Our books






Become a Fan

« Publishing fiction and the job-market? | Main | Norms for initiating correspondence? »

08/07/2020

Comments

Feed You can follow this conversation by subscribing to the comment feed for this post.

corresponder

I'd love to hear people's views about the norms for initiating correspondence with other philosophers. It's a big aspect of the sociology of our profession. Yet I've never seen it discussed, and I have a sense that people have conflicting views about when it's appropriate.

Here is one special case I'd love feedback about. A prominent figure in my subfield once encouraged me (and other early career folks) to feel free to reach out and email polished drafts of my work to philosophers I am writing about in my research, and to do so prior to submitting this work to journals. Sometimes nothing will come of it (and that's fine), but the recipient might well enjoy reading and guiding new work related to their research. The reasons given were that doing so would (1) help early career people to develop relationships and, I think more importantly, (2) likely improve the quality of our drafts. I have heard from some grad students at elite programs that something like this is standard advice.

I have tried this, and sometimes received pushback from the other end. One senior philosopher whom I reach out to in this way told me they wished I hadn't done so, since now they would be unable to "blindly" referee my paper in the event that they are asked to do so. I see the force of this response.

So: I'd appreciate help figuring out the relevant norms. When is initiating correspondence like this a good idea? How should we balance peer-reviewing considerations against the benefits of open correspondence?

graduate student

Hello all, I'm about to start my PhD. As a graduate student, I would like to ask some related questions.

1) I have recently changed my area of interest and wish to write my thesis on something completely new to me. At this point, what are your reading strategies on a new subject matter? How do you make your reading list? How do you decide what to read and what not? For example, should one start with 20th-century biggies first? Or can one start directly with the seminal papers or books in the last decades? Relatedly, how do you read a philosophical work? Do you try to understand every single sentence and idea? Do you sketch the arguments in detail for every paper? or do you read closely only after you have developed your paper ideas? etc.
I wish to have your opinions on any reading strategy.

2) Related to the first one, how and when is one ready to write something publishable? Or to put it otherwise, how do you decide whether an idea should be pursued for a publishable work? after how many papers or books? Should one read "everything under the sun" before start writing for publication? Or for example, if I have an idea of paper after reading ten papers, should I start writing or wait for a comprehensive literature review?

And of course, I'm open to any other advice for PhD students.

Thank you all

Uber Mercado

Suppose that journal invites a junior TT faculty member to contribute to a special edition of a journal.

Suppose this faculty member plans to go on the upcoming job market.

Should this faculty member list this invitation on their CV? If so, how should they list it?

Chris

corresponder: yes, there are doubtless some conflicting views about the professional norms here. It is true that, once in a while, you're writing in such a niche area that there might be only one or two really good people to referee your paper, but that is pretty unusual (and even when true the editors don't always know who these people are). As long as you're not sending your paper to lots of folks, I don't think there is anything wrong with sending your work to someone you discuss - but as you note, there can be a lot of variation in how or whether people respond.

I think it is especially likely to be a good strategy when the work you discuss isn't that of a super-prominent faculty member - most philosophers would be delighted to provide feedback to someone who actually discusses their work.

Peer review is a mess, anyway. I wouldn't worry too much about that - I think it is more valuable to get feedback and make professional connections and end up getting some editor's "second choice" as a referee (because the first choice recused themselves since they'd commented on a draft).

graduate student: lots of variation here, depending on areas and the kind of projects you work on. If it is a new area, try to survey the central works. I wouldn't try to understand every single sentence and idea in most works. At first you want to read around and get a sense of the field. I'd also consult faculty members in the area you're interested in to find out what works they think are the most important. This can save you a lot of time.

I do read closely sometimes before I have a paper idea (if I'm interested enough in the book/paper) - reading carefully can lead to objections which can lead to papers. But once I have a paper idea I read very selectively - e.g., only the parts of books that are relevant to my particular paper. After working out a draft, I will then do a more careful literature search to see what's out there. I definitely wouldn't advise reading "everything under the sun" - even for your dissertation - unless you work in an area with very little literature.

There's a lot of variation in strategy, though. One of my former professors has the strategy of reading everything cited in some central paper, and then everything cited in those works. But that can be a lot! I don't think most people work this way.

Prof L

Uber Mercado— I would list it under an “in progress and under review” section as “commissioned” if I listed it at all.

