2,000 Spaces for 10,000 Papers: Why Everything Gets Rejected & Referees Are Exhausted (guest post by Neil Sinhababu)


The following is a guest post* by Neil Sinhababu, Associate Professor of Philosophy at National University of Singapore. It concerns a publication crisis: how the number of new journal submissions outstrips the number of places to publish all of them, creating a backlog


2,000 Spaces For 10,000 Papers: Why Everything Gets Rejected & Referees Are Exhausted
Guest Post by Neil Sinhababu

Philosophers are writing many more papers each year than journals have space to publish. This is why authors often send good papers around for years before publication, editors are swamped with submissions, and referees face overwhelming numbers of referee requests. I’ll lay out the calculations that lead me to this view of our situation, and then suggest a solution.

I estimate that philosophers are writing about 10,000 papers a year and submitting them to a journal for the first time. Here’s how I arrive at that calculation.

I start with the estimate that the top 100 international PhD-granting departments employ on average 20 people with PhDs (at all levels from postdoc/VAP to Super Distinguished Professor), who each submit one paper per year. Obviously some of the young folks are churning out papers at a faster rate and some people aren’t writing for journals for whatever reason. But I think it’s reasonable to average this out to 20 initial submissions per top-100 department, for 2,000 papers per year.

I’d estimate about 3 times as many papers coming from PhDs at departments outside the top 100. For each research-active philosopher at (say) University of Wisconsin, there seem to be about three at Wisconsin-Milwaukee, Marquette, Concordia, Beloit, UW-Stevens Point, and all the smaller Wisconsin departments put together. At you go down this list you get to schools where people don’t submit as many papers per year. But since a large majority of research-active philosophers work outside the top 100 departments, I’d expect about 6,000 papers coming into the system from them every year.

About 500 PhDs are awarded per year. I’ll assume that in the year leading up to the PhD, the average grad student shoots off two papers. That’s 1,000 more papers. I’ll assume a equal number from all their younger grad school friends, for a total of 2,000 graduate student papers per year.

2,000 + 6,000 + 2,000 adds up to 10,000 new papers entering the system per year. As a quick sanity check on these proportions (though not the final totals) I looked at the Philosophical Studies Online First list. It’s slightly more grad-student-heavy than the breakdown here indicates, but in other respects not far off. And as Philosophical Studies is a pretty good first paper destination for grad students soon to go on the market, that sort of makes sense.

Next question: how many papers are published in journals prestigious enough to help with jobs, tenure, and promotion? I’ll assume 100 or so journals of this kind — say, 40 general-interest journals and 60 specialty / subfield journals. If each one publishes 20 papers a year, that’s 2,000 papers.

We’re making about 10,000 papers every year and trying to stuff them into 2,000 spaces. Worse yet, the backlog of rejected papers mostly remains in the system, so in year two we’re trying to stuff 18,000 papers into 2,000 spaces. In year three we’re stuffing 26,000 papers into 2,000 spaces, and in year four it’s 34,000 papers into 2,000 spaces. That means that about 94% will be rejected, which approximates current rejection rates for generalist journals in the American Philosophical Quarterly / Pacific Philosophical Quarterly / Canadian Journal of Philosophy class.

Some people think the 10,000 papers/year estimate is too high. My estimates are so imprecise everywhere that it could easily be half that. But the same crushing oversupply of submitted papers can be generated with 5,000 papers per year — it just takes more time to develop the backlog and a lack of enough other publication venues. We could’ve easily gotten to the current journal space crisis with 5,000/year rather than 10,000/year.

You can see how this situation is playing out in what journal editors say and do. I often hear from them that there’s more good competent work coming in than they can publish (they even tell me this when they’re not rejecting my papers). The half-year closure of Nous and PPR to new submissions is largely a way to prevent them from being overwhelmed. In resigning from the AJP editorship, Stewart Candlish described how submission volumes had gone from 300-350 in 2007 to 600 in 2013. He offered a good explanation: word processing and the internet have made paper production and submission much easier. So people are writing and submitting a lot more than they used to.

Sometimes papers fall out of the system. Repeatedly rejected papers can eventually appear in edited volumes or be absorbed into research monographs. And people sometimes give up on papers (or the profession). Even then, the papers take up referee time before leaving the system. A paper refereed ten times before falling out of the journal system has consumed the energy of at least 10 referees.

These days, papers frequently go from rejection to rejection for a few years before acceptance. With many junior scholars hiding their papers to ensure blind refereeing, philosophical conversation is held up. Competent and useful papers that could’ve moved discussion forward instead eat up a dozen referees’ time as the shortage of journal space forces rejection after rejection. When papers get published, it may be less because of their philosophical quality, and more because one luckily gets a referee who hasn’t so deeply internalized the tight constraints on journal space.

What to do about this? There’s no solution without implementation difficulties and some bad consequences. My suggestion is to work towards creating a lot more journal space (maybe 3 times as much as we have now) for the additional papers to be published.

Tripling the amount of journal space will require work and money. While it might seem easy for journal editors to just put more things up on the internet and save on shipping by not mailing bulky rectangular objects to university libraries, some costs rise with a rising volume of published articles. Copy editing is the major one that I’ve heard editors talk about, and there may be others. I’d be surprised if the cost was prohibitive, though. If the cost per additional published paper is $250 (I don’t know what the real price is here) the cost of publishing 4000 more papers per year is $1 million. That’s a lot of money for one philosopher to have, but not a lot of money to pay for solving a large disciplinary problem. I hope the people and institutions who find money to pay for making more space are suitably rewarded with prestige in our profession.

I’m sure that a lot of people wouldn’t enjoy having to master three times as much published work. You simply wouldn’t be able to read all the work in your area. (I don’t think most people can do this now, especially people like me who work in a lot of areas.) But please recognize that you’re not reading all the good work in your area right now, even if you read all the published work. Lots of good work just doesn’t find a home, because there’s so little space and the process is so random.

