Res Phil Shorts

By Helen De Cruz, editor-in-chief of Res Philosophica

The philosophical essay is foundational to our discipline, but there are few outlets for short-form philosophy, especially in academic journals. Res Philosophica aims to offer a platform for short philosophical essays. Res Phil Shorts will be bold, experimental, and original papers that convey a philosophical idea compellingly in the space of fewer than 3,000 words. 
One essay will be published per quarterly issue of Res Philosophica. They will be published free online for a period of three months. 

We will consider short essays in any philosophical tradition. This includes but is not limited to analytic philosophy, the history of philosophy, continental philosophy, pragmatism, and less commonly taught (non-western) traditions. We want authors to be innovative both in style and in argument, without being weighed down by lengthy literature reviews or exhaustive replies to potential objections.
What we are looking for:

  • The ideal length is between 1,500 and 2,500 words. You can use up to 3,000 words to finish and fully develop the argument and for adding appropriate references (which count toward the word count). Anything submitted as a Res Phil Short that is above 3,000 words will be automatically desk-rejected.
  • No replies, critical reviews, book reviews, discussion papers, etc. The short essay must be able to be read as a standalone work, including by people who are not immersed in the debate. 
  • While we are open to Analysis-style short analytic papers, we also explicitly encourage writers from all philosophical traditions. Also, a work need not necessarily be closely tied to a philosophical tradition; we encourage authors to push the envelope, both in format and style. 
  • Style is an integral element of a philosophical essay. The reviews and decision process will take style into account. Many styles are possible: terse and analytical (e.g., Quine), fluent and simple (e.g., Russell), muscular and elegant (e.g., James), dreamy and ironic (e.g., Zhuangzi), lush and bold (e.g., Cavendish)... Think of Montaigne’s view that philosophy is "the painting of thought" (“la peinture de la pensée"). Note that you do not need to be a native English speaker to have a wonderful style. We welcome essays in English by speakers of any language(s). 

Format and eligibility
  • Do not include an abstract. We will ask for a two- or three-sentence abstract once the work is accepted for indexing/abstracting purposes.
  • Prepare the paper for blind review. If not properly formatted for blind review, the piece will be automatically desk rejected. 
  • At the top of the document, put Res Phil Shorts, the title, the broad philosophical tradition(s) your work is situated in (and any subfield, if relevant) to allow us to find reviewers, and the word count, e.g., "Merleau-Ponty's Cézanne, 1,800 words, continental philosophy (phenomenology, philosophy of art and aesthetics)." 
  • Use an author-date system for references (Chicago author-date, MLA, APA, etc). References count toward the word count. Final formatting will be done upon acceptance.
  • Be aware that Res Phil Short submissions that exceed 3,000 words (entire document, including notes, references, etc) will be automatically rejected. 
  • Do not send us AI generated or assisted work (it tends to be boring and generic, so we don't expect it to get past the desk review stage, but we want to manage workload)
  • To ensure the triple-blind review and the veil of anonymity, we insist on unpublished work. Do not submit previously published works (in whole or in part), including pieces in magazines and newspapers. Do not send us excerpts from published monographs. Blog posts (also on your personal blog), preprints on PhilPapers or anywhere else are not eligible for submission for Res Phil Shorts. If it's publicly available or published, in any format, it is ineligible
  • No simultaneous submission to this and another journal (including magazines and other publishing outlets). No simultaneous submission of multiple pieces. 
Decision process
  • Res Philosophica uses a triple-blind process where the editor-in-chief, associate editor, and referees are not aware of the author’s identity. We anticipate desk rejecting most papers (either by editor or associate editor) as we only have space for one Res Phil Short per issue. There will be no explanation or justification for desk rejection in the interest of speed; by submitting you agree to these terms. We hope to provide a decision on most submissions within 2 weeks, maximum a month. 
  • If you get a form rejection, it means that this piece didn't work for us. But we will consider other submissions which may work better. In case of rejection, please wait at least 30 days to submit a new Res Phil Short for consideration. 
  • Papers that survive the desk review process are sent on to two anonymous referees, who will evaluate the paper on the following criteria: philosophical interest, clarity and persuasiveness of argumentation, style (including aptness of style for the piece), originality of thought. 
  • A final decision is made, following reviewer recommendations and editor and associate editor's judgment. Given the space constraints, it's possible a paper with two highly positive reviews does not get published (we will send referee reports for your information, if available). 
  • Since reviewing is triple-anonymous, we cannot take into account the identity of the author. That being said, we hope for a diverse pool of submissions from people from any stage of career (including graduate students) and we especially welcome people from groups which are underrepresented in philosophy, in terms of, among others, geographic location, gender, race, disability, and institutional background. There is a dictum in the publishing industry: Do not self-reject! Leave rejection up to the editors and reviewers! If you think you have a viable piece, go for it. Only papers that are actually submitted can be rejected or accepted. 
  • Feel free to query us if you have not heard from us in three months. Please do not query us before the three months are up. If we take over a month to get back to you, we're likely seriously considering your work but we anticipate having fewer spaces than we have excellent submissions. So, don't be disheartened if you eventually get a rejection. 

What we ask our reviewers
  • Please agree only if you can review this within max 1 month
  • For a negative verdict, please offer an explanation (it can be brief), e.g., "Not innovative" or "Not sufficiently interesting" is fine. For a positive verdict, please offer an explanation to the associate editor and editor-in -chief why, in your opinion, this piece is great. If you feel you can't sufficiently advocate for the piece ("It's fine I guess"), it is not good enough to be published. 
  • Pay attention to both style and content (style could be just clear and unobtrusive too, we value a great many styles of expression), and especially to originality of thought. 
  • Do not apply your usual approach to refereeing: do not expect a fully referee-proofed paper that exhaustively cites literature, etc. Rather, ask yourself if you think the piece is original, thought-provoking, while having a sufficient level of plausibility.