Al

People are forming all kinds of zoom groups. Suppose it’s wildly unlikely that you would have been brought out to a campus setting for some event but a group of people invited you to speak or present something to their department zoom group or these people are reading something of yours and they invite you join in that week. This doesn’t feel CV worthy to me but I also can’t see why not exactly... it’s a lot like a department or research group inviting you to their campus for a colloquium in a way... just no plane ticket. I’m tempted to add a “Covid/online activity” section to my cv. Any thoughts?

Evan

Graduate student:

Some philosophers like to get a general idea of what the author is getting at while others like to read the work like they’re trying to understand a complex mathematical problem and so every word is important. There are costs and benefits to both methods.

In other words, some philosophers value accuracy more than precision. And some value both equally. Accuracy is a given since truthfulness or correctness is required in inquiry. Precision is often regarded as an option most of the time in the realm of philosophical theory. I aim for both when reading and writing philosophy.

Unfortunately, it can be very difficult to arrive at the accuracy and precision of interpretation and understanding of the text depending on the author.

For example, Kant’s prose is mentally torturous and complicated and so it has led to a lot of varied and contradicting interpretations of his work. Other texts are like pulling teeth because they’re so meandering, narratively, and passively written; they fail to get to the point quickly. Many times, we just end up hitting around the bullseye, but rarely on the *actual* bulleyes in terms of interpretation and understanding.

In the realm of theory, we can *usually* get away with just accepting accuracy (and hence generality) and take precision for granted because doing so does not pose that much practical cost to us.

Well, maybe it does in the political and legal realm since philosophical ideas have been used to justify many problematic and immoral policies and laws both in the past and currently. And they will probably continue to be used to justify problematic things in the future.

In the realm of law, perhaps precision and accuracy are valued equally since the interpretation of written laws can cause harm depending on what is written in them and how they are written.

The need for both accuracy and precision is ubiquitous in the practical realm like engineering, medicine, and law because there are lots at stake with certain procedures e.g., enforcing contracts, doing laser eye surgery, building bridges, going to the moon, doing heart surgery, making cars, etc. Without either one of them in the practical realm, certain procedures can cause harm or fail.

Depending on the purpose of your work, you may aim for accuracy and take precision for granted. Therefore, you might end up reading for generality and not for particularity. Or you may do both if you’re doing logic and/or semantics.

Grad Student 3

Hello, I am a second year PhD student at an unranked program here in the US. Lately I've felt really disenchanted with the current state of the academic job market and I am considering transitioning to either high school teaching or applying to law school.

In short, my question is how should one go about planning a transition from a PhD program? For instance, when should I tell my DGS? My advisors? And is it wrong to essentially hang around for a few years for the income/health insurance until I have something figured out (or can get my LSAT above a 175)? I love teaching and doing research so I don't hate the work, but I have come to the conclusion it's not worth staying if there's no job waiting for me.

Appreciate any advice on how to navigate the department politics of leaving programs.

Jakub

I'd like to push the topic of norms for correspondence. My question is simple: Under what circumstances (if at all) is it acceptable not to reply to an email. I don't mean only requests to comments, but also various invitations to conferences, to contribute to an edited book, to give a lecture etc.

My view is that it is impolite not to answer such an email, even a weird one. It takes less than one minute to write "Sorry, I can't do that."

NumbTwo

I have a PhD in philosophy but haven't been able to get a TT job despite a few years on the market. I still want to be a professional philosopher.

My publication record is good enough for tenure at nearly any R1. But I came from a Leiter low-ranked school, and multiple search committee members have told me that this makes me unhireable.

Is it possible to get a second philosophy PhD, from a school like NYU or Princeton, to check the 'pedigree' and 'fancy advisor' boxes?

no one famous

Jakub
You would not believe how many requests one gets ... it is near impossible to reply to all of them.
I review between 12 and 20 papers a year ... and I am asked to do at least twice that ... and then there are the ones that end up in my spam box (from predatory journals ... say, another 20 requests per year). I am invited to conferences ... a few real ones each year, and many from predatory conference people (they are conferences, but they charge a lot to attend ... but imply I am an invited speaker).
I have to make choices who to reply to ...
I am invited to contribute to volumes, and special issues ... I must get about 5 to 10 invitations a year.
And I am not someone famous ... I am known in my specific areas of research ...
I am asked to review grant proposals ...

