Contemporary Aesthetics was one of the first open access scholarly
journals on the Internet and the first of its kind in aesthetics. After thirteen years of continuous
publication, CA has achieved a
considerable degree of stability, as much as one can hope for in what is
essentially an ephemeral publication in an ephemeral medium. How impermanent electronic publication
is, however, may not be immediately apparent.
Print publication of journals (and, indeed, of books, as well), which
has been the scholarly standard, is losing its place, and its life span is
often less than that of its material base.
Libraries and individuals no longer desire to devote permanent shelf
space to publications that are easily available and more readily usable in
electronic form, and archival systems can ensure the preservation of those data. Senior scholars wishing to pass on to others
their extensive accumulation of print journals cannot find recipients.
The obsolescence of print publication,
especially of journals, we think, is likely the rising wave of the future. As long as we have a democracy of the
Internet, the acquisition and dissemination of information are relatively easy
and voluntary. And commercial intrusion
into the process is tiny in comparison with the costs involved in printing and
distributing the print and paper products of scholarship. Individual scholars, moreover, are no longer
obliged to subsidize that system by freely giving their journal articles to the
commercial economy through which others profit from their efforts, while they
receive no payment for their work and, in fact, sometimes are required to pay
for its publication.
Contemporary Aesthetics is pleased to report that its usage over
the past year has continued to increase significantly. As in each of the previous years, the
number of visits (not hits) to our site has grown. In 2014 it was 119,000; in 2015 it was
165,000. We began issuing our quarterly
newsletter of recent and forthcoming publication in 2013 to 148 subscribers. The list is growing slowly but steadily, and
our newsletter is now sent to 449 subscribers.
This year, in addition to reporting on our accomplishments
over the past volume year, I would like to exercise editorial privilege and say
something about the ethics of journal publishing as it applies to Contemporary Aesthetics. These reflections were stimulated by the
response of an author whose paper was not accepted.
Most scholars in that situation justifiably expect that the
grounds for the decision are clearly described in the reviews of their paper. Not only do our reviewers provide detailed
justification for their recommendation, but they go to some effort to offer information
and guidance to the author. Thus the
reviews tend to be valuable not only as an indication of how a well-disposed
peer would objectively assess their work (all our reviewers are well-disposed!)
but, even more important, how that work could be improved. At CA we consider the review to be a didactic
process that will benefit the author, as well as be a constructive effort for the
The author of whom I am writing protested that CA was
slanted in favor of work that showed an orientation favoring analytic
philosophy. Our editorial policy is
self-consciously receptive to all philosophical orientations, as can easily be
seen in the range of papers we publish. This response was also surprising
because we go to great effort to find readers who are knowledgeable in the philosophical
area and subject of the submission. In
this case, we were fortunate to find two such readers, one of whom is especially
competent in the author's orientation and the other in the subject with which
the paper dealt. And, coincidentally,
neither reviewer could remotely be considered an analytic philosopher.
While it is not our practice to discuss reviews with
authors, the irony of the case in question led us to offer an explanation and,
in the event, even provided a subject for this editorial! It is important to articulate our
editorial process to make it clear that, as much as possible, no hidden factors
govern our decisions. (Our editorial impartiality has also been
independently recognized in the gender balance of our authors. See the editorial for Vol. 13.) Of course, Contemporary Aesthetics, like all scholarly journals has its purview
and that is explained in our statement of editorial policy. This appears on our home page as well as in
our very name, and we keep our mission clearly in mind as we go about our work. It is disappointing, to be sure, to have
one’s work not be accepted, something surely every scholar has experienced at
one time or another. Our effort at CA,
however, is to make the submission process a constructive experience that will
benefit everyone engaged in it.
I am pleased to
recognize many of the reviewers who have contributed their valuable assistance
over the past year. These include Christophe
Bruchansky, John Carvalho, Stephen Davies, Barbara von
Eckardt, Ivan Gaskell, David Goldblatt, Carolyn Korsmeyer,
Thomas Leddy, Mara Miller, Ossi Naukkarinen, Sherri Ross, Larry Shiner, Amie
Thomasson, Mary Wiseman, and Rachel Zuckert.
I am deeply grateful for their advice.
And, of course, I want especially
to recognize our Associate Editor, Yuriko Saito, and our Editorial Board,
through whose efforts and good counsel this journal continues to benefit. We have also received valuable counsel from a
number of dance scholars who have suggested work for us to consider for the
video on the homepage of our new volume.
I would like to acknowledge with thanks the suggestions of Aili
Bresnahan, Renee Conroy, Rebecca Farinas, Joan Kunsch, and Julie Van Camp.
In our last
editorial we announced the forthcoming reverse publication of work in print
form that first appeared in Contemporary
Aesthetics. That volume is nearly
complete and we expect publication of Perspectives
on Contemporary Aesthetics in mid-January. This will be announced in Recent Publications.
We look forward to another year of strong and innovative work in
aesthetics to share with the scholarly community.