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This sounds great. I believe it is a better proposal than your previous one, and more consistent with your objectives (with which I plainly agree). Both what we could call the “demandingness objection” (Aw, I can’t possibly deal with *this* amount of literature) and the “mere catalog objection” (Alright I’ll cite it but that’s just because I was required to do so) are met with this amended proposal. At the “working” stage, this would also improve not-yet-published papers (and thus their citation practice) by allowing (or even mandating: how could one say “Right, I couldn’t plausibly ignore this paper but anyway I didn’t want to cite it”?) an author to account for papers s-he had not included so far (maybe because s-he didn’t find them in a footnote, maybe because the title wasn’t appealing to him/her.

Jerry Green

It might also be worth highlighting papers that do a good job with citations. Showing off model papers might be a nice way to reward good behavior in addition to raising questions about bad behavior. And I suspect that this might be a place where positive incentives are more persuasive than negative incentives.

Marcus Arvan

JG: I think that's a great idea!


As a mechanism to hash out new norms, it could be useful. I suspect the only way to induce authors to follow the new norms would be to have journals start rejecting papers for bad citation practices, as Berit Brogaard (in one of the links) says science journals do.

The reason is, it seems obvious to me that philosophers are using citations as a way to signal their status to blind reviewers: people who cite the big names exclusively seem likely (to reviewers) to be the authors who are in a position to read only the top journals and names, increasing the likelihood they're among the high-status crowd that the reviewers, unconsciously or consciously, have a bias towards. So everyone down the status chain has incentive to mimic that behavior as much as they can, since if they don't they'll look much lower status than they are and receive a lower chance of publication. (Did I put this clearly?)

That's a "separating equilibrium" and the best way to collapse it would be to make the scholars who would otherwise cite only the big names or high-status papers employ the more inclusive citation practices you're advocating, so as to switch to a pooling equilibrium where the citations in a paper aren't a function of the author's own status. Again, I don't see how to do so short of having the journals reject papers for bad citation practices since the top journals are so sharply competitive. Given how high-stakes publishing can be for authors, simply having social approval or disapproval wouldn't likely be enough to change behavior.

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