Publishing

Ethics Announces New Editors and Gender Data

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Sat, 10/02/2018 - 1:03am in

The well-known and highly-regarded academic philosophy journal, Ethics, has announced its new editors.

At the end of June, 2018, Georgetown University professor of philosophy Henry S. Richardson will be stepping down from his 10-year tenure as editor (in chief) of the journal. On July 1st, Julia Driver,  professor of philosophy at Washington University in St. Louis, and Connie Rosati, professor of philosophy at the University of Arizona, will become the journal’s co-editors (in chief).

Professors Driver and Rosati are currently associate editors at Ethics.

In a statement about the change of editors, Professor Richardson says that “one of the things that they would like to do is to redouble the journal’s efforts to attract work by female authors and authors of color.” To that end, he writes,

I am implementing two steps designed indirectly to aid the cause of reducing gender imbalance in philosophy publishing. First, to increase transparency and general understanding, I here publish for the first time the statistics that we have been collecting, for our internal use, on the genders of our submitting authors and those of the authors whose papers we end up publishing. The second step is to improve the quality of this data so as to facilitate analyses using it. Our determinations of authors’ genders have hitherto rested mainly on first names, occasionally supplemented by internet searches. We have added a required field in which each submitting author will be asked to indicate their gender however they like. By not imposing a list of categories, we will avoid forcing anyone to choose among options none of which they accept and will collect, over time, a set of data that, I am told, will not only be more accurate than what we have been gathering but will also allow for answering the broadest range of queries. Because none of our editors ever sees personal information about any paper’s authors until after the final decision—irrevocable rejection or acceptance—has been reached, it should not alarm anyone that we are collecting such data. Anyone who objects to offering any substantive answer to the gender question is free to answer “not applicable.”

The statistics show that while about three-quarters of the submissions to the journal over the past ten years have been authored by men, there has been a modest increase during this time in submissions by women. Further, the gender breakdown on submissions, averaged over the past ten years, is very close to the gender breakdown on published papers during that time.

The rest of the statistics begin on page three of this document.

The post Ethics Announces New Editors and Gender Data appeared first on Daily Nous.

Academics writing trade books: what should they know?

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Sun, 28/01/2018 - 12:42am in

A befriended academic has written a non-scholarly book, and has been approached by a publisher who picked it up and wants to negotiate a contract. She asked her FB-friends for advice, and almost everyone suggested to get an agent. I suspect that very few academics know how to publish smartly outside academia, and whether one should get an agent (and if so, where to get one, and what to know). I confess I know nothing about this myself when it concerns the English-language publishing world—but would be interested to learn more about this too.

Since this blog has a wide readership, perhaps we can call on the collective wisdom and experience here: what should academics who want to publish a (non-academic) trade book know? It would be great if some agents, those who’ve worked with agents, publishers, as well as authors who have traveled this path can share their views and advice.

Peter J. Schulz Plagiarizes Again—And Is Caught By Philosophy Prof.’s Class (updated)

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Tue, 16/01/2018 - 7:37am in

Peter J. Schulz, who has a PhD in philosophy from Catholic University of Eichstätt-Ingolstadt (Germany) and is currently employed as Professor of Communication in the Faculty of Communication Sciences at the University of Lugano, and who already had four plagiarism-related retractions (and three citation-related errata) to his name, was again found to have plagiarized—this time by a class of undergraduate students.The recent accusation and the resultant retraction of Schulz’s “Subjectivity from a Semiotic Point of View” (from a 2001 volume from the Nordic-Baltic Summer Institute for Semiotic and Structural Studies), is discussed in a post at Retraction WatchSchulz was found to have plagiarized from philosopher Sir Anthony Kenny and Pope John Paul II.

I corresponded about the case with Michael V. Dougherty, Professor and Sr. Ruth Caspar Chair in Philosophy at Ohio Dominican University. He informed me that the retraction was requested by him and his undergraduate students in his “Critical Research and Writing” honors course.

“As a class, we tracked down the sources together and sent the retraction request to the publisher,” he says.

Here’s the letter they sent, along with an annotated version of Schulz’s piece.

And here’s a sample of the plagiarism:


An example of Peter J. Schulz’s plagiarism.

Related post: “Plagiarism In Philosophy: How Publishers Respond

UPDATE (1/22/2018): Schulz’s employer, the University of Lugano (also known as Università della Svizzera Italiana or USI) says there will be no new investigation of Schulz’s academic misbehavior. “The case in question—reads a note—falls within the period and in the methods already taken into consideration in the context of the investigation that the USI conducted, concluded and made public in August 2016,” reports Tio.

