Early Career Advice from the Desk of Gregory Currie, Executive Editor of Mind & Language
Name: Gregory Currie
Title: Professor of Philosophy and Executive Editor of Mind & Language
Institution: University of York
Mind & Language, now in its thirty-third year of publication, is very definitely an interdisciplinary journal. But exactly what areas of research do we cover? It’s an important question for an early career researcher, keen to hit the right journal first time. In fact it’s not an easy question for me, as Executive Editor, to answer. What follows goes with a caveat: these are rules of thumb I am offering, not rigid principles. I hope we will always be receptive to good work that doesn’t quite fit our expectations.
Close to being a basic requirement is that there should be some philosophical content. The problem addressed might be a manifestly philosophical one, or the treatment may have the reflective, analytical dimension that characterises philosophical thinking. We are not a place for papers that would fit well into the pattern of a standard psychology, linguistics or neuroscience journal. Our policy is to look at papers when they arrive to check for appropriateness for Mind & Language. It does no one any favours to initiate a review process with the virtual certainty of rejection. If a paper simply isn’t suitable, often for the reasons just stated, we will return it quickly with a brief explanation why.
We publish relatively long papers, specifying a maximum word length of 12,000. A paper that provides substantial philosophical discussion but also discusses relevant theories and evidence from the sciences is likely to need some extra space, especially where the science needs some explaining. But saying what you need to say in fewer words is a plus if it goes with clarity; don’t bury the main point under qualifications of diminishing relevance. And don’t overdo the science: cite what is most relevant and not the history of the field.
In recent years philosophers have started to gather their own data, sometimes teaming up with people from other disciplines to do so. We don’t want Mind & Language to be a journal especially notable for this kind of work; we are more comfortable with studies that draw on results that have been put through the wringer by journals that specialise in that sort of thing. Still, you will find exceptions to this in our pages, especially where the results bear directly on a philosophical issue rather than on a claim squarely in linguistics, psychology or neuroscience.
“…saying what you need to say in fewer words is a plus… don’t bury the main point under qualifications of diminishing relevance. And don’t overdo the science: cite what is most relevant and not the history of the field.”
Early career researchers are particularly concerned about how long reviewing may take. For nearly a year now we have been using an online submission system that tracks progress and is certainly helping us avoid long delays. We expect to get decisions within four months of submission and often in much shorter times. If you find you are waiting longer it’s fine to contact us and we may contact you to explain why things are taking so long. With another REF looming, ECRs will be particularly keen to avoid long delays between acceptance and publication. We are now moving to the “Early View” system which means that papers are published online in advance of the issue they are scheduled for.
Mind & Language is international as well as interdisciplinary and I’m glad to say that a lot of our contributors don’t have English as their first language, though the standard of English in contributions from non-native English speaking countries amazes and shames me. Sometimes, however, problems with language get in the way of comprehension and are barriers to acceptance of the paper. If you are not confident that your English will be easily understood do get a native speaker of English to advise you. We will occasionally suggest and even ask for changes if we think something is unclear but we don’t have the resources to intervene more than minimally. Wiley has its Editing Services programme for those who require it at http://wileyeditingservices.com.
On gender: the editors are about equal numbers of men and women. With contributors, that’s not true. Data just published in Philosophical Studies ranks Mind & Language 5th out of all philosophy journals surveyed for the proportion of women authors, judged to be 23%. My own (less systematic) estimate for 2016-17 is about 30%. In 2004 it was 15%. We are improving.
The same article says that Mind & Language does not have anonymous reviewing. We do. We check that the requirements for this have been followed when a paper arrives. Occasionally, though, something is said which provides an unintended clue. If you refer to your own work either put the reference as “omitted” or avoid the suggestion that it is your work. Try also to avoid speaking in the first person in a way that indicates your gender or anything else about you that might be subject to bias, conscious or otherwise.
Exceptions to the anonymous review process include book reviews: we publish very few and always solicit them; don’t send us book reviews. The other exception is papers which are solicited for publication in symposia, usually having been delivered at one of the occasional workshops we run.
Finally, there are a few areas of research which rarely or never appear in Mind & Language and I’d like simply to say that submissions in these areas are welcome. Our statement of Aims and Scope has always declared the journal open to work in cognitive anthropology and we recently added cognitive archaeology. Work in cognition and the arts is welcome but, as before, don’t send us stuff that would suit a straight aesthetics journal.
Early Career researchers submit their work to Mind & Language in reasonably large numbers, reflecting, perhaps, a growing familiarity and comfort with work across the disciplines. I hope very much to see those numbers grow.