Daily Nous Turns Five

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Fri, 08/03/2019 - 12:31pm in

Daily Nous began with a brief welcome message five years ago, today, around this time. Some of you may be thinking: “five years already? No way!” Others may be thinking, “only five years? I thought it has been around forever.” Still others might be thinking, “you are not going to guess what I’m thinking.”

In 2014, March 7th fell on a Friday. That evening, I shared news of the site in a personal Facebook update that began with: “Philosofriends, are you for some reason or another in need of a new place on the internet to share news that might be of interest to other philosophers?”

I will admit that I knew the answer to that question. As I put it in a post at Daily Nous the next day:

“My sense from observing the current scene and conversing with my friends in philosophy is that people want to be informed about what is going on in the profession, but are a bit weary of some of the current providers of that information. Daily Nous aims to provide information about the profession and to do so in a less-weariness-inducing way. We’ll see if it works.”

Five years later, we can ask: “Is anyone feeling less weary?”



In retrospect, perhaps our weariness isn’t the best metric for measuring how well Daily Nous is doing. We may not be less weary overall, but that may be only partly owed to my failures. I’ll take responsibility for some problems—clearly Donald Trump’s electoral victory was owed to backlash against my pro-diversity postings here—but there have been some positives, too.

I’m going to talk about those positives a little right now, and then turn to what it is like to run this site, then mention some plans for the near future, and then express some thanks.

1. The Welcoming of the Many and the Waning of the Jerks

I’m proud of the role Daily Nous played in breaking up a toxic concentration of power in our profession the year it began. I’m happy about how since then it has provided a platform for the sharing of news, information, and ideas for a profession increasingly welcoming of philosophers with a broader range of philosophical concerns and methodologies, from different academic, cultural, and personal backgrounds, who hold varied ideas of what philosophy is and what we should do with it. I’m glad to have helped, along with many others, shepherd in what I once called “the new consensus”—a set of attitudes “that rejects acquiescence to abuses of power in philosophy, one that seeks to overturn rather than turn away from the profession’s problems, one that seeks to support rather than silence the vulnerable.” I feel lucky to have been in a position to use my role at DN to provide assistance to various members of the profession facing various personal and professional problems.

The differences between today and 5 years ago are significant. The then-dominant pose of philosophical jerkiness, broadcast to susceptible graduate students from a dominant profession-wide blog, is now on the wane, owing to competition from kinder and more cooperative approaches to philosophical engagement, and an increased willingness to call people out when they are being needlessly obnoxious or insulting. Sure, the profession still has its jerks, but the good news is that they matter a lot less. This goes for philosophy’s loudest jerks. (Graduate students and untenured professors may understandably not want to become the bizarre fixation of a senior member of the profession who insults them, tries to get them fired, attempts to dox their supporters on social media, mocks their advisors, and gets so obsessed in a quest to destroy them that he doesn’t realize the negative information they’re passing on is part of a hoax, and never apologizes for spreading falsehoods about them. Fortunately, the chances of any of this actually affecting your career or employment prospects nowadays are next to nothing; amazingly, this used to not be the case!)

Sometimes the jerks show up at Daily Nous, despite my comments policy, my moderation of comments, and my periodic advice to commenters. That’s my responsibility, and I’m far from perfect at taking care of it. Sometimes I make a bad call. But the truth is, I can’t make the comments sections good by myself. I need good commenters. As I’ve said before, I hope that “those who have been reluctant to contribute to discussions here because of their dissatisfaction with the tenor of the comments decide to join in. To them I say, ‘be the commenter you want to read on the blog.’”

Though we’ve made progress, we still have a way to go before philosophy is sufficiently welcoming to all it should be. It will help if philosophers can adopt towards each other—especially towards those philosophers very different from them—a charitable mindset we can call “presumptive trust.” That is, you begin your engagement with someone by trusting that they are competent, know what they’re talking about, and that they are at least as smart and skilled at their thing as you are at yours, and you convey this trust in your interaction with them and as you process their ideas. Try it. It’s not just a way of being better to other people. You’ll find you learn a lot, too. (By the way, this is a pretty good way to approach everyone, not just fellow philosophers.)