Appearances

AI
You can put what you want on your cv. But the lower grade the stuff is that you list, the lower you are pitching yourself. I advised someone to take their computer skills off their cv...and then they got a permanent position. They were pitching themselves in a way that made them look like ...

Extra

I am a junior faculty member. Faculty salaries at my university are lower than the national average, but I am offered opportunities to teach extra courses, especially during the breaks. That's a big help for me financially (I have a family to support) but it's also a serious time commitment. I have a 4/4 load and can rarely have research done during the semesters.

I am curious how people decide whether to teach extra courses for financial reasons. I know this depends on each person's particular situation. And in theory, one should teach extra courses only if it would not significantly affect one's research. But I still feel hard to decide in practice. I am curious what others do and why you do it. Thanks!

FuturePhD

I've had a lot of experience and success giving colloqiua talks (25-30ish minutes plus Q&A), but recently I was accepted to present some research as a symposium at a future APA. I'd love to get some feedback on the differences, handling material, likely several critics/commenters, and an extended Q&A. Are there things to watch out for or to consider differently than a colloquium talk, especially as a PhD student and not even an early career PhD or experienced faculty?

David Slakter

After receiving my PhD, I've been on hiatus for five years, due to some personal issues and then organ failure that limited my ability to do much of anything outside of my day job until I received a transplant.

I know that PhDs can go stale after a few years, but is there anything else I can do to improve my prospects in the meantime other than publishing? I'm interested in restarting my research program regardless, but I wonder what prospects there can be once someone has been outside the academy for a while.

Alex

Hi all,

I am a graduate student interested in pursuing directed reading courses with faculty. I'm hoping to so because my department doesn't have people working in my areas of interest and I want to continue to train up before reapplying to PhD programs.

On my side of things, such courses seem like a very productive way to approach supervised study in one's prospective areas of specialization. From what I have gathered, at least in my own department, only faculty who are TT or tenured are possible supervisors for such courses as they do not receive any additional pay or course relief when conducting these courses. Additionally, pre-tenure faculty are less likely to take on this kind of course because their time is better spent preparing their tenure files. Perhaps this varies.

Taking for granted that these considerations might be different from department to department, I wonder how graduate students should conceive of directed reading courses, if anyone has suggestions for how to approach possible faculty supervisors, and other considerations related to these courses that students may not be aware of from the faculty perspective. E.g. should graduate students prepare a proposed syllabus before approaching a possible faculty supervisor? Would it be too much to ask people from other institutions to supervise such things?

Secondary to this, I wonder how these courses are considered by those reviewing the transcripts of PhD applicants--though this might not get much uptake here.

Thanks for any help, and best wishes,

Exit planner

Alex
I do not think you should expect someone at another university to do a directed reading course with you. First, there is usually no compensation for such things. Second, the faculty at your home university will wonder what the hell is wrong with them. So you will alienate them. The best exit plan from a lower to higher ranked school is to do well with the faculty where you are, and then, apply up, with their support.

advice

David
If you really want to get back to academia, then I would state explicitly that you required a break because you needed an organ transplant. Then be sure to fill out that information card that goes to HR - on under-represented groups. These include forms of (dis)ability, which may be relevant, given your medical history. I have witnessed a search where HR made a department give consideration to someone's application who was in another category.
In the USA, today's universities' faculties are supposed to be representative of the various groups in society at large.

David Slakter

Thank you for the feedback. When you say to state it, do you mean in my cover letter? I do legally count as disabled, and check this box on the relevant forms, but I have been unsure about stating it elsewhere for fear it could be potentially harmful for me to mention.

Another question: How should onne cultivate referees beyond one's supervisors?

Prof L

NumbTwo—no, that is not possible—no high-ranking program would accept someone who already had a PhD . Do you really have a tenure at an R1 profile? Like multiple articles a year + a book with a top-notch press, something like that? I do not think that what you propose is wise, even if it were possible. I would invest in conferencing (I know, Covid, but for the time being, online conferences)—if you become well-known in your sub discipline, you can get letters etc, to overcome the lack of “clout” of your home institution. it’s always a gamble, though. I know very smart accomplished people from high-ranked programs who have been shut out—no interviews, year after year. It sucks—you always think someone else has the golden ticket, truth is, there is no golden ticket.

not extra

@Extra

I've been in a similar position: low pay, 4/4, other people to support.

