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08/26/2021

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Conrad

I've had similar questions as concerns as OP. In my (fallible, imperfect, biased...) judgment, the predicament highlights a second way in which top-5 (or 10 or 20...) generalist publications are valuable. If a paper of yours is accepted in Nous/JPhil/Phil Review/etc..., that's not only a valuable signal in its own right, it adds (for lack of a better word) credibility to your paper in Journal of Niche Studies. It shows that not only that you can write for an elite generalist audience, you can also speak to experts in your (sub)subfield.

In sum, I think a CV with a top-5 generalist + top specialist publication is nearly as appealing as one with top top-5 publications, which are both much more appealing than a CV with two (or more) specialist publications.

(All of this is because of the lamentable and tragic state of the profession that values prestige signals like "top-5 generalist" publications. Advice on how to navigate our flawed system is compatible with criticism about the morality and rationality that system. It would, of course, be much better if we all had stable jobs and could write about what we wanted, without regard to prestige. Some of us may find that we have more success, even by the flawed, conventional standards of the profession, if we pursue what we find philosophically fascinating -- I think Thi Nguyen has characterized his own journey along these lines. I don't have the Thi's guts. So I pursued the strategy above, with moderate success.)

William Vanderburgh

For beginning professor positions, I would be surprised if many committees would turn their noses up at a handful of papers appearing in the best journal in their subfield. If they were all in the same not-good journal, that would definitely be a strike against.

Now that OP has several well-placed articles, my advice would be to publish in the best journal possible *in which the conversation you want to have is taking place*. My impression is that publishing in a specialist rather than a generalist journal is more likely to get engagement with other people who have similar interests, and that is bound to be better for the long term.

The advice may be different in the very most research-focused departments, where metrics are likely to count more in the Dean's eyes at least. But those jobs are so rare it doesn't make sense (IMO) to aim for them.

Michel

At one point a few years ago, I'd had three successes in a top specialist venue, and not much of anything anywhere else. I felt confident that I could publish regularly in that particular venue, but I was on the market and I worried that others would think I was riding a one-journal pony. So I actively started trying to publish in the T20 generalist journals. My thinking was that if I could publish in those at least a few times, nobody would look askance if I started regularly publishing in that specialist venue.

My story doesn't have an ending (or much of a point!), except insofar as I've been successful at publishing in T10 and T20 generalist venues. And now I don't worry about it: I like to try for tippy-top generalist journals, but I try to make sure I've submitted to that top specialist journal at least once a year. Papers published there are certainly more visible to people in the subfield.

Tim

To answer the question as asked, probably sending to both generalist and specialty journals is the best call. People in the profession seem to value diversity of publication, as it suggests that you are so good that you can publish anywhere! So a mixture of top-generalist and top-specialty journals is likely to achieve that effect.

However, I might contest the setup of the question. For many research positions at schools with PhD programs, its likely top 10-publications or bust. So if that is the type of job OP is looking for, they should send to top-10, maybe just top-5. For many post-doctoral positions and teaching position, probably any publication in top-20 or well-regarded specialty journals is sufficient. At least this is my sense. So I contest the suggestion that there a uniform "watering down" that might happen--it may all depend upon the audience.

Donald Duck

It depends where you want to work. If you are looking for a job in an interdisciplinary centre in some European university, publication in Mind or Phil Review might mean nothing. But if you are looking for a job in R1 U.S university then a publication outside the top 5 (or 10) general philosophy journal probably works against you.

Unfortunately, how the job market is nowadays, you should probably do both to get a job. So, publish in top general journals as well as in specialized journals (if you publish outside general philosophy journals someone might actually read or cite your work). Even this isn't probably enough, so you should be prepared to publish top journals outside your field as well. In addition to Phil Review and top specialized journals you should also publish in The Lancet, Science and Nature - then you might get a job.

On your other question. I think it is better if you publish in different journals. Then you can say in your cover letter that you have published in journals A and B. That looks better than if you say you have published in A.

Sisyphus

The OP's question is one that I've wondered about too. Setting aside the fact that, yes, having publications in Nature, Science and Phil Review is probably the only way to get a TT job these days, doesn't your particular area of specialization come into play?

Take Leiter's breakdown of ranking journals by specialty, which Dan Korman included in his "Making the Most of Philosophy Grad School with an Eye to the Job Market". In some cases, that ranking ended up putting certain specialist journals above otherwise better generalist journals within certain areas of specialization. For example, in the philosophy of science, Philosophy of Science or the British Journal for the Philosophy of Science was ranked above Nous.

I'm curious what others think are about this? If you specialize in, say, philosophy of science does a publication in BJPS count as much, or even a bit more, than one in Nous?

Glad to be Anonymous

Sisyphus,

My suspicion would be that a publication in a generalist journal would unlikely to be "philosophy of science" in the sense that a lot of search committees are looking for, i.e. it would probably be metaphysics of science (with emphasis on the "metaphysics) or formal epistemology (with opaque links to science). A lot of the old hands* on search committees actively dislike that sort of philosophy of science; for one thing, it reminds them of the pre-Kuhnian stuff that they were reacting against in the 1960s-1980s. On the other hand, at a few departments, it's exactly their preferred flavor...

It also depends on how many philosophers of science are on the search committee. Most philosophers of science I know are more impressed by a publication in Philsci, BJPS, or Studies than a generalist publication, but I imagine that many of other types of philosophers might have the opposite view.

So, on balance, a philosopher of science is better publishing in the top 3 philsci journals than generalist journals, unless they are already in a position where they can't help but antagonize most of the old hands of the subfield. However, the differences are quite marginal: several publications in either top generalist journals or top philsci journals will open up a lot of opportunities.

* I am SO glad that this is anonymized!

David Wallace

@Sisyphus: I'm not sure it matters all that much. Even in philosophy-of-science searches at top-ranked institutions, having papers in *either* Nous/Mind, *or* BJPS/PhilSci, is going to get you noticed, probably enough that someone on the search committee actually has a proper look at the papers. (And once someone's actually reading your work, where it was published matters a lot less.)

Mike Titelbaum

Speaking entirely to my own experience—and to no one else's—when it comes to tenure-track searches at my R1 in the US, I would say that a lot depends on what speciality you're in. For instance, phil of science, ethics, and the history disciplines have specialist journals that are very well-regarded and seen as an important stamp of approval in those fields. On the other hand, I'd be hard pressed to think of a specialist epistemology journal that would be valued over the top generalist journals.

Also, while I know that some countries have funding agencies that are very particular about journal rankings, I tend to think of journals as grouped in clumps, rather than having a precise ordering. So I don't think it's a situation where diversifying your record means going from X down to X+1—I think it's more a situation where diversifying involves going from a journal in which you've published to another one in the same clump. Which might be worth trying to do.

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