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I think the main risk is Google-reviewing, although for those scared of scooping, there's that, too.

What I don't really get is the point of doing so. Is it the faint hope that someone will come across it and write to you about it? Is it because one doesn't have other publications, and one wants to give prospective Googlers something to look at?

almond milk

I’m with Michel. I don’t include anywhere on my CV or website papers that are “in progress” or under review. It comes across as padding to me. It’s not an achievement to be in the process of writing a paper, nor is it an achievement to have sent a paper to a journal. If the concern is to let people know what you’re working on, they can more or less tell if you describe your research interests or summarize them elsewhere on your website (on the main page or on a ‘research’ tab).

Imo the risk to blind review is one that isn’t taken seriously enough. It seems very common to list papers that are under review with their full titles on one’s website. I’ve even seen people post full drafts of papers that are under review on philpapers. I get that some people (such as those mentioned by the OP) might have a certain advantage in not being anonymous but the practice really does defeat the purpose of blind peer review. It’s harmful to the whole profession when certain people decide that they will not play by the rules and I wish it were more of an established norm to be serious and committed to journal submissions being genuinely anonymous.

Even if perfect anonymity is impossible, we should all at least be more mindful of preserving the integrity of blind peer review when we have control over the information. If your paper is good enough on its own merits, it’ll be accepted for publication somewhere regardless of who you are or your institutional affiliation.

fed up

I don't currently list the names of any of my works in progress on my website or put them into online repositories like PhilPapers, but I'm seriously considering starting to do so. There are two reasons:

1) The further along I get in the profession (I am currently at the advanced junior faculty level), the more I realize that anonymous peer review at journals is more or less a farce. I know of at least three people who have been given preferential treatment at top journals by being allowed to submit papers for consideration before the journal's official time limit between submissions had elapsed. And I know of many people whose work has been published in a top venue only because someone on their dissertation committee was on the editorial staff at that venue. So hiding my own work in order to make the peer review system more effective has begun to seem like giving myself an unfair disadvantage.

2) The cost of having lazy and incompetent referees is extremely high. If my paper is rejected from two journals by referees who take six months to skim it and make some more or less worthless comments, that's a year where the ideas in my paper are not publicly available or citeable by others in my field. If I upload my paper now, people can read it and cite it, and its fate is less up to the whims of the referees.


Like fed up, peer review feels more and more weird to me.

Apart from the points they pointed out, I also feel that the verdicts I got from referees are more and more arbitrary by the year. There was a time when the reports I got more or less agree with each other about whether my drafts were good or bad...

also fed up

I'm with fed up and peerreview....

Also, I've occasionally wondered, re the issue of getting scooped: couldn't posting drafts, whether to your personal webpage or to philpapers or wherever, be a way of *establishing* priority? I mean, if someone steals your ideas, and especially if they outright plagiarize you, you'd have a *sort* of publication record that could in principle serve as evidence.

(What got me thinking about this, I think, is that, when I was in a band in high school, one of my bandmates was under the impression that we could effectively copyright our songs by recording them to a CD and mailing it to ourselves, using the Postal Service's date stamp to prove the existence of the songs prior to the date they were mailed. I have no idea whether this is in fact true—though, the law aside, it does seem like pretty good evidence!)

More constructively, I wonder: if posting to philpapers doesn't currently suffice to establish priority, shouldn't it? This seems technically feasible.

The obvious objection, I suppose, is that the whole issue is moot, because the more powerful person (powerful in the profession, I mean) is going to win the "who was first?" battle regardless. But if that's true for drafts, it's surely true for publication in actual journals, right? Or am I missing something?

Just curious, really. Like fed up and peerreview..., the more I learn about how this profession (not just peer review, but definitely that) actually works, the more rigged the whole thing seems. It also seems increasingly clear that we've all heard stories like those mentioned in fed up's (1), but, to an astonishing degree, *no one talks about it* — especially not anyone who has any power to change it. (My personal favorite: someone I once knew was asked to referee a paper, and was explicitly told by the editor [not in these words, I should add] to go easy on it; when they asked their advisor what to do, they were told "Yeah, that happens all the time." Only at single-blind journals, presumably [presumably!], but still.)

sad but true

@also fed up, I’ve heard many similar stories and you’re right that most aspects of this profession are a farce. As ubiquitous as it is, talking about it is discouraged and quickly shut down as “gossip” because being quiet about it is the only way to uphold the myth of meritocracy. People with power have no interest in these conversations because it would cast doubt on the legitimacy of their "fame" and on the quality of their scholarship.

Fed Up with Gossip

I wasn't going to post, but I feel that I have to because I disagree so strongly with the sentiments above: Where is your evidence that review practices are this bad? Without evidence it is just gossip. I hear plenty of gossip from people who seem to be jealous of other's success. And I don't see a lot of trash papers getting published in top journals. If there is a problem and you have proper evidence of it, then send your evidence (anonymously if you like) to someone who can expose it. If you've just got gossip then maybe stop making everyone else feel terrible about the profession just because you do.

fed up

@Fed Up with Gossip

What do you mean? I shared my evidence. Do you want me to name and shame the people in question? That wouldn't help; it's not their fault they were treated preferentially. Do you think I should write an anonymous complaint to the journals and then never mention what I know about their behavior in public forums? How would that help, given that the journals have no accountability mechanisms or incentive not to continue doing what they're doing? You're free to disbelieve me and the others who have posted above if you want to. But if you continue in the profession for long enough, you'll come to know that what we're talking about is real and pervasive.