The University also appears to cast aspersions on Michael Dougherty, who brought the plagiarism to light and who regularly investigates and studies plagiarism in philosophy (I say “appears to” as I am not sure of the quality of the translation I’m reading): “the source of these reports is always the same: the fury with which this person proceeds requires a certain caution in acting and an accurate assessment of the good foundation of the continuous ‘complaints.'” I’m familiar with several of Dougherty’s interventions into academic integrity and I’d say his thorough and measured approach suggests not “fury” but diligence. If this report about the university’s comments about Dougherty is correct, it is very disappointing.

The post Peter J. Schulz Plagiarizes Again—And Is Caught By Philosophy Prof.’s Class (updated) appeared first on Daily Nous.

Journal of the History of Philosophy Stops Accepting Papers in Early Modern (updated w/ reply from editor)

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Wed, 10/01/2018 - 1:33am in

The Journal of the History of Philosophy, one of the leading history of philosophy journals, has announced that it will no longer be accepting submissions on “early modern philosophy up to but not including Kant,” owing to a “healthy increase in submissions” that has affected the quarterly journal’s ability to publish accepted articles in a timely manner.

No explanation was offered as to why excluding a historical era was a method of choice for handling too many submissions.

Nor was an explanation offered for the choice to exclude early modern specifically. Presumably the journal’s editors feel that relatively too much is being published, or will soon be published, on that era. (Readers can peruse the contents of recent issues here.)

No end date for the moratorium on early modern papers accompanied the announcement.

In a post on the journal’s announcement, Eric Schliesser (Amsterdam) notes that the moratorium on early modern comes at a noteworthy cost:

As Sam Rickless reminded me on facebook, early modern is the sub-field in the history of philosophy where the recovery of female philosophers has become a collective endeavor: with edited volumes, monographs, and special issues.

As an aside, some of us have been puzzled why this buzz has not spilled over more into the pages of JHP! Houston you have a problem with your editorial policies! (Honestly: Synthese has published more papers on Margaret Cavendish than JHP during the last few years! Let that sink in for a second.)

This is not a matter of political correctness. The recovery is creating (see Shapiro) excitement in the field over methodological standards, new-found arguments, and it is widening our understanding of the historical dialectic (including rebounding back on how we understand canonical figures and topics). It is, thus, outrageous that young and often female scholars (who are at the forefront of this recovery) are being penalized by this ill-conceived editorial policy. Early modern also has become the field where efforts at recovering the (often non-European) criticism of philosophical contributions to western imperialism and slavery has been put on the research agenda (see Chris Meyns’ recent reminder).

That’s to say, the flagship journal in the history of philosophy is deliberately cutting itself off from one of the most fertile scholarly areas in the history of philosophy today. And it does so in a way that generates status quo bias, and harms junior scholars who could be shaping the field for the better.

The other part of the announcement, that the journal is “suspending all new *revise and resubmits*, meaning that papers receiving R&Rs from our referees will be simply rejected,” is also notable. This effectively gives anonymous reviewers unrestrained, unsupervised veto power over the contents of a journal. That is quite a relinquishment of editorial responsibility! Does any other journal have such a policy in place?

The journal’s announcement is here.

UPDATE: JHP editor Jack Zupko (University of Alberta) writes in to explain the reasoning behind the policy changes and provide further detail:

The JHP is committed to publishing the best scholarship in the history of western philosophy, providing equitable coverage of its main historical periods: pre-modern (ancient and medieval), early modern, modern, nineteenth and twentieth centuries. We are also committed to publishing the articles we accept in a timely fashion, which for us means within one year of final acceptance.  

The number of submissions in each of the periods covered by the JHP varies, of course; different figures and topics have interested scholars over time. Last year we experienced a surge of submissions in early modern, along with an increased number of papers accepted for publication, so that even after doubling up on the number of early modern articles in each issue, our early modern queue extended well into 2019.  So we decided to suspend submissions in early modern until we can once again provide authors who submit to us the reasonable expectation that their work will appear in print within a year of final acceptance. I anticipate the early modern suspension will be lifted later this year. In the meantime, JHP readers can look forward to even more excellent early modern articles appearing in our pages!

