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Helen De Cruz
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Hi Crimlaw, I think it's at present unclear what explains the lower acceptance rates of women and non-Americans/non-English speakers in the sample of JAAC and BJA. We have some data on what happens when an identical abstract is submitted with a male or a female name on it, or a grant application. But I have no idea how much of a role this plays when papers are anonymized. We'd need to know in how far reviewers are aware of the identity of the author. In a small field like aesthetics, it's not unlikely you know who the author is (e.g. you saw them present the paper). Perhaps the subject, the examples that are used, might also provide clues. It's also hard to judge to what extent the perceived senior or junior status of an author plays a role. I'm inclined to think, a lot. In my experience as a referee (if my impression is correct), junior authors tend to anonymize as "omitted for review", whereas senior authors don't hide who they are. They just put the pubs in brackets (see Jones 1991, 2002, 2005), and it's not hard to guess that they are Jones. So I think that we do get all sorts of implicit ideas about who the author is, and those ideas color our perception of the work. One way to control for it would be to vary some linguistic markers (e.g., people who are lower-status use personal pronouns more; non-native speakers of English use less idiomatic expressions, more experienced authors cite less sources) in an otherwise identical text, and examine how referees evaluate them.
OK - thanks. I did not see it in the text and missed the table. I'll update this in my piece. Indeed, depressingly low, especially given that aesthetic judgments seem to have some cross-cultural variability.
Rachel, that seems very sensible. It's important to let the editor know you really like a paper, given that the default response is rejection (given space considerations), and sometimes it's important to convey that a paper will likely not reach the standards of the journal even with a revision. One reason I tend to try to avoid comments to editor is that I came off as too nice - giving helpful suggestions and pointing out the strong points of an article, when I thought overall it was weak.
This article in Aesthetics for Birds has some interesting statistics on the percentage of papers authored or co-authored by women and minorities in the top print aesthetics journals: Journal of Aesthetics and Art Criticism and British Journal of Aesthetics. About 20% of articles in these journals are written by women... Continue reading
Hi Walter: Thanks for your comment - The position you describe is something Aquinas describes in his idea of the beatific vision, which is based on the phrase in 1 Cor that we now see in a mirror/lens darkly, but then we will see God face to face. According to Aquinas, postmortem and after the final judgment, those who are saved will see God directly without any intermediary. God will first boost their intellect, so that it is capable of apprehending something so great. The beatific vision, this direct apprehension of God, surpasses reason and even faith (since faith always has some element of imperfection). But even with our pre-resurrection minds, God might still have chosen to make his/her presence more unambiguously known. And even if that were not possible, one might then ask why God built those limitations in our minds. It seems possible for God to create beings before their final, resurrected state, to know him. Those who work on the problem of divine hiddenness, like Michael Murray, thus think the main problem is to explain why there is at least temporarily (our mortal life on Earth), God's existence isn't just plain evident to us.
Oh yes, definitely - or at least paint the picture in all its bleakness. Maybe the new information for prospective grad students in philosophy should start out with that, or have a section on it, a realistic picture of the placement rates (overall), depression in grad school, attrition rates, average debt accrued. Again, it would be good to be factual (there's a whole literature on "Grad school just don't go" that has become a literary form of itself; I still think it's good to give a dry account of data on how good one's chances are (e.g., Carolyn's placement data) and then let them decide if they still want to go through with it.
