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Meet the New Editors of Perspectives on Politics

A new editorial team for Perspectives on Politics, one of its flagship journals dedicated to “political science in the public sphere,” was announced in late March 2017. APSA selected a team from the University of Florida, Professor Michael Bernhard, who will serve as editor, and Professor Daniel O’Neill, who will serve as associate editor. Both are faculty members in the university’s department of political science.

“We are delighted that Professors Bernhard and O’Neill have volunteered to take on the responsibility of editing Perspectives on Politics,” says APSA President David Lake. “Perspectives now fills an essential role in our association’s publication portfolio, focusing on original research that engages issues of public concern and policy in an accessible way. We are confident that the new editors will continue building this journal and maintain the highest standards of quality.”

 “Our mission is to both maintain the ‘political science public sphere’ orientation of the journal, thereby bringing innovative and relevant research to a larger audience, while maintaining the journal’s recent success in disciplinary impact,” explained the editors. “We do not see these two tasks as antagonistic, but synergistic, bringing important findings of practical and social relevance to the widest possible audience.”

The editorial search committee noted the team’s “clear and thoughtful proposal emphasizes their commitment to relevance, pluralism, cross-field dialogue, and outreach beyond the discipline. Our committee is impressed with this team’s academic quality, solid experience, and professionalism.”

“APSA is very enthusiastic about the Bernhard and O’Neill editorial team,” said Steven Rathgeb Smith, APSA Executive Director, “and we look forward to their leadership of this very important association journal.”

In reflecting on their editorship, Bernhard and O’Neill “are grateful for this opportunity to serve the membership of the Association and the discipline and look forward to working together with many of you over the course of our term.” Their term begins June 1, 2017, and all decisions for manuscripts currently in for review or revision, or new submissions will be managed by them.

The journal has been guided by three previous editors, Jennifer Hochschild, Harvard University (2002–2005); James Johnson, University of Rochester (2005–2008), and Jeffrey Isaac, Indiana University (2009–2017). In addition to research articles, commentary, and symposia, the journal also includes book reviews and author discussion.

Meet the Editors

Michael Bernhard, Editor, holds the Raymond and Miriam Ehrlich Chair in Political Science at the University of Florida. His work centers on questions of democratization and development, both globally and in the context of Europe. Among the issues that have figured prominently in his research agenda are the role of civil society in democratization, institutional choice in new democracies, the political economy of democratic survival, and the legacy of extreme forms of dictatorship. He is involved in the Varieties of Democracy project as a co-principal investigator in research efforts and the project manager responsible for the batteries on civil society and state sovereignty. He previously has served as head of APSA’s section on European Politics and Society, the founder and chair of the Research Network on the Historical Study of States and Regimes of the Council of European Studies, and edited APSA-CD (the Newsletter of the Comparative Democratization section). His work has appeared in many journals including The Journal of Politics, World Politics, International Studies Quarterly, Journal of Conflict Resolution, Comparative Political Studies, Comparative Politics, Democratization, International Interactions, and Perspectives on Politics, and under the auspices of Oxford University Press, Columbia University Press, and the University of Pittsburgh Press.

Associate Editor Dan O’Neill’s research focuses principally on the history of British and American political thought, particularly in the 18th century. He is interested in how issues crucial to that period continue to illuminate a range of contemporary theoretical problems, ranging from the meaning of democracy, conservatism, and feminism, to the politics of empire and imperialism. He also has longstanding interests in theories of liberalism and multiculturalism, and their practical intersection in culturally plural societies. His publications include Edmund Burke and the Conservative Logic of Empire (University of California Press, 2016); The Burke-Wollstonecraft Debate: Savagery, Civilization and Democracy (Penn State University Press, 2007); and Illusion of Consent: Engaging with Carole Pateman (Penn State University Press, 2008), co-edited with Mary Lyndon Shanley and Iris Marion Young. Other work has appeared in such journals as Political Theory, History of Political Thought, the Journal of the History of Ideas, Polity, and The Review of Politics, as well as a number of edited volumes. Together with Terence Ball and Richard Dagger, he is also now co-author of the textbook, Political Ideologies and the Democratic Ideal, and co-editor of its companion anthology of primary sources, Ideals and Ideologies: A Reader (both published by Routledge).

Mission Statement: Maintaining and Developing the “Political Science Public Sphere”

Since its inception, Perspectives on Politics has always occupied a unique position within the discipline. When James Johnson was editor, for example, a statement entitled “Philosophy for Perspectives on Politics” featured above the masthead in each issue, describing the journal’s approach and goals. It states that its purpose is “to provide political insight on important problems, as it emerges from rigorous, broad-based research and integrative thought.” From the beginning, then, the aim of Perspectives—quite unlike other scholarly outlets within political science—has always been to “enable members of different subfields to speak with one another—and with knowledgeable people outside the discipline,” regarding issues of common concern. This latter group includes journalists, policy analysts, public officials and their staffs, and members of other social sciences. Subsequently, under the editorship of Jeffrey Isaac, the journal’s overarching goal was succinctly described as that of creating “a political science public sphere” (now the subtitle of the journal).