The suspension of new *Revise and Resubmits* was likewise instituted to deal with a more general backlog of accepted articles; I anticipate it will be removed in the next few months. Temporary suspension of submissions is something JHP and other journal editors use from time to time to keep our venues current. It is not something we like to do, but it does allow us to balance the different values a scholarly journal seeks to express, in view as well of the economic challenges academic publishers face in a post-print world.

UPDATE 2 (1/10/18): Former JHP editor, Steven Nadler (Wisconsin), sent along his replies to Eric Schliesser’s post on the topic:

As the most recent former editor of the Journal of the History of Philosophy, let me respond to Eric Schliesser’s post. First of all, it is incorrect that JHP has ever allowed what he calls initial screenings and “desk rejects” to be handled by graduate students, and I am glad to see that he has corrected this part of the initial post. All decisions about whether or not to send a paper out to referees has always been handled by the editor, in consultation with the managing editor who (a) has always had a completed PhD in some field in the history of philosophy, and (b) typically gave a first reading to papers in his/her area of specialization, primarily to weed out papers that either (a) have nothing to do with the history of philosophy, (b) are so badly written that they have no chance of being accepted, or (c) in some other way do not even come close to the JHP‘s standards in that field (e.g., there are no citations of secondary literature on a well-trod topic). Papers in areas other than that of the managing editor were given their initial screening by the editor. Moreover, the editor always gave a second look at papers screened by the managing editor. In addition, it was not unusual for the editor to ask a member of the editorial board to give an initial screening to a paper in which neither the editor nor the managing editor felt they had sufficient competence. Schliesser wrongly accuses the JHP of “explicitly discriminating” against a field within the history of philosophy before actually consulting with anyone associated with the journal to find out the facts. He implies that the JHP has a particular bias against early modern, when the actual facts suggest just the opposite: the JHP is overwhelmed with papers in early modern and publishes more articles in that field than any other, and herein lies the problem: the growing queue of papers in that area means a significantly longer lag time before publication, which in turn does no service to early career scholars who need a quicker time to publication.

Thus, I am just not seeing the problems regarding initial screening and editorial policies that Schliesser describes. We do not give “biased, outdated and moronic referees control over the journal”; we are very careful about choosing referees for papers (although I will say that the very hardest part of being editor is finding willing and responsible referees, including simply getting them to respond to requests), and the editor uses his/her judgment over how to treat their reports. I have my own concerns about “triple blind” refereeing, since a well-informed editor is least likely to send a paper out to an author’s dissertation director, current departmental colleague, or collaborator.

As for the foreseeable effects of JHP editorial policies and “harm to junior scholars”: I was not involved in the decision to very temporarily suspend submissions, but, as I noted, it seems that the ever increasing lag time to publication, given the length of the queue, would have a more serious effect on younger early modern scholars than a short suspension of submissions in that field. 

I can only speak about my own term as editor, but we received very few submissions on women philosophers, in the early modern period or any period. And this was a source of concern to me and to the members of the JHP Board. So yes, I absolutely agree with Schliesser that we need to see more articles (and more submissions) on women philosophers. But I do not see this as bearing any relation to JHP‘s editorial policies. In a soon-to-appear issue, we are publishing an article by Christia Mercer on inclusiveness and new methodologies in early modern scholarship. And this summer the theme of JHP‘s “Master Class” (for which we put up a substantial sum of funding) is an early modern woman philosopher. In sum, the headline of Schliesser’s post seems to me unnecessarily accusatory and incendiary and just plain false, and even harmful in that it will certainly not help JHP increase submissions on women philosophers.

The post Journal of the History of Philosophy Stops Accepting Papers in Early Modern (updated w/ reply from editor) appeared first on Daily Nous.

Kevin Logan on Milo Yiannopolis’ Editor’s Notes

I’ve been avoiding talking too much about politics this week as I simply haven’t had the strength to tackle the issues in as much detail as they deserve. Quite apart from the fact that the issues that have been raised in the media this week – the continuing running down of the NHS, the growth of food banks, homelessness and grinding poverty, all to make the poor poorer and inflate the already bloated incomes of the Tory elite, all make me absolutely furious. I’ve been feeling so under the weather that, quite simply, I couldn’t face blogging about them and making myself feel worse mentally as well as physically.

But this is slightly different.

Slate has published a piece about the guidance notes Alt-Right Trumpist cheerleader Milo Yiannopolis has got from his publishers at Simon and Schuster. In this short video, scourge of anti-feminists, racists and general Nazis Kevin Logan goes through the notes, and it’s hilarious.

There are pages and pages of them. And the more you read, the funnier it gets.