To put the point sharply: the best 2,000 papers that meet only rejection in 2016 will probably be better than the 2,000 papers accepted into our top 100 journals. This is because there are so many more rejected papers. While their average quality will be lower, the 2,000 brightest stars among them will likely outshine this year’s accepted literature. But the light of these stars won’t reach us this year. And with a little bad luck, it never will.

Fragment 1/7 1965 Bridget Riley born 1931 Purchased 1970 http://www.tate.org.uk/art/work/P07104

Bridget Riley, “Fragment 1/7” (1965) 

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Richard Yetter Chappell
5 years ago

Hear hear! Mind you, I don’t see any essential reason to even have copyediting for online journals. Just “publish” the final uploaded paper as-is. If authors care greatly about the aesthetic appearance of their paper, they can (hire a grad student to) use LaTeX or the like. So I think the solution here is easier than you make it out to be.Report

Matt McAdam
Matt McAdam
Reply to  Richard Yetter Chappell
5 years ago

Just FYI, what you describe is type setting not copy editing. The latter is textual editing, meant to improve the writing, not a matter of the aesthetics of the presentation.Report

Richard Yetter Chappell
Reply to  Matt McAdam
5 years ago

Ah, thanks Matt. To clarify, then, I don’t think journals should feel compelled to pay for either 🙂Report

will
will
5 years ago

Have you considered publishing this? But all joking aside, wouldn’t the requirements of tenure and academic prestige just go up to the point that even more work (with obviously less quality) would be published thus defeating the initial purpose of trying to publish more of the work that’s out there? Perhaps there could be some second tier work with less editing and less cost that could be published strictly online. more work could be published and thus not lost at a fraction of the cost. An interesting idea though. Thanks for sharing.Report

Kenny Easwaran
Reply to  will
5 years ago

“defeating the initial purpose” depends on what the initial purpose was. You seem to be assuming that the initial purpose of more publication was to help people with professional positioning. I believe Neil assumes that the initial purpose of more publication was to make more work available in public fora. Of course, as the internet has already shown us, just having more stuff theoretically publicly available doesn’t always make it easier for an interested audience to find it. But it can help with that.

As for the professional positioning, it may well be that the requirements of tenure and prestige will go up if there are more slots, but as a general statistical rule, if you need to get twice as many things but they’re twice as easy to get, then there will at least be less randomness in who manages to get the requisite number of things. You’ll have fewer people who through just bad luck failed to get the right number of publications before hiring. You’ll also have fewer people who through just good luck managed to beat out some competitor to the right number of publications.Report

Franz
5 years ago

If one is into attracting the attention of colleagues, and citations, it seems to me that monographs, SEP entries, survey papers, and papers of a more general interest in so-so journals, can all get more attention, on the whole, than papers on narrow topics in top journals like Mind, Nous or JP. (No statistical evidence for this whatsoever — just my feeling).
And all of those other venues (including books for OUP, CUP, Wiley, Routledge or so) seem to me easier to get into, than these top journals. If that’s true and a sufficient number of people realise it, that might change a bit our publication habits.Report

David Wallace
David Wallace
5 years ago

Isn’t it a premise here that all or most papers written are worth publishing? That strikes me as pretty implausible.Report

Joe
Joe
Reply to  David Wallace
5 years ago

I don’t see this at all. He’s not talking about papers written, but rather papers submitted to journals. Then, he advocates for tripling the amount of space. Since he thinks that the current system results in a 94% rejection rate, then he is advocating for an 82% rejection rate.Report

Joe
Joe
Reply to  Joe
5 years ago

The more I think about it, the more troubling I find both this comment and the approval it seems to be generating. There is a serious issue facing the discipline, the publishing crisis. No sane person denies that. Neil is trying to help us sort it out. And it looks like a large number of people are content to simply dismiss the proposal on the basis of a one-line misreading designed to elicit completely irrelevant meritocratic intuitions. Neil is crystal clear that a primary motivation for his proposal *is* the fact that great papers are being lost to the discipline, and he nowhere suggests that “most written papers” are worth publishing. Approval of this comment means that you are either devoid of reading comprehension or allowing misplaced intuitions to cloud your judgment. Read the piece again.Report

Neil Sinhababu
Reply to  Joe
5 years ago

Thanks, Joe, this expresses my thoughts pretty well. I think your earlier point about 82% rejection rates vs. 94% rejection rates is helpful too.

I think most papers probably aren’t worth publishing at present, but they might be after a more generous and constructive R&R cycle than the current system allows for. Right now as a referee, I often recommend rejecting papers that I could easily see becoming worthy of publication after major revisions. Probably over half of the papers that I referee are in this class. But I don’t give R&Rs to over half the papers. I know that if everybody did that, authors would work very hard satisfying referee comments and get rejected anyway because there isn’t space. So I save my R&Rs for papers that are a lot closer to being immediately publishable. If I weren’t taking space constraints into account, I’d be recommending a lot more R&Rs and working with authors to help their papers be better.Report

David Wallace
David Wallace
Reply to  Joe
5 years ago

As a trivial point: the 94% figure isn’t a steady-state figure – it’s a snapshot in year 4, assuming no papers published before year 1. And on the basis on which that snapshot is calculated, increasing to 6,000 published papers per year doesn’t result in an 82% rejection rate, but in a 73% rejection rate. But in any case, the choice of year 4 is arbitrary and the OP uses it only for illustration.

