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Hey Marcus,

It's really great that you're using your role to help bring attention to under-appreciated work!

I don't have any particular suggestions for papers, but I just want to note a general concern I have about the "recommend" function. This isn't in the least aimed at you, but it's on this topic, so I feel it might be relevant to your readers (apologies in advance for the bit of derailing that's about to occur). I'm worried that the recommend function will serve to amplify existing power relations or social cliques, e.g., that people will just recommend their friends or more powerful people they'd like to kiss up to (cynical, I know, and I really, really hope I'm wrong). I'm also already a bit worried about a gendered dynamic, as I currently follow quite a few interests/people in academic and it seems to me that so far, the papers recommended are overwhelmingly papers written by men.

If academia.edu is going to do this "recommendations" thing, I think they should unroll it to *everyone* (which, I'm assuming they will eventually...), and I think they should track and provide whether recommendations are gendered in the way I fear they are (anyone who supplies a school they're an alum of is already asked to provide male/female status for the purposes of getting alumnus/alumna right -- so they already have quite a bit of gender info). They might also track whether people are recommending people who they went to school with (they have alumni info). I've already seen a bunch of co-horts having recommended each other's papers. It makes sense in a way -- they *know* each other. I don't think it's an intentional in-group bias, but it has the consequence, i worry, of exaggerating the power of the clique. Maybe just knowing that academia.edu is collecting statistics like this and an awareness of the possibility of clique-ishness will make people a bit more reflective and far-reaching in their recommendations (and again, I *really* applaud your efforts to approach recommendations in this way)


I suggest that you recommend Michael Wilby's The Simplicity of Mutual Knowledge:

The paper has already gotten some recognition I suppose, since it won an essay prize, but think it deserves more. It's a wonderful paper. Wilby is an early-career researcher.

Marcus Arvan

Hi Anon: Thanks for your kind comment.

I definitely appreciate the concerns you raise. If there is a way for Academia to have the function in a different way that better mitigates bias (e.g. extending it to everyone), I'm all for it! One possible concern here, however, is that if it is extended to everyone, then it might be practically self-defeating (since then everyone would just receive a deluge of recommendations, not knowing which recommendations to trust). But perhaps this issue can be circumvented. I'm not entirely sure. What do you think?

In any case, my rationale for requesting recommendations is roughly this: that as long as we have a system of recommending work (even an imperfect system), it is good to try to put *that* system to the best possible use. And I guess my thought is that soliciting recommendations from readers, and choosing to make recommendations in a way that strives for integrity, is a decent (if imperfect) way to go about that. That, at any rate, is my hope--to use the system in the best, and most inclusive way, that I can.

Marcus Arvan

Thanks for the recommendation, Olle!


Here's one of mine (a week late): https://www.academia.edu/11656115/Matter_God_and_Nonsense_Berkeleys_Polemic_Against_the_Freethinkers_in_the_Three_Dialogues

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