You remember Milo Yiannopolis? He was one of the rising stars of the Alt-Right. He’s anti-feminist, anti-immigration and in many peoples’ eyes, racist, although he’s denied that he actually has any Nazi connections. All this despite the fact that he was filmed in a bar getting Hitler salutes from a party of Alt-Right fans.

He was the IT correspondent for Breitbart, many of whose founders, managers and leading staff are racists, and have been described as such by the anti-racism, anti-religious extremism organisation and site Hope Not Hate. Yiannopolis has constantly denied that he’s racist or bigoted by playing the race and sexuality card. He’s half-Jewish, gay, and his partner is Black. And so he argues that he can’t possibly be prejudiced against people of different ethnicities and gays. Well, possibly. But he has said some extremely bigoted, racist and homophobic comments, quite apart from his anti-feminism.

He describes himself as ‘a virtuous troll’. Others just call him a troll. That’s all he is. He’s only good at writing deliberately offensive material, but is otherwise completely unremarkable. But he’s British public school elite, and so Americans, who should know much better, assume that somehow he’s more cultured, knowledgeable, better educated and insightful than he actually is. Sam Seder commented on Yiannopolis that if he wasn’t British, nobody would take any notice of him. I think it’s a fair comment. But it does show the snobbery that goes with class and accent. Incidentally, when I was a kid reading comics, my favourite characters were the Thing in the Fantastic Four, and Powerman, in Powerman and Iron Fist. And it was partly because of their accents. Stan Lee has a terrible memory, and to help him remember which character said what, he used to give them different voices, sometimes based on who was in the media at the time. He made the Thing talk like Jimmy Durante. He was a space pilot, but his speech was that of New York working class. I liked him because he was kind of a blue-collar joe, like my family.

The same with Powerman. He was a Black superhero, real name Luke Cage, who had been subjected to unethical medical experiments to create a superman by a corrupt prison governor after being wrongly convicted. I didn’t understand the racial politics around the strip, but liked the character because he was another lower class character with a working class voice. He also had the same direct approach as the Thing in dealing with supervillains. Whereas Mr. Fantastic, the leader of the Fantastic Four, and Cage’s martial artist partner in fighting crime, Iron Fist would debate philosophically how to deal with the latest threat to the world and the cosmos, according to the demands of reason and science in the case of Mr. Fantastic, and ancient Chinese mystical traditions, in Iron Fists’, the Thing and Powerman simply saw another megalomaniac, who needed to be hit hard until they cried for mercy and stopped trying to take over the world or the universe.

But I digress. Back to Milo. Milo was due to have a book published, but this fell through after he appeared on Joe Rogan’s show defending child abuse. Yiannopolis had been sexually abused himself by a paedophile Roman Catholic priest, but believed that he had been the predator in that situation. From what I understand, the victims of sexual abuse often unfairly blame themselves for their assault, so I’m quite prepared to believe that something like that happened to Yiannopolis. What was unusual – and revolting – was that Yiannopolis appeared to feel no guilt and regret at all about the incident.

Very, very many people were rightly disgust. He got sacked from Breitbart, along with a lot of other companies, his speaking tour had to be cancelled, and the book deal he had managed to finagle fell through.

Well, as Sergeant Major Shut Up used to say on It Ain’t ‘Alf Hot, Mum, ‘Oh, dear. How sad. Never mind.’ It couldn’t happen to a nicer bloke, and Yiannopolis got a taste of the kind invective and vitriol he poured on the ‘SJWs’ and the Left.

He appeared later on to ‘clarify’ his statement – not an apology – saying that he now knew he was the victim of child abuse, and stating that he didn’t promote or approve of the sexual abuse of children. But the damage was done.

Now it seems Yiannopolis’ book deal is back on, though Simon and Schuster really aren’t happy with the manuscript.

Comments include recommendations that he remove the jokes about Black men’s willies, doesn’t call people ‘cucks’, and stop sneering at ugly people. One of these is particularly hilarious, as his editor writes that you can’t claim that ugly people are attracted to the Left. ‘Have you seen the crowd at a Trump rally?’ Quite. I saw the front row of the crowd at BBC coverage of the Tory party convention one year, and they were positively horrific. It seemed to be full of old school country squire types, as drawn by Gerald Scarfe at his most splenetic.

The guidance goes on with comments like ‘No, I will not tolerate you describing a whole class of people as mentally retarded’, and then factual corrections. Like ‘This never happened’. ‘This never happened too.’ ‘No, you’re repeating fake news. There was no Satanism, no blood and no semen’. At one point the editor demands that an entire chapter be excised because it’s just off-topic and offensive.