2. What Running Daily Nous Is Like

I’m sometimes asked what it is like to run Daily Nous. After five years, I can honestly tell you: it is in some ways pretty great and in some ways pretty bad.

blog blogger blogs

To start with the positives, it is clearly a privilege to be able to serve the philosophical community in this way. I am grateful that so many people find the site worthwhile. And it is amazing that I can write up ideas on a matter of professional interest that will be read by thousands of people around the world the same day, and sometimes lead to engagement with even more people when picked up by the higher education press and mainstream media. I’ve had the opportunity communicate with, meet, and learn from people I otherwise would not have, and as a result I’ve grown as a person and as a philosopher. I feel like through Daily Nous I can make a positive difference in our profession and in the world, and I consider myself very lucky to be able to do this.

The main downsides concern time: the amount of time running the site takes, and the urgency of journalism.

The site takes hours of each day, and a lot of it is for “invisible” work: reading through possible material for the site (only a tiny fraction of which gets posted about), answering emails, and dealing with the business and tech parts of the site. I’m not the fastest writer, so even when a post is largely a summary of someone else’s writing elsewhere, it takes me a while to get the words on the page. I try to have an image accompany each post, and sometimes it takes a while to find the right one (though I do enjoy having this excuse to explore and discover art). But time on the blog means less time for other work.

I mentioned the urgency of journalism. I wasn’t prepared for this. Philosophy is not in a rush. Ideas percolate in an individual over years, and in a tradition over centuries. But in journalism, timeliness is important. This means that my days are often subject to constant interruption: potentially newsworthy items might be brought to my attention at any time, and I will sometimes feel the need to post about some things immediately. This feeling was much stronger earlier on, when DN was establishing its credibility. But even now I may feel the pressure to be the first to post about something. On top of that are the comments. Comments from first-time commenters, or comments with certain trigger words in them, or comments from certain people, need approval before showing up. At times I feel like Harrison Bergeron, with my phone and its notifications for comments to be approved turned into a device to keep me from thought.

The bottom line is that running DN has meant writing less substantive philosophy, which I am not happy about. I’m not an especially prolific philosopher, but I have a book project on disagreement I would really like to get done, and I struggle with how to keep DN’s drain on my time under control. It would be nice to have more time to relax, too.

I’ll mention one last thing about running DN: it has been weird to be the object of attention of strangers who seem very concerned with what I’m doing, and who believe they know a lot about me on the basis of what I write here. There are some people out there who really hate me. The intensity of their feelings, as much as their content, surprise me.  I have very thick skin and the well-developed ego of a privileged and economically secure white man, so I don’t feel particularly threatened by this. But it has taken some getting used to.

serenity now

3. Plans

I have two very cool projects in the works for you folks. The first is about bringing philosophy to the rest of the world, and the second is about making online space for more substantively philosophical discussions. If I can get it together, you’ll be hearing about the first of those next week.

4. Thank you

Philosophers, I love you. Thank you for visiting Daily Nous, reading and sharing the posts, and taking part in the discussions.

Thank you to my wonderful comic artists: Rachel Katler, Tanya Kostochka, Ryan Lake, and Pete Mandik. Thank you to Michael Glawson, who puts together the online philosophy resources weekly update. Thank you to John Hunt, my technical consultant.

Thank you, also, to the institutions that have supported Daily Nous through advertising on it: Oxford University Press, the Eidyn Research Center at Edinburgh University, Princeton University Press, MIT Press, The John Templeton Foundation, The Marc Sanders Foundation, Simon Fraser University, Fordham University, George Washington University, Rutgers University, the American Philosophical Association, Rowman Littlefield, University of Connecticut, University of Luxembourg, The Southern Journal of Philosophy, the University of Arkansas, the University of Glasgow, the University of Nevada, Leibniz University Hanover, the University of Dublin, Tulane University, the University of Missouri, Western University, Springer, Birkbeck University of London, The Unemployed Philosophers Guild, Res Philosophica, Florida State University, the University of Colorado, Bowling Green State University, George Mason University, Wayne State University, Tender Buttons Press, Farrar Straus & Giroux, Routledge, the Center for Ethics and Education, The Professor Is In, Broadview Press, the University of St. Thomas, and the Prindle Post. A number of individuals have purchased advertising or made donations to the site, and their support is greatly appreciated.