David: How would we redefine quality without, for instance, the implicit judgments about which disciplines are more central to the discipline (metaphysics, epistemology, philosophy of mind, and philosophy of language), or what topics are worth thinking about (e.g., religion, feminism and race are not serious topics of philosophical investigation)? I'm not saying it can't be done. Jennifer Saul (I think) recently said that Sheffield consistently got excellent rating from the REF. The reason is that the REF outputs are judged by people who know the work. Sheffield is also PGR ranked, but because they conduct a lot of work that is not deemed of central importance, it is less well ranked than its REF evaluations would suggest. I am wondering if much is lost if we just got rid of overall rankings of quality, comparing apples with oranges, of departments that have different strengths and weaknesses. I am not sure whether perhaps about specific topics (e.g., say I am a grad student interested in learning how do conduct work in experimental philosophy) could be still be ranked (as it is now). I suspect that even there, we could simply list departments that have significant outputs and research and supervision ongoing in experimental philosophy without ranking them. Students can then use that information, combine it with other quantitative measures such as placement data, to make their decisions of where to apply.
There have been lots of discussions on the PGR (e.g., here), especially on its leader, Brian Leiter, including a poll on whether the of 2014 should be produced. Regardless of the outcome of this, I think we can already start considering alternative ways, independent of the PGR, to provide information... Continue reading
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M: I have been bothered by BL's derisive attacks for a long time and I was genuinely bothered by the fact that someone like this has so much power in our profession. I feel there is now finally some momentum to rethink that concentration of power, first with the installation of Daily Nous as a genuine alternative news site for philosophy (and not just a collection of rants against America's religious right and Spiros has a posse!) and New Appointments in philosophy as a much more readable and inclusive list of appointments. PGR is the next step. It's an opportunity to think how we can do better - what kind of info do we need to give to our students, who should organize it, should there be rankings (I think not, because of the biases that creep into ranking, but I am open to perhaps rankings per subfield).
Hi Marcus: A great idea for a thread. Now my pet theory about the right tone is that it is something that is extremely hard to fake. A confident (but not overconfident), calm and clear way to express yourself is something you acquire over time. It is very hard for someone who just ventures out in the field to hit that tone - how can your prose radiate calm, confidence and clarity, if you are insecure, unsure about whether what you're saying is right at all, and don't have a good grasp of the field (as a grad student is). So the tone is what one in biology might call an honest signal - easy for those who have the trait we are looking for (e.g., expertise), hard for those who lack the trait (e.g., a grad student who gives her first APA presentation).
I agree with Wesley that it would be no problem for the most selective journals to print (online publish) a few more issues per year, without perceptible loss of quality. Australasian J of Philosophy has an acceptance rate of 5%, for instance. I think Mind and the other top 5 have even less acceptance rates. And yet, I'm not super-excited by most of the stuff I read in Mind, or JPhil or PRev. Most of it is, like much of philosophy, incremental. There are, of course, wonderful papers in there too. But by accepting a bit more, we might get a few more daring papers in good journals that otherwise journey from journal to journal. Now that many libraries are moving to online issues and cancelling their physical subscription, cost isn't an issue. PhilStudies publishes lots of issues, and it's a good quality journal. So if all top journals moved to the PhilStudies model instead of the 4 issues per year, I don't think it would be at the detriment of quality.
Indeed. I'm puzzled. I've been looking to see if there are interactions between gender and lemminghood, but nothing approaches statistical significance. So possibly it's a combination of the factors you mention, if both of these have some effect, it might be too small to pick up each effect separately, but they could add up jointly. I don't know what the explanation is.
Russell: I think the situation might be further specified as follows: not only is writing books more rewarding in terms of audience and monetary reward, it is also the case that books publish ideas that would never be considered by top journals. Jason Stanley, for instance, wrote (in a comment published on this blog a while ago): "I'm reviewing Kieran Healy's citation data, and it reminds me again how weird journal acceptance is. My book *Knowledge and Practical Interests* is the fifth most cited work of philosophy since 2000 in Phil Review, Mind, Nous, and the Journal of Philosophy (book or article). Yet the book itself is the result of three revise and resubmits, and finally a rejection from Phil Review. One of those drafts was also rejected from Mind, and also from Nous. All of those journals have accepted papers discussing, in many cases very centrally, a work those very journals have deemed unpublishable." I find this very disturbing. I would wager Jason's experience is not some weird outlier. I know several senior philosophers who don't publish in general philosophy journals (anymore) but mainly in their own monographs or invited publications in handbooks etc. The reason is that they find the peer review process is not productive for getting their best work out. The peer review process is geared towards finding mistakes rather than identifying bold new ideas (which invariably always have some flaws), in this way encouraging work that extends existing debates and topics, and discouraging new ideas.
