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04/14/2019

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anonymous

1. To be clear, Phil Compass (and some other invited papers) are peer-reviewed, so it's not a good idea to contrast "peer-reviewed" with "invited".

2. I teach at an R1. Peer reviewed publications count for the same amount (if they are in good places) regardless of whether they are invited or submitted. We don't count publications or think in the way that this post suggests when hiring. So it's hard to say what to say about that. If someone only had a Phil Compass publication and their work was good and interesting and they were the best candidate, we'd hire them. We also occasionally hire people with zero publications, and sometimes we hire people with lots and lots of publications.

3. One reason that invited publications might be taken more seriously at certain R1s, like mine, is that a really important ingredient for tenure (at my school this is the most important ingredient) is outside letters, and you need a lot of them. Having publications in places like Oxford Studies volumes, Phil Compass, etc. indicates to our faculty that you are well-respected by more senior people in your sub-discipline.

anonymous

(But I don't think in any place it is "all about proving that you are a member of an elite club". I feel like these extreme caricatures (in any direction) of how hiring and tenure work are not helpful to anyone. It is really, really important at a lot of R1 places that your external tenure letters are very very strong. But in many cases the people writing you those letters have never even met you, or barely know your work. Tenure letter writers don't just write a letter about how great you are because they are your friend. It's a massively big undertaking that requires reading the candidate's work very carefully (I just wrote my first one recently, I didn't know the candidate, and I wrote an extremely positive letter). I think it is important to keep in mind that at a lot of R1 places--maybe not every place, but definitely a lot--with respect to hiring, the committee or department is going to read your work extremely closely if they are even remotely interested in you. In my department, we hire people with all different kinds of publications and sometimes with no publications precisely because it is much more important to us that we like the candidate's work and think it is strong than where the candidate has so far placed their work.

It's ok to be critical of the way hiring and tenure work from outside, but it's also important to have some humility about things and realize that you do not know all the details (indeed,most of the time we don't know almost any of the details from the outside) and that sometimes impressions of patterns can form where we then want to attribute a particular explanation to that pattern, but it's not necessarily the right one (and sometimes the pattern is such a weak "pattern"--we're obscuring other data in order to see it--that there is no reason to think that it even has an explanation).)

Amanda

If someone has *only* invited publications, that might count against them to some degree. It "might." I think this is more likely at the tenure phase than the hiring phase. However, as along as someone has a few non-invited respectable journal articles then, in my experience, at R1's articles in philosophy compass, philosophical perspectives, and the like count just as much as non-invited articles. SEP is a bit different since it is not merely that it is invited but also that it is not an original research article, so in that sense I think it counts for a bit less. Publications for elite anthologies count for a bit less than something like philosophy compass, but not much less.

And yes, lots of these invited articles are peer-reviewed. This can be true both with journals and anthologies. But honestly I just think it is nonsense to compare the difficulty of publishing in them to the difficulty of publishing in top journals. Once you are invited there is all the momentum in your favor for getting it published. I think this is true in general, even if there are occasional invited pieces that are reviewed with just as much rigor as regular journals.

The justification anonymous gives for why things work as they do is common. I agree with it in part, but also disagree in part. Yes, sometimes letters are written purely on the basis of someone's work and not because of connections. But lots of times connections are involved. You often read someone's work in the first place because you have heard of them through your network of R1 friends about who is up and coming. This doesn't necessarily mean the person doesn't merit it, but I also think it is clearly not pure merit (alas, though, nothing in life is that...)

Research in philosophy is complicated. In one sense I feel yes, there is a lot you can do to "work your way up." On the other hand, I also feel its true that there is huge advantages to people based on who they know, where they came from, etc. that have nothing to do with "philosophical quality", whatever that might mean.

I work at an R1, and moved from a teaching school. I have not yet served on a hiring committee but I have had lots of conversations about what it takes to get tenure, how past hiring decisions have been made, watched people who have gotten hired, etc.

possibly unlucky

OP here. Thanks for the responses. Anonymous and Amanda both confirm what I suspected -- publications in these venues carry a lot of weight. Given this fact, my initial observation -- that philcompass accepts non-invited papers but there is no procedure in place to ensure this occurs in a fair and transparent fashion -- seems all the more troubling. As I mention in the previous thread, in the case of SEP and PhilCompass both the denied author and sub-field suffer. Oh well...

pendaran

"But honestly I just think it is nonsense to compare the difficulty of publishing in them to the difficulty of publishing in top journals. Once you are invited there is all the momentum in your favor for getting it published. I think this is true in general, even if there are occasional invited pieces that are reviewed with just as much rigor as regular journals."

