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06/20/2022

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Michel

There are two main advantages to special issues: (1) it's somewhat easier to get a paper in, since it's only competing against a reduced pool of papers on the same topic, many of which will be accepted (instead of taking priority over your paper; note that this does _not_ mean the standards applied are lower! It's just that the journal is committed to publishing, say, six to eight papers on highly specialized Topic T at once instead of over a period of years), and (2) it's a go-to resource for someone doing research on that topic (which may make your paper more visible/findable).

As long as it's a good, solid journal to begin with, and as long as the editors are recognizable quantities in that area, I think it's usually worth it. In the long run, anyway. Nobody will look at your CV and know it's a special issue, so all they'll see is the T2 (or whatever) journal, so that won't necessarily blow them away; but more people doing work on the subject will find it.

It's also worth noting, however, that trying to place it elsewhere is a gamble. You could spend a few years trying to get a journal in the tier above to accept it, if any of them ever do, while here you've got better than usual odds. On the market, an actual publication, wherever it is, is usually better than a possible one. Plus, the sooner you're done with that paper, the sooner you can move on to another one.

FWIW, I recently opted to send a paper to a second-tier specialty journal for a special issue. I'm optimistic that I could publish the paper in a better-ranked venue, given time, but it's already bounced around for a few years and I decided I'd rather try to get it out sooner rather than later, so that I can move on to other stuff. And if it's rejected, well, I can keep bouncing it around. (I don't need more publications for anything, however).

Also FWIW, my strategy is not just to have several papers under review at once (I have five at the moment, with a sixth that was just rejected), but to have them under review at a variety of places. I usually have one or two tied up somewhere fancy that will take a long time or is likely to reject them, one or two in line at top-tier specialty venues, and one or two bouncing around at other levels. That way, there's not too much tied up in a single paper and its placement.

submitter

Hopefully not derailing the conversation, but how do you find out about special issues you can submit to?

Michel

Submitter: they're usually up on PhilEvents (set your notifications), and some are advertised via the Philos-L listserv. Otherwise, they're often advertised through your subfield association, if you have one.

Random R1 Prof

Here's one I know about: https://www.pdcnet.org/acpq/Calls-for-Submissions

Newly Dr

OP here: I found out about the special issue via Philos-L. I would advise everyone in philosophy to keep an eye on that list. It has a bit too much that is specific to Europe to keep up with it in your inbox if you are not in Europe (or trying to get a job there). But you can have a quick browse over recent posts on twitter. I also know that things like this get advertised on Aphil in Australasia. I don't know if there is a similar central list for the US and Canada. Or, indeed, anywhere those.

I think probably the opportunity cost of submitting to this particular special issue is a bit high for me. If I recognised the editors, or the journal was a bit more prestigious (and it isn't a specialist journal, which would help), then I might do it.

Also, unfortunately, the job market is such that getting my work read more widely is just not a priority until I have secured a permanent position. There is a perfect world in which I would just publish in whichever journal would get my work in front of the most people who might care about it. And then maybe I would actually contribute to advancing knowledge. But we don't live in that world. At a very early career stage any consideration of actually advancing knowledge seems massively swamped by the need to get high prestige publications in order to secure a permanent position. Perhaps some people are willing to trade off more of their other interests—job security, pay, living near friends and family, quality of life in general—for philosophical contribution at an early state. But I'm personally not.

Perhaps I am underestimating the career bonus of having more people read my papers compared to having them in high prestige places? This seems unlikely to me though for the simple fact that the people who will decide whether I get a job are exceedingly unlikely to have ever heard of me no matter what I do.

Finally, I'll just air one pet peeve: I don't think we should call ``keeping many papers under review'' a strategy. And I don't think it is advice we should keep giving people (I have been given it many many times). Why? Because it isn't actionable: If I had enough papers ready to submit to journals I would have. If I don't have enough papers ready, telling me to have more papers under review is just not something I can do. If you have some concrete strategy or work process that helps you get more papers into review I'd love to hear about it. Maybe I should be working harder to get more papers under review. But ``work harder'' isn't exactly a strategy, nor is it particularly helpful advice. There is another perfect world in which I would stop wasting my time on blogs and instead have 5 papers under review at any one time. But, as yet, this isn't that world.

Confused at Newly Dr

I do not understand Newly Dr's:

'And then maybe I would actually contribute to advancing knowledge.'

But publishing is supposed to be just this. This fact does not change, even if your paper is not read by many people. It is not 'either publish in a good journal or advance knowledge'. The latter is a necessary condition for the former.

No matter what bad reputation bad journals get, it is not because of their deviation from the norm of advancing knowledge--it is because of the extremely clogged system of publishing in philosophy.

Recently Tenured R1

You need to do 2 things in general: 1) publish a substantial amount (i.e not just a few papers); and 2) publish at least a couple of things in highly ranked journals.

But these activities don't have to overlap. You will almost never lose anything from a particular publication appearing in a non-prestigious place. But you WILL lose from not having the requisite number of pubs.

So if the particular paper you'd contribute to the special issue isn't something you already expect to land in a Big Name journal, I'd say go for it.

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