My first few years out of grad school, I took the extra teaching - it was really hard to make rent/utilities/debt payments otherwise.

These days, I no longer take the extra teaching. After a few years, I got incredibly burned out and really started to hate my job. I've been lucky enough to get research projects in order and pick up a few grants. Research is also fun for me, and I see it as a way to improve my chances at a different job that pays better.

Prof L

Alex—I second Exit Planner’s advice —do not ask faculty at other institutions to do a directed reading with you. It would have to be informal (NO ONE would be interested in the administrative nightmare of a class for credit at their institution), so you are basically asking someone to teach a course for free to a person to whom they have no professional obligation. I could maybe see it at a SLAC—like a bored person who might be excited to work with a graduate student. Still—it’s a lot to ask. My own bar for doing directed readings is very high (like, it would have to be multiple students, an area closely related to my current research), but I’m pre-tenure. And no, don’t bring a syllabus. I would approach it informally. Just first ask if they have the time/interest to do a directed reading in this area. If they seem interested, schedule a meeting to talk about what would be read.

Alex

Exit planner and Prof L:
This is sobering advice, thanks a ton!

unphilosophe

Hello,
I am a TT faculty organizing a speaking series for my humanities department, mostly for undergraduates across the campus. I am looking to bring a speaker each semester (virtually for now, in person next year or so), either from the academy or elsewhere. Particularly for academics (without agents), does anyone have ideas for typical pricing (speaker fees) for an hour-long virtual talk over Zoom?

This would be a mix of early to late career philosophers and scholars from related fields. We are at a public school, without a lot of funding, so I was thinking of something along the following lines:
Assistant Professor: $500-750
Associate Professor: $750-1000
Full Professor: $1000
What do y'all think?

Paul Carron

@ Grad Student 3: I wouldn't tell anyone in your department that you are seriously considering leaving. I would keep my head down and keep doing my work while I pursued those other options. Its not your fault that programs like yours except too many students (i.e. far more than they can place in academic jobs) and then take advantage of the cheap labor (well, depending on your school's tuition your labor might not actually be that cheap lol) and any pubs your produce (which help your university's research rankings). As has been said here over and again, you need to be preparing for a alt-career. Who knows, maybe you'll decide to finish. After all, a PhD is a pretty big accomplishment! One of my grad school colleagues finished his PhD and got a couple pubs along the way, then went to law school and is now working in a state attorney general's office.

Anon

Is it possible for one to have an academic job (eg. lecturer) with only an MA? How does one go about finding such jobs?

Derek Bowman

Anon,

It is technically possible but often difficult, at least in the U.S. For many community college jobs an MA is sufficient to meet the minimal requirement, but full time jobs at community colleges are very competitive, at least in the areas I'm familiar with. So it would be very hard to compete for those positions against candidates with PhDs and substantially more teaching experience. (It might be different for an MA with substantial teaching experience, but based on your question, I'm assuming that isn't your situation).

You might also qualify for part-time 'adjunct' teaching positions with just an MA. I had no trouble finding such work when I was an ABD ("all but dissertation," so MA plus all preliminary requirements for the PhD). But the large majority of adjuncts and lecturers I encounter now have PhDs. These positions do not pay well, have no benefits, and do not have any form of job security. Those positions may also carry extra risks right now, since I suspect adjuncts at many institutions may be asked to teach the in-person classes more secure faculty refuse to.

Perhaps others can speak to adjunct and lecturer positions at large-scale online universities (traditionally for-profits, but a number of nominally non-profit institutions have gotten into the mix).

SLAC Associate

@unphilosophe

I oversee a named speaker series with a robust endowment. Absent an extremely small number of very big names who employ their own agents and demand rates of $10,000 or above, my experience is that most humanities professors find $1500-$2500 (plus expenses) more than reasonable for an in-person talk that ends up taking two days out of their normal schedule. (Scientists and doctors often expect a bit more.) For an hour-long virtual talk that doesn't require any travel, I'd think $500-$1000 would be seen as very generous by most humanities professors.

anon

How can philosophers contribute to society at large? As a new grad student, I feel like I am missing the bigger picture on how philosophers can give back to society beyond teaching students.