I second this. I don't know how much weight invited submissions are given in general, but I know that I don't weight them as highly. The key to getting an invited submission is connections. This is less impressive to me than non-invited, where the key is to convince a couple of random philosophers in your area that you have something worth publishing, which in my experience ain't easy. In my experience, for whatever it's worth, invited papers are of a lower quality, perhaps not in their overall thesis but definitely in the construction and carefulness of the writing.

Amanda

"This is less impressive to me than non-invited, where the key is to convince a couple of random philosophers in your area that you have something worth publishing, which in my experience ain't easy..."

This is true sometimes, but I always like to point out that a lot of the time (my guess, roughly 50%, but just a guess from talking to people) the reviewer knows who wrote the paper because they either saw it at a conference or some type of working group. And recent philosophy facebook discussions confirm people are more than willing to both admit and defend reviewing papers when they know the author, even if the journal is supposedly blind review.

On the brighter side, there is around 1/2 the time that the paper is genuinely blind review, which does give people without connections a shot.

anonymous

"This is true sometimes, but I always like to point out that a lot of the time (my guess, roughly 50%, but just a guess from talking to people) the reviewer knows who wrote the paper because they either saw it at a conference or some type of working group. And recent philosophy facebook discussions confirm people are more than willing to both admit and defend reviewing papers when they know the author, even if the journal is supposedly blind review."

Do these people at least inform the journal that they've seen the paper presented? That's what I did the one time this happened to me (the journal found another referee). Even if you think it's in principle okay, it certainly seems wrong to not disclose this sort of stuff to the journal.

Also, if your guess on the numbers is right, it's then a huge problem that *half* the submissions sent to journals advertising blind review don't actually get blind review. If we as a discipline (or a particular journal) don't think blind review is necessary, that's one thing. (It can be defended.) But in that case this needs to be made clear in the advertising. Journals need to say that they don't follow blind review, that they allow referees to review papers they can identify, or whatever.

(As I type this out, I realize I should have just declined in the case I mentioned above, instead of leaving it up to the journal.)

Amanda

Anonymous: from talking to people and the facebook group discussions, I get the impression that the editor is *sometimes* informed (very much like in the way you did) but not always. I can't get a good feel on how often someone tells the editor vs. just going ahead with things. And when the editor is informed, they are so desperate for reviewers they often go ahead with things.

And yes, I think it is a big problem, but also one that is *very* hard to solve. Other than virtue, I don't know how you solve it. And we have the collective action problem of, "well everyone else is doing it so I might as well to...." When I know I have a paper of a not so famous person this pressure is particularly strong. We are always good at convincing ourselves that we won't be biased.

I think you might be on the right track that the best thing we can do is stop advertising things as blind review. I"m open to other suggestions, though.

anonymous

Amanda, I haven't done much reviewing, but I get the sense that journals aren't very demanding of referees. (Presumably because they are desperate for them?) For example, if you're going to advertise blind review, it seems like you should take the (minimal) active step of making referees pledge to disclose when they know the author. There should be a little checkbox to click before submitting the review: "I did not know, nor did I learn, the author's identity". Obviously this is still a matter of virtue and people can lie, but at the moment it seems journals make it particularly easy to lie (by omission) --- if "lie" is too harsh, "skirt the norm".

More ambitiously, I think the APA needs to take an active role in crafting statements of disciplinary norms for refereeing. That might provide some purchase for applying social pressure on those who run in the grey areas.

Fwiw, I know it's hard to be perfectly virtuous. Part of why I didn't immediately withdraw from that case was because I wanted to help this person out (who, again, I didn't know personally). I knew I was well qualified to referee the paper, and I thought it was very promising (based on the presentation), and I thought it was a paper that ought to be published. I'm not sure that quite adds up to a good reason (or even a coherent thought), but you get the idea. I'm glad the journal saved me from myself, as I'm sure I had a number of biases working. My checkbox idea would have solved this situation instead of leaving it to the imperfect virtue of myself and the editor.

Amanda

anonymous: I like the checkbox idea. Even though it is just a small control and some people would violate it, I do think it is enough to make a significant number of people think twice about what they are doing.

I think it would be nice if there was some centralized body like the apa that could make or encourage certain disciplinary norms. But given the independent nature of universities and journals, it is hard to do. There is no real pressure to follow this organization (whether it be the apap or someone else), as in practice they have no real authority.

SM

If what Amanda says about facebook chatter is true.. Ha, what a joke. Half the philosophers I see who have a dominant social media present strike me as wildly immature.

Amanda

SM: From what I recall, I believe Marcus can confirm that at minimum, what I say about about the Facebook discussions has, in fact, actually occurred.

Marcus Arvan

Amanda: Yep, I've seen those discussions.

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