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Well, I may not have anything novel to say about the matter, but here's my two cents: if you think you're likely to publish the paper in a mid-range journal or better, decline. If not, then it's probably unlikely to hurt.

I was happy to publish two papers in conference proceedings before I had anything else out, but now I probably wouldn't do it unless it's a paper that would be difficult to publish elsewhere. In fact, I've turned down a couple of such offers.

Quite generally, I don't understand why people consider it harmful to publish in conference proceedings (or, indeed, lower tier journals). Sometimes, or even most of the time, this is due to convenience. If you have a paper that you'd like to publish but which isn't likely to make the cut in top journals, why should it count against you to publish it? I don't know of a single author whose work is top notch every time. Some of the stuff that the stars of yesteryear publish in anthologies and other venues that lack blind review is pretty dreadful...

Marcus Arvan

Thanks Tuomas! I'm curious to see what others think as well. This is a paper I care a great deal about and think is good (even though I've struggled to land it in a good journal as of yet), so I'm sort of inclined to hold out for the reasons you mention. On the other hand, I'm still a bit unsure, given that the conference is a big Rawls thing at Yale, in a program run by Pogge. I guess that's where my big uncertainty lies. Will these proceedings be read and disseminated, given their affiliation? If so, might it not be such a bad idea? I'm just uncertain...


I recently faced the same dilemma. I'm in a tenure track job so I didn't have the pressure of wanting to have more lines on my CV for the job market, but I did want publications that would be looked on more favorably during tenure review. And I got advice from a couple of top people in the field who were familiar with the paper and thought I should publish in more peer-review venues. I sent that paper out to a couple of top journals, where it got rejected, and finally ended up publishing it at a mid-level journal. The funny thing is that I have now been asked by a publishing house to review the book proposal for the proceedings and I'm kind of wish I had decided to publish my paper there instead. I think what it comes down to is whether there are papers in the proceedings by top people in the field. That might increase the chances that your paper is looked at by people that happen upon it while they're reading the paper by the big name philosopher. I don't think at the end I made the 'wrong' choice, but I think it really depends on what your goals are (line on the cv vs proving you can have papers go through the peer-review process vs. having people stumble upon your paper) and what other papers are included in the collection.


Tuomas's last paragraph in the comment above, while noting that publications in anthologies, proceedings, and the like shouldn't count against you, strongly suggests that they should be considered to be your bad work, which can't "make the cut" at good journals. Is that really how the profession sees non-journal publications? And, much more importantly, is that how the profession should see non-journal publications?

I'm a huge fan of non-journal work: true, sometimes it is really dreadful. But sometimes it's actually much more interesting than what you're likely to find in top journals. Why? Because it doesn't have to be "safe, and a little boring." We should support this stuff instead of perpetuating the idea that work published "in anthologies and other venues that lack blind review" is bad.

My guess is that a Yale collection on Rawls--unless it's specifically marketed as a "proceedings" (is it?)--is likely to have a reasonably solid readership. But of course Anon is right that it will matter quite a bit who else is in the collection.

Andy Stephenson

For what it's worth, I think anon is onto an important point. It depends on what form the conference proceedings are going to take and who else will be published there. If it's going to be a book with a decent publisher and decent names, or a special issue of a decent journal, then my tuppence worth of advice is to go for it. Do you already have any of this info? If not, I can't imagine it would not be ok to ask.


That's a fair point Roman, and I agree. I don't wish to support (the illusion?) that non-journal publications are necessarily of lower quality. Perhaps they are just.. a little different. After all, sometimes the only reason why a paper doesn't get through to a top journal is that it deals with matters that happen to be "unfashionable".

As has been mentioned, the publisher matters as well. I suppose that it may be Yale University Press in Marcus' case? MIT Press also publishes some good conference proceedings, which are, in effect, just like any anthology. Like Roman suggests, correctly I think, sometimes such anthologies are much more interesting than journal articles (and sometimes journals publish special issues with a similar intent).

Not sure if this helps Marcus, but I guess there seems to be an initial consensus that it *could* be worthwhile to publish in proceedings.

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