Jamie: I've done 2x2 table to see whether women are less likely to be Lemmings in my sample. This is indeed the case. For men, the numbers in my sample are: 102 non-lemmings, 91 lemmings; for women, 40 non-lemmings, 18 lemmings. That's significant: c2(1, N = 251) = 4.715, p = .03. Nonetheless, I found no difference between men & women submitting to these journals.
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In a recent survey, I asked philosophers about their submissions to journals, to get a sense of what journals people submit to and also what factors might influence their decisions on where to submit papers. Specifically, I wanted to know how frequently people submit their work to the top 5... Continue reading
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Our institutions indeed exert a strong influence on publication - if your institution just wants publications, but doesn't care where, you don't need to aim for the top. When I worked as a postdoc in Belgium, what mattered was if your paper appeared in a journal indexed in Web of Science with an impact factor. Now, there are very few philosophy journals indexed in WoS (although the list is growing), and most of these are in the Arts&Humanities index, which does not provide impact factors. The reason for that was that the way money is allocated to universities depends to some extent to how well people publish in such journals - a model rather slavishly adopted from the natural and social sciences. Anyway, there are very few philosophy journals with impact factors. Most of these are phil of science or phil of cog science, so Biology & Philosophy, Philosophical Psychology etc have impact factors, whereas general journals do not. It was only gradually that I realized restricting my publications to IF journals was perhaps in the best interest of my department, but not necessarily in my best interest. So I abandoned that strategy. Next to that, I think risk-averseness is also an important factor. I am going to report the data once I have done the analysis.
Hi Colin: Alas, yes, I realized (several people mentioned it in the open feedback). At this point, I can't change it or risk invalidating the whole survey. But I will code them together into one variable, so even if you've only checked it once, it should come up fine.
Sorry! That was a pre-emptive thanks for taking the survey. The link should work now. Thanks for pointing it out
I would be very grateful if NewApps readers who are philosophers could fill out the following brief, anonymous survey on journal submissions. The aim is to get a picture of what kinds of journals you submit to, especially to the journals that are regarded as the top general philosophy journals.... Continue reading
Although over half the world' population are theists (according to Pew survey results), God's existence isn't an obvious fact, not even to those who sincerely believe he exists. To put it differently, as Keith DeRose recently put it, even if God exists, we don't know that he does. This presents... Continue reading
Hi Elisa: You are certainly right that job market advice raises the stakes, emphasizes success in the job market at the expense of love of philosophy. Those who write about the job market, such as Kelsky and others, say that their pragmatic attitude is a welcome antidote to the "loving what you do" rhetoric in academia. It might ultimately be because we love what we do that we are willing to put up with years, even decades, of uncertainty and low pay. So they want to shift from this love rhetoric to trying to focus on what it takes to get a job in academia. I agree this sometimes comes at the expense of doing what one likes. For instance, philosophy still sees the lone thinker - like Descartes who goes into a room with a hot stove and emerges with a full-fledged system - as the essential philosopher, and so co-authoring is discouraged. There was even discussion on a forum (Leiter's I think) about how one can never tell who thought what with co-authoring. This is not ideal for people who prefer to work collaboratively (like me), and who like the dialectical process of writing with someone else. A friend who goes up for tenure told me: "This is the last paper I'm sole-authoring. Once I'm tenured, I'll only co-author, since I don't like being alone with my thoughts". So one should try to find a balance between what it takes (after all, a TT position comes with the promise of tenure, and thus greater freedom) and not giving up everything one loves in philosophy, e.g., topics that are felt as less prestigious such as feminism and philosophy of race. Finally, I've noticed that people who focus too much on strategizing (e.g., speaking only to important people) might not be pursuing the best strategy, even if one looks at it purely instrumentally. Rather, this sort of attitude is not appreciated by senior folk and it just radiates lack of collegiality. So, finding a balance between doing what we enjoy and find valuable, and strategizing seems key. A difficult exercise.