TP

Time for another COVID teaching question, since it's been awhile since the blog last covered the transition to online teaching:

For nearly the entire summer, I had planned on administering my fall courses (all online) asychronously. This seemed to be the most recommended option, and the asynchronous system I ended up utilizing when COVID hit ended up working out okay.

But now we're facing a new school year, with new students many of whom are going to be freshmen! I've gotten the sense, from students who have sent me emails, that many of them are looking forward to potentially synchronous online classes. This has made me seriously reconsider my plan to do an asynchronous course.

To sum it up: my classes are going to be all first-year students. I worry that an entirely asynchronous course would be unsatisfying and for many of them would deprive them of what they feel is the beginning of their college experience. Does the fact that we are entering a new semester, several months into the pandemic and the new online learning paradigm, make it any more reasonable than before to try synchronous online teaching?

A prospective grad applicant

Hello all,

I am an applicant for graduate programs this upcoming year. I am wondering whether I should take the GRE or not, although a lot of the departments are saying that it is entirely 'optional.' Some departments straight out decline to receive GRE scores, and for those departments, I do not have to worry whether I'd have to send the score or not, but for the departments that simply state that it is 'optional,' I am wondering if it would still be a good idea to take it and submit it. My gut reaction is that it won't matter that much, but still, wanted to hear some thoughts.

Thank you!

William Peden

Alex,

My advice is that, instead of a directed reading course, you write a paper or two on the topics that interest you, and then get feedback from anyone you can (even if it's not their area). Explaining the ideas and engaging with them critically is the best way to train yourself. In particular, it will help narrow your focus in your reading, and thereby help you to use your time efficiently.

If the papers work out well, you can even send them to journals (maybe a graduate journal depending on your judgement) but even if they go nowhere, they will have helped you get somewhere, and much faster than otherwise.

In general, "If you want to read, write" was maybe the single most useful thing I learned at grad school.

js

I really wish I had some idea of what the job market is going to be like this cycle. The same for postdocs. I'm in my final year of funding at my program and am supposed to apply for jobs in the fall. While I'm expecting very few job listings, I would still appreciate getting a better idea of just how bad it will be (perhaps, I'm secretly hoping for surprisingly good news). I recognize, that many programs may just not know at this point, but I'd just like to put this out there for when/if updates occur. Perhaps a survey or something of the sort might be the way to go.

Tom

Re: js---We were promised a hire this year. We now know with near 100% certainty that we won't get it. We're an R2ish state school in the US. I imagine (but do not know for certain) that almost everyone else who thought they would hire this year is in the same boat. Would love to see corroborating testimony to back this up. Would love more to see testimony that does not back this up.

SLAC Associate

@js

I wouldn't be surprised if job postings were down at least 50% from a normal year, and the market's going to be even more competitive than that implies because tenured people that have been let go at a bunch of small colleges are going to be in competition for the few positions that remain. The data I've seen from even relatively healthy institutions is that 2020 admissions numbers have fallen off a cliff. Now whether that's students just taking a gap year or avoiding college altogether because of financial difficulties, I'm not sure, and I don't think we'll really know that answer until fall of 2021. But I presume faculty hiring freezes for this year will be the standard, not the exception, and this low enrollment year will continue to hurt college budgets for the next four years unless there's an absolute bumper crop of admits in 2021, so new positions are probably going to continue to be thin for a couple more years.

Illusion of Terra

This might have been asked before, and if that is the case, I'd appreciate a link.

I have got a question about publishing in vastly different research areas. I'm an early career-researcher with a few papers in a specific subsection in the philosophy of neuroscience. Yet, I'm also interested in vastly different topics in philosophy (aesthetics, philosophy of religion), which I read up on during my free time. I know you can just choose which publications you want to list or not, but at the same time everyone can just look up what you have published.

Hence the question, if there are any, what are the disadvantages of on occasion publishing in research areas which are vastly different from your main research focus?

Prof L

What should authors look for in a press?

I am writing my first book, and I have had conversations where people say things like “I wouldn’t want to work with (prestigious press), I hear bad things about them.”

My naive inclination is to just look for a press that is respected and will publish the book. But thinking about it more, there are other things that might be relevant—turnaround times, responsiveness. Having never done this before, I don’t know what to look for, and how to get this kind of information. Maybe some people who have published books before can chime in with their experiences?

