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Douglas W. Portmore

I think that this is a great idea.


It’s a great idea, but I am not fully comfortable with the kind of reciprocity principle that is appealed to. Let me explain: as an unpublished young philosopher, I am more in need of feedback than I am able to provide it. Of course I can comment someone’s work, but compared to an older, more experienced author, it is likely that my comments would be of poor quality. I am less aware, as an author, of journals’ expectations and of what makes a work not only good, but also publishable, than someone with a good publication record is likely to be.

An experienced author is more likely, say, to identify the kind of weaknesses that would lead to an outright rejection, or the kind of strength that turn a manuscript into a published article. In sum, the reciprocity principle is appealing (I would not deny that), but it seems to me that it remains unequal or asymmetric.

Richard Yetter Chappell

Some friends and I put some thought into a similar idea many years back, but unfortunately never completed the project. But for those interested in the discussion (including various implementation proposals) see:


It would be great to see something like this finally take off!

Elisa Freschi

@John (and Marcus), the idea in part exists, in the sense that the "sessions" at Academia.edu (which are still in their beta-phase, but which at least I and Helen from the Cocooners here have already experimented with much profit) are something similar: you upload your paper and your followers can comment on it and usually give very constructive feedback. I am in touch with Richard Price of Academia.edu and he told me that they would like to add to the system the possibility of an actual overall rating of the paper. Perhaps working on that could be more profitable than starting a new website anew?

@Pierre, I do not agree. Younger philosophers usually have more time and more enthusiasm and can in this sense provide more in-depth comments. In my experience (see above) with the sessions, some of my senior colleagues gave me very good pieces of advice, but several others just did not have the time and only corrected a couple of typos.

John Schwenkler

Thanks for sharing this, Marcus.

I've created a Google Document where people can brainstorm ideas and add their names to a list of volunteers: https://docs.google.com/document/d/1J19DbsiG2075CuslXM4AvYIKtGUe-dTdODBLr4m-bi8/edit?usp=sharing

And thanks, Elisa, for the pointer to Sessions at academia.edu. I agree that this is useful, but suspect that lots of people would prefer anonymity in this sort of process, and also that some amount of reciprocity is more likely to make it work. I take Pierre's point about the value of experienced reviewers, but of course it's always open to people to write more reviews than they receive. It's also worth noting, though, that in the present system more established philosophers are inundated with requests to referee for journals, whereas younger philosophers often complain that they don't receive as many such requests as they would like. This is intended as a (partial) solution to that situation.


Elisa: Thanks for your reply :-) I very much hope my doubts are misguided, and your reply happily suggests they are at least partially so. Now that is not exactly where my discomfort stems from. Surely young philosophers are able to provide precious comments (there is no doubt about that), but I am not certain (as a matter of opinion) that comments from someone like me would be of great use as regards what makes a paper *publishable*, beyond its philosophical quality. So far I have little first-hand experience of what it is to successfully get through the publishing experience. I do have some experience of what it is to get through a selective procedure, but I still need, so to speak, to “furbish up my weapons” as a commenter/reviewer.

But let us turn my (hopefully misguided) fears into a positive proposal: what about a “junior reviewer” status? That would help those who’d be willing to provide feedback, but still need to improve their abilities in that respect, to do so. Over time they would gain confidence as reviewers, learn the “tips and tricks” that make one a good reviewer, and so on.

Elisa Freschi

@Pierre, that of the "junior reviewer" might be a good idea, as long as it helps junior scholars. In other words, I would not impose it on anyone and would rather encourage shy PhD students and the like to adopt it if they do not feel confident enough.

Joshua Mugg


Even if you are young, after you get your first publication you will be asked to review for journals. I have reviewed for both journals and conferences while in grad school.


To help ensure reciprocity it might a good idea to have whatever system is eventually in place set up such that when X leaves comments on Y's paper X's comments are uploaded into a holding pen where they cannot be accessed by Y until Y reciprocates by uploading comments on X's paper.


Somewhat related: Rebecca Schuman from Slate has suggested a reciprocity system for peer review. The idea is that for every paper you submit to a journal, you have to have refereed a paper for that journal (I'm assuming that double-anonymity would still somehow be preserved). Not sure what I think about it, but I think it's worth philosophers talking about. http://www.slate.com/articles/life/education/2014/07/the_easy_way_to_fix_peer_review_require_submitters_to_review_first.html

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