Frequently Asked Questions


All Readers & Visitors

What is the Public Philosophy Journal?

The Public Philosophy Journal (PPJ) consists of two parts: the Current and the Journal. (See below for the distinction between the two). Together, these constitute an open forum for the curation and creation of accessible scholarship that deepens our understanding of, deliberation about, and action concerning issues of public relevance. In contrast to other scholarly journals, the PPJ has adopted an innovative Formative Peer Review process designed to enable colleagues engaged with questions of public concern to create scholarship that is accessible to, relevant for, and shaped by the public. For more about the PPJ, please visit our About page.

What is the difference between the Current & the Journal?

The Current is a curated blog that consists of original content submitted to the PPJ and posts from elsewhere on the web; it is not peer reviewed. The Current is also the gateway to our Formative Peer Review process and to the Journal’s official publication site. The Journal is a peer-reviewed, online-only journal that publishes 2 issues a year (Spring and Fall). All posts on the Current whether curated or submitted for peer review are visible to the public. Readers can comment directly on posts in the Current but not on articles in the Journal.

Do you ever recruit new people for your Editorial Advisory Board?

Yes. Please email our Editor-in-Chief, Christopher P. Long, to express interest: cplong@msu.edu.

I have an idea for a special issue. Who do I talk to?

Great! Please email editors@publicphilosophyjournal.org to discuss your idea.

Isn’t it less rigorous to allow all reviewers and composers to know each other's names during peer review?

No. In fact, we find that being identifiable increases the rigor of the review because people’s reputations are on the line. Any conflicts of interest are expressed openly, so we don’t have to guess where bias might be hiding. Moreover, by requiring the piece to improve before being considered for publication in the Journal, we raise the quality of all pieces under consideration.

What license(s) cover original work I find on the Current or the Journal?

Please see our Terms and Permissions page. Please contact editors@publicphilosophyjournal.org with any remaining questions.


For All Community Members

What’s the difference between the Current & the Journal?

The Current is a curated blog that consists of original content submitted to the PPJ and posts from elsewhere on the web; it is not peer reviewed. The Current is also the gateway to our Formative Peer Review process and to the Journal’s official publication site. The Journal is a peer-reviewed, online-only journal that publishes 2 issues a year (Spring and Fall). All posts on the Current whether curated or submitted for peer review are visible to the public. Readers can comment directly on posts in the Current but not on articles in the Journal.

How do I register for the site?

Registration only takes two steps:

  1. Enter your name, username, and email on our registration page.
  2. Check your email for a verification email from noreply@matrix.msu.edu and follow the instructions it contains.

Do I have to register to use the site?

Yes and No. You do not have to register to read posts on the Current or articles in the Journal. However, if you would like to submit content to or review for the PPJ, you must register.

What does registration with the PPJ mean?

Registering with the PPJ has 4 implications:

  1. You will be added to our public directory of PPJ community members. (See How do I update my profile? For more information).
  2. You will be able to add public comments on each post on the Current.
  3. You will be able to submit original or linked content to the Current. Your original work will then be eligible for FPR and consideration for publishing in the Journal.
  4. You will be able to review original submissions using our FPR platform.

How do I update my profile, including my password and areas of interest?

While logged into the site, hover over your username in the upper right corner to reveal your Profile link. Click the link to edit all parts of your profile, including your password and areas of interest.

I didn’t receive my verification email.

Please check your spam or junk mail for an email from noreply@matrix.msu.edu. It is best to add that email address to your white list so you will receive other notifications, too.

I’m having trouble logging in.

If you’ve forgotten your username or password, just click “Forgot password?” under the log in button on the log in page. If you've never logged in before, please check your spam or junk mail for an email from noreply@matrix.msu.edu. It is best to add that email address to your white list so you will receive other notifications, too. If you’re having other troubles, please contact help@publicphilosophyjournal.org.

What else does the PPJ do besides run this website?

We keep our Twitter account (@PubPhilJ) very active to raise awareness and encourage discussion of philosophical issues in specific communities and in society at large. We attend and present at the annual Public Philosophy Network conference. We promote digital humanities and open scholarship by partnering with other like-minded organizations. For instance, from 2020-2022, our technology developers are designing a new Formative Peer Review app that will interface with other apps in the digital scholarship ecosystem, e.g., Manifold and Humanities Commons.