5. Suggestions

Daily Nous will continue, and with any luck will continue to improve. If you have suggestions for the site, feel free to share them.

6. Cheers!

Ok. Time for a celebratory drink and some tunes (possible DN theme song). Have a goodnight, everyone!

The post Daily Nous Turns Five appeared first on Daily Nous.

The Nib Interview: Alison Bechdel

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Mon, 04/03/2019 - 7:00pm in


Family, writing

The Fun Home author talks to Nicole Georges about how writing a memoir changed her family and herself.


Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Tue, 26/02/2019 - 12:05am in

We would like to apologise for the delay.
This is due to the wrong kind of deal,
which indeed is any kind of deal
that might make your forward journey possible
at this time.
Passengers are advised to seek
alternative countries
where available.

We would like to apologise for the delay.
This is due to a mechanical fault
in the machinery of government.
A team of engineers is working to fix this problem.
We hope to continue on our journey
in the autumn of 2055.

Passengers are advised
that a government replacement service
will not be operating on these routes
at this time.

We would like to apologise for the delay.
This is due to leavers on the line.
A buffet car serving refreshments,
including hot and cold snacks,
will not be available.

Passengers are advised
to somehow keep their sense of belonging with them
at all times.
We would like to apologise for the delay,
signalling failure
at this time.

A Rarely Realized Classroom Ideal

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Sat, 23/02/2019 - 8:25am in

Last night, in my graduate seminar–which carries the snappy title ‘From Schopenhauer to Freud (Via Nietzsche): Depth Psychology and Philosophy‘–my students and I spent the entire two hours of our class meeting time reading and discussing Section 354 of Nietzsche‘s The Gay Science. We each had a copy of the section in front of us; I read its text out aloud in class, pausing to offer commentary and elucidation and inviting similar interjections from my students. In the closing half-hour or so of class time, we discussed a pair of written responses to the section 354. (My students write responses to the assigned reading every week; this week while the primary readings were all secondary sources on Nietzsche, I had asked my students to base their responses on the primary Nietzsche texts invoked in these sources.)

It is no secret. to me at least, that the class meeting I described above comes close to an imagined ideal for a philosophy class meeting: I assign a text to be read; my students do the reading and have intelligent responses to it; in class we ‘work through the text’ diligently and patiently, reading every single word carefully, bringing out the texts many meanings and allusions and implications. Rarely is such an ideal realized; that is precisely what makes its rare occurrences even more pleasurable. Once, over the course of a semester in an undergraduate Social Philosophy class, my students and I achieved this ideal repeatedly; the secrets of that ‘success,’ were that my reading assignments were short and my class included a few ‘bright lights’ who came to class prepared and ready to dig into the material with me.

The reasons why such a class meeting represents an ideal for this teacher of philosophy should be evident from my descriptions above. My students and I ‘encounter’ the text in the way its writer intended it to be: sympathetically. This does not mean eschewing criticism of the text, but rather, “by looking at reality in the light of what it is saying.” From a personal perspective, as I’ve noted here previously, my understanding of a philosophical text is considerably enriched by these discussions with my students. A good  discussion with my students always lets me know there is more going on in the text than I might have imagined.

Our task was made easier, of course, by the text and its writer. Nietzsche always repays close attention and his language is extraordinarily rich (and to think that we were reading him in translation!) As he almost always does, Nietzsche sends out a message to all future writers and philosophers: if you want to read be with such attention and care, you would do well to follow him–in your own way!–on his chosen path. Write clearly and joyfully, letting your readers know that your writing represents a genuine attempt on your part to work through the problem at hand–which should always, always be a problem for you too, and not an idle academic pursuit.



Seven Principles of Humane PhD Advising (guest post by Eric Schwitzgebel)

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Sat, 23/02/2019 - 3:26am in


PhD, writing

The following is a guest post* by Eric Schwitzgebel (University of California, Riverside). It originally appeared at his blog, The Splintered Mind.

[drawing by Lui Ferreyra]

Seven Principles of Humane PhD Advising
by Eric Schwitzgebel

It’s difficult to be a PhD student. One’s entire future career prospects depend on (or seem to depend on) one’s ability to please and impress one’s dissertation advisor. This generates a lot of stress and a weird power dynamic between student and advisor. Also, one needs to build a new life and a new social network in a new town, during a time in life when social support is often crucial. And one probably wants one’s dissertation to be the best most wonderful awesome thing one has ever written in one’s life, despite never having had any experience writing anything as long and ambitious. Ouch!