Grad student

A question on publishing. I get the impression that papers at top journals usually not only aim to provide strong arguments for some claim, but also to provide some narrative about the literature and the place of the paper in it. (For instance, a recent paper defends the claim that view A is supported by view B, and also tells a story according to which opponents of A have long objected to it by implicitly appealing to B, though it is debatable that they have done so.)

I was wondering (a) how important this kind of story telling is in getting a paper published, and (b) if it is important, what are some strategies for developing a skill for it.

author

Prof L
I would be interested in hearing what you heard about "prestigious presses". I have published two books with one of the two most prestigious presses, and my experiences have been very good. Incidentally, I have also published a textbook with a less recognized press. The prestigious press was exceptional to work with. You work with an editorial team, you get excellent referees' reports, and you get a lot of support through the production process. As far as I can tell there is not a SINGLE typo in one of my books - ZERO. Lower grade presses offer less in this line.
Post-publication is better also with a good press. I had my books reviewed in a number of journals - about 8 or so. They are more likely to be purchased by libraries. And I have had numerous invitations to speak at places because of my books. I do not think you get this response as much with lower prestige presses. Indeed, after my first book with the good press, I have been offered book projects with at least three different lower grade presses (but ones you certainly have heard of). I am not a fast worker, so I turned them all down (though some were tempting). I am currently completely two more projects with the prestigious press I have worked with in the past.

Prof L

Thanks, author. This is why I’m asking—I just have no idea what people mean. I have not heard anything super specific, I just recall over the years people saying things like this that surprised me, but that were not relevant to me then. It sounds like you’ve had great experiences with ox/cam, so that’s good to know. I’ve heard certain presses are friendlier to first-time authors than others. I’m just not sure. Already you’ve indicated some things one should look for—good editorial team, a press that doesn’t allow a book to be published with errors or typos, good post-publication press and recognition, which will correlate with its respectability. Perhaps with a press all of theirs things are correlated with its prestige, but I’m just not sure, especially once we get just below the top-tier, to other very good university presses, top non-university presses, etc. How does one go about picking one?

2020 Applicant

University of Chicago recently announced (after announcing their 2021 admissions deadline) that they will not be accepting any new PhD students next year. I have also heard that some departments won't know until September if they will have the funding to accept new students.

Does anyone think this situation will remain an outlier, or come September are we likely to see several programs closing their applications for this year? If not, how many fewer spots do you think will be available for those who do accept new students?

Should students applying for their PhD right out of undergrad be looking especially hard at funded MA programs right now?

Juan

2020 Applicant: I have no inside knowledge, but there's reason to think the Chicago case may be an outlier at least as far as wealthy schools go. A recent change to their program allows students to remain in it longer so long as the department doesn't take more students (details here: http://dailynous.com/2019/10/09/u-chicago-reforms-phd-programs/ ). A lot of schools depend on grad students for cheaper teaching labor so I would be surprised if this is part of a bigger trend.

frustrated

Have you ever withdrawn a submission from a journal due to a delay or a lack of responsiveness? What was the final straw?

One of the fortunate Universities

js and others: I'm at a public R1.

We've just received approval to hire for a junior position (likely in Value theory) for this coming hiring cycle. Our University (and Philosophy here in particular) is in much better financial shape than most, however. We're fully on line for this coming term so I'm guessing the search will also be "on line" but who knows by Feb/March what the situation will be.

Our administrators (rightly, I think) see this as an opportunity to hire really well across the University since we'll have less competition than normal because of the pandemic.

Pedagogía

I am preparing Fall 2020 syllabi for mid-to-upper-level courses.

Synchronous-online instructors, how much reading material are you all assigning?

How much are folks assigning relative to what they would have assigned in a non-COVID-in-person scenario?

grad

In light of the just-posted question regarding preparing for an APA symposium talk, I want to ask a similar question but about preparing for an APA colloquium submission. I am a graduate student who has some conference experiences, but those have all been at rather sub-field specific venues, and--more to the point of my question--these have tended to have much longer (up tp 8000 words) or shorter (up to 500 words) word limits. So I find APA's 3000 word limit a bit foreign to navigate. Since I take it philosophers these days rarely *really* write 3000-word papers, what are some of the tips to cut down a paper down to 3000 words *and* make sure it looks polished and well thought-out?

Journal Ghosting?

