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09/16/2021

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Matt Weienr

I can't speak for anyone else who's served on search/tenure committees, but I think at least some well respected earlyish career philosophers have something like half or more of their publications in invited venues.* This is partly because the journals that publish unsolicited manuscripts are overwhelmed, so rejection rates are high and it takes a long time to get a piece published. However, I do think that some people express a concern about a CV that's almost entirely invited publications.

As far as converting this question into practical advice goes, my advice is that if you are asked to contribute to a reputable volume and faced with the choice of giving them one of your papers or holding that back for journal submission, you should unhesitatingly accept the invitation. Even if journal chapters look better on your cv, the smaller chance that you'll be able to get the paper accepted by the time you need it outweighs that. Try to have things under submission, too, but don't turn down invitations if you get them.

*I'm counting journals like Philosophical Perspectives--looking at their website it seems as though they say up to one third of their pieces are drawn from submissions, which would mean that most of them are invited, I think?

SLAC Associate

It's difficult to say anything that is universally applicable here for Tenure & Promotion, because T&P committees are generally bound by the rules in their respective handbooks, which may well specifically address cases such as these. At my SLAC, for instance, every individual department has written guidelines specifying what counts as peer-review for their academic discipline, and the college-level T&P committee is instructed to give these departmental guidelines substantial weight when assessing candidate files. A department could specify, say, that articles that are "editor-reviewed" -- e.g., invited but the editor has the power to refuse the final manuscript -- count as peer-reviewed scholarship.

For my own perspective, I'd certainly see Candidate #2 as having a stronger portfolio than Candidate #1, all else being equal. (But that might be because I don't perceive every edited volume from a prestigious press as equal to a prestigious journal -- even good presses can put out some low-quality volumes.) However, I've encountered actual departmental guidance that would have instructed me to view these files as equivalent with respect to scholarship.

Now, if I were on a hiring committee and these were the two candidates before me, I'd probably hunt down and closely read more of Candidate #1's publications than #2's, in part because I'd worry that fewer eyes have vetted #1's pubs (e.g., they only went through a single editor rather than an editor and referees). So I'd want to make a quality check on those invited articles before backing #1's candidacy.

D

I work in a country that has a publication list that divides journals, book publishers, etc., into two or so categories. Invited contributions to edited volumes count for less. Peer reviewed refereed articles in the top 20 % of journals count for more. Where you publish, then affects how much money is transferred to your department. If you publish in lower ranked venues - the bottom 80% of journals, or invited volumes - your department will get less than if you publish in higher ranked venues. So at least somewhere these thing really matter.

Low-Leiter R1

I think the consensus in my department is that, for hiring and P&T purposes, invited contributions are somewhere between a *blind* peer-reviewed piece in a journal of good standing and a book review.

Definitely a step down from a Synthese or a Journal of Moral Philosophy, for example, but more important than a book review, public-facing blog post or op-ed, etc.

Some younger scholars can fall into a trap where their best ideas appear in edited volumes, which are devalued by search and P&T committees. I was explicitly warned against this when I was hired. It's a tough choice for graduate students, post-docs, and NTT faculty on the market who must choose between the bird-in-hand of an invited publication and the two-in-the-bush of a gold-standard peer-reviewed publication, which may come too late to be of use.

anon anon anon

One thing worth noting is that there are a lot of different kinds of "invited" things. They sometimes get valued--or at least, should get valued--quite differently.

For example, some journals have special issues where guest editors invite people to submit papers. But for some of those journals, the paper is treated no differently than any other anonymous submission, is anonymous peer reviewed, etc. For others, this is pretty much an automatic publication. (Typically with anonymous peer review, but the peer review rarely results in rejection.) And some special issues of journals might look like they are created on the basis of invitations, but for various reasons should in fact should count as normal, peer-reviewed papers in that journal.

Does anyone have a sense of how P&T committees or hiring committees do or do not make these fine grained distinctions?

Tim

For the purposes of hiring, I treat invited contributions as a distinct category as peer-reviewed journal articles. Younger scholars are more likely to get invited to contribute to an edited volume in virtue of social connection than superiority of work. But social connection plays a much smaller (though not zero) role in peer-reviewed journal articles. The distinction may matter to predicting the future work of the scholar.

Jake Wright

Here's a follow up that I suspect will elicit a range of answers: What, exactly, constitutes an "invited piece"? Further, what counts as "peer reviewed"? Consider the following spectrum of possibilities:

1) Smith is approached by a journal editor and invited to submit a piece for publication. The piece is submitted with the understanding that it will be published "as is," aside from some copyediting.

2) Smith is approached by a journal editor as in (1), but the journal editor has the right to reject Smith's manuscript, even if this rarely happens in principle.

3) Smith responds to a call for abstracts for a special issue of a journal, and based upon Smith's abstract, the journal editor invites Smith's manuscript while rejecting others. The understanding is that the manuscript will be published "as is", with some copyediting.

4) Smith responds to a call for abstracts a la (3), but Smith's manuscript is subject to a further round of anonymous review that may result in rejection, even if such rejection at that point is unlikely.

5) Smith responds to a call for papers in a special issue and submits a complete manuscript, which is reviewed anonymously and may result in rejection. In fact, such rejection is more likely because the abstract review in (3) and (4) is not present.

It seems obvious that (1) is invited but not peer-reviewed, while (5) is peer-reviewed but not invited. But what about (2) through (4)? These three involve both a level of invitation and a level of review, but is there a point where we may say that the manuscript is peer-reviewed in the sense we normally mean? Can (and does) that sometimes overlap with a submission being invited in some meaningful sense?

For what it's worth, I'm inclined to say that (1) through (4) count as invited, while (4) and (5) count as genuine cases of peer-review. Thus I suppose that a manuscript can be *both* invited and peer-reviewed in some circumstances. But I'd be very curious to know what others think.

William Vanderburgh

In response to Jake Wright: 1 and 2 are invited. 1 is "invited, not peer reviewed" and 2 is "invited, peer reviewed." The rest are not invited. I'd list 3 as "refereed abstract". 4 and 5 are peer reviewed articles. Invited means something like "submission not initiated by the author."

Marcus's description of the two candidates sounds exactly right to me. Invited papers, even in good venues and refereed, generally won't count as much in hiring/promotion as a regular refereed journal article.

To disagree slightly with one piece of advice in this thread, junior scholars should NOT let their best work go to edited volumes if at all avoidable. If you have a year left on your tenure clock, then agree to the invited contribution since you probably are out of time to get another journal publication. But otherwise, prioritize "home run" venues (i.e., places of publication that no one can even possibly raise an eyebrow at). Of course, it can happen that one of your submissions isn't accepted in any of your target journals, in which case get it published *anywhere* and move on to your next thing quickly.

As with any line in your tenure file, it is the candidate's job to make the case for the value of the piece. Always include more info rather than less--a description of the process by which the paper was reviewed, the way invitees were selected, rejection rate if available, etc.

SM

I would just note that in my experience as a reader/researcher, work in the history of philosophy that gets published in edited volumes is often much more exciting, much more in the business of chance-taking, and much less literature review-y than work in even the best history journals. Edited volumes, to my mind, are where you find the more exciting ideas. And sure, they do not adhere to journalistic standards, but they're not a journal! These kinds of pieces serve a real purpose in the history of philosophy as I see it. They're pretty much the last venue for creative exegesis.

(I agree with Marcus that, because committees might not even read your samples, the perception is that if it is invited it is less good. But, again, less good according to what standard?)

OP

Original poster here. Thanks a lot to everyone for their very thorough and insightful answers! This discussion really helped me get a better understanding of this.

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