Editor's Notes

2. New Sections: The Structure of the Journal

Alfredo Mac Laughlin


Our first Call for Papers invited authors to send papers either addressing the Yearly Theme, The Notion of Personhood in SF, or General Articles addressing any philosophical themes found in SF stories. As we publish the first volume of the Journal, we are ready to accept two more types of contribution: Book Reviews, and Response Essays.

The Yearly Theme section contains peer-reviewed articles on subjects that match the Journal's Yearly Theme at the time of approval for publication. After publication of the corresponding volume (the plan is to aim for April in upcoming volumes), the volume is considered still open for the corresponding year, and articles are still accepted for that Yearly Theme until shortly before the next volume is prepared.

The General Articles section contains peer-reviewed articles on topics suitable to the Journal's Aim and Scope, but that do not quite fit the Yearly Theme. General articles may address any philosophical themes found in SF stories, discussing them through an analysis of the corresponding story, and furthering the understanding of a philosophical topic in this manner. Alternatively, general articles may discuss in more depth the relationship between SF as a genre and Philosophy as a discipline.

The Book Reviews section contains exclusively reviews of books on science fiction and philosophy. JSFP does not review science fiction narratives (SF short stories, novels, etc.); only books that provide a philosophical analysis of a topic through the use of SF stories, or that examine SF as a genre (providing significant philosophical commentary), or of books that analyze the ideas and legacy of an SF author or movement.

Book reviews are not peer reviewed, but must undergo editorial approval and revision/copyediting. Notice that while reviews of single-author books or monographs should include a somewhat elaborate critical evaluation of the book reviewed, reviews of books containing a collection of essays from various authors may instead focus on providing an overview of the book's contents (though they should at least include a brief commentary of the perceived value of particular essays to guide a reader).

Most journals require that books reviewed be recently published. Acknowledging the fact that there is a lot of "catching up" to do in this area, we do not plan at present to limit how new a publication should be; JSFP accepts new reviews of "old" books, as long as the review is original and previously unpublished. We hope this will help the Journal become a useful resource for readers and researchers looking for literature old and new.

(See Authors' Guidelines for information on the format and length of book reviews, and our "wishlist" if you want to peruse a list of potential titles for review. We recommend contacting the Editor if you are unsure about the suitability of a specific title.)

The Response Essays section is somewhat of an experiment in academic discussion, attempting to take advantage of our online format to generate a more fluid discussion of article contents. Response essays are short pieces of scholarly literature (1-4 pages) responding to philosophical issues in current or past journal articles (or responding to previous responses). They are not peer-reviewed, but are subject to editorial approval and added to the current volume's contents (and thus can be documented as scholarship, although with not as much weight as a peer-reviewed article). They may focus on very specific elements of a published article, providing the opportunity to clarify, criticize, support or debunk with technical expertise, but without the burden of writing a full-fledge article to that effect. Authors may use this feature too, to clarify or defend, or to acknowledge an accurate criticism and modify their views, as any good conversation is expected to do. (See Authors' Guidelines for more information.)

Finally, we have promised, and it is still among our future goals, to develop an Education Section, containing non-peer reviewed essays in a more conversational style, documenting ways in which SF has been used in the philosophy classroom. It is intended as a resource section for philosophy teachers. The details for this section have not been settled yet, for we can only do so much with limited time, but we hope to make it a reality soon enough.