In many ways, being a PhD student is a wonderful and amazing thing, but given the above, humane PhD advising is called for—not harshness or rigidity.

Here are seven principles to consider, if you are a PhD advisor, or maybe to hope for in a PhD advisor, if you are student.

(1) Don’t take more than a month to return comments on written drafts. We advisors have a lot to do — the book contract, the grant deadline, the trip to Germany. But it’s our responsibility to give our students comments in a timely fashion. Next month will be busy too, and putting it off won’t actually reduce the overall load unless you are slow enough to discourage students from showing their work very often (and I don’t think that’s what we should normally want). Taking three months to return comments risks slowing down your student’s progress by a whole semester. The student might not prod you. They might say it’s fine, no hurry — but take that with a grain of salt, given the power relations. Find the time.

(2) Don’t assume that your student wants to be a superstar researcher. If you’re supervising PhD students, you probably see the academic world through the lens of research, and you probably esteem other professors in your field mostly in proportion to the strength of their research. It’s great if one of your students lands a job at a research university! It’s good, but nothing special, if they land a job at a non-research-focused teaching-intensive university. If they end up teaching at a two-year community college, well, that’s maybe a disappointment? Of course some students do really want top research jobs and really would be disappointed to teach at a community college. It’s kind of in the air, in grad programs, that a research career is the ideal. But not all students want that. Most of world’s professors work in teaching-intensive schools rather than powerhouse research universities — and that’s great. I love to hear it when students tell me that they’d rather teach community college than land a job at Harvard. If you assume that all of your students want to be superstar researchers, you contribute to a competitive and high-pressure environment in which teaching careers are devalued, students who don’t appear to be on a research-career trajectory are perceived as disappointing, and students may not feel comfortable honestly sharing their non-research career goals with their professors. All of this unfair and disheartening. (Of course, it’s terrific when a student aims for a stellar research career and achieves it. I’m just saying don’t assume that’s what your students want, and don’t push those expectations on them.)

(3) Don’t pressure your students to work more quickly. Sure, the university might want to see them finish in five years. But you should be the advocate of your students’ interests against the university, rather than vice versa. Life happens. Depression. Writer’s block. Parenthood. Second thoughts and half-pursued career changes. Financial trouble. Illness. A rare and exciting opportunity to see Brazil with their sister. The situation is stressful enough for them without their advisor’s giving them time pressure too. You might think it’s in their interest to work more quickly; and maybe it is. But rather than take a harsh or paternalistic approach, pressuring them to work faster “for their own good”, let them decide what pace works for them. With perfect neutrality, help them finish quickly if that’s what they want; and let them take their time if that’s what they want.

(4) Remember that your student is already excellent. It is so hard to gain admissions into a good PhD program these days that only excellent students are able to do so. They might not know how to write a dissertation yet, and they won’t have as deep an understanding as you do of the research methods and the existing literature in your subfield. But I’ve yet to meet a PhD student who didn’t have the potential to be a terrific scholar and teacher. There’s no need for weeding them out or trying to figure out who are the strong vs. the weak ones. Instead, help each of your amazing students more fully realize the excellence they already have.

(5) Evaluate the work, not the student. Evaluation is the constant duty of a professor. But focus your evaluation on the student’s work rather than on the student’s ability or overall quality. Excellent scholars sometimes produce mediocre work, especially when they’re under pressure or trying something new. No biggie! (Reminder: Your student is under pressure and trying something new.) If a student feels that everything they produce will be evaluated as a sign of their genius or (more likely) lack of genius, the atmosphere will be one of anxiety, pressure, perfectionism, defensiveness, and competitiveness. Eventually, of course, the core parts of the student’s dissertation will have to be excellent, but that’s at the end of the PhD program. Assuming that your student is a human being, their work along the way will have its ups and downs, and some of it will have to be discarded or will need at lot of revision, especially if they’re creative, adventuresome, and open to risk. How are they going to get helpful feedback if they feel that you are so constantly judging them that they dare not show you material unless they feel it’s already near perfect?

