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02/21/2013

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Jamin Asay

I've done a decent share of refereeing now, and I've never tried to look up the paper, before, during, or after the process. I have no doubt that learning about its origins could have some effect on my judgment of the paper. (For the same reason, I always grade my students' work anonymously.) And it's not hard to do. You just don't go looking up the paper on the internet. Anyone capable of earning a Ph.D. in philosophy has enough maturity and will power to do that. I would support an effort on the part of journals and editors such that every time they asked you to review something, they made explicit that you make your review on the understanding that you will disclose any potential conflicts of interest, and will not do anything to remove the anonymity from the process. Of course, making such a promise every time you agree to review something won't guarantee that you'll keep the promise. But I would hope that actively making such a promise would go some way to deter people.

Moti Mizrahi

This comment is taken from the following NewAPPS post: http://www.newappsblog.com/2012/12/the-journal-reviewing-process-isnt-anonymous-did-you-really-think-it-was-think-again.html

I would not be surprised if this sort of thing occurs at the level of editors as well. That is, some (most?) journals don't have double-blind review, so editors know the identity of authors. This might lead some editors to reject without review papers from "nobodys" or "minority persons."

Marcus Arvan

Jamin: I've done a lot of reviewing too, and I've never looked up a paper's author. Unfortunately, I don't think "anyone capable of earning a PhD in philosophy has enough maturity" to behave similarly. As in life generally, there are good people in academic philosophy as well as bad ones. So, yes, I think your suggestion is a good ones. Editors should take the head on this one. I've never had an editor requesting review tell me I am *not* to look up a paper's author, and if I don't think I can respect that norm not to accept the assignment. I think such a practice would be a good thing, even if it didn't completely solve the problem.

On a different note, thanks for posting. I just checked out your work on truthmaking and it looks super interesting!

Jason Chen

This is unacceptable. You would think that philosophers have some sort of higher standard when it comes to ethical behavior, but I guess not. As a person of color, I find it extra offensive that "minorities" are some how deemed as less worthy of equal treatment. I don't know if others have made the same observation, but philosophy is a disproportionally white male dominated field (at least for political philosophy.) I think the profession needs more people of color (and women too for that matter) and treating minorities worse is certainly not helping.

Jen B

I think this is the first time I've felt disgusted by the field of philosophy, in the sense that reading what that editor is describing makes me wonder if this is even a field worth supporting. That is awful.

Surely the editor would not let people say they had looked for the identity and pedigree of an anonymous author without pointing out how egregious this is? In the comment, it looks as if the editor listens but does not respond to those kinds of admissions. I can only hope the comment from the editor is somehow exaggerated.

Marcus Arvan

Hi Jen: Thanks for your comment. Yes, perhaps what distresses me the most is that the editor gives no hint that s-/he does anything to call out or reprimand these people. I've never had an editor so much as suggest in a review-request email that I am not to do google searches, etc. Given how common and blatant the practice of compromising blind review is, this strikes me as unconscionable on editors' parts. They, and really they alone, have the power and influence to do something (anything!) to deter people from such ghastly behavior.

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