Ranking Journals in Philosophy of Mind

Brian Leiter is running polls about the best journals in philosophyWayne Wu and others are trying to put together a list of journals in philosophy of mind and related sciences for Leiter to run a poll on.

Wayne points out the following:  “The big problem I’m realizing, of course, is that if you have a piece that is more empirically grounded, Phil Review is probably not going to be place to publish though Mind might be. And of course, you wouldn’t send something on the identity theory to Cognition. So, tehre’s a bifurcation that you might expect depending on the type of work. That’s a caveat to polling.”

This is Wayne’s List (in no particular order):
  • Philosophical Review
  • Mind
  • Journal of Philosophy
  • Philosophical Studies
  • Nous
  • Philosophy and Phenomenological Research
  • Analysis
  • Philosophers Imprint
  • Australasian Journal of Philosophy
  • Philosophical Perspectives
  • Philosophical Quarterly
  • European Journal of Philosophy
  • Canadian Journal of Philosophy
  • American Philosophical Quarterly
  • Proceedings of the Aristotelian Society
  • Monist
  • Pacific Philosophical Quarterly
  • Philosophy of Science
  • British Journal of the Philosophy of Science
  • Cognition
  • Behavioral and Brain Sciences
  • Mind and Language
  • Philosophical Psychology
  • Journal of Consciousness Studies
  • Psyche
  • Trends in Cognitive Science
  • Consciousness and Cognition
  • Phenomenology and Cognitive Science
He is not sure about these:
  • Journal of Theoretical and Philosophical Psychology
  • Theory & Psychology
  • Cognition & Emotion
  • Minds and Machines
  • Artificial Intelligence
    Journal of Culture and Cognition

I (Gualtiero) would add Synthese to the main list, and move Minds and Machines to the main list.  Any other thoughts?


  1. I don’t really think this is a good idea. Most of Leiter’s audience will be unfamiliar with most of these journals, so one will just get the same old ranking of the ordinary journals, a couple of the well-known ones (M&L, BBS) sprinkled near the top, and everything else unreliable after that. If there were some way to poll only philosophers of mind and cognitive science, that would be better, but Leiter’s blog is not the place for it.

    There’s also a danger that this process would be unfair to new journals that are known to a few specialists to be respectable but not known to a wider audience. Results of these polls could be influential, so I’d beware of turning uninformed reactions about these journals into some sort of accepted ranking.

    [If there were to be such a poll, then of the journals you mention, obviously M&M should be there. Also JTPP, Journal of Mind and Behavior, Consciousness and Emotion, Philosophy/Psychiatry/Psychology, among others.]

  2. Daniel Weiskopf

    I think this whole journal ratings business is a ludicrous waste of
    time–certainly for ‘general’ philosophy journals, doubly so for
    ‘specialist’ journals. Who is the audience for such a thing, anyway?
    Not those already started on their careers, who already know the
    journals and have their own views in any case. For students, the best
    advice is surely to read widely, ask your friends and supervisors for
    their opinions, and try to publish where people whose work you respect
    gets published. So what’s the point? And when did we as a profession
    become more obsessed with opinion-aggregation than a pack of middle

    Of course, the only thing worse than opinion polls is complaining about them in blog comments.

  3. Wayne

    Hi All:

    Thanks for your thoughts. Since asking Gualtiero to post this, my worries about the “apples and oranges” effect noted above has disinclined me to ask Leiter to run the poll. As more journals are suggested especially those that are interdisciplinary and very specialized, it’s no longer clear to me how to rank them effectively. Hence, I wouldn’t be confident in the rankings. At the very least, it needs more thought both to content and to how it is administered.

    A couple of brief responses: I think Dave is right about the audience factor, though I would imagine some self-selection. Maybe Dave should run a poll on his blog! I agree it would be more informative to do such a poll by being stricter about the parameters. I don’t agree with Dan that it is a “ludicrous” waste of time or even a waste of time. Some of the information was informative to me. For example, I would have thought that Philosopher’s Imprint would be considered as an excellent journal, but its being exclusively on-line raised a question about how it has been received by the profession (it is also a newer journal). But maybe that’s just me. I suppose it might have been obvious to others.

    I would have also assumed that these rankings shouldn’t be and by most aren’t taken to codify for the profession some objective standard. But I guess there’s a danger here. Still, taken with the appropriate caveats, I believe that the information is of use to assistant professors or graduate students. It’s a rough and ready guide, which you can confirm with your advisors, coleagues, tenure committees etc.

    So, I suppose if you wish to comment on this further, it might be worth directing thoughts to important issues Dave and Dan raise: (a) would such a poll be useful? And, more importantly (b) how might such a poll be conducted to ensure that it is useful?


  4. gualtiero

    I agree that these polls are useful, although they should be taken with a grain of salt. If Leiter runs such a poll, he should explicitly invite only people who work in philosophy of mind and related sciences to participate. That way, hopefully he would minimize the concerns raised by David.

    The apples and oranges problem is still a problem, but it would still be useful to know, on average, how philosophers of mind and related sciences rank general philosophy journals vs. more specialized ones.

  5. Daniel Weiskopf

    Maybe ‘ludicrous’ is a bit strong. But I stand by the assessment that in the absence of a more well-articulated rationale and much, much better design and execution, polls like this contain very little useful information.

    If you’re a junior faculty member angling for tenure, you should pretty much ignore these polls. That’s because the only standard that matters for you is what your department thinks is a good journal. You should ask them where you ought to be publishing to get tenure. Look at where your recently tenured colleague have published, etc. If no one will tell you where you should be publishing, you have bigger problems on your hands.

    If you’re a grad student, you should be reading everything you can get your hands on so that you can develop your own informed judgment about what gets published where and what the quality places to publish are. If you’re confused, ask your friends and advisers, particularly if you’re considering sending something out for publication. It would be a very poor idea to consult some poll-created ranking of journals to decide where to send a paper. (Maybe your paper doesn’t really ‘fit’ with a higher-polling journal’s focus, for instance.)

    Incidentally, outside of some very coarse classifications I wouldn’t even trust my own judgments about how journals should be ranked. That’s because I know I haven’t even looked at most of what’s been published where in the last few years. I certainly haven’t even done anything as minimally rigorous as comparing the tables of contents of various journals. And I doubt anyone else has, either. Without such a comparison, I don’t see how anyone could feel confident that their gut feelings about what places are ‘better’ for publishing in some area are well-founded.

    To illustrate this with Philosophers’ Imprint, I used a very quick heuristic to calibrate what I thought of it. I went over to their web site and read over the tables of contents of several issues. The names in there were mostly familiar and mostly people I think very well of. (But wait! Should I conduct a poll to decide whether I should think well of them?) Which mildly confirms what I already thought, namely that it’s a good journal. If anyone doubted this, I’d recommend that they do the same. If they were the sort of person who’d be more persuaded by a poll than by looking for themselves, it’s not clear why I should take their opinion seriously anyway.

    People often say that polls are useful if treated with care, or if taken with a grain of salt, or if used properly. But if you know enough to apply the appropriate grains of salt to the poll results, you’re not someone who needs the poll itself. And if you don’t know enough to do that, you certainly shouldn’t outsource your own critical judgment to some online poll.

  6. Daniel Weiskopf

    A quick follow-up: more useful than opinion polls would be quantitative data from journals on things like time taken to referee papers, percentage of papers sent to referees, percentage accepted, time to publication after acceptance, and so on. These are extremely likely to have an effect on whether one gets tenure, yet most journals don’t make them available. Encouraging journals to release this data would be a bigger help to the profession than opinion-polling, in my view.

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