(6) A hoop is just a hoop. A class is just a class. A draft is just a draft. Help them move efficiently through requirements (without pressuring them to do so (#3)). The standard should be adequacy rather than exceptional brilliance. If your student feels a need to prove their genius at every step, it should be no surprise if they’re stressed out, taking incompletes, prepping far too long for their quals, etc. Since they’re already excellent (#4), if you’ve been a good advisor and if too many uncontrollable life changes haven’t happened, their dissertation will be excellent at the end, when it’s finished (#5).

(7) Be ever mindful of the asymmetry of power. The extreme asymmetry can be easy for advisors to forget, especially for those of us who regard ourselves as egalitarians and who like to be on a friendly, first-name basis with our students. What you “lightly” request might be experienced as compulsion. You might casually criticize, or tease, or razz them as you would a peer, but the effects of such casual remarks can be much more devastating, disruptive, or disorienting than you realize. If a full professor says to another full professor working in the same field “that’s obviously wrong” or “that’s stupid”, that might just be an occasion for friendly disagreement; not with a student whose whole career depends on your opinion.


All of these principles are defeasible, of course. They represent my perspective on being a humane PhD advisor. I might be wrong, and I might be much less humane than I think I am or than I hope to be. (My grad students say they find me to be a good advisor, but given the power dynamics they might feel compelled to say that. Few of us really know, I think, how good we are as advisors.)

One disadvantage of my adherence to (7) above, I suspect, is that I’m less chummy with my students than some other advisors are. Socializing, inviting students to my house, sharing details of our personal lives, etc., feels slightly strange to me given the power dynamic — is the “friendliness” free or compelled? I feel like I can’t know, and that uncertainty keeps me always slightly guarded and formal. I can only hope I’m not too standoffish as a result.

One disadvantage of my adherence to (2) and (5) above, I suspect, is that the stronger students receive from me less of an encouraging vibe of “you’re the best, you’re going to be a superstar researcher” than they might hope or expect. All my students are excellent and I prefer not to rank them in my mind. Before anointing one as the next research superstar, let’s see how the dissertation turns out in the end. Nor do I especially value research excellence over teaching excellence.

When I think back on how warm and friendly and encouraging my father was with his strongest students (not PhD students in his case, but Master’s), I somewhat regret my restraint in both of these respects. There is, I suppose, no perfect solution but instead a range of tradeoffs that can reasonably be weighed differently.

The post Seven Principles of Humane PhD Advising (guest post by Eric Schwitzgebel) appeared first on Daily Nous.

The Best Reviewer/Editor Comments You’ve Received

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Tue, 12/02/2019 - 10:50pm in

Last week people shared their horror stories on “The Worst Reviewer/Editor Comments You’ve Received“. But refereeing papers and editing journals is crucial and often underappreciated work, and, as some noted, sometimes the comments can be extremely helpful or encouraging or otherwise appreciated.

So we shouldn’t just focus on the negative. As one commenter suggested, “How about a post with ‘best’ comments from reviewers/editors received?” Good idea. Let’s hear ’em.

The post The Best Reviewer/Editor Comments You’ve Received appeared first on Daily Nous.

To Do List

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Tue, 12/02/2019 - 8:08pm in


poem, poetry, work, writing

1. Delay with an urgent hesitation.
2. Be unwavering in vacillation.
3. Embrace the art of equivocation.
4. Read a book on procrastination.

5. Dilly-dally; dither; be dilatory.
6. Drink tea through the day continually.
7. Look up ‘avoidance’ in the dictionary.
8. Ignore all forms of worthwhile industry.

9. Break for lunch

10. Ponder the intrinsic nature of work.
11. Re-prioritise which tasks to shirk.
12. Allow three hours to hem and haw.
13. Lollygag; chew my jaw.

14. Stroke the cat; lose my pen.
15. Re-do tasks from one to ten
16. Lurch and flounder; loll and wallow.
17. Write To Do list for tomorrow.

Who’s Down With QPPs? (Questionable Publication Practices) (guest post by Mark Alfano)

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Tue, 12/02/2019 - 1:57am in

The following is a guest post* by Mark Alfano (Australian Catholic University & Delft University of Technology).