Here’s the video.

There probably isn’t anything unusual in the amount of editing that Simon and Schuster require. Mainstream publishing houses often request changes or alteration to the manuscript. It happens to the best writers and academics. Years ago I read an interview with the editors of some of the authors of the world’s most influential books. One of them was Germaine Greer’s. Greer had sent in a manuscript about cross-dressing in Shakespeare. A fair enough subject, as there’s a lot of female characters disguising themselves as boys in the Bard’s plays. But she had the insight that Greer was far more interested in gender roles, and suggested she write about that instead. And the result was The Female Eunuch.

At a much lower level of literature, Private Eye had a good chortle about one of ‘Master Storyteller’ Jeffrey Archer’s tawdry epics. Apparently the gossip was that it went through seven rewrites. Ian Fleming’s editor for the Bond books, according to one TV documentary, was a gay man with a keen interest in dressing well. Which is why some of the sex in Bond was less explicit than Fleming intended, but also why Bond became suave, stylish dresser fighting supervillains in impeccably cut dinner suits.

No shame in any of this, then. But what makes it funny is that it’s happened to Yiannopolis, who seems to have been too much of an egotist to think that anything like it could ever really happen to him. Looking through the comments, it’s also clear that the editor really doesn’t like his bigotry, and the invective he spews against racial minorities and the disadvantaged. I got the impression that he or she really didn’t want to have anything to do with book, but has presumably been told they had to work with Yiannopolis because the publishers were going to put it out anyway, no matter what anyone else in the company felt.

And the editor’s clear dislike of his bigotry is a problem for Yiannopolis, because he’s a troll, and that’s just about all he does: pour out sneers, scorn and abuse, like a male version of Anne Coulter, another right-winger, who’s far less intelligent than she thinks she is. And I know that grammatically standards are a bit looser now than they were a few years ago, but when you have the comment ‘This is not a sentence’, it’s clear that Yiannopolis is failing at one of the basic demands of any writer from the editors of small press magazines to the biggest publishing houses and newspapers and magazines. They all insist that you should write properly in grammatically correct sentences. But Yiannopolis has shown that he can’t do that either.

As for the kind of literary snobbery that used to look down very hard on comics and graphic novels, while promoting opinionated bigots like Yiannopolis as ‘serious’ writers, my recommendation is that if you’re given a choice between going to comics convention or seeing Milo, go to the comics convention. You’ll be with nicer people, the comics creators on the panels are very good speakers, and themselves often very literate and cultured. I can remember seeing Charles Vess at the UKCAC Convention in Reading in 1990. Vess is a comics artist, but he’s also produced cover art for SF novels. He gave a fascinating talk about the great artists that have influenced him with slides. And one of the highlights was listening to the publisher of DC, Roy Kanigher, who was very broad New York. Didn’t matter. He was genuinely funny, to the point where the interviewer lost control of the proceedings and Kanigher had the crowd behind him all the way.

Which shows what a lot of people really know already: just because someone’s got a British public school accent, does not make them a genius, or that they’re capable of producing anything worth reading. Comics at their best can be brilliant. They open up children’s and adults’ imaginations, the art can be frankly amazing and quite often the deal with difficult, complex issues in imaginative ways. Think of Neil Gaiman, who started off as one of the writers at 2000 AD before writing the Sandman strip for DC. Or Alan Moore.

Yiannopolis is the opposite. All he does is preach hate, trying to get us to hate our Black, Asian and Latin brothers and sisters, despise the poor, and tell women to know their place. He has no more right to be published, regardless of his notoriety, than anyone else. And the editor’s demand for amendments show it.

Oh, and as regarding publishing fake news, he’d have had far less sympathy from Mike, if by some misfortune Mike had found himself as Yiannopolis’ editor. Proper journalists are expected to check their facts, which Mike was always very keen on. It was he was respected by the people he actually dealt when he was working as a journalist. The problem often comes higher up, at the level of the newspaper editors and publishers. In the case of Rupert Murdoch, I’ve read account of his behaviour at meetings with his legal staff that shows that Murdoch actually doesn’t care about publishing libellous material, if the amount of the fine will be lower than the number of extra copies of the paper the fake news will sale. Fortunately it appears that Simon and Schusters’ editors don’t quite have that attitude. But who knows for how long this will last under Trump. The man is determined to single-handedly destroy everything genuinely great and noble in American culture.