I have a technical question that isn’t answered here. Who can I contact?

First, please try logging out and back in; closing and reopening your browser; or restarting your machine. If those fail, please email help@publicphilosophyjournal.org. Please send a screenshot of your problem along with the name and version of the browser you are using.

I have a publishing or public philosophy question that isn’t answered here. Who can I contact?

First, please scan our existing web pages and this FAQs list to see if your question is already answered. If it isn’t, please email editors@publicphilosophyjournal.org.


For Composers

What’s the difference between the Current & the Journal?

The Current is a curated blog that consists of original content submitted to the PPJ and posts from elsewhere on the web; it is not peer reviewed. The Current is also the gateway to our Formative Peer Review process and to the Journal’s official publication site. The Journal is a peer-reviewed, online-only journal that publishes 2 issues a year (Spring and Fall). All posts on the Current whether curated or submitted for peer review are visible to the public. Readers can comment directly on posts in the Current but not on articles in the Journal.

For more about how to use the Current and the Journal, see our Formative Review Page.

Who can submit original work to the PPJ? Who is likely to be published in the Journal?

Anyone with a PPJ account can submit original work to the PPJ. All composers are equally likely to be published regardless of where they work or what level of education they have. The likelihood of being published is tied only to how well your piece meets our 4 style criteria.

Why should I consider submitting my original work to the PPJ?

There are many reasons submitting to the PPJ might be a good idea for you. Perhaps you want to:

  • Support the mission of the PPJ
  • See your ideas and work out there on the web
  • Contribute to the conversation about public philosophy
  • Raise a philosophical issue that has been overlooked but has strong implications for particular communities
  • Practice scholarly writing for public audiences
  • Get helpful feedback to develop your ideas or work
  • Legitimize your ideas or work by having it published by a peer-reviewed journal
  • Share your multimedia work without having to limit it to text
  • Experience a friendly, generous review for once!

What is the expected review timeline?

Every review will take different amounts of time depending on participant availability and the status of the piece. However, an average timeline is 1 month to conduct the review, 1 month for submission, and 1 week for decision. The total timeline will depend on how many rounds of FPR are needed. Reviews will go faster if composers nominate an appropriate review and if all parties remain responsive.

What rights will I have to my original work once it is submitted to the PPJ?

Please see our Terms and Permissions page. Please contact editors@publicphilosophyjournal.org with any remaining questions.

What is “Formative Peer Review” and how is it different from other kinds of review I’m used to at different journals and magazines?

Please see our Formative Peer Review page.

What are the PPJ editors looking for in a piece?

To be made public on the Current, all pieces must pertain to the PPJ’s mission. To be published in our peer-reviewed Journal, these pieces must also exemplify our 4 style criteria. Please see our Submissions Guidelines page for more information.

What kinds of original work does the PPJ accept for Formative Peer Review?

Please see our Submissions Guidelines page.

How do I submit my work to the PPJ?

First, register for the PPJ. Next, navigate to the home page for the Current. In the upper right corner, select “Submit: Original Submission.” Then, please follow the prompts. If you’re unable to follow the prompts, please submit your work directly to editors@publicphilosophyjournal.org. Further instructions are available on our Submissions Guidelines page.

Can I submit original work to the PPJ without registering?

No, you must register unless your technology does not allow you to. In such cases, please explain to our editors at editors@publicphilosophyjournal.org.

Are there size or length limits on submissions?

Yes, please see our Submission Guidelines page.

What information will I need to submit to the PPJ along with my original work?

You will need the following:

  1. Title for the piece
  2. Subtitle (optional)
  3. All Composer’s Names. All must be registered on the PPJ site first.
  4. Brief abstract or description
  5. Name(s) of composers holding copyright
  6. Year of submission

If you check the “Request Formative Peer Review” box, you will also need to submit:

  1. A brief description of the piece’s stage of development.
  2. A brief description of what kind of feedback you need from your reviewers.
  3. A brief Community Ethics Statement.

What citation style should I use?

Please see our Submission Guidelines page.

May I submit my piece elsewhere while it’s undergoing FPR?