The journal’s current “Statement of Mission and Procedures,” which precedes the substantive content in each issue, stresses the special scholarly space it inhabits.  The “Statement” notes, “Perspectives on Politics seeks to provide a space for broad and synthetic discussion within the political science profession and the broader scholarly and reading publics.” Thus, while it necessarily both draws on and helps contribute to the scholarship featured in more specialized journals, “at the same time, Perspectives seeks to promote a complementary form of broad public discussion and synergistic understanding within the profession that is essential to advancing scholarship and promoting academic community. Perspectives seeks to nurture a political science public sphere, publicizing important scholarly topics, ideas, and innovations, linking scholarly authors and readers, and promoting broad reflexive discussion among political scientists about the work they do and why this work matters.”

Hence it is clear that Perspectives on Politics is a journal with a keen self-understanding. It knows where it comes from, what its distinctive goals are, and what types of scholarship further those goals. That vision informs all formats in which work in the journal appears, from the front to the back of each issue, and ranging from research articles, “reflection” essays, scholarly symposia on single books, critical book dialogues, book review essays covering more than one similarly-themed volume, thematic book review sections that cross field-specific lines, and conventional reviews. The focus of every issue of Perspectives is on innovative thinking about the big orienting questions that appropriately structure political inquiry, and problem-driven scholarly discussions. For this reason, the work that appears in its pages all needs to be framed in broad terms and written in clear language that is readily accessible to scholars of all fields of political science, as well as to interested and informed people outside the discipline and even the academy itself. The journal is intentionally ecumenical and open to a wide variety of methodological and epistemological approaches and ontological orientations.  It does not exclude any approach a priori; however, this comes with the crucial caveat that all authors must eschew excessively particularistic and esoteric jargon that speaks only to a narrow audience of specialists. Work published in the journal is intended to reach a broad audience, and would-be contributors to its pages should frame their contributions accordingly.

As the editors of Perspectives on Politics, it is important to make clear that we not only understand the mission of the journal, but we embrace it. Further, we think the journal has done a very good job of fulfilling its mission. It is diverse, engaging, and has a powerful disciplinary impact, as evidenced by its increasing citation counts and prominence on graduate syllabi. Entrusted with this legacy, we proceed from the understanding that it is not broken, and thus is not in need of major repairs. Rather, our task will be to remain true to the mission and introduce incremental changes to build on the current level of success.

In order to remain true to the mission of the journal we will emphasize four principles in our editorial strategy. These principles will inform our decision-making on publication and our advice to authors on revision.

1) Addressing Important Issues. This includes addressing the burning issues of the day. We will not shy away from work that has strong policy implications, and we will encourage authors to consider what the ramifications of their findings are for practical politics. We also will be open to new approaches to, and innovative strategies for, addressing the enduring questions of the discipline. Finally, we will be open to work that reflexively considers the state of the discipline, its strengths and weaknesses. The “reflections” section of the journal has been important in addressing significant issues in the discipline, the changing conditions under which we work, and the relationship of political science to the public at large. While these contributions are more essayistic in nature, they contribute something unique to the journal and the self-understanding of political scientists. While we will solicit work of this nature in consultation with the editorial board, we are also open to proposals by members of the profession.

2) Pluralism. We are fully committed to continuing the pluralism of the journal in its many dimensions. We will be open to both scientific and humanistic approaches to the study of politics. The same holds for methodology. We will be open to established and novel forms of making quantitative, qualitative, and experimental inference, as well as research that uses multiple and mixed methods. We are committed to publishing the highest quality work without regard to approach and method, and will retain stringent standards of peer review. However, whatever the approach or method, we will demand from authors that the final product be presented in a form that allows it to reach the broadest possible audience.

As a disciplinary flagship, Perspectives has to be open to all subfields and specializations of political science. This will remain our goal not only in article selection but in the management of the book review section as well. Finally, we will endeavor to publish work that represents the population of the discipline in all its diverse aspects. In this, our commitment to academic pluralism ideally will help to make the pages of Perspectives less self-selective in terms of the authorship of its articles. The journal has a strong and documented track-record on this score, and this is something we will aim to continue and improve.

3) Cross-Field Dialogue. The accessibility of the presentation of findings by the journal helps to promote cross-field dialogue by exposing the wider community of scholars to work in other fields in a readily accessible manner. This helps scholars identify research relevant to their interests, and encourages the cultivation of deeper understandings of debates outside of one’s own specialization. Not only will we publish broadly from all major subfields in the discipline, but another fashion in which we can promote a political science public sphere is by finding novel ways to get members of different subfields and specializations to engage with each other. Here we see the grouping of articles and book reviews from across fields that address related problems in special sections as another key facet of the journal’s promotion of cross-field dialogue.

4) Outreach beyond the Discipline. Part of the essential mission of Perspectives is to make the insights generated by political scientists more accessible to a wider audience interested in politics. One crucial purpose of creating a political science public sphere is to put the discipline back in the national public sphere to an even greater extent. We have moved beyond the period when there was a general malaise in the discipline about the paucity of impact that political science research had on public discourse. The proliferation of online sources has given many political scientists a voice in the public sphere to an extent not seen before. Still, one is more likely to see an economist, an ex-military officer, or a historian on a public affairs show than a political scientist. An essential part of our mission is to continue to raise the profile of the discipline to the public at large.

To summarize, our mission is to both maintain the “political science public sphere” orientation of the journal, thereby bringing innovative and relevant research to a larger audience, while maintaining the journal’s recent success in disciplinary impact. We do not see these two tasks as antagonistic, but synergistic, bringing important findings of practical and social relevance to the widest possible audience.   We are grateful for this opportunity to serve the membership of the association and the discipline and look forward to working together with many of you over the course of our term.

 

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