Philosophical Dialogues

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Fri, 08/12/2017 - 6:34am in

J: Hey, whats’ up?

M: Hey. I wanted to tell you that I think it would be great to bring back the philosophical dialogue.

J: Funny—I just yesterday posted in the Heap of Links a dialogue that University of Colorado philosopher Michael Huemer recently wrote. It’s a four-part series of conversations about the morality of eating meat—“Dialogues on Ethical Vegetarianism” [that is a link to the first part; here are the others: two, three, four].

M: I know. That’s where I got the idea.

J: Ah, ok. I thought maybe for a second you didn’t obsessively follow my blog.

M: I wish. I spend an imprudently significant amount of time on your blog.

J: So do I.

M: Anyway, I was wondering why we don’t have more philosophy written in dialogue form. It’s easy to follow. It shows the back-and-forth of philosophical argument. Frankly, it’s more fun to read.

J: Provided the author doesn’t give anyone an extended monologue. Sometimes you have to wonder what Plato was thinking.

M: Yeah. Socrates can just go on and on sometimes. No one interrupted him because he put them all to sleep!

J: Ha. Well, more evidence that Socrates probably wasn’t the most socially aware guy.

M: Just one more way he is the father of philosophy.

J: Huemer, thankfully, doesn’t have his characters give any speeches.

M: Yeah, and you know, something like this could be done on any topic. It could even be a book series, something aimed at the public, or students, but not necessarily just for them. Or maybe a journal article, even.

J: Right. There are some recent dialogues. John Perry’s “Dialogue on Personal Identity and Immortality.”

M: The Grasshopperby Suits.

J: Hume. Berkeley.

M: Those aren’t exactly recent.

J: They are closer in time to us than they are to Plato.

M: Irrelevant. But on that, do you want to feel old?

J: No.

M: Tough. Did you know that Radiohead’s OK Computer is 20 years old?

J: Yes. Ugh. Great album, though.

M: Yeah, and it is farther away in the past from us now than the Beatles were when we were kids.

J: Thanks for that. Did you know that Steely Dan’s Aja is 40 years old?

M: Didn’t know, don’t care.

J: So what other recent philosophical dialogues are there?

M: I don’t know. You should ask about it on Daily Nous. Maybe get a list going.

J: Not a bad idea.

M: And ask whether people would write them, or what topics they’d want to see a dialogue treatment of. And whether they’d use them in their courses.

J: Sounds good. Thanks for the suggestion.

M: Alright, man, I’m off.

J: Where you headed?

M: To court!

J: What’s your case? Who are you prosecuting?

M: Someone people think I’m crazy to prosecute. 

J: Why? Is it someone who is going to escape from jail before you get him in court?

M: No, he’s old.

J: Who is it?

M: My father.

J: Your father? How is that not a conflict of interest?

M: I know. This court has strange rules.

J: What’s the charge?

M: Murder.

J: Murder! What? How?

M: It’s complicated, but basically it’s because this jurisdiction doesn’t acknowledge the category of manslaughter. Anyway, gotta go. 

J: Well good luck, I guess. Later!

 

The post Philosophical Dialogues appeared first on Daily Nous.

Radio 4 Programme Next Week Asking ‘Where Are All the Working Class Writers?’

Next Thursday, 23rd November 2017, at 11.30 in the morning, Radio 4 are broadcasting a programme, Where Are All the Working-Class Writers? by the writer Kit de Waal. The blurb for the programme on page 137 of the Radio Times runs

Birmingham-raised writer Kit de Waal published her first novel in 2016, aged 55. She used part of the advance to set up a scholarship in an attempt to improve working-class representation in the arts. She talks to writers, agents and publishers about barriers for writers from working-class backgrounds.

More information about her and the programme is in another piece on the opposite page, 135. This states

“I never expected to be a writer,” says Kit de Waal in this thoughtful exploration of class and writing. “I was working class, I was the daughter of immigrants. People like me weren’t even expected to go to university. ” De Waal did go to university, but at 51; she’d left school at 16. She knows that her background and – and how it influences the stories she tellls – makers her an oddity in literary circles. As she speaks to writers, agents and publishers to find out why this is, it becomes clear that class is an intrinsic part of the under-representation question, overlapping with race and gender. She gleans erudite contributions – take Tim Lott’s description of working-class writing as “the literary equivalent of soul music”, as he asks, “who’s making the soul music?’ Who’s making the rock ‘n’ roll?’