Who’s down with QPPs?
Mark Alfano

Questionable research practices (QRPs) appear to be troublingly common in contemporary scientific practice. To call something a QRP is not in itself an indictment. Rather, QRPs are just that: questionable—meaning that a reasonable person would have some questions (and potentially some follow-up questions) when they encounter any particular case.

Whereas QRPs mostly have to do with data collection and analysis, we might also have some questions about instances and patterns in a researcher’s approach to publication. To this end, I’ve developed a list of “questionable publication practices” (QPPs) meant to mirror the list of QRPs. QPPs are meant to be questionable in just the same way that QRPs are. While there has been some discussion of QPPs in other disciplines (here, here, here, and here), it’s worthwhile to address them specifically in the context of philosophy.

Here’s the list[1]:

  1. self-dealing
    a. individual self-dealing (e.g., publishing in one’s own edited volumes)
    b. collective self-dealing (e.g., publishing in one’s department-mates’ edited volumes, or those of a similar cabal)
  2. publication in predatory journals
    a. publication in clearly predatory journals (e.g., those on Beall’s list or some other, better-curated list)
    b. publication in economically predatory but academically respectable journals (e.g., those held by Elsevier, Springer, Wiley-Blackwell, and Taylor & Francis)
    c. publication that is not open access
  3. unoriginal publication
    a. plagiarism and borderline-plagiarism of others
    b. self-plagiarism
    c. highly repetitious but not quite self-plagiarizing publication
  4. misuse of textual evidence
    a. quote fabrication or fudging
    b. citation fabrication or fudging
  5. problematic citation patterns
    a. stingy citation patterns
    b. clique-ish citation patterns
    c. brown-nosing citation patterns
    d. excessive self-citation
    e. giving in to citation-extortion by referees
  6. financial conflicts of interest
    a. industry funding (especially undisclosed)
    b. ideological foundation funding (especially undisclosed)
    c. potential to reap financial gain from publication (e.g., IP or spin-off companies)

While the items on this list obviously differ in severity, all are cause for questioning. A few are constitutively bad practice, such as 3a, 4a, and 4b. Others, like 1a and 1b, are signals that might be thrown off when someone is engaged in bad practice but are not in themselves objectionable. It’s also helpful to distinguish between one-off and occasional instances of these QPPs, on the one hand, and, on the other hand, robust patterns of them—especially when someone’s profile includes little else. Additionally, it’s important to recognize that perverse incentives embedded in our publishing culture put pressure on people to engage in various QPPs, especially people with precarious employment.

I’ll briefly go through the rationale for each item on the list, and include an asterisk next to ones that I’ve committed myself and a dagger next to those I’ve witnessed.

1a*†. Imagine glancing at a CV and seeing that the researcher has eight original publications.[2] Two are in peer-reviewed journals and the other six are in volumes they themselves edited. This would give me pause. By contrast, if I saw six peer-reviewed articles and two chapters in the author’s own edited volumes, I’d shrug. Self-dealing of this sort seems to be a problem only when it constitutes the bulk of someone’s publication record. Where exactly to draw the line is tricky, of course, but that doesn’t mean there aren’t clear cases on either side of the line.

1b*†. Likewise, imagine glancing at a CV and seeing that the researcher has eight publications. Two are in peer-reviewed journals. Two are in volumes they themselves edited. And four are in volumes edited by their department-mates. This would also give me pause. It indicates the establishment of an academic ghetto or perhaps a chummy in-group. Of course, it might be the case that the best work on a given topic is done within a single department, but then again it might not. This is why further questions are called for.

2a†. I’m sure most of us have spam folders full of invitations to publish in predatory journals. Don’t do it. (This one isn’t merely questionable, though researchers who are just getting started and don’t have a strong support network may understandably fall for these spam invitations.)

2b*†. Given the sorry state of our publishing ecosystem, avoiding this QPP is probably supererogatory—especially for scholars in junior and precarious positions. Many of the most prestigious journals in philosophy have been captured by rapacious publishing houses. If one wants to make a name for oneself or just accrue enough of a reputation to enjoy stable employment, one may have to publish in such journals. But for those who already enjoy stable employment (especially those with tenure at prestigious universities), there is at least a defeasible reason to avoid such journals. European universities (and others) are starting to put economic pressure on these publishing houses, as is the popularity of sci-hub. If the publishing ecosystem is adequately reformed, this QPP would disappear.