Question about contacting journals and ghosting authors. I had a paper accepted for publication back in April In a top journal and was told I would be contacted by the journal press shortly after. A couple weeks went by without contact, so I dropped a kindly-worded follow up email to the managing editor, who said they would look into the matter and that I should expect an email soon (I.e., two weeks). Well, a month and a half goes by and still nada. I drop another kindly-worded email to the journal managing editor and still have yet to receive a response.

I know the process is glacially slow and I am deeply appreciative of all the work journal teams do. As a youngish, untenured prof, however, the silence is a bit unnerving. Some communication to the effect of, “We are backlogged and Covid slowed us down even further; you will be contacted some time in the next decade”, would help.
1. Is journal silence a common occurrence?
2. Suggestions about how to handle journal silence post-acceptance professionally?

Many thanks!

anonymous person

Hi Journal Ghosting, I've only published 8ish papers, but the time period you describe sounds pretty standard/normal (sometimes it's been a little faster, but I would guess on average it has taken about three months for journal presses to contact me after my papers have been accepted--in some cases significantly longer). So, I just wouldn't worry about it, even though I understand why it is making you anxious. (That's not to excuse the non-response, which is slightly weird--but my guess is they are just really overwhelmed and having a hard time answering every email. I think it's totally okay to write back again and just ask if they have an estimate of how long it will be, or something like that.)

Referee

I'm wondering how to deal with the following as a journal referee:

1) The manuscript, which discusses a recent paper, just flat-out misses an argument that that paper makes for a particular premise P. It is clear that they missed it because in the manuscript, the author writes, "It isn't clear what the argument for P is." In fact the author of paper being discussed does argue for premise P. I know not only because I am the author, but *more importantly* because I pulled up the paper to make sure I argued for it. I want to flag this to the referee without making it obvious that I am the author being discussed. How can I do this?

2) The manuscript deserves an R&R. But its tone is perhaps overly polemical, even hostile at times. I would say this even if the paper that the manuscript discusses were not myself. For instance, the manuscript contains asides like, "...the paper, characteristically, does not contain real-world examples of [the philosophical phenomenon]". As a referee, how can I flag that these hostile-sounding asides are unnecessary? Again, without revealing that I am the author of the paper being discussed.

grymes

Referee:

1) just cite the relevant passage and refer to yourself in the third person. They might guess it’s you, but they won’t have enough evidence for that to be a great guess (even though it’s true), and your responsibility is to avoid revealing your identity, not to avoid your identity being guessed at all costs.

2) the quoted passage makes it clear that the author strongly disprefers your methodology, but it doesn’t come across as hostile to my ear. (As a reader, I find that these sorts of asides can be helpful, as they make it clear what kind of philosopher I’m reading.) Of course, if it *isn’t* characteristic of your writing (or of the literature? out of context I’m a bit unclear on the charge) that it does not contain real-world examples, then that’s an error you can point out.

Here’s a related question of my own. I get that folks think that journal article tone needs to be policed. Even if that’s true, is it the referee’s place to do the policing? Shouldn’t the reviewer focus on scholarly merits? The editor, who represents the journal and its style, can police tone if they like.

Prof L

I’ve had referees tell me nicely to get rid of unnecessary hostility. I found it helpful. And after I changed it I realized how juvenile and weird it was, to be snarky toward other scholars. I would try and do it as gently as possible—e.g. “the author’s comments sometimes come across as dismissive or even hostile (point to specific examples) ... these remarks, if essential to the argument, should be replaced with dispassionate philosophical criticisms; if not essential to the argument, they should be removed, in keeping with the professional standards of the journal”. Something like that. I bet the person is young and fairly new to publishing, and will benefit from this kind of guidance.

Mercado

A journal recently accepted a manuscript of mine. That is, it is forthcoming in journal x.

Is it bad form to post a version of the paper on my professional website before the journal publishes the manuscript?

Mercado
I think it is bad form. Read the contract you signed with the publisher, and then honor it.

Anonymousse.

What do people think about SpringerBriefs or Palgrave Pivot? It feels a bit of dirty back-scratching to me: the author gets to call an extended article a book, and the publisher gets to charge book price for it. But happy to change my first impression!

Cat

Anonymousse
I know at least one SpringBrief that is a thoughtful and well regarded book (and it is not my own ;)). So I think they do serve a purpose. In fact, I think a number of the major publishers are getting into producing smaller books (under 60000 words). When I published with an academic press, I was explicitly told that the manuscript should be 90,000 words (the idea was it should not be shorter than 90,000). I think the academy is shifting a bit.

