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


Rohin Kushwaha On The Writer’s Craft

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Wed, 30/01/2019 - 10:26am in

A few days ago, I made note of the passing of my young nephew, Rohin Kushwaha, at the age of nineteen, mourning the tragic loss of a brilliant, young, and talented man to the ravages of a relentless disease. In that remembrance, I made note of Rohin’s writing talents:

His intellectual ambition was vast, speaking of a vision and a scale not normally associated with one so young: he studied computer science and dreamed about writing a different kind of video game, complex, based on rich narratives with complicated characters; he would bring his own novels and stories to life with the games he wrote. He had completed work on one novel and had begun work on another; he was talented and prolific and organized and hard-working, the perfect artist.

Today, I can say something more substantive about Rohin’s writerly talent and ambition by sharing a powerful piece of writing he wrote in response to a fellowship application prompt. I include it here on this blog, in this public space, because it contains lessons that all creators of any stripe, writers, and artists alike, would do well to learn, a wisdom it took me over three decades to realize (albeit only partially). What is striking about the writing below is not just that it is written by a 18-year old, or that it is describing the writing of a novel at that age, but that the articulation of the necessary labors of the writer that it contains–write regularly; do not wait for inspiration to strike; the muse only visits while you work; revise, revise, revise, for a work of writing is never complete, never ‘done’–are among the deepest of the writer’s craft. It is succinct; it is to the point. Some of Rohin’s friends referred to him as an ‘old soul,’ wise beyond his years. This piece of writing shows why. Every writer, creator, or artist could take this little piece of writing, print it out, stick it on their desk, and get to work. I know I will.

Thanks for writing this Rohin. I hope others read this and are inspired to write, and create, to bring their works to completion. You’ve passed on, but your words will live on and inspire others. With all my love, Samir Chacha.

Here is the prompt:

Some students have a background, identity, interest, or talent that is so meaningful they believe their application would be incomplete without it. If this sounds like you, then please share your story.

Here is Rohin’s response:

Ever since I was 10 years old I told myself I could do it. But there was a part of me that also knew I couldn’t. Or wouldn’t rather. As far back as I could remember I always wanted to tell stories. Stories like the ones I saw in movies and read in books. Stories that made people feel something as they experienced it. I wasn’t sure if this passion of mine would fade with time. I wasn’t sure if it was a passion at all. But when your mind is so packed with character arcs, plot twists, and dramatic moments that it’s about to burst, you have to let it out somehow. So I did. The summer I turned 16 I decided to sit down and write a book. And I told myself it was going to be good.

Before I even typed the first word I thought I had the whole thing figured out. I thought I knew every detail of my story, chapter to chapter. But as I wrote I began to realize I only knew three things about my story: the beginning, the middle, and the end. The question I kept having to ask myself is “what happens next?”. This is the question that made me stop writing immediately after the first chapter, a mere 577 words.

The next day I sat at my computer and stared at the next blank page, hopeless. I didn’t write a single word that day because I was afraid that what I decided to happen next would be the wrong thing to happen next. I was afraid of telling a bad story. I shrugged it off each day, telling myself I wasn’t “inspired” or “in the mood”.

It must have been a week until I realized the “trick” to completing my story, the “trick” to writing. Even if you’re not inspired or not in the mood. Write anyway. Even if you don’t know what’s going to happen next. Write anyway. Even if the sentences you make are bad sentences. Write anyway. So I did. 1,000 words a day. That’s what I told myself. Some days that would take an hour, others it would take 3. But I never went to bed until those 1,000 words a day were complete.

And just like that my story began to be told. I found my characters writing themselves, speaking and acting as they would if they were real people. I found motivations and plot points aligning, finally making sense in the bigger picture. And I found myself enjoying every moment, every struggle and every little victory of writing my story. There were even some days I found myself writing over 1,000 words without even realizing it.

In two months time I was done. I was actually, finally done. 65,000 words, 65,000 of my own words. So I decided to put the story down for a month. Come back with a pair of fresh eyes and impress myself all over again with what I had done.

But what I had found when I came back was that my novel had changed from science fiction to horror. I read each sentence, each chapter in dread. I was amazed at how little so much of it made sense. After finally coming to terms with it, I realized that I was far from done. I had barely even started.

So I tore each chapter to pieces. I rewrote, rewrote, and then rewrote some more. And here I am a year later. Is my story perfect? Not even close. It is ten times better than it was last year? Improvement is relative, so I’ll at least give myself that one. But this story will forever be the thing I am most proud of. Because when I sat down every day, even when I knew it wasn’t perfect, I wrote 1,000 more words.

“Even if you’re not inspired or not in the mood. Write anyway. Even if you don’t know what’s going to happen next. Write anyway. Even if the sentences you make are bad sentences. Write anyway.”


Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Sun, 20/01/2019 - 8:02pm in

They were sighted off the south-east coast,
drifting in towards the port;
their boat, a snapped-off block of ice,
melting slowly in the warmth.
By the docks, a crowd had formed itself;
mob-angry, it looked on.
Placards were thrust. A chant began:
‘They’re just economic migrants,’
declared a spokesman for the right.
‘They’ve come to rob us of our jobs.
It’s as clear as black and white.’
‘Tragic,’ said the Home Secretary,
mock-sadness suppressed his smirk.
‘We’d let them stay but here’s the rub –
they have no paperwork.’
‘They’ll undermine Our Way of Life!’
The warnings raged on Twitter.
‘They stink of fish.’ ‘They’ll rape your wife.’
‘There’s bombs beneath those flippers.’
The Sun printed in disgust.
‘But whose fault is THAT – except THEIR OWN?
What’s that to do with US?’
The last of the ice had disappeared.
The penguins battled through the foam,
swimming, swimming,
from land to land,
searching for a home.


Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Wed, 10/10/2018 - 8:34pm in

But he had so many friends, they said,
on hearing the news.
And they went back through his posts,
searching for clues.

But no, there was nothing
to explain it away.
Just selfies, with filters applied,
from that last day.

This Bookshop Life

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Sun, 07/10/2018 - 1:16am in


Books, poem, poetry, writing

I’d buy everything from a bookshop if I could.
All my food would come from there.
Atwooden tables I would sit, eating Dahl,
Kipling Tartts or chocolate Baudelaires.
There’d be flat tortillas, focaccia and the rye:
it would be a literary-luncheoned life of pie,
all washed down with a glass of Carver
or a Swift half, if I’d rather.
I would make myself an Eco-friendly home:
go Greene and buy recycled tomes.
It Wodehouse a Self-portrait in the attic,
where no-one else could look at it,
and a looking-glass, of course, for the hall,
(amazing how I’ve not changed at all).
My house would Spark delighted looks;
I’d build a coffee table out of coffee table books.
I would also buy my clothes from there:
ragged trousers, experimental novel underwear,
dust jackets and striped pyjamas.
Boyd by the comments that I would Garner,
my days would pass quite Harper Lee,
this bookshop life, these books and me.

Reni Eddo-Lodge in conversation with Rebecca Surender

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Thu, 28/06/2018 - 8:00pm in

Reni Eddo-Lodge (author of Why I'm No Longer Talking to White People About Race and winner of the Jhalak Prize 2018), in conversation with Dr Rebecca Surender (Pro Vice-Chancellor and Advocate for Diversity, University of Oxford).