Yes and No. To respect the time and effort your Review Team is donating to your work, please do not side-step their work by submitting for publication elsewhere while your piece is undergoing FPR with us. However, you may submit elsewhere to receive other sets of formative feedback during this time.

How do I let the PPJ editors know I want FPR?

On the submission form, please check the “Request Formative Peer Review” box.

How do I let the PPJ editors know I want my piece to be considered for publication in the Journal, not just the Current?

Please email us with this request at editors@publicphilosophyjournal.org.

Why is my submission immediately visible to the public on the Current?

All original submissions that the editors have deemed relevant to the PPJ are immediately visible to the public on the Current. This includes all pieces submitted for FPR. This public unveiling supports the PPJ’s core value of transparency. As our About page describes, we believe hiding most aspects of thought development and peer review behind closed doors actually hinders creativity, rigor, and public relevance. We strive for transparency.

I’m embarrassed about my rough draft, or concerned about being scooped! Can the PPJ make my submission to the Current invisible to the public while it’s undergoing Formative Peer Review?

Yes and No. The public unveiling of an original submission is required when using our platform to conduct FPR; reviewers will not able to review the piece if it is not public on the Current. We encourage our composers to view this publicity as an opportunity to practice open, publicly relevant scholarship as described on our About page. However, if you strongly object to your piece being public during FPR, please contact the Editorial Team at editors@publicphilosophyjournal.org and we will make other arrangements for FPR.

I can't see the review page.

  1. Make sure you're logged in.
  2. On the piece's landing page, look in the upper right corner for "Go To Review."
  3. If you still can't see it, try a different browser. The review system works best in Chrome.

How will I know when my piece is officially published at the PPJ?

There are actually two official ways for a piece to be published at the PPJ

  1. On the Current (not peer-reviewed), and
  2. In the Journal (peer-reviewed).

When your piece appears on the Current, it is published just as a blog post or other website page is, and it should be cited as such. Your piece is published in the peer-reviewed Journal when you see it posted in our online Journal archive. Before then, you would have received a series of emails from the editors announcing they had accepted your piece for publication in the Journal and requesting your review of copyedited proofs.

Many journals require that a piece has never been published elsewhere for them to consider publishing it. Will publishing my piece on the Current count as “published elsewhere”?

You should ask the new journal what they require in this case. If you need the piece to be removed from the Current, please email editors@publicphilosophyjournal.org.

How long may I take to revise my piece?

Your revision timeline will be determined in an email conversation between you, your Review Coordinator, and the PPJ Editors, but the average timeline is 1 month. Special issues have more rigid deadlines than regular issues.

How should I accommodate feedback from my reviewers?

You should consider the merit of each comment and respond as you deem appropriate: thank the reviewer for their compliment, revise according to the suggestion, respectfully explain why you are not accepting the suggestion, or ask for clarification on the suggestion. You may include such responses in an email to your Review Team or as a comment in the forum at the bottom of your review page.


For Reviewers

What’s the difference between the Current & the Journal?

The Current is a curated blog that consists of original content submitted to the PPJ and posts from elsewhere on the web; it is not peer reviewed. The Current is also the gateway to our Formative Peer Review process and to the Journal’s official publication site. The Journal is a peer-reviewed, online-only journal that publishes 2 issues a year (Spring and Fall). All posts on the Current whether curated or submitted for peer review are visible to the public. Readers can comment directly on posts in the Current but not on articles in the Journal.

For more about how to use the Current and the Journal, see our Formative Review Page.

What is “Formative Peer Review” and how is it different from other kinds of review I’m used to at different journals and magazines?

Please see our Formative Peer Review page.

What will I get out of being a reviewer for the PPJ?

There are many benefits to being a Formative Peer Reviewer for the PPJ. As a PPJ reviewer, you will:

  • Dramatically shape the scholarship—much more so than with traditional review
  • Receive guidance on how to give helpful, generous reviews
  • Be able to request a Letter of Confirmation from the editors about your service as a reviewer
  • Have the opportunity for a “mini-publication” by submitting a Public Holistic Response that will be considered for publication alongside the piece you’re reviewing
  • Possibly find new friends and colleagues through your Review Team!

