Five years ago, Steven French and I decided to join forces and place a bid for Co-Editors of The British Journal for the Philosophy of Science. I still remember the excitement when the news arrived that the BSPS Committee was going to give us the first three-year mandate. Steven and I had big shoes to fill, after Alexander Bird and James Ladyman’s very successful editorship. OUP was going through an overhaul of their journal system, with the introduction of the new online Editorial Manager to replace the old system of paper submission.
There was a lot to do in implementing the new online system, creating a database of referees, taking care of submissions that straddled the old and the new editorial teams, putting in place a team of Associate Editors that would help Steven and myself in taking care of the increasing number of submissions in so many diverse areas. When we hired Beth Hannon, it soon became clear to both of us that the task ahead was going to be less daunting and far more enjoyable than originally anticipated. We also put in place a sterling team of Associate Editors, some of whom are still with us today, while new ones have joined us as we went along and the need for more diversified expertise arose.
I was humbled by the BSPS Committee’s decision to accept our bid, and I am extremely proud to have served the Journal over the past five years. In 2012–3 with Miriam Solomon, Roberta Millstein, and Helen Longino at the PSA Governing Board, we were reviewing gender balance in philosophy of science journals and editorial boards. From an internal survey it transpired (to my shock and surprise) that at the time I happened to be the most highly ranked woman to occupy the role of Co-Editor-in-Chief for a journal in the field. Luckily, things have slowly been changing over the past five years and an increasing number of women are now occupying similar positions in philosophy of science journals. At the BJPS, we are proud to have a very balanced gender distribution among our Associate Editors, and we have been one of the first journals in the field to adopt a triple-masked reviewing system. We hope that more and more women will be encouraged to submit to the BJPS in the years ahead.
When it comes to assessing these past five years at the BJPS, it is easy to concentrate on metrics, where a clear success story can be told. From 2011 to 2015, our journal submissions have increased from 403 to 596 per year. Our average time from submission to first decision has gone down from 55 days in 2011 to 24 days in 2015. The Impact Factor of the Journal (the official Thomson Reuters metric used by publishers and academia to assess number of citations per number of articles published) has increased from 1.048 in 2010 to 1.738 in 2015, a jump from seventh place (out of fifty journals in the Thomson Reuters Science Citation Index for the category ‘History and Philosophy of Science’) in 2010 to third place (out of sixty journals) in 2015.
The BJPS has a thriving social media community of over 4,000 Twitter and Facebook followers (all thanks to Beth and Steven’s social media wisdom!). The Journal continues to be the leading international journal in the field, and we take great pride in having gradually expanded the remit of the Journal over the past five years to include more philosophy of biology and more philosophy of cognitive science, alongside the already very strong traditions in philosophy of physics and decision theory, among others.
But metrics and numbers can hardly capture what in my view is the real success story of the BJPS: a perfectly functioning editorial team! For five years, on Thursdays at 2 pm, Steven, Beth, and I have met on Skype. Steven and I fill, independently of each other, the anonymized spreadsheet that Beth pre-circulates ahead of the meeting, and we spend our Skype session going through each and every submission to take a joint decision. And the amazing thing is: we hardly ever disagree! And when we do happen to have slightly different views (especially in those rare but yet non-vanishing number of cases where referees’ reports might be broadly diverging), all it takes is one of us making a convincing case to the other!
I cannot thank Steven and Beth enough, and not just for the perfectly efficient editorial machine we have been driving full steam, week after week, but also for the really enjoyable editorial meetings and for bearing with me in a few crucial moments over the past five years where editing the BJPS has proved a more demanding juggling act than expected (in between a new job, moving town, having a baby, losing my father, working insanely, and whatnot). I part ways at the end of our second BJPS editorial mandate in December 2016 to attend to my five-year ERC research project, knowing that the Journal is in excellent hands and will continue to thrive in the years ahead. My deep gratitude goes also to all our Associate Editors (past and present), who have done and are doing an incredible service to the Journal, with spot-on recommendations and excellent feedback to authors. And of course, my huge thanks to the countless referees for the Journal for the conscientious and often exceptionally detailed reports. The BJPS would not be the success story it is without our Associate Editors and referees.
Back in 2011 at a conference in London that Steven and I attended for journal editors, I remember a colleague describing his editorial role with the title of ‘the Editor King’. Neither Steven nor I have ever acted as the BJPS King and Queen! Indeed, I still remember Steven and myself at the conference thinking that we could not disagree more with our colleague’s remark. We have always seen our editorial role for what it is: a service to the profession. Nothing more than that. The time has come for me to pass on the baton, with gratitude for all that I have learned from this experience. Three cheers for the BJPS!