More generally: Neil estimates 10,000 papers/year written, 2,000/year published. He’s up-front that these are very rough estimates and states that the same conclusions would follow if only 5,000 papers/year are written. But if only 50% of those 5,000 are worth publishing, the problem virtually goes away. If only 25% of those 5,000 are worth publishing, the problem more than goes away. So the quantitative argument in the OP only works if the bulk of papers written are worth publishing.Report

CW
CW
Reply to  David Wallace
5 years ago

I’m not entirely clear on Neil’s point, but I think I’m reading him differently than you, David. In what follows I’m using the titular 10000 figure.*

As far as I can tell, Neil is saying that the 2000 papers published in any given year (the “accepted lit”) are not likely to be the best 2000 written in that year (the “brightest stars”). What Neil seems to want is a way to get this group of 2000 bright stars published, perhaps in addition to the 2000 accepted lit papers. His suggestion seems to be to publish 6000 papers. (I.e., he thinks we need three times the journal space that we actually have.)

But he seems to grant (or his view implies) that this will lead to publication of some “meh” papers.** Thus, the cost of getting the best 2000 published seems to be also publishing 2000 “meh” (or worse) papers. So he isn’t saying (on my reading) that all 6000 that he wants to publish are worth publishing, i.e., are significant or novel or whatever. I think he’s saying that we need to publish 6000 to get the 2000 bright stars into print, in addition to the 2000 accepted lit papers. The other 2000 will be “meh” papers. So most of the 10000 do not deserve to be in print, but by publishing only 2000, we leave out a lot of papers (the bright stars) that do deserve to be in print. I’m tempted to call it the “kiss a lot of frogs” approach.

Why should we buy Neil’s claim that many good papers are not appearing in journals? Neil seems to give us two reasons. 1. There is not enough space in journals currently for all of the good papers. (On Neil’s estimate, perhaps 4000 of 10000 should be published but only 2000 are published.) In defense of this he refers to journal editors who say that many competent papers are squeezed out by space limitations. 2. Some published papers reach print through luck (right reviewer at the right time) rather than merit, and this takes space away from better papers.

To be clear, I’m not defending Neil’s approach. I just don’t think he’s saying that most papers are worth publishing, in the sense that they are significant in some sense. He seems to be saying that if we want to get the best 2000 into print, we have to be willing to print a lot more than 2000 papers.

* I’m not taking a stand on how many are actually written. It’s just that Neil uses that figure in the first half of his analysis. But, David, you’re right that the situation changes a lot if 5000 really is closer to the truth.

** Neil may also mean that some of the 2000 accepted lit papers are “meh” papers. If we grant this, then even fewer than 4000 papers deserve to be published, on Neil’s view, since some of the 2000 accepted lit papers probably shouldn’t have appeared in print.Report

Neil Sinhababu
Reply to  CW
5 years ago

Thanks for your effort to clarify my position, CW! I think you’ve put what I’m trying to say quite nicely.

Conversations with journal editors did a lot to move me towards the view that there’s lots more good useful work than we can publish. In general, editors’ feeling isn’t that they’re scrambling to find papers worth putting into print. They’ve got a lot of work that looks pretty good in a hard-to-distinguish way, and there’s not nearly enough space for all of it.Report

David Wallace
David Wallace
Reply to  CW
5 years ago

On a narrow point (I’ll engage with more substantive material below) I find it difficult to make plausible the claim that the 2,000 best rejected papers are better than the 2,000 published papers, even on Neil’s 10,000/2,000 estimates. The basic reason is that the 2,000 papers published in year N contain many of the best rejects from years <N.

A couple of crude models:

1) Suppose that no rejected paper below the top quartile of rejects (i.e., top 2,000) ever gets accepted. Then the accepted papers in year N consist of (1a) top-quartile rejects from years N, and (2b) papers that will never be accepted. In steady state, 1a=2a, so we’d be committed to the (to me!) implausible claim that, if K papers are accepted first time around in year N, the best K papers that will never be accepted anywhere are better than the average first-time acceptance.

2) Suppose that the published papers are as good, on average, as the second quartile of rejected papers. The published papers consist of (1a) first-time accepts, (1b) previous top-quartile rejects, and (1c) previous second-quartile rejects. For those papers, in aggregate, to be as good as the second-quartile rejects, the average first-time accept has to be worse than the average second-quartile reject. Again that feels implausible.

No doubt there are some modelling assumptions that make the claim true but at the least it’s not a straightforward consequence of the raw numbers.Report

David Wallace
David Wallace
Reply to  David Wallace
5 years ago

Sorry, for “(1a) top-quartile rejects from year N” read “(1a) top-quartile rejects from years before N”.Report

Peter Alward
Peter Alward
Reply to  Joe
5 years ago

My guess is that the approval of David’s comments stems from the experience of being a journal referee many of us share. In my own case, most of the papers I am asked to review are simply unpublishable in their current form, and I either recommend that they be rejected outright or be reconsidered only after substantial revisions. And journal space plays absolutely no role in my judgement. Of course I may be unusually picky, or journal editors may have collectively decided that I am the referee who is going to be stuck with papers from the “sludge pile.” But if I am not unusual — and journal editors don’t have it in for me — then a large part of the problem is the submission of a whole bunch of papers to journals that are simply not yet ready for publication.Report

David Sobel
David Sobel
5 years ago

I have thought about this a bit. Two other possible solutions. One: Have there be something like a Phil Studies 2 which publishes papers nearly accepted at Phil Studies. The idea is that there has already been refereeing–we should take advantage of that. This would reduce the total amount of refereeing and that would make it possible to do a better job of refereeing in the first place. This would also speed up the process of getting work out which would reduce unfairness to more junior folks who in some cases fear they cannot afford to submit to top journals even if they have excellent work or who may not get full credit for good work that remains unpublished before they go on the market or before tenure because the publication system is currently so slow. A second plan would be to have journals automatically publish papers, perhaps on the internet, with something like a grade. This also has both of the above advantages. However, both schemes also do not give an author as serious a chance to recover from a poor referee report. As is a poor referee report at journal A need not hurt your chances of getting into good journal B. This is a serious drawback of both approaches yet I think the advantages are significant enough to merit more discussion.Report

Kathryn
Kathryn
Reply to  David Sobel
5 years ago

I’ve been joking with friends about this with Ethics recently. (Because of the way Ethics is run, this is easier with Ethics than Phil Studies.) Someone should start Ethics 2, which would automatically accept all papers submitted with proof that they had been rejected by the board of assistant editors at Ethics. It’d be a great journal, from what I know about what the associate editors have passed on. It’d also require no referees. Someone get on it 🙂Report

Clayton
Reply to  David Sobel
5 years ago

“A second plan would be to have journals automatically publish papers, perhaps on the internet, with something like a grade. This also has both of the above advantages. However, both schemes also do not give an author as serious a chance to recover from a poor referee report.”

