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Meena Krishnamurthy

So, here's something that might work. Try to start up a peer mentoring group. I was recently at the mentoring project for pre-tenure women in philosophy where we were placed into small teams of people working in related areas. So far I have found this group to not only be of great moral support but also of great philosophical support. The goal is to set up a date where everyone in the group has to get a paper done. Then you exchange papers and give each other feedback via email or Skype. I am not exactly sure how to initiate this group, but if you could get one going it would be great. I think the main motivator is a sense of solidarity among the group members and the value of reciprocity (each person gets something back for what they give).


Offer others who work in similar areas a swap: you read their papers, they read yours. Less work than setting up a peer mentoring group (which I also think is a great idea!), and you might be more flexible with getting different people on board for different projects.

Marcus Arvan

Hi Meena: thanks for your comment and advice. I may attempt to give it a try. One worry I have, though, is that in your case there is already a pre-existing mentoring program and group solidarity (I'm really happy to see female philosophers organizing to support one another, by the way! Really cool...). I suspect I may have a more difficult time getting something like that started in my case, but it is certainly worth looking into. So, again, thanks for offering it as advice!

Hi Lisa: thank you for your comment and advice, as well. Quick question: do you mean emailing people I may or may not know out of the blue to offer a work-swap? The reason I ask is this. Another problem I face is that I'm not the best networker. I wish I could say I knew a ton of people who work in similar areas as I, but -- aside from the Cocoon -- I just don't. I've long realized that I need to network better, but I've never quite known how to go about it very well.

Michael J. Augustin

One thing you might try is getting in touch with previous advisors/mentors and asking them for feedback. (I recently did this myself.) Also, if you've kept in contact with people you met at, say, a conference, you could ask them to take a look at one of your drafts.


Hi Marcus, I meant with people you know (however loosely), but I see no reason why one shouldn't drop a friendly email to someone one doesn't know, asking if they would be interested in commenting on one's paper, explaining how it relates to their work and why they might be interested, and offering to read one of their papers in return…


Hi Marcus,
If any of your drafts are in my areas, I'd be happy to exchange papers with you. (I agree--it's surprisingly hard to find reliable people to work with.)
I know your book is ethics...so I can't help you there..but let me know if I'm able to help with your other drafts.

Meena Krishnamurthy

Hi Marcus, Admittedly starting such a group would be difficult. However, I think this blog and perhaps pubilc reason could be a place to ask for a few people working in your area to sign up to be part of a peer mentoring group. You could then email other people once you have one or two people who have already committed. I really think that whatever route you go, you'll need to offer to read other people's work. For the most part, given how busy people are, they won't be motivated to read your work otherwise. Best of luck!


I second developing a network of extra-departmental colleagues with whom to share work. I've found that meeting people at conferences is a great way to do this, and often people just say "If you ever have a paper you want to send, go ahead." Or something like that.

I've found developing and maintaining professional (as well as personal) relationships through Facebook very useful. I'm also writing a book manuscript, and when the first 6 chapters were done, I asked if anyone wanted to be a reader and give comments. I got a bunch of helpful replies (some of which from people directly in my specialization).

As Meena mentioned, another alternative is a more formal "group" arrangement.

Marcus Arvan

Lisa and Meena: thanks for the clarifications. I'll probably give both of your suggestions a try!

Eyeyethink: thanks so much for the offer. Unfortunately, none of the papers are remotely close to your areas of focus. :(

Michael: thanks for the suggestion. I'll try giving it a shot, as well.


To the cocoon community,
I will gladly agree to look over the first three or four papers that come into my inbox, providing that: the paper is not too long (more than 20 or so pages?), the paper is in a field that I am somewhat competent to say something about (anything I've taught or wrote about?), you give me a reasonable amount of time, and agree to do the same should I ask.

If we have enough people who reply "me too" and link to their CV and their email address, we should be able to help deal with the problem.


Marcus Arvan

Hi Mark: great idea, and thanks for taking the initiative! I'm going to write a new post on this calling for people to join a paper-swap group ASAP.


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