This is an issues that the great British comics writer, Pat Mills, raised in some of the interviews I posted up on here. Mills, who created the classic anti-war strip, Charley’s War, and wrote and created many of the classic characters in the SF comic, 2000 AD, has said that he felt angry that there were no working class characters in comics and very few in mainstream literature. Worse, there was an attitude amongst the media that was determined to exclude them. He has described how he was working on a story for Dr. Who in the 1980s, which was to have a working-class spaceship captain. This was rejected by the script editor, who really didn’t like the idea.

As for popular music, I was told by a friend of mine a little while ago that this was another traditional working class area that was being taken over by the middle classes. Most of the stars now in the charts, or at least at the time, were graduates of university courses in music or the performing arts. The pub rock scene, which emerged in the ’70s and which the launched the careers of many of the great working class bands of the ’70s and ’80s is now very much disappearing.

Once upon a time, back in the 1980s and 1990s, Private Eye’s literary column took a somewhat similar view of the contemporary literary scene. The reviewer back then was acutely critical of the snobbishness and cliquishness of literature and the publishing industry. The Eye believed and very strongly argued that British literature was dominated by a small clique of writers, who were largely vastly overhyped, to the exclusion of better writers and aspiring authors, who were rejected out of hand. They gave as an example of this a conversation they’d heard about with one of the editors of Granta. When the editor was asked about a piece submitted by one aspiring author, they responded by asking what colour the enveloped it was send in was. This, the Eye’s reviewer went on, showed precisely what the attitude towards outside submissions at the magazine was. It was geared entirely towards people within the literary clique. Those outside were automatically rejected, manuscript unread.

The Eye wasn’t particularly interested in the class aspects of this question. Which isn’t surprising, as Richard Ingrams, the former editor pointed out during a talk one year at the Cheltenham Literary Festival that the magazine’s founders – himself, Willie Rushton, Peter Cook and so on, were all middle-class and privately educated. The Eye’s reviewer said several times that there was no reason why working class writers should be particularly promoted over others. They also made the occasional sneering comments directed at left-wing authors stressing their very working class roots that they were ‘prolier than thou’. I think they may even have made a comment about ‘Prole-lit’ for a type of very stereotypical ‘working class’ literature.

But they also attacked authors, who seemed to be published solely on snob value, because they were members of the aristocracy or the upper-middle classes, rather than because their writing had any intrinsic merit. Regarding one such author, the Eye’s reviewer said that any miner, who ever picked up a pen to write a sonnet, was of far more interest and value than them. They also savaged authors from the upper classes, who struck them as having a particularly patronising attitude to the lower orders, who read her books. There’s one review, which takes Jilly Cooper to task for this, whether the reviewer writing as her, sends her up by describing her readers as ‘pawps’ as an example of the class snobbishness in her novels. I’ve never read Cooper, so can’t really say whether this attitude is entirely fair or not, or, if it is, whether Cooper is any worse than many other authors.

I think that in more recent years the Eye’s literary column lost a little of that fierce opposition to the cliquishness of the literary scene, and particularly the London literary milieu. It still attacks and parodies overhyped, bad writing, but this seems part of a simple attack on overrated, mediocre literature. This now includes the works of the stars of reality TV shows and vapid, but inexplicably popular, bloggers and vloggers on the Net. But working class representation in writing, and other areas of the arts is a genuine part of the wider issues of access and exclusivity. Whether the Net will have an impact here, in popularising the work of working class writers, who would otherwise remain unpublished if left to the world of traditional literary agents and publishers, remains to be seen.

Springer Agrees To China’s Demand To Censor Its Journals

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Tue, 07/11/2017 - 2:28am in

Springer Nature, possibly the world’s largest academic publisher, has agreed to demands from the Chinese government to block access in China to more than a thousand articles, according to reports at Financial Times and The New York Times.

Springer Nature includes among its imprints Palgrave MacMillan and Nature, as well as Springer, which publishes over 60 philosophy journals, such as Philosophical StudiesEthical Theory and Moral Practice, ErkenntnisSyntheseand many others, including, ahem, the Journal of Business Ethics.

The Financial Times reports that all of the articles that have been blocked so far “contained keywords deemed politically sensitive by the Chinese authorities, including ‘Taiwan’, ‘Tibet’ and ‘Cultural Revolution.'”

It’s not known at this time whether any articles by philosophers have been blocked. If you know of any, please share them in the comments.

