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As you probably know by
is now charging a $20 submission fee.
Some have pointed out that this policy
favors the haves (e.g., tenured and tenure-track philosophers) over the
have-nots (e.g., graduate students, adjuncts, and non-TT philosophers). I agree. What do you think?
Posted by Moti Mizrahi on 09/12/2012 at 11:33 AM in Profession, Publishing | Permalink
This is an unfortunate policy, and I hope it doesn't catch on. As others have already pointed out, it shifts the burden from established academics and institutions onto the most vulnerable members or proto-members of the profession: graduate students, independent researchers, and early-career researchers without research budgets. Like the move to Interfolio, costs that that are frankly chump change from the point of view of a school or department are being distributed to those who often don't make a living wage to begin with.
Better ways to handle PI's need for revenue would be to charge for publication rather than submission (though this wouldn't decrease the number of papers to be refereed, which is probably one rationale for the current policy), or to go begging rich departments for funds, as the Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy did. I imagine some deep-pocketed departments might be willing to lend a hand, especially if it bought them some ad space on PI's website, or editorial board seats, or whatnot.
Mark Alfano |
09/12/2012 at 11:59 AM
On the PI website, it says that they "charge a nominal fee of $20.00 (US) to defray the costs of handling submissions."
Presumably, the editors are those who handle submissions. Do they incur costs that monetary compensation can defray?
Do editors of other philosophy journals get any sort of compensation (monetary or otherwise)?
Moti Mizrahi |
09/12/2012 at 03:34 PM
I'm not nearly as opposed to this as everyone else seems to be, although I do think that it would be *much* better if PI waived the fee for lower-income philosophers. I don't know whether that would be feasible, and I haven't made up my mind about what to think of the policy if that's not feasible.
I assume that the real point of the policy is not to defray monetary costs, but to discourage unwarranted submissions -- i.e., papers that are not good enough to be submitted to PI. That strikes me as a worthy goal: reducing the number of submissions decreases review time, which is good for everyone, including graduate students and the un(der)employed. It's also a goal that would be very hard to accomplish in any other way.
David Morrow |
09/12/2012 at 03:49 PM
I find it hard to believe that unwarranted submissions are such a big problem for editors. It seems to me that, if a paper is really that bad, it probably takes an experienced editor no more than ten minutes to determine that and email the author a rejection letter (which the editor doesn't even need to write because s/he has a template ready).
Moti Mizrahi |
09/12/2012 at 04:11 PM
I am under the impression that Darwall and Velleman have no real editorial staff and do all the editorial work on their own. If this is right, then perhaps the money is to help hire a grad student as an editorial assistant? If so, this seems fair enough to me (modulo worries about the fairness of burdening grads/independents/etc all the same)
Brad Cokelet |
09/12/2012 at 06:21 PM
My first reaction was that Phil Imprint should start publishing more papers if they're going pay-to-submit. Phil Imprint has published very few articles during its life span anyway, and since they're not committed to bringing a certain number of papers out each year, or something like that, it seems that pay-to-submit is somewhat unreasonable.
So, if we have to pay-to-submit, then I expect to see the same level of service that we get from journals like Phil Studies, which publishes a 10-fold number of papers.
Tuomas Tahko |
09/12/2012 at 11:12 PM
I am wondering what kind of work can an editorial assistant do for an open access journal. Here's what the PI website says:
"Because the Imprint has no subscription income, it must operate economically, without paper or postage. Contributors are therefore required to submit their work electronically. All correspondence with authors and referees is conducted by electronic mail. Finally, the Imprint does not manage rights and permissions."
So, if the workflow is entirely electronic, then an email comes in with an attachment, and the editors have to decide whether to send to referees or not. I suppose an editorial assistant can help with contacting referees. In that case, what would the editors do?
Moti Mizrahi |
09/13/2012 at 07:25 AM
Good Questions Moti. I am trying to remember what my friends did when working on the editorial staff at Ethics and Faith and Philosophy. There is keeping a database of where papers have been sent, when, checking in with slow reviewers to prod them, etc. I know some of this is automated, but I bet there are lots of emails back from refrees and such that make for busywork - esp if the reminders are automated...in fact I sent an email in response to an automated message just recently when I was reviewing (to Phil Imprint!). Like job applications I bet mundane stuff like that is more of a time suck than you would think.
Brad Cokelet |
09/13/2012 at 10:52 AM
I can't speak from experience, but it seems implausible that editing a journal doesn't take much time or work. I imagine that even with a fairly automated process, there's a huge amount of busy work involved in running the journal. (Think how much of your time gets taken up each semester by seemingly minor administrative tasks.) This is on top of the real editorial work of selecting referees for particular papers, reading and assessing referee reports, deciding which papers to publish, etc.
Moti, I don't think that desk-rejectable papers are gumming up peer review -- although too many such papers, taking 10-15 minutes each, would be a significant problem for the editors themselves. How would you like to give up even one or two hours a week skimming papers that obviously should not have been submitted to a top-tier journal?
The problem I had in mind involves papers that are, to adapt your phrase, good, but nowhere near good enough. That is, there's nothing so obviously wrong with them that they can be rejected in 10-15 minutes, but on a closer reading, they have some serious problem such that they clearly don't belong in a top-tier journal. Maybe there aren't that many of those (but I doubt it). Maybe their authors are sufficiently optimistic or Dunning-Krugerish that they won't be deterred by a $20 fee (quite possible). But if there are many such papers, and many of their authors will be deterred by the fee, then it would decrease the number of referee slots that PI "wastes." That frees up more referees for PI and, presumably, for other journals. (I assume that PI uses very good referees -- philosophers that other journals would like to referee their papers, too -- and that referees accept or reject assignments partly on the basis of their "total reviewing load.")
But suppose your worst suspicions are correct: There is no need to deter submissions. There is no significant workload or production cost that would justify the fee. Then what's the explanation for the fee? That Darwall and Velleman just decided that they needed more money, since NYU and Yale don't pay them enough? I don't know either one of them, but that strikes me as quite implausible -- and far less plausible than the hypothesis that (a) there are significant costs to defray and/or (b) PI implemented the submission fee to achieve some other goal, such as deterring unwarranted submissions.
David Morrow |
09/13/2012 at 03:18 PM
Yeah, no one likes borderline cases. :)
I should say that, in the post, I was trying to refrain from speculating as to *why* the editors of PI have decided to charge submission fees. For, it seems to me that, no matter what the reasons may be, this policy is discriminatory.
Now, PI has no production costs. It says so on their website. So, I take the editors at their word when they say that the fees are meant “to defray the costs of handling submissions” (direct quote). So I was wondering what the costs of handling submissions might be in an open access journal whose operation is entirely electronic and automated.
Also, suppose that your hypothesis (b) is correct. I assume that some people would continue to submit their work to PI and pay the fees. If so, what would the editors do with that money? Is the money supposed to be compensation for their time and effort? If so, do other editors get monetary compensation for their time and effort? If not, why should the editors of PI get such compensation? Isn’t editorial work supposed to be “service to the profession”? By charging fees, the editors of PI would be serving some elite members of the profession, not all members.
Moti Mizrahi |
09/13/2012 at 05:19 PM
Velleman and Darwall have now posted to the thread on Leiter, explaining that the money will go to an editorial assistant who has previously been paid out of Velleman's "personal research account." Velleman also cites a secondary motivation: introducing price competition among journals in the only way that he thinks will serve the function of price competition (viz., motivating journals to keep prices down).
No comment yet, though, on why they don't have an exemption for adjuncts, underfunded grad students, et al.
David Morrow |
09/14/2012 at 05:53 AM
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