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Marcus Arvan
Tampa, FL
Recent Activity
In our most recent "how can we help you?" thread, Josh writes: My apologies if this has been covered before, but I'm starting my first teaching job this year and noticed that my classes seemed to suffer from intense mid- and late-semester fatigue. That is, during the first 7 weeks... Continue reading
Posted yesterday at The Philosophers' Cocoon
In an email message, a reader writes: I was revisiting one of your posts on writing where you advocate a "throw it all up!" method. While I often find myself intrigued by this suggestion, I find it hard to carry through with respect to writing papers in the history of... Continue reading
Posted 4 days ago at The Philosophers' Cocoon
In our ongoing job-market discussion thread, Cleverly Disguised Mule writes: I have a job market question/issue that I suspect others have encountered as well. How should one approach an application--in particular, the cover letter--for a school that has people working on issues *very, very close* to one's own research? So... Continue reading
Posted 7 days ago at The Philosophers' Cocoon
Moral and political polarization is a popular (and important) issue these days, for obvious reasons: it is increasing dramatically, making it ever-more-difficult for people on different moral and political sides to get along and cooperate. Walter Sinnott-Armstrong has suggested that learning to argue better can help. In this new paper,... Continue reading
Posted 7 days ago at The Philosophers' Cocoon
In the comments section of our "how can we help you?" thread, Anon writes: I have a question about a specific course I am teaching this semester and would really like some feedback and advice. I have been assigned to teach Modern Philosophy, which is fine, but it got scheduled... Continue reading
Posted Jan 10, 2019 at The Philosophers' Cocoon
A reader (and friend) sent in the following CFP, which I think may of interest to philosophers of religion: The Journal of Philosophy and Scripture is re-launching after an extended hiatus. Deadline for inclusion in the Summer 2019 issue is May 31, 2019. Submissions received after the deadline will be... Continue reading
Posted Jan 10, 2019 at The Philosophers' Cocoon
In our newest "how can we help you?" thread, 'VAP' writes: I'm a new PhD and a VAP at a teaching-focused, undergraduate institution. I find teaching meaningful, but I also found myself over-worked and under-stimulated. My students are great! But they're undergraduates. How do other people deal with this experience,... Continue reading
Posted Jan 9, 2019 at The Philosophers' Cocoon
Graeme: if authors grading review reports is problematic (something I raised questions about myself and which we have discussed over at the post I linked to), then perhaps a better option is leaving the grading to editors. Also, on the proposal I floated there are *incentives* for reviewers to accept reviewer assignments despite knowing they will be graded. Their Reviewer Score would depend in part on how many review assignments they accept (reviewers who constantly turn down review requests would get bad scores). Since their experience as authors (the kinds of reviewers they are matched with) would depend on their reviewer score, that would incentive people to accept reviewer assignments and put together good reports (since both would play a role in Reviewer Scores). I don't see what is fantasy-world-ish about this in the slightest. It seems to me a system that could realistically be put in place, and one that would set up a number of good-behavior-generating incentives, both for authors and for reviewers--making everyone's lives in the peer-review process go better.
In case anyone's interested, here's an (admittedly optimistic) proposal for a system that might incentivize authors to submit fewer 'unready' papers for peer-review, thereby lessening the workload of editors and reviewers (while simultaneously incentivizing quicker and more thoughtful reports by reviewers):
In my past two entries in this series--as well as in other past discussions of peer-review--I have tended to focus on how editorial practices and reviewer behavior might be improved: to better ensure quicker and more reliable turnaround times, as well as better reviewer comments. However, it increasingly appears to... Continue reading
Posted Jan 8, 2019 at The Philosophers' Cocoon
Hi John, I appreciate your viewpoint. However, I have a question. You write, But surely the *principal* job of any reviewer is to provide sound advice to journal editors concerning whether a paper should be published.” How is an editor, or anyone else (including the author) to have any idea whether a referee’s judgement on a paper is “sound advice” in the absence of some kind of detailed report? A detailed referee report demonstrates whether it is sound advice: the editor can evaluate it in light of other referees’ reports, as well as in light of their own reading as an editor. In the absence of a detailed report, all one really has is the referee’s word (their bare judgment) that the paper is or isn’t worth publishing. Given the biases that can affect people’s evaluations of other’ work (both explicit and tacit biases), I worry about a system that permits people to simply give a recommendation without attempting to justify it. Also, for what it is worth, the system I am proposing also promises to address the problem of turnaround times—since it would both incentivize reviewers to give good reports, but also timely ones. Having sent papers out for in other fields (Psychology), and having a spouse who works in that field, I have not once encountered a case of submitting a paper and not getting a fairly detailed report. If people in Classics, Psychology and other fields can do it (with decent turnaround times to boot), why couldn’t/shouldn’t our discipline do the same?