Springer is not the only publishing concern to have complied with China’s requests. Just a few months ago, says FT, “Cambridge University Press acceded to similar pressures from Beijing, before reversing course after an intense backlash against its surrender of academic freedom… LexisNexis, which runs a database of news cuttings, withdrew some of its products from China in March after authorities asked it to remove some stories about China. In July, Apple removed from its Chinese app store applications that enable users to bypass China’s “Great Firewall”, in a move that developers condemned as ‘censorship’.”

(Thanks to several readers for suggesting this post.)

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When You Should Have Been Cited, But You Weren’t

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Thu, 02/11/2017 - 2:37am in

A philosopher writes in with a query at the intersection of research ethics, publishing norms, and academic etiquette.

What should you do when your work should have been cited in a publication, but isn’t?

More specifically:

Suppose Philosopher 1 publishes a paper on Question Q, presenting a distinctive argument for specific thesis T. Then, two years later, Philosopher 2 publishes a book on Q in which she which includes a version of the very same argument for T, but without any citation of Philosopher 1’s work. Suppose, further, that prior to Philosopher 2’s book, this argument had only been made by Philosopher 1, and that Philosopher 1’s paper was not particularly hard to learn about or access. This seems like an egregious failure to cite. What, if anything, should Philosopher 1 do? And what, if anything, should Philosopher 2 do, if informed of this? 

One thing to note: academic books are typically years in the making and the relevant part of 2’s book might have been written prior to the publication of 1’s paper. That’s not entirely exculpatory (because the literature should be checked throughout the writing process, and also because if 2 became aware of 1’s work he could have cited her and noted that they appear to have independently come to similar ideas at around the same time) but it does speak in favor of not jumping to conclusions.

It seems to me that a sound opening move, generally, would be for 1 to write to 2, noting the similarity and timing and asking in a non-accusatory way if 2 had been aware of 1’s work. If 2’s answer is “oh yeah, I forgot-about/heard-about-but-didn’t-read/read-it-but-I-guess-mistakenly-thought-it-irrelevant” then 2 should find out what steps can be taken by the publisher to try to remedy this. Academic publishers, feel free to chime in on this! Also, 2 should of course cite 1’s work in relevant writings in the future.

In the original version of the question, we’re not certain that 2 knows about 1’s work. It might be useful, then, to also ask a version of this question in which 1 knows that 2 knows about 1’s work on Q, could have cited her work, but didn’t. In these cases, considerations of academic integrity arise.

Readers?

Related: “Philosophers Don’t Read and Cite Enough

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Should You Referee the Same Paper Twice, for Different Journals? (guest post by Eric Schwitzgebel)

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Wed, 18/10/2017 - 12:53am in

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Publishing

The following is a guest post* by Eric Schwitzgebel, professor of philosophy at the University of California, Riverside, and blogger at The Splintered Mind.


Should You Referee the Same Paper Twice, for Different Journals?
by Eric Schwitzgebel

Uh-oh, it happened again. That paper I refereed for Journal X a few months ago—it’s back in my inbox. Journal X rejected it, and now Journal Y wants to know what I think.  Would I be willing to referee it for Journal Y?

In the past, I’ve tended to say no if I had previously recommended rejection, yes if I had previously recommended acceptance.

If I’d previously recommended rejection, I’ve tended to reason thus: I could be mistaken in my negative view. It would be a disservice both to the field in general and to the author in particular if a single stubborn referee prevented an excellent paper from being published by rejecting it again and again from different journals. If the paper really doesn’t merit publication, then another referee will presumably reach the same conclusion, and the paper will be rejected without my help.

If I’d previously recommended acceptance (or encouraging R&R), I’ve tended to just permit myself think that the other journal’s decision was probably the wrong call, and it does no harm to the field or to the author for me to serve as referee again to help this promising paper find the home it deserves.

I’ve begun to wonder whether I should just generally refuse to referee the same paper more than once for different journals, even in positive cases. Maybe if everyone followed my policy, that would overall tend to harm the field by skewing the referee pool too much toward the positive side?

I could also imagine arguments—though I’m not as tempted by them—that it’s fine to reject the same paper multiple times from different journals. After all, it’s hard for journals to find expert referees, and if you’re confident in your opinion, you might as well share it widely and save everyone’s time.

I’d be curious to hear about others’ practices, and their reasons for and against.

(Let’s assume that anonymity isn’t an issue, having been maintained throughout the process.)

art: Andy Warhol, “Shadows”

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