2c*†. This QPP is essentially the same as 2b: avoiding it is desirable and supererogatory, especially for those in senior, stable, prestigious positions. For those in more junior and less stable positions, it’s just part of the game.

3a†. Outright plagiarism is obviously just wrong. Cases of borderline plagiarism are harder to assess. I’m thinking, for instance, of cases where someone hears a work-in-progress presentation at a colloquium or conference, then goes on to scoop the author of the work-in-progress. This might even be done innocently, with the expectation that the original author’s work must already be in press. One way to handle this problem would be to develop a more robust culture of sharing pre-prints on, for example, philpapers.org. Doing so would lay down a mile-marker that could both be used to establish precedent and be cited by others who want to avoid engaging in borderline plagiarism.

3b†. What exactly constitutes self-plagiarism is often hard to say. Obviously, if someone publishes verbatim the same paper in two places, that’s self-plagiarism. But it seems to be pretty rare in philosophy. More common is the practice of publishing 70% (near-)verbatim content with a little twist thrown in at the end. This sort of thing really bothers me, but I’ve spoken with quite a few philosophers about it and many of them just shrug their shoulders. Your mileage may vary.

3c†. This QPP is meant to capture cases that don’t quite rise to the level of self-plagiarism but are still worrisome or annoying. Such publications clog up the pipeline, gobble up limited space in journals (there already isn’t enough!), and artificially inflate the author’s publication count, citation count, h-index, and i10-index.

4a†. Whereas outright citation fabrication may be rare, citation fudging seems to be fairly common. What I have in mind by this is citing a paper or book as an exemplar of a view, argument, objection, or fallacy when it probably isn’t.

4b†. Again, outright quote fabrication may be rare (though I’ve caught a case of it!), but quote fudging is more prevalent. Similar to citation fudging, quote fudging takes a quotation out of context or slightly misuses it in some other way. Other types of sloppy quotation and fabrication also fall under 4a and 4b.

5a*†. There seems to be an emerging consensus that philosophers don’t cite enough. We can (and should) do better. Of course, exactly how much is enough is itself contentious.

5b*†. This QPP is related to 1b. The clique might be a department (e.g., one that conceives itself better than the rest of us), a small consortium (my own dear 4TU is often like this), or an academic ghetto (e.g., an isolated ideological or religious network of hold-outs and last-standers). It can be hard to distinguish a small but robust community of discourse that tends to have inward-facing citation patterns from a problematic, self-congratulatory in-group. Since there’s no such thing as instant rationality, we may have to wait for decades to decide which was which.

5c*†. People who have already published on a topic are most likely to be referees, so citing and praising them is tactically smart, even if it does make me throw up in my mouth a little bit.

5d*†. We probably all think our work is unfairly neglected, so this QPP is easy to fall into. For those operating in academic environments where citation counts, h-index, and i10-index matter, there’s also a perverse incentive to self-cite.

5e*†. Referees often demand that they themselves be cited before a paper can be released from R&R purgatory and enter the blessed realm of the forthcoming. As with many of the other QPPs, there are perverse incentives for authors in this context. To some extent, they should be expected to push back against such demands, but it’s also on editors to weed out and curate citations that don’t belong.

6a†. This QPP and the others in category 6 are probably rarer in philosophy than, for instance, the hard sciences, but they’re not entirely absent. Industry funding sometimes (perhaps often) comes with gag rules, non-disclosure agreements, and corporate oversight of findings. That can be problematic for obvious reasons.

6b*†. The elephant in the room when it comes to this QPP is of course the John Templeton Foundation. In my experience (I’ve received three sub-awards on JTF projects), JTF does not dictate analyses or results. What they do do is fund research on some topics/questions and not on others. That sort of agenda-setting has a slow but steady influence on the discipline. Thus far, I’d say that JTF has done considerably more good than harm, but I certainly understand why others might disagree.

6c. This QPP seems to be vanishingly rare in philosophy, but I’m happy (well, unhappy) to learn otherwise.

[1] Thanks for suggestions and feedback are due to Jack Woods, Richard Pettigrew, Kate Norlock, Kevin Timpe, Jade Schiff, Roman Altshuler, David Rosenthal, Kareem Khalifa, Neil van Leeuwen and Elizabeth Harman.

