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Pendaran Roberts

I'm happy to see that so many agree with me that 'too many reviewer reports are incompetent, biased, or needlessly aggressive.' I've gotten some real crappy reports over the years. I don't understand why they're not thrown out entirely. Can't editors tell when a report is just ridiculous?

Malcolm Keating

I imagine that a survey which looked at AOS would also be helpful, in case there are trends within sub-fields. (One could then perhaps infer what journals are being described, though getting that information directly would be more reliable.)

I have had generally positive experiences on the receiving side of referee reports when submitting papers in Indian philosophy. I have experienced a sense that referees want to improve the work and encourage growth, and not to simply disagree aggressively or self-promote, etc. Perhaps this is because of the relative small community of those of us working in Indian philosophy. It would be interesting to know if this experience is shared among others doing Indian philosophy or if it is a feature of something else.

elisa freschi

@Malcolm: As a reviewer in the field of Indian philosophy, I am glad to read that, Malcolm! I wonder whether in the specific case you mention many reviewers may think, like I do, that scholars working in the field needs to be helped and supported, since there is so much to do and so few people doing it.

Malcolm Keating

Elisa, that is my suspicion. It's certainly how I have approached reviews myself, when I write them. (Though I can't speak to how people perceive my reports, I usually write at least a page or two starting with my own understanding of the argument.)

I also wonder, having refereed for journals on the linguistics/philosophy of language boundary, about disciplinary norms there (Journal of Pragmatics, for instance, shares reports with all referees, and has a pretty tight turnaround time). Thus I really think talking about "philosophy journals" in general is not going to answer much, unless the tacit assumption is we're discussing the top-ranked generalist journals--in which case we should be focusing on those journals.


I think the point about different subfields having different norms is a good one. I boundary cross quite a lot and, at least in my experience, I have found that there is a reasonable degree of variation in referee comments between subfields of philosophy.

Marcus Arvan

Malcolm (and others): Thanks for raising this issue. I too have heard that behavioral norms in different philosophical areas can be very different. And I agree it might be worthwhile trying to learn more about what they are. This could not only better inform early-career philosophers about which AOS they might choose to go into, but also lead to good discussions about which areas have norms to emulate and which areas have norms in need of improvement.

I'll try to put together some kind of poll on this soon!


I work in very different areas of philosophy, and I do think the norms are different. MandE and main stream ethics seem especially harsh, in my experience. On the other hand certain sub disciplines of ethics seem much better.

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