Thank you for letting me know about this, Carolyn. I will check out this work when some pressing deadlines have come by, so I haven't checked it out for myself yet. One thing I'm wondering about is whether this research really invalidates Kahan's work - it could still be the case that people strongly identify with positions and that it is hard to change their minds. So I'm a bit skeptical (a prima facie skepticism) that simple explanations of mechanism or a socratic-like method, or a combination of these factors could change the minds of anti-vaxxers or fundamentalist Christian or Muslim Young earth creationists. One study that examined the attitudes of anti-vaxxers found that no intervention (not even carefully explaining) could change their minds. I know climate change is also a polarized issue, but it is less polarized than evolutionary theory. It wouldn't surprise me if opponents to evolutionary theory from the lay audience wouldn't know how to describe the mechanism, but I doubt that it would change their minds. But one interesting finding is that the techniques used to not involve debating (which polarizes discussion). Perhaps by emphasizing mechanism, we go away from these views as positions that define people's cultural world views. Work by Larisa Heiphetz and colleagues indicates that people see beliefs along several dimensions: fact, ideology, and preference. http://www.wjh.harvard.edu/~lds/pdfs/Heiphetz_JESP_2013.pdf - for instance, suppose I enthusiastically endorse vaccines and say they are effective, I'm saying something factual (I believe vaccines are effective and pose no health risk), preference (I'd like my own kids to enjoy this protection) and ideology (I find herd immunity etc important, and want to see preventable serious childhood illnesses disappear). Now, when we emphasize mechanism we might increase the salience of belief-as-fact and decrease the belief-as-preference and belief-as-ideology. I am just wondering if this works for things where ideological fault lines run very deep, such as evolution.
I found it really interesting too, but unfortunately, halfway through reading it, THE said my quota for free reading was over (apparently they count by the page). My original idea was just to interview mothers, because women seem to bear a heavier parenthood penalty than men, something that has been empirically confirmed. But then one of my interviewees suggested to also involve a father. So that's how I ended up interviewing Kevin Timpe. While doing the interviews, I realized it would have been great to include more fathers, but as it was, I had already quite some interviewees so I left it at that.
Enzo: It's only recently that I've come to realize (probably because I came from a home with a stay-at-home mom, we never had these problems) that all these concerns are amplified to a greater extent for people from low-income families. Meeting the demands of their employers and finding reliable child-care at short notice is vastly difficult for them (remember the story of the single mother who had to leave her kids in a hot car while she went for a job interview, because her childcare arrangments didn't work out). I believe that affordable, state-subsidized childcare is the way to go. Next to this, accommodation is also reasonable, I think, if it doesn't pose demands on other faculty members (e.g., scheduling meetings and talks on hours that parents can make is not a problem, I think, but asking other dept members to do extra work is not a good idea - if anything, it doesn't promote collegiality between parents and non-parents).
Congrats on the British position - that is awesome! I had the same concern about not making my children my excuse. At my previous employer, when I was pregnant, the chair and most other faculty members were even surprised that I already had a child (and a 9-year-old at that!) They didn't know because I didn't bring it up. I must say, however, that I did this in part out of fear of being regarded as unprofessional. And I was a bit in two minds when my male colleagues did bring up their children (for instance, when asking for a meeting to be rescheduled). I didn't feel confident enough to do that. Fortunately, I have a very supportive spouse who share the childcare equally with me (a blessing given the costs of living in Oxford - it's very expensive to have British childcare, as you point out).