In the comments section of our newest "how can we help you?" thread, Anon raises an interesting question: [W]hat if a TT faculty member has multiple interviews and cannot make very important meetings/events on campus one is expected to attend, and must cancel multiple classes for fly outs? I know... Continue reading
Posted Jan 7, 2019 at The Philosophers' Cocoon
I appreciate the thought behind the proposal, but I agree with David and David Beard: a checklist lets reviewers off far too easy. A reviewer's job is not (or at least should not be) to simply report what they think by checking a box. Their job should be to provide an actual referee report providing a reasoned justification for their editorial recommendation. This is in part so that editors can judge the credibility of their report in light of the other reviewer reports. Given the prevalence of bias in human judgment, "trust my judgment" simply isn't good enough: I think a better answer is a system that actually holds reviewers responsible for the timeliness and competence of their reviews. One such system might be one where editors and authors rate the quality of a given review. Reviewers would then receive Overall Reviewer Scores on the basis of their general performance as reviewers, and then be matched with similar-performing reviewers when they submit as authors. This would plausibly incentivize better quality (and timeliness) of reviews across the board, as no one wants to be paired with a bad reviewer as an author--and in this system the only way to ensure that would be to be a good reviewer oneself! See:
In our newest "how can we help you?" thread, Asst Prof writes: I would enjoy a post on "volunteering as a philosopher." I am passionate about reducing climate change (for example), but I am not sure how to jump in and use my skills as a philosopher to advance this... Continue reading
Posted Jan 4, 2019 at The Philosophers' Cocoon
In our new "how can we help you?" thread, First time ABD writes: I have had a few skype interviews now that have warned that if I were to get a fly out interview, I will have to do a teaching demonstration. So the more general question I have is,... Continue reading
Posted Jan 3, 2019 at The Philosophers' Cocoon
Now that it's a new year (happy new year everyone!), I thought now might be a good time for another 'how can we help you?' thread. For those of you unfamiliar with this series, this is a chance for you to post openly or anonymously in the comments section below... Continue reading
Posted Jan 2, 2019 at The Philosophers' Cocoon
A while back, I ran and reported the results of an informal survey on what readers think works well and not so well in peer-review. Although the results should be taken with a grain of salt, a number of trends emerged. One was that a vast majority (93.67%) of respondents... Continue reading
Posted Dec 31, 2018 at The Philosophers' Cocoon
In our most recent "ask a search-committee member" thread, an academic abroad writes: Perhaps someone can say a bit more about applications from those who have made a career abroad and are now applying in the US or UK? Our career trajectories tend to look a bit different, and sometimes... Continue reading
Posted Dec 26, 2018 at The Philosophers' Cocoon
In our job-market discussion thread, anon asks: I have an interview question. What kind of answer is suitable to the question "how would you balance teaching, research, and service?". Is this a question about time-management, priorities, or something else? Any thoughts on this would be greatly appreciated. Good question! I'd... Continue reading
Posted Dec 24, 2018 at The Philosophers' Cocoon
I am happy to report that I recently signed a contract for my second book, Neurofunctional Prudence and Morality: A Philosophical Theory. If there are any readers out there who specialize in areas the book focuses on who might be interested in confidentially reading and providing feedback on revised chapter... Continue reading
Posted Dec 22, 2018 at The Philosophers' Cocoon
A reader writes in: My name is James Lee. I'm a recent Ph.D. grad out of Syracuse University. I enjoy reading Philosopher's Cocoon and appreciate the work that you are doing for the community. I had a question that may have been addressed in your blog. I find myself in... Continue reading
Posted Dec 19, 2018 at The Philosophers' Cocoon
In the comments section of our job-market discussion thread, Sissy Fuss writes: What do you do when you get the "how would you teach intro" question? I can see at least three ways of answering this: 1) give the "classic" intro syllabus, heavy on M+E and historical texts, with some... Continue reading
Posted Dec 17, 2018 at The Philosophers' Cocoon
By Sam Duncan (Tidewater Community College) I’ve noticed in discussions here and elsewhere that many people react with a truly remarkable degree of outrage at the mere suggestion that publications, especially publications at elite journals could ever hurt a job applicant. I’ve seen people say that this is a conscious... Continue reading
Posted Dec 13, 2018 at The Philosophers' Cocoon
In our most recent 'Ask a Search-Committee Member' thread, Throwaway Name writes: Could search committee members discuss their thinking when they evaluate, on paper, whether a candidate is a good teacher? Do they weigh certain application materials more than others (e.g. teaching statement, letters of recommendation, student evaluations, etc.)? In... Continue reading
Posted Dec 12, 2018 at The Philosophers' Cocoon
[Updated w/second graph] Jonathan Weisberg (Toronto) posted this graph on social media today (compiled from the 2017 ADPA report): There are a number of things interesting about this graph... First, there isn't that much difference in the average time to getting a TT job from across the PGR. All across... Continue reading
Posted Dec 10, 2018 at The Philosophers' Cocoon