it’s much easier to use.

  2. Huh, this reminds me.
    JESP now has its Discussion Notes section up and running. There’s a link for Symposia & Discussion Notes in the left column, and clicking that takes you to the Symposia page where there’s a big Submit a Note button.
    No notes are up yet — be the first to submit one!

  3. Of course, just as not all print journals are equal, not all electronic journals are equal. But I think that we can be confident that certain electronic journals (e.g., JESP and Philosopher’s Imprint) are here to stay and that they will rival, if they don’t already, the best print journals in terms of prestige.
    I share Jamie’s view that online publishing will take over paper publishing and for all the reasons that he cites.
    I should mention that my personal experiences with both JESP and Philosopher’s Imprint have been excellent — indeed, nonpareil. The process of submission was handled fast, efficiently, and professionally. And the process of submission was easy, especially compared to the process at most other journals (e.g., the Springer ones). The comments that I’ve received back from reviewers have always been detailed and of excellent quality. A decision was reached in every case within a matter of weeks as opposed to months. In a number of instances, I’ve found out who one of the reviewers were, and I was impressed by the stature of the reviewers that they used. In the one instance where my submission was actually accepted for publication, I was extremely impressed with the speed at which copy-editing and proof production occurred. And I was very pleased to have my article published only a couple weeks after its being accepted for publication. With most print journals, I find the accepted papers don’t appear in published form for a year or two or even more. Most of all, I like the fact that these two journals are open access, such that anyone with an internet connection has full access to their content and that people doing the relevant sorts of searches on the internet will have my article appear in their search results.
    I think these and other professionally run electronic journals deserve our support. I plan to support them both by sending them my best papers and by giving priority to their requests to review for them.

  4. I’m not an entirely disinterested party either, insofar as I’m associated with Studies in the History of Ethics (www.historyofethics.org). As the name suggests, we publish only historical work in ethics and we’re completely open access. We don’t publish a lot, but we plan to be around for the long haul. We’d be delighted to consider quality work from PEA Soup contributors or readers.
    I’d like to think that maybe we’re reaching a tipping point with the electronic journals in terms of acceptance such that people who wouldn’t have considered submitting to them before now might.

  5. I’m with Doug. I’m perfectly happy to publish my very best work in either Phil Imprint or JESP (and think I have), both of which I think are setting a new standard for efficiency and timeliness, and attracting great work. It’s hard to overestimate the difference that timely publication can make on the impact of your work.
    If you count Notre Dame Philosophical Reviews, Philosophy Compass, and the Stanford Encyclopedia, as well as Phil Imprint and JESP, a pretty large proportion of my own work is getting published in online-only venues, which I don’t see as any drawback at all. These are all great resources (although the lack of accessibility of Phil Compass is a drawback).

  6. I regret that online-only journals such as Philosophers’ Imprint and JESP didn’t adopt a format that was virtually indistinguishable from the online presence of print journals, so that it would have been possible to cite articles in these journals in exactly the same way that traditional journal articles are cited: by volume number, year, and then page numbers, with each subsequent article in a volume/year beginning with the page number just after the last page number of the previous article. One could even have divided each volume/year into quarterly issues numbered 1-4, with each issue corresponding to one of the four seasons. So if your piece was posted any time during the winter, it would be designated as issue number 1, for example. The only difference between such an online-only format and the online format of print journals would be that articles would get posted as soon as they were ready, rather than in quarterly clusters. I think this would have helped legitimize online-only journals by nearly erasing the distinction between them and traditional journals.
    I’d be curious to know whether any of the founders of online-only journals regret that this path wasn’t taken.

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