Is FPR more work for me than other kinds of review?

The relative amount of work depends on how you conduct your other reviews and how you engage in this one. However, there is no inherent reason FPR will take a long time. You are only required to give in-line comments and a Private Holistic Response that summarizes your suggestions for the composer. And, our custom-built review platform makes your in-line comments efficient and effective by prompting you to associate each comment with one of our 4 style criteria (or “Other”). The system does the organizing for you. This makes one round of FPR usually less work than other forms of review. However, you might find FPR to be more work as you are asked to continue engaging in this form of feedback for each round of revisions until the editors decide the piece can be accepted or rejected for the Journal, or the composer withdraws the piece. To recognize this increased depth of commitment, we offer Letters of Confirmation for composers and reviewers to use in job applications and reviews. Please contact editors@publicphilosophyjournal.org to request such a letter.

Can I review without registering for the PPJ?

No, you must register unless your technology does not allow you to. In such cases, please explain to your RC.

Can I remain anonymous as a reviewer?

No. Remaining identifiable is necessary both for the mission of the PPJ and the technical details of how our FPR platform works.

How do I complete my review?

Please follow instructions from your Review Coordinator (RC). In general, the process is as follows:

  1. Register with our site and log in once.
  2. Tell your RC you have registered. The RC will then invite you to the review platform through an email sent from noreply@matrix.msu.edu.
  3. While logged in, navigate to the piece you’ve been assigned.
  4. At the top of the piece’s landing page, click the Accept button to accept your assignment.
  5. Scroll to the bottom of the piece’s landing page find the composer’s notes about what stage of development the piece is in, what kind of feedback they need from you, and their Community Ethics statement.
  6. At the top of the piece’s landing page, click “Go To Review.”
  7. Read the pop-up instructions carefully.
  8. Complete your review by leaving in-line comments and a Private Holistic Response at the bottom of the review page. You may leave and come back to finish your review later.
  9. When you're done leaving your comments, click “Finish Review” in the lower right corner.

You are encouraged to correspond with the composer, other reviewers, and RC directly throughout all rounds of FPR. You may correspond via email or using the Comments Forum at the bottom of the review page. You can even ask your RC to set up a video call with the review team to further your discussion of the piece.

I can't see the review page.

  1. Make sure you're logged in and you've already accepted the review invitation.
  2. On the piece's landing page, look in the upper right corner for "Go To Review."
  3. If you still can't see it, try a different browser. The review system works best in Chrome.

How do I see what kind of feedback the composer is asking from me?

While logged in and after accepting your invitation to review, scroll to the bottom of the piece’s landing page to find the composer’s notes about what stage of development the piece is in, what kind of feedback they need from you, and their Community Ethics statement.

How do I see the composer’s Community Ethics Statement?

While logged in and after accepting your invitation to review, scroll to the bottom of the piece’s landing page to find the composer’s notes about what stage of development the piece is in, what kind of feedback they need from you, and their Community Ethics statement.

Where do I leave my overall comments for the composer?

There are three open-ended text fields at the bottom of the review page. The Private Holistic Response field and the Comments Forum field are for the review team’s eyes only. The Public Holistic Response will become public, but only after your RC communicates with you about it.

Can I edit my Public Holistic Response after I submit it during an early round of review? Can I wait to submit my Public Holistic Response until the final piece has been accepted to the Journal?

Yes, to both questions. You may submit a new or edited version of your Public Holistic Response to your Review Coordinator by email until first proofs of the original piece have been created. The RC will make sure the production team gets your file.

I can’t access the review page.

  1. Make sure you are logged in with the correct account; look for your username in the upper right corner of the site.
  2. Make sure you have accepted the invitation to review.
  3. Scroll up & down a bit to reveal the “Go To Review” button in the upper right corner of the piece’s landing page.
  4. If you’re still having trouble, please try another browser, a private browsing window, or restarting your browser and/or machine.
  5. If none of this works, please email help@publicphilosophyjournal.org with a screen shot and the steps you’ve tried already.

I’m on the review page, but I can’t highlight anything in the manuscript.

This is usually because you’ve already hit “Finish Review” in a previous session. Contact help@publicphilosophyjournal.org and your RC to ask for your review to be reopened.