After working Stateside and the Netherlands, ever since I moved professionally to Ghent (201o) I have come to think I have a better grasp of the future of philosophy. While enrollments certainly play a significant role in long-term staffing decision, a good portion of our research funding comes from (i) block-grants that reward scientific 'output'; (ii) individual grants to (a) research groups and (b) individual researchers. The grants under (ii) also reward past and prostpective scientific output. During my job interview with the Research Council of my university (note, not the philosophy department!), I was told that if I were to be hired I should change my publication strategy (which had been informed by considerations of visibility and prestige as well as desire to see things in print quickly) and focus on refereed journal articles. (Turns out in Flanders that primarily means journals listed in Web of Knowledge.) Along the way, I have had to re-learn how to write focused articles for journal publication. Given (ii) I now understand myself, in part, as akin to a Lab-Director, who spends a considerable part of his time on grant-making and recruiting talent primarily for the research group I belong to, but also for the wider department/university. It's a zero-sum game, after all. To give you a sense of what is at stake: In addition to my own grant (which funds a cushy salary and low teaching load), I have seven Phd students on a variety of grants working with me. (That represents about two million Euros in taxpayer funded grants.) Of course, this also means that my most valuable skill is the ability to project an image of future scientific output; do you know your H index number? I am also no stranger anymore to all the problems that scientific labs encounter--folk that put names on papers they barely contributed to; I have learned that the interests of Lab, which needs publications, and PhD students, which need intellectual development and viable career paths among other things, don't exactly coincide.
One important way in which 'output' is measured is by publication in high impact journals which brings me to today's inbox. I received a kind note from Springer about "a list of the highest impact journals," in its philosophy portfolio. Like it or not, Springer is an important publisher philosophy (just go to the ESF list or the recent top-20 as compiled by Brian Leiter). It does not have a monopoly, of course, but Springer matters in a lot of important philosophy niches (recall the brouhah over editorial policies at Synthese.)
Below the fold Springer's top six journals with their impact factors (IF). Five of these are in applied ethics and one is in philosophy of biology. Given that funding decisions 'follow' impact factors in the increasing number of places where funding for philosophy research follows bureaucratic rules that aim to reward scientific excellence (not to mention perceived social utility), it stands to reason that we should see an ever increasing specializing shift toward applied ethics.