Sid

How does one get to or is asked to do book reviews for top or decent journals? Related question, how do you know when your paper is good enough to be sent to a journal? I'm currently a PhD student.

Brad

Sid
I recommend that you contact the journal editor or the journal book review editor. They may ask for a c.v. and information that might indicate that you would be qualified to write a book review for a scholarly journal. But, as one of the two editors of Metascience, a journal that publishes reviews of books in history, philosophy and sociology of science, I welcome contact from new reviewers. Indeed, I hope others are reading this. Obviously, you should only contact me if you are qualified and willing to review a book in the history, philosophy or sociology of science.

Tom

I want to ask for advice. I have a BA in philosophy and have two mental disorders. I left my funded MA program because going into it these issues were undiagnosed and improperly treated. Since this debacle, I found a medication that works wonders for me and found the world's best clinical psychologist who has done wonders for me. For this semester, I was invited by a instructor from my undergrad alma mater to be a TA for 4 online courses (3 sections of ethics and one phil. of religion). Honestly, I really wish that I could teach. I don't care about research or being at a 4 year institution. I would be extremely happy to just have a permanent position at a community college. But considerations deter me: (1) graduate school is extremely stressful and may aggravate my symptoms. and (2) programs that go part-time are only half-funded or unfunded. Eastern Michigan University has a program that lets you go part-time with a half-time assistantship. I am not wealthy, but I have very little debt from my undergrad. My question: Are there grad programs that are inexpensive and allow part-time enrollment that would allow me to get an MA so I could teach at a community college? And would it be worth it? I ask because this job I have makes me miss school and wish that I could work with students (which was always my primary motivations).

Thanks!

Tom2

Tom,

I am not aware of any such programs (although there may well be some--I'd do some research), but it will be difficult (not impossible) to get a community college job with only an MA.

In any case, to answer your question: No, I do not think that it would be "worth it" for you. Higher education is a mess, and the philosophy profession in particular is broken and in many ways fraudulent. It is a tough environment even for people who are paragons of psychological stability.

That said, if you could find a part-time MA THAT YOU WOULD ENJOY FOR ITS OWN SAKE (i.e. not as as instrument towards, and without any expectation that it'll lead to, a community college job), and THAT IS VIABLE FINANCIALLY, then it might be an okay idea.

jobs jobs jobs

Tom (the first one),
There is another career path you may consider. There are now many jobs at American colleges where you work with the students but you are not a faculty member. You may work in a writing center, or help at a tutoring office, or work on some outreach program - running programs on drugs, alcohol, sexuality, etc. These jobs can be very rewarding, and many students really do connect with these people, at least at residential colleges (and there are a lot of these in the USA). There are also jobs in residential halls, and such.
So if you like the college atmosphere, and enjoying working with the typical college age, there are plenty of opportunities.

My question was: Why did recent comments here appear bold? And it's not just the comments -- other parts of the page as well.

Then I looked around a bit and it seems that the "08/25/2020 at 01:06 AM" commenter (which does not have a visible name) used the name ''.

ma or phd?

How easy is it to get into a terminal MA compared to getting into a PhD program? I know getting into a PhD program (especially an elite one) is quite competitive, but I have never heard of how hard it is to get accepted to a terminal MA. Is the acceptance rate of a terminal MA is higher than that of a PhD in general? Could anyone share some thoughts on it? (I'm fully aware that in most cases I would probably need external funding to pursue a terminal MA. )

Verify your Comment

Previewing your Comment

This is only a preview. Your comment has not yet been posted.

Working...
Your comment could not be posted. Error type:
Your comment has been saved. Comments are moderated and will not appear until approved by the author. Post another comment

The letters and numbers you entered did not match the image. Please try again.

As a final step before posting your comment, enter the letters and numbers you see in the image below. This prevents automated programs from posting comments.

Having trouble reading this image? View an alternate.

Working...

Post a comment

Comments are moderated, and will not appear until the author has approved them.

Your Information

(Name and email address are required. Email address will not be displayed with the comment.)

University of St. Andrews Grants


Job-market reporting thread

Current Job-Market Discussion Thread

Philosophers in Industry Directory

Cocoon Job-Market Mentoring Program

Categories