Journal Experiences and Time Frames, September 2019 Update

Last December, I highlighted what recent public surveys submitted to the APA Journal Surveys project indicate about the editorial experience at journals that specialize in ancient philosophy and the history of philosophy. I excluded generalist journals that also publish some articles in ancient philosophy, both because there are a large number of these and because the survey aggregates may diverge from the experience of those submitting ancient philosophy papers (there’s no way to filter experiences based on topic). I’m now writing to update those results.

Again, we should start with some caveats: 1) many ancient philosophy journals from my journals listing are not included because they have no submitted surveys  2) even for those that are represented, there are a limited number of data points, especially for some journals (e.g. Classical Quarterly and Archiv für Geschichte der Philosophie) and 3) we do not know how representative those submitting entries are in comparison to all authors submitting papers to these journals. However, the reported response times and comments numbers do generally track publicly available data where available (for example, with the Journal of the History of Philosophy and the British Journal for the History of Philosophy), with the exceptions I will mention next. These statistics also fit, by and large, with the experiences that I have heard from others in the ancient philosophy community. They will also hopefully continue to become more accurate as more people submit to the APA Journal Surveys project, and I will continue to revisit this topic as the data warrants or as I get new information. This update includes information from editors at both Oxford Studies in Ancient Philosophy and Apeiron: A Journal for Ancient Philosophy and Science.  If you are part of the editorial staff at one of these journals and think that the data about your journal is misleading or could be improved, please contact me. I would be happy to share more complete information about submission statistics with readers.

The results of these surveys have not changed too much. JHP and BJHP, which are among the most transparent about their editorial practices, continue to lead the way in editor experience scores. The APA journal surveys site asks respondents to rate the overall editorial experience from 1-5 and these two are the only ones with ratings in the 4.5-5 range, with JHP averaging 4.71 and BJHP averaging 4.6. Unsurprisingly, they also have some of the quickest turnaround times with BJHP averaging around 3 months and JHP averaging under 2 months. However, it’s also worth noting that JHP has the highest overall rating, even though at least 1/3 of the authors reporting were rejected without being sent out for review (usually within less than a month). Authors don’t seem to mind desk rejections if they’re really quick and allow them to move on to the next journal. The other two journals that continue to do well on editorial experience, with scores in the 4-4.5 range, are Classical Quarterly and Phronesis with 4.33 and 4.05 respectively. These journals are also among the quickest, with Phronesis averaging 2 months and Classical Quarterly under 4 months.

There are three journals with editorial experience scores average under 3 (out of 5). However, in each case there are reasons to think the surveys we have may not give the whole picture. While surveys for Apeiron: A Journal for Ancient Philosophy and Science reported times to decision of 8.5 months and low editorial experience scores, the most recent of these surveys are from 2016. Luis Salas, Associate Editor at Apeiron, shared their internal statistics, which paint a different picture on decision times: “From January 1, 2015 to July 19, 2019 Apeiron has received 454 submissions (includes original submissions and resubmissions). Average time from submission to decision for these manuscripts has been 79.85 days. The average time to decision for original submissions is 97.35 days (335 original submissions). The average time to decision for resubmissions is 32.22 days (119 resubmissions).” Salas also noted that 345 of the manuscripts (about 75% of the total) received a decision in less than 3 months and about 40 took 6 or more months. This information is incorporated into the table below. It’s likely that authors who received a decision more quickly (who are obviously underrepresented in the Apeiron surveys we have) would report a more positive overall editorial experience, so we should probably not take Apeiron‘s low score at face value.

Oxford Studies in Ancient Philosophy also has an editorial experience average under 3 as well as reported decision times over 8 months. However, decision times have been much quicker recently. Victor Caston, editor of OSAP, informs me that while 2018 submissions averaged almost 9 months to a decision, times to decision for manuscripts submitted in 2019 have been much lower (less than 2 months, in fact, for those who have already been given a decision). He expects the overall average decision time for 2019 manuscripts to be within or lower than OSAP‘s target range of 4 to 6 months. This, again, may result in improved editorial experiences. Finally, the editorial experience average at Archiv für Geschichte der Philosophie was under 3 and decision times averaged over 6 months, but we only have 6 surveys total, so it’s not entirely clear how representative this limited data may be.

The chart below lists the relevant journal surveys statistics for all the ancient and history of philosophy journals with at least 6 reviews. Where a decent number of surveys were available I used surveys from 2015 on, since the most important thing for potential authors is the current editorial situation. Where there were not as many surveys available, I went back to 2011. The full spreadsheet with all the records assembled from the publicly available APA Journal Surveys data is available here.

Journal name Number of Surveys Comment count Comment quality Editor experience Response time (months) Time range
Ancient Philosophy 28 1.30 2.92 3.37 4.81 from 2011 on


(Caveat: none of Apeiron’s surveys are post-2016)

20 0.84 2.65 2.63 3.25 by journal statistics (8.5 in the available surveys) from 2015 on
Archiv für Geschichte der Philosophie 6 1.85 3.50 2.57 6.21 from 2018 on
British Journal for the History of Philosophy 41 2.00 3.77 4.55 2.93 from 2015 on
Classical Quarterly 14 1.08 3.50 4.20 3.64 from 2011 on
History of Philosophy Quarterly 18 2.00 4.00 3.94 5.58 from 2015 on
Journal of the History of Philosophy 24 1.05 3.40 4.70 1.53 from 2015 on
Oxford Studies in Ancient Philosophy 20 1.05 3.36 2.15 Journal statistics: under 4 months in 2019; 8.83 in 2018 (8.6 in the available surveys) from 2015 on
Phronesis 25 0.96 3.21 4.12 2.03 from 2015 on

Full disclosure: At the time of posting, I have personally submitted to, published at, and/or refereed for all of these journals except for Classical Quarterly. The basis for this post is not, however, my personal experiences, which do not always match the overall trends. For example, my last submission at Apeiron was looked at within two months and received excellent comments (leading to acceptance after revision and resubmission) and my last submission at OSAP got two sets of helpful comments within a reasonable timeframe (though it was rejected).

One Comment

  • CL

    One important bit of information about OSAP decision times under Caston is that they vary depending on seniority: grad-students and early-career scholars generally experience much longer wait times than established names (I know this from talking to many early-career scholars as well as several established names who have reported observing this pattern). This may be partially responsible for Caston’s claimed improvement in response times: many early-career scholars who I know have simply stopped submitting to OSAP after waiting a year or more for a response. If you’re an early-career scholar submitting to Phronesis is a better decision.

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