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More like, the rate should go from 4-5% to at least 10-15%!

I'm all for it. Publication rates seem absurdly low to me, given the volume of high-quality work that's submitted. With some exceptions, almost everything that I referee is of publishable quality already, even if more work could significantly improve it.


My experience is quite different from yours. I have refereed at least 190 papers for journals - at least a quarter of them for Philosophy of Science and Synthese. Most of the papers I see should not be published. And many should not have been sent in to journals. Instead, the authors should have tried to present them and get feedback. In many cases, I doubt they could get them on a somewhat selective conference program. But a conference presentation would have allowed them to improve the paper, and maybe make it something that could be published.
The discipline does NOT need more published articles.

East Coaster

@Michel, I have a very different experience. Virtually nothing I receive is of publishable quality. I rarely think: this would be helpful for someone to read as they are trying to figure things out. Far too often, the submissions I referee either do not address blazingly obvious objections or are inadequately grounded in the literature. The best way to raise the publication rate then seems to me to be to reduce (!!!) the submission rate.

Reviewer #3

My experience is the same as ref and east coast: I have never seen a paper I thought should be accepted on first go, and many papers I see display little to no familiarity even with the most famous papers on a topic. I think our problem is definitely too many submissions, not too few publications. Also note that in the sciences a massive amount of the screening work is done by who gets the money to even carry out experiments to have a paper to write-there are no barriers in philosophy apart from the peer review process.

less is more

I understand that the lazy focus on publication volume in hiring and tenure decisions makes philosophers wish it were easier to publish large volumes of philosophy. But holy hell-- can anyone READING philosophy seriously think that our discipline's problem is that we publish too little?

Every time I nudge my way into a new niche topic, I am amazed out how much of the published lit is tedious, unimportant, uninteresting, hastily executed, or embarrassing. How often do you ILL a paper with an abstract relevant to your new research question and think: awesome paper. One in 25? One in 50?

In my fantasy version of a healthy philosophy world, journals would publish half of what they currently publish, and publishing expectations for careerists would be cut by 3/4 or more.

academic migrant

I think focusing on acceptance rate is slightly a bit too general. I was rather hoping the discussion could cover a bit on terrible reasons to reject papers: "I don't find the paper interesting" "I cannot see the contribution of the paper" "I don't think the topic is worth discussing" "I think the paper is good but not good enough for this prestigious journal" "I think the paper is unoriginal (because I can't understand the originality)" "I think this paper has too many typos" "I think this paper cites too many papers and looks like the work of a graduate student."

Maybe if editors could carefully decide when not to follow such recommendations, the acceptance rates would go up in a good way. On the other hand, if the acceptance rates go up just because publishers demand them to, then it is possible that papers would be accepted for the wrong reason.

Joona Räsänen

Philosohy and Public Affairs publishes around 12-15 journal articles annually. Journal of Business Ethics publishes more than 350 papers every year. Both are highly valued journals among researchers in the corresponding fields.

I wonder why philosphers think selectivity is what matters but in other fields (or in some subfields of philosophy) what matters is impact such as citations and reading counts etc.

I think the issue relates to prestige-bias. Some seem to think that philosophical discussion should happen in the corridores of Ivy-league universities and journals are just dusty archives where people should send their work only when they have managed to proof something. While in other (sub)fields scholars think that the journals are the places to have the interesting discussion. (This also explains the low citation count of 'top' philosophy journals, who would want to cite such uninterrsting work that these journals publish).

David Thorstad

I like lots of the papers I read and as a referee I wish I could accept more of them. I think that philosophers may tend to read papers quite critically, which is healthy in itself, but may also make us a bit harsher judges of quality than our colleagues in many other disciplines.


I broadly agree with the others that a lot of published work is not great.

But even if there is a great deal of writing at the borderline of publishable quality taken independently, there is an additional epistemic cost to it being out there. If there are 10,000 papers on topic X, it's just an impossible task to get up to speed, and every additional paper either takes attention away from the others or will languish unread. Even very good papers struggle to get noticed now just because they are buried under a huge mound of 'okay' stuff. And in such a case, high-profile people or self-marketers get disproportionate attention.

Much better for progress in philosophy to discourage publication until something is really good, by keeping acceptance rates low. It's not all about quality in absolute terms, but also people's appetite and ability to read what is out there, given we only have so many hours in the day.

That said, JPP does perhaps take it to extremes. Regardless, it shouldn't be for Wiley to make publication strategy decisions for an academic discipline.

Grad Student

I second what "less is more" wrote. We definitely have too many published papers in our field, but we also put a very high bar on publications to get tenured. As a grad student, I don't have a choice but to join the game and send many papers for review, thereby contributing to the flooding of our peer review system. Some of what I send might benefit from a little aging, and could perhaps be merged into a single much more interesting paper a few years from now. But I will not have a chance to get a job if I'll wait som much.

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