[2] Reprints are a separate issue, since they presumably passed through peer review before being chosen for reprinting.

The post Who’s Down With QPPs? (Questionable Publication Practices) (guest post by Mark Alfano) appeared first on Daily Nous.

The Worst Reviewer/Editor Comments You’ve Received

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Sat, 09/02/2019 - 12:31am in

By request, here is a spot for you to tell us about the harsh, insulting, devastating, stupid, nonsensical, mean, unhelpful, contradictory, and otherwise objectionable comments you’ve received from peer reviewers and editors on your work.

Why? The graduate student who asked me to do this writes that he “recently got comments from a journal referee that ended in a snide remark” and that “it would be cathartic for people to post about similar experiences… It would certainly make me feel a little better knowing that such experiences are relatively common.” Also, he adds, “it might be fun.”

(I once submitted an article to a journal whose offices were in a different time zone. They sent back the desk rejection in a couple of hours. It was so quick that, technically, they rejected my paper before I even gave it to them. Now that was harsh.)

Related: “Reasons You Rejected a Paper

The post The Worst Reviewer/Editor Comments You’ve Received appeared first on Daily Nous.

First Steps to Writing Your Research Paper

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Thu, 31/01/2019 - 8:11am in

Expectations for page and word count aside, the more complex your paper is the more daunting the thought of starting it can be. If you are a career researcher you may have been studying the outcome of your thesis for months, even years. If you are a student, you are likely trying to condense a lot of theoretical information into something solid that contributes to the base of knowledge.

As a community, academics like complex topics. We prefer the narrow and intricate topic to the broad and the general. It can be difficult to know where to start when writing on a complex topic. There are a few ways to get the momentum you need to not only start your paper but finish it!

Here are 5 ideas for how you can get started; pick the one that makes sense for you and get the research rolling!

Start By: Sharing Your Idea

If you know the topic you want to research, or if you are trying to decide between several ideas, start by writing out your hypothesis. But don’t stop there! We’ve warned before about being overprotective of your research. Keeping your topic to yourself cannot achieve much,  but an idea shared can receive actual feedback or constructive criticism, and attract collaborators. Sharing your idea early on can also raise questions that will make your final paper more thorough and you can raise awareness of the paper before you even distribute it.

When you write out your hypothesis, make sure it is focused, clear, and that you are touching on the most relevant topic you want to cover in your paper. If you are stuck for a first step in writing that complex paper, writing out the idea and sharing it will provide both focus and motivation to get started.

Start By: Writing Everything You Already Know

If the complex research process is overwhelming you and weighing on your ability to write a first draft, sometimes it helps to just “get it out”. Get all that knowledge out of your head. Don’t worry at this point about structure, citing sources, or even keeping a tight focus on your paper. Simply write out everything you learned during the research process or start with the things you knew going into the study and what you want to prove. It’ll mean some heavy editing in the second draft and you’ll need to cite your sources later, but you’ll gain some valuable momentum with a rough draft in hand.

Start By: Making an Outline

Your research will need to be organized thoughtfully by the time you reach that final draft. Why not start with the outline of how your points will be organized? Map out each topic relevant to your paper and organize them so that they flow nicely from one to the next. Each line, each paragraph, and each argument in the paper should serve a purpose. Making an outline as a first step will save you time editing later.

Start By: Arguing Out Loud

You’re passionate about your topic. If you are stuck with what to write, try turning your research topic into a lecture or debate. Saying your points out loud forces you to organize your thoughts. You may also learn something about which points are most valuable, and which fall short or seem less relevant to your listener.

Reading your work aloud is a great editing tool in the final stages. By talking through your research today you just might find it easier to put those words on paper tomorrow.

By talking through your research today you just might find it easier to put those words on paper tomorrow.

Start By: Citing Your Sources

If you’ve done the research and are striving to share your work, why not start with the sources? For many authors, writing sources in the appropraiate format can be hassle and is easy to put off. Do this up-front and it’ll make those in-text citations much simpler. It’ll also give you a solid idea of the research that you will be incorporating into your new body of work, and which information you might save for your next paper.

Once you’ve taken the first step toward writing your paper, you might be surprised how things move along. You’ll be ready to share your work before you know it! Submit it to SSRN to reach interested readers.

Submit a Paper to an SSRN Network