One fix would be to let the grade evolve over time. Let readers give grades that can boost or lower a paper over time. After the editors of Phil Review would give Two Dogmas an A, Grice logs in and gives it a C, Strawson a C+, and eventually it stabilizes around a B+ (the grade that we all know it deserved).Report

David Sobel
David Sobel
5 years ago

Actually, likely the problem I mentioned for these approaches is likely much more serious for the latter proposal (automatic publication) than for the former (Phil Studies 2 where you could presumably not publish in 2 if you did not want to).Report

Anenome
Anenome
5 years ago

Publish less. Read more.Report

Neil Sinhababu
Reply to  Anenome
5 years ago

You first 😉Report

Dale Miller
5 years ago

I think that any real solution to the problem has to involve bringing it about that philosophers don’t try to publish so much. I don’t know how to make this happen, however. I don’t even see how to bring it about that young philosophers don’t feel obligated to publish so much. When I was chair I would tell new hires to aim for seven publications, which is obviously a lot. This wasn’t because either I or my department thought that seven was an appropriate number. It was because that’s what the university committee, with reps from all of the colleges, seemed to be looking for. My department simply wasn’t in a position to tell this committee to focus more on quality and less on quantity. I suspect that this situation is pretty common, especially at schools where philosophy doesn’t have a highly-ranked graduate program. But even if we could change this, somehow, and even if we could somehow bring it about that other institutional rewards (promotion to professor, raises, etc.) depend less on quantity of publication, you’d still have many people trying to publish a lot to make names for themselves, or just because they have a lot to say. If the number of journals dramatically expands, though, then as will suggests I’m afraid that this is only going to lead to schools expecting even more articles for tenure. Or, perhaps, expecting more book chapters as opposed to journal articles. You’re just debasing the currency. Calling it a publication whenever someone posts a paper online, without going through any refereeing process, would only debase it more. Could we bring it about that senior philosophers, who no longer need to worry about promotion or making their names, contribute papers to some sort of online repository instead of sending them to journals? That might be feasible, although I doubt it would do much to reduce the number of journal submissions.Report

paolo
paolo
Reply to  Dale Miller
5 years ago

I think less pressure to publish, esp at the grad student and assistant level would help a lot. Most of the stuff I get to referee is either not worth publishing or nowhere ready for publication – my estimate is 90% of what I get is of that sort. Ideas worth publishing are rare and, somehow, I doubt we are missing on them. It’s usually young people who think nobody has ever thought of what they are thinking that think they are doing “groundbreaking” stuff and are getting rejected for it because of it originality or what have you. Usually, it’s just half-baked ideas.
In any case, the proposals to just publish things at higher rates strike me counterproductive – in my case, it would just lead me to completely ignore things outside of the names of authors and high quality venues I already trust – I already do it as things are to an extent. Turning philosophy publishing into vanity publishing wholesale is not a great idea. My suggestion would be less journal space and strong encouragement to wait to publish. Obviously, this is not realistic. So perhaps more journal space but discouraging people to send so much to journals, esp. at the grad student level (or create grad student journals or off-shoots of journals). The argument that is needed for jobs – well, the departments are in charge of hiring and so philosophers themselves could treat such early publishing appropriately.Report

Dale Miller
Reply to  paolo
5 years ago

Yes, departments are in charge of hiring, so we could penalize or at least not reward people who published in professional journals as graduate students. However, at a school like mine, where being able to publish quite a lot in professional journals is a requirement for tenure for reasons beyond the department’s control, we’ve got good reason to prefer candidates who have already demonstrated an ability to get papers in these journals.

Of course, journals could require submissions by graduate students to be accompanied by a letter from their supervisors, or at least faculty members in their department, attesting that the paper is publishable. That might do something to discourage submissions that are too half-baked, although it would give supervisors even more power over students than they already have.Report

paolo
paolo
Reply to  Dale Miller
5 years ago

I think the already published once, will publish again is not a particularly good strategy when it comes to grad students. It really contributes to the terrible state in which we are when grad students are trying to publish, often publish rather bad pieces, and clog the whole system. And it makes their grad life all the more miserable. The main and perhaps sole product of grad school should be dissertation and the student should be judged on its basis. One always takes a risk hiring a fresh PhD in any case. Moreover, I think it disadvantages, strangely, people from lesser programs, so to speak, who are really good but are slower thinkers, or not good at networking and following the professional “pipelines” closely. One way in which people from such programs try to succeed is by attending a lot of conferences, publishing, knowing people and so on. That plays well into the hands of a certain sort of person who can make it appear in a certain way. That’s fine, but what about the more introvert, slower thinkers and writers? At prestige places, they succeed nevertheless, often at least, but at lesser…I realize that there are university wide pressures – but the thing to do is to resist them, not to give in. I reallu liked the idea of Jennifer Whiting too, one of the best things I have read on this topic.