By the way, I don't feel terrible about the profession. It's an amazing gift that we all get paid to sit around and think about whatever we find interesting. It's just that the longer I spend in academic philosophy, the less informative I find the journal name next to a piece of philosophy to be. At this point, it means almost nothing to me: coming out in a top five journal does not significantly raise the probability for me that a paper on a topic I work on will be interesting or insightful or even competent. And I think many people have experienced the same shift in attitude as they have become more embedded in the profession.

Also, why is it that me expressing my personal frustration is an attempt to "make everyone else feel terrible?" Feel however you want to feel! Believe whatever you want to believe! Post your WIP pieces on your website, or don't! Just don't censor people for explaining their perspectives.


@Fed Up with Gossip, there are legal barriers to providing the evidence; for example, this, from Synthese's website, in a section on the ethical responsibilities of authors: "Authors should treat all communication with the Journal as confidential which includes correspondence with direct representatives from the Journal such as Editors-in-Chief and/or Handling Editors and reviewers’ reports unless explicit consent has been received to share information."

Gossip isn't always false, either. "Without evidence it is just gossip" is the kind of thing that was said of Harvey Weinstein. No doubt he and his friends were fed up with it, too.

To be fair (or to try to be, anyway), I don't myself have any direct evidence of the kinds of malpractice described above. But the rumors are prevalent enough that I find it hard to be confident, especially since we have plenty of general evidence that people with power routinely abuse it in these kinds of ways.

I would also add, though, that I have occasionally heard stories like these from quite *successful* members of the profession. Their comments, though, tend to take on the character of advice. (I could give examples—of things professional philosophers have actually said in my presence—but I'm not confident it wouldn't be identifying.)


the fact that not a lot of shitty papers got published in top journals do not conflict with what fed ups and I were talking about. The problem is pretty real as far as my experience goes. Some papers have an easier time getting published in top journals that is not entirely (or mostly?) attributable to quality and luck. Like fed ups, I also only started to see this as I get more embedded in the profession. Like fed up, I don't feel terrible about the profession, since there are still many great things about it (e.g., the kindness of this blog is one). As far as publication goes, I have also been relatively lucky.


while I've got strong opinions on the actuality/validity of peer reviewer, returning to the original question, Im not concerned about either (1) scooping or (2) a reviewer working to figure out that it's me. What I am concerned about is journals not seeing this as appropriate. As such, my advice would be: do it when you're famous enough that journals would never dock you.

Daniel A Kaufman

I just retired from the profession after 30 years in it. I've been Managing Editor of a journal and refereed more papers than I can count. Department Head, Hiring Committee Chairs, etc. I've done pretty much everything there is to do in the profession. A few things:

1. None of the things described here in the complaints about refereeing are new. It has forever been thus. [Or at least, for a very long time]

2. Famous / high-powered / connected philosophers get better treatment. There is no industry in which some version of this is not true. And there is some reason for it, namely that such people are bigger draws for the venue in question. I came to understand this during my time as a Managing Editor.

3. Fortunately, ours is one of the cushiest gigs one can have. Every time I used to get aggravated about some annoying aspect of publishing, teaching, etc., I would just remind myself of people working on the top of telephone polls in the middle of the night in January.

4. There are an awful lot of professors / academics writing an awful lot of papers about every conceivable topic. Indeed, the field is wildly oversaturated in terms of work-seeking-publication. One upshot of this is that no particular person's work is all that important in the larger scope of things. [Of course, that does not mean it is not important *to the person*.]

5. Another thing I do when I am frustrated with the process is reflect on my trade publishing experience with Penguin. There, your Editors are essentially co-authors, and you have no say in the matter whatsoever. Would take the academic publishing system in a second.

6. Peer Review isn't going anywhere. Or better: it shouldn't go anywhere. The alternative is the Substacking of professional philosophy, which will spell its end as a profession -- at least in the Academy -- though academic philosophy seems to be doing everything it can to effect that outcome anyway.

Tenured on Unpublished

Generally I've found it's a good idea to post unpublished papers wherever you can, but use different titles from the ones you use to submit to peer-reviewed pubs (to preserve anonymity, the edifice of peer review, etc.).

The only caveat is if you've never published anything; then it looks like padding. And even then I'm not sure it's such a bad idea (padding is underrated). But as long as you've published at least one thing, the drafts in progress will just look like future publications you wanted to share earlier. They may even get cited as "forthcoming." An undisputable win all around.


I would distinguish listing 'under review' or 'in progress' papers on your website or philpapers profile vs. listing them on the CV you submit with applications.
A thought is that committees for grants, fellowships, or jobs might look at this list as an indication of what you're currently working on, and possibly as an indication of future publications. In fact, some grant applications explicitly ask you to list under review and in progress stuff.

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