I do not think punishing for publishing is a good idea. But changing the culture so that it is not what is on every student’s mind. It would be great if there was, say, Phi Studies for Grad students or so – peer reviewed and so on, say 30 publications a year. Publishing there could be seen as a significant achievement. BUt it would have to be accompanied by the letter as you suggest.Report

Dale Miller
Reply to  paolo
5 years ago

I’m torn between two thoughts here. On the one hand I agree with you that there’s too much pressure to publish too much too early; that was my initial point. On the other hand, given the sad reality of how much junior faculty are expected to publish here, it would be mad for us to ignore the fact that one applicant has at least some publishing experience while another has none. I could say more about this, but I don’t want to discuss particular tenure cases even without mentioning candidates’ names. Suffice it to say that there’s a fine line between resisting university-wide pressure and setting your junior colleagues up to fail. We don’t simply rank junior candidates based on how much they’ve published, but the difference between one and none is significant.

Even if I’m wrong about that, I’m not sure that I agree with your point about “people from lesser programs.” With blind review prestige bias ought to be less of a factor in publishing in journals than in most other things, which means that publishing ought to be a way in which someone from a less prestigious program can show that she is worth her salt. So in a regime where graduate students just couldn’t publish at all, say, I think that Ph.D.s from low-prestige programs would suffer the most. And publishing, unlike networking at conferences, shouldn’t be a particular problem for introverts. Slow thinkers might be penalized, but again, if tenure expectations involve a lot of publishing then hiring someone who produces too slowly is just setting them up for failure.Report

Jonathan Weisberg
Jonathan Weisberg
5 years ago

Another possibility in the vein of David Sobels’ is for journals to serve as ratings agencies, instead of publication venues. If a “journal” gave each submission a rating, their editorial and referee labour wouldn’t be wasted.

To prevent rampant ratings-hunting (r-hacking?), journals could put caps on such behaviour. For example: no submissions that have already been rated by more than n other (peer?) journals. Or: no submissions that have been rated less than X by journals of tier Y or below. Etc. Relatedly, we’d probably want a strong disciplinary norm against omitting bad ratings from CVs, websites, etc.

Journals could still “publish” their top-rated submissions, if they wanted. And we’d need a system for tracking versions and archiving papers (perhaps built on top of PhilPapers). But the key idea is to take the evaluative work that’s already being done and, instead of tossing it, make use of it by simply making it public.Report

Helen De Cruz
5 years ago

I agree with what you say, Neil, and one obvious solution is to have more journal space. I have recently probed interest for a specialist journal, the Journal of Experimental Philosophy, along an open-access model such as Ergo and Philosophers’ Imprint. There’s lots of work in x-phi these days, more than can fit into the few general journals it’s been appearing in. The fact that x-phi regularly gets into venues such as Nous or PPR does help its reputation, but a lot of work does not get published, in part because it doesn’t deal with the sorts of topics discussed in general top philosophy journals. I found lots of people interested in reading, and in serving on the editorial board. However, it turns out that running a platinum OA journal (i.e., one where neither the author nor the reader pays the costs of publication) costs a lot of money, especially if you want it to look professional, that is, nicely typeset, with an online submission and refereeing system, etc. It would cost several thousands of dollars (looking at the costs of Imprint and Ergo), and as someone at a small, teaching-focused institution, I do not have the funding. Even if we were to ask submission fees it would still fall short of the required funding needed.
So there is a challenge starting up new journals, even if there is a need (which I believe there is for x-phi) and even if there are prominent x-phi authors willing to be on the editorial board, if we do not have a model for funding. Ultimately, libraries would be better off in a model where each sponsored a not-for-profit platinum open access journal, and where everyone could read the journal freely. Given the enormous backlogs as general journals, where editors need to turn away contributions that get positive referee reports, there is a lot more scope for new journals. The question is: How do we get funding for them?Report

Dee Bunker
Dee Bunker
Reply to  Helen De Cruz
5 years ago

Thanks for this information. I love the idea of a respectable x-phi journal, and I’m discouraged to hear that cost is the obstacle. Can you say more about the drawbacks to doing a new journal like this on the cheap? Why not have basic formatting requirements that everyone can handle on their own (12 point font, garamond, single space, 1-inch margins, header containing the journal title, etc.) and require authors to format the papers themselves? (One could incentivize authors by simply not publishing their papers until they have formatted the article correctly, and I imagine that a student assistant could confirm the articles have been formatted correctly.) Then all that’s needed is a website, which I think is relatively cheap to construct these days, even for a nice-looking one. I guess what I’m asking is: if we got away from the idea that published articles must superficially look significantly different from unpublished manuscripts, are there other significant cost barriers? I like to imagine that if a suitably prestigious board of editors backed a new journal, it could succeed even if we cut costs.Report

journallist
journallist
Reply to  Dee Bunker
5 years ago

There already exist a number of infrastructures for open-access hosting in which the costs are shared by all the journals and sponsoring institutions. The one I’m most familiar with is https://www.openlibhums.org, which seems to avoid many of the problems Helen worries about (the journals themselves don’t pay the hosting costs, though I’m not sure about copy-editing and formatting etc).

Worth looking into, though.Report

Postdoc
Postdoc
5 years ago

I personally like the idea of a single portal system that commissions 6 or more referee reports. Journals would then make you offers for publication based on these reports. This system would reduce the burden on referees overall. A paper rejected 4-6 times can easily go through more than six referees. It would speed up the publication process. If most papers are rejected twice before acceptance, then we’re looking at a year or more to get something published. This system could easily deliver verdicts in 6 months. And it would allow for much better informed decisions by journals. Making a decision based on 6 reports would be much better epistemically than making one based on 1-2 reports. A paper that did badly in this system could be resubmitted after some to be decided time has passed (2-4 months?) If the author can show he/she attempted to seriously revise the paper.Report

Ghost
Ghost
Reply to  Postdoc
5 years ago

This is a good idea. Somebody who can do things should do this.Report

Tristan Haze
Reply to  Ghost
5 years ago

I hope you really are a ghost and meant this literally.Report

Postdoc
Postdoc
Reply to  Tristan Haze
5 years ago

I think Chalmers et al with philpapers could arrange this, or attempt to. It would take the actions of powerful people with money in the profession.Report

The Old Harry Nonners
The Old Harry Nonners
5 years ago

We already know that institutional factors are heavily influencing the kind of philosophers there are. Nowadays, it would be very difficult for institutions to give space to people like Rogers Albritton and Sidney Morgenbesser, both of whom published next to nothing but who had a profound influence on philosophy. If the kinds of changes the OP is suggesting were made, there would be other knock-on effects on who would be able to ‘make it’ in philosophy, especially if they were combined with the more rigorous citation practices that others are urging on the profession. The amount of stuff to be read might easily quadruple. Philosophers who were capable of reading and digesting very quickly, and those who were prepared to sacrifice other parts of their lives, would be the ones to succeed, sat the expense of the slower readers, the more ponderous, or those unwilling or unable to let go of other commitments in their lives. Reading a lot and citing a lot are definitely virtues, but they are not the only intellectual virtues in philosophy. I do not speak against the suggestions made here, but we should recognize that they would seriously transform the nature of the discipline and its practitioners.Report

Wesley Buckwalter
Wesley Buckwalter
5 years ago

The silver lining is that our field is large and growing enough to need more venues for publishable work of the same or better quality than we currently support. Encouraging, and hopefully, we can cultivate growth by providing new or expanding well established venues to better serve the changing philosophical community.

With respect to the complex practical question of expansion, I suspect there are far fewer journals than 100 that end up being that effective for jobs and promotion, perhaps deeply connected to the previous post by De Cruz on prestige bias.Report

JDRox
JDRox
5 years ago

Hmm. I think we may already have enough journals. As Neil says, the best 2000 unpublished papers may be better than the 2000 papers that were published. Right now, there are over 100 philosophy journals. Pick up an issue of one ranked between 100-150. Many of the papers in it aren’t that good. If that journal had had good submissions, they would have (largely) accepted the good papers over the not so good ones. So part of the reason for the backlog is that people are holding out for “top” journals. Creating more journals won’t help with that.Report

Neil Sinhababu
Reply to  JDRox
5 years ago

There’s a lot of good work in smaller speciality and subfield journals. I often find myself surprised by how good a paper in a journal I’ve never heard of before is.

In ethics, where I know the journals, I don’t think there’s an especially big difference between the top ones (Ethics) and the lesser-known speciality ones (Journal of Ethics and Social Philosophy, Social Philosophy and Policy). How much you advance your career by publishing in them differs tremendously. The average quality of papers in them doesn’t.Report

JDRox
JDRox
Reply to  Neil Sinhababu
5 years ago

I am not denying that there are good papers in, e.g., the Kennedy Institute for Ethics Journal or Philosophy and Theology. I am denying that the papers in those journals, on average, are anywhere near as good as the papers in Ethics or Faith and Philosophy. Another way to put it: given that they are even semi-competently run, if “lesser” journals were getting loads of good submissions they’d be publishing higher quality (on average) papers. But they’re not. So “better” papers aren’t aren’t being to the “lesser” journals. (Anecdotally, I have pretty good evidence for this: lots of philosophers I know only, or almost only, submit to “better” journals.) Your conclusion should be: we need more “good” philosophy journals. *Maybe* that’s true, but there might be an upper bound on the number of journals people are willing to consider good, and even if there isn’t it isn’t clear how to start a “good” philosophy journal. It will be interesting to see how things develop with the Journal of the APA, but that is sort of a best case scenario: most journal startups will have nowhere near that kind of support.Report

Andrew Higgins
Andrew Higgins
5 years ago

I second Postdoc’s suggestion. I’ve heard that in law they have this kind of single portal system, and it works spectacularly well. Very short wait times, more peer assessment, more transparency, and healthy competition between journals.
But, Neil, I’m not sure that we need more journal space. As it is, we already have thousands of journal articles that are never read, and tens of thousands that are never cited. It’s already the case that specialists can’t possibly read everything published in their niche field. And, why should journal publications matter so much anyways? You’ve probably gained more professional attention from this publication in Daily Nous than you get from your average published journal article. (a quick web search indicates that dailynous gets around 200,000 visitors per month, compared to Phil Review’s 5,000)Report

Sylvia
5 years ago

This problem is not unique to philosophy, although in the sciences it seems that you can always get a paper published ‘somewhere’, if you continue the submission cycle long enough (with the same effects on referees). My preferred solution to this would be to limit the number of submissions per researcher per year, maybe to 2 (which requires extra rules for co-authored stuff, and possibly for team leaders in the sciences). It would put the main burden of selection at the source, counter salami-slicing of research, etc. This is not my original idea, but I have heard multiple people defend it and thought it relevant for the current discussion. Of course, there is no way to enforce this globally (and if, say, a single faculty were to introduce it, it would put itself at a disadvantage), but there are changes underway, e.g. job applications and promotions based on selected publications (e.g. max. 5 for the past 5 years). So, I hope to see practices evolve in this direction.Report

recent grad
recent grad
Reply to  Sylvia
5 years ago

I like this. Perhaps we should limit rejections rather than submissions? It would allow people with a lot to say to keep submitting, but also serve many of the purposes you mentioned, e.g. salami-slicing.Report

Avi Z.
Avi Z.
5 years ago

At least part of the problem is journal prestige hierarchy. Changing this won’t happen by fiat from on high. I think that specialty or niche journals have played an underrated role in philosophical scholarship. Articles in such journals are often quite valuable contributions, even if they are not material the very top journals would ever publish. If search and tenure/promotion committees took such publications in specialty journals more seriously, more philosophers would feel comfortable publishing in these venues and there might be more such journals born as philosophy continues to become ever more specialized. Taking such journals more seriously would also contribute to the diversity of what counts as serious philosophy (what I mean is, e.g., an article in Chinese philosophy would not need to find miraculous publication in “Mind” or “Journal of Philosophy” to count as top notch work).Report

proposingproposals
proposingproposals
5 years ago

Can we actually have a thread where we discuss how western academic philosophy serves the interest of first-world chauvinism, white supremacy, and euro-american imperialism? Frankly, these bourgeois ‘concerns’ about the state of the ‘profession’ seem absurdly self-indulgent, and at times, downright masturbatory.Report

paolo
paolo
Reply to  proposingproposals
5 years ago

Whereas non-western academic philosophy serves what? Chinese environmentalism, Iranian pacifism, Russian de-colonialism, or Nigerian egalitarianism? Given the rhetorical character of the question, why do we need a thread? The conclusion is already stated.

Btw. what’s wrong with masturbation? is it too self-regarding?Report

David Wallace
David Wallace
Reply to  proposingproposals
5 years ago

We asked our sinister corporate overlords if we could have that thread, but they said no.Report

Postdoc
Postdoc
Reply to  proposingproposals
5 years ago

As Chomsky says, ‘intellectuals have always been servants of power.’Report

Present Grad Stud
Present Grad Stud
5 years ago

One possible solution that has not been mentioned but — in my estimation — can be practiced fairly easily is to encourage philosophers to write shorter papers.Report

Neil Sinhababu
Reply to  Present Grad Stud
5 years ago

Yes, having more journals with shorter length limits might help. Everyone likes having Analysis and Thought around for shorter papers, and I think we’d get more ideas into print with the same total pages if we had more venues for short stuff.Report

Hey Nonny Mouse
Hey Nonny Mouse
5 years ago

Everything else being equal, the more philosophical works available for reading, the better. However, given how few people read the average academic philosophy paper, and given all of the important things philosophers could be doing, I don’t think that we should encourage philosophers to write more academic papers per se. It doesn’t seem to be the best way to serve the public.Report

David Wallace
David Wallace
5 years ago

Returning to the topic of the OP: I think several issues are being conflated in the discussion. Consider three stylised worlds:

1) In Scarcity World, there are 4,000 papers written per year that are high-quality enough to publish, and 2,000 papers are published per year. Refereeing is very objective, so that a paper rejected by one referee is almost certainly going to be rejected by any other referee. So in Scarcity World, if your paper is rejected then it’s just too bad: discard it or publish it outside the peer-reviewed literature.

2) In Prestige World, there are again 4,000 papers written per year that are high-quality enough to publish, and there are 4,000 published papers per year. But there is a clear prestige hierarchy, where the top-tier journals publish 400 papers per year, the second-tier journals publish another 400 per year, and so on. (And refereeing is fairly objective, so journal prestige more or less tracks article quality.) In Prestige World, everyone submits their articles to the best journals, and upon getting a rejection submits to the second-tier journals, and so on. Everything is eventually published, but usually after a multi-year delay, and a typical paper is refereed many times.

3) In Caprice World, there are again 4,000 papers written per year that are high-quality enough to publish, and there are 4,000 published papers per year. But refereeing is pretty random: it reliably keeps out the papers not worth publishing, but even a publishable paper has only a 20% chance of being accepted by a referee. In Caprice World, again everything is eventually published, but again there are usually multi-year delays, and again a typical paper gets refereed many times.

In Scarcity World, there’s no refereeing crisis, and no publishing delay, but there is a clear need for more journals.

In Prestige World, there is a refereeing crisis, and there is a publishing delay, but more journals probably won’t help: there’ll still be a prestige hierarchy, and the top journals will still be oversubscribed, but lots of bad things will be published in the weaker journals (which are either the new journals, if they end up being low-prestige, or older displaced journals, if the new journals become high-prestige), and the refereeing crisis won’t be alleviated. What Prestige World needs is some mechanism to target papers more reliably at places which will accept them – either through more journal specialisation, or better advice as to what realistically is and is not publishable in the best journals.

In Caprice World, there is a refereeing crisis, and there is a publishing delay; more journals might or might not help with the publishing delay (depending how referees react to it) but at the cost of again bloating the literature with lots of poor-quality work, and it again won’t help with the refereeing crisis. What Caprice World needs is better refereeing – again, specialisation might help, perhaps better resources or instructions to referees might.

For what it’s worth, my impression is that the real world is some mixture of Prestige World and Caprice World. I haven’t seen evidence, on this thread or elsewhere, that philosophy publishing overall is like Scarcity World. (That’s compatible with there being journal scarcity in specific subfields.) If that’s right, the problem – insofar as there is a problem – with philosophy publishing isn’t going to be addressed effectively by a big increase in journal capacity.

As a side point, in both Prestige and Caprice World, double-blind refereeing is a serious potential impediment to scholarship, because it prevents papers being circulated, discussed, and cited on the basis of stable online archiving. I’ve long thought that this isn’t taken seriously enough by advocates of double-blind refereeing: it’s a genuine cost to be set against the genuine benefits (and maths/CS/physics don’t really use double-blind refereeing in a serious way, precisely because they regard it as too damaging to scholarship).Report

Paolo
Paolo
Reply to  David Wallace
5 years ago

can u explain the connection between double blind referring and archiving? What’s the issue?Report

David Wallace
David Wallace
Reply to  Paolo
5 years ago

Sorry, yes: that should have been clearer.

People often say that papers shouldn’t be online-archived if they’re intended to be double-blind reviewed, so that internet search doesn’t reveal the author – Neil mentions (though does not endorse) this in his OP. If that happens, a long delay between submission and acceptance means a long period where the paper isn’t available online.Report

paolo
paolo
Reply to  David Wallace
5 years ago

Ah I see. I actually never thought of it as impediment to scholarship, but I can see the issue. I also do not post things until they have been accepted but it’s not because of the worry about the internet search (I give public talks for a couple years for each paper, so it’s often no big problem to find it, at least as a talk posted at a conference program) but more because of a certain relationship I have with my writing. Until it’s accepted I feel very much personally attached to it, in a sort of intimate way – I feel like it would be like publishing drafts of a novel before it is finished. But once it passes into the “public” writing sphere, I almost feel like it’s not mine anymore. Obviously, I do not work in science-related field (or so I think – perhaps some would disagree), but it’s how I think of philosophy the way I do it.

I don’t know how I feel about double anonymous refereeing. But, for example, in Ancient philosophy, as I hear, one of the best journals (OSAP) is not really a peer-review journal of that sort since enormous amount of reviewing is done directly by the editor (so it’s more like an edited volume with additional reviewing after stage 1). And yet, it is regarded as one of the top journals.Report

Kate Norlock
5 years ago

I’m one of the editors at a brand new journal that isn’t on the radars of careerists (feministphilosophyquarterly.com), and even I have come to refer to willing referees as unicorns — difficult to find, magical when they appear! It’s not (just) online venues that are the needed thing, it’s not fundamentally a space issue, it’s a human-power issue of overworked referees. I think this means that on David Wallace’s picture, I live in Caprice World. Better or more referees is not necessarily the answer. Had I a magic wand, refereed journal articles would not be the sine qua non. I would give a great deal for Philosophy to change, to place much less weight on refereed journal articles and explicitly start valuing other forms of publication much more.

I was reading about the surprisingly short history of what we now think of as peer-review. I followed the advice of the article to check out the Google ngram on peer-review:
https://books.google.com/ngrams/graph?content=peer+review&year_start=1800&year_end=2016&corpus=15&smoothing=3&share=&direct_url=t1%3B%2Cpeer%20review%3B%2Cc0

It suggests that academics have only been so fixated on this as the measure of our worth since the 1970s. Maybe, hopefully, this began in my lifetime and will end in my lifetime. I would really like it to die before I do.Report

Kate Norlock
Reply to  Kate Norlock
5 years ago

Sorry, I accidentally skipped attribution: The short history of modern peer review and the mention of the ngram for it is here:
https://www.timeshighereducation.com/features/peer-review-not-old-you-might-thinkReport

Nick Byrd
Reply to  Kate Norlock
5 years ago

Thanks for this, Kate! Very helpful!

I’m very interested in the possibilities of ending certain norms about peer review. It could mean, among other things…

1. Keep publishing, but no more journals, publishers, or top-down quality control, ever. That is, people write stuff and publish it whenever they want, wherever they want (repository, their own website, who knows). If authors want to ask for comments to improve their papers, then they do. If not, then they just publish it. Once published, quality will be determined (publicly, privately, invisible hand, who knows) by readers.
2. Keep journals and other publication schemes, but no more top-down quality control. Journals, publishers, etc. would serve as more of an organizational scheme than anything else. I.e., people wanting to read ethics would go to ethics journals/publishers.
3. Keep journals and other publication schemes, and keep editors, but do away with referees. Journals, publishers, etc. would be for both organizational and (minimal) quality control purposes.
4. Keep journals and other publication schemes, keep editors, and keep referees, but eliminate the mechanism by which referees impact publication decisions. Maybe just append (signed? not signed?) reviewer comments to every paper that the editors decide to publish. (And maybe editors’ publication decisions are made prior to viewing reviewer comments).
5. Keep publishing the way it is, but make publications less of a priority (for hiring, promotion, invitation to [whatever], etc). (As someone, Kate?, pointed out in a Facebook thread recently: It seems that many people are interested in this option, but somehow not much is changing.)
n… [Other possibilities?]

1 sounds interesting. In the brief time I have spent thinking about it, the potentially bad consequences seem either surmountable or outweighed by the relative benefits. Maybe I just haven’t thought things through carefully enough.

Kate: I wonder which possibilit(ies) you have in mind. I took you to be suggesting (at least) 5.Report

Kate Norlock
Reply to  Nick Byrd
5 years ago

Hello, Nick Byrd. I posted a reply and it seemed to get eaten. I’ll try again:
Hello, Nick Byrd. Well, the subtext of my online rants lately is that there are days lately on which I strongly lean toward (1), almost entirely because the internet is indefinite and the increased numbers of new PhDs every year are so large now; the antiquated journal system just doesn’t seem built for the new reality.
It just is the case that web publications are indefinite in number, and that every decade, the number of earned doctorates has taken a jump, on average. I mentioned above that the study of peer-review suggested a major jump in peer-reviewed publications as a measure of worth in the 1970s. I notice that earned doctorates in Philosophy in the 1980s averaged 245 annually, that earned doctorates in Philosophy in the 1990s averaged 329 annually, and earned doctorates in Philosophy in the 2000s average 385 annually; earned doctorates in Philosophy in the first half of this decade have reached 467 annually, on average. (Source: http://www.faculty.ucr.edu/~eschwitz/SED.htm). That’s a lot of junior scholars, increasingly accustomed to an Internet age, trying to publish in competition for fewer full-time jobs. I’m not sure why a rational observer would even *want* so many junior scholars, with the world web available to them, trying to vie for spots in a journal-ranking and -publishing model that gained such traction in the 1970s.
But all this aside, I don’t know what Philosophy or philosophers should or would be likely to actually do. Although (1) has seemed right to me on grumpy days, the fact is that philosophers aren’t going to stop ranking journals and worshiping prestige. Not many prize-winners work to end prize-giving. It’s like hoping Congress will vote to give itself a pay-cut. More recently my hopes gravitate to (4), to reduce the documented and demonstrable enabling of egregious behavior on the part of peer-reviewers, and my hopes gravitate to (5) when it comes to the peer-reviewed publication as opposed to other sorts of publications and/or activities.Report

Nick Byrd
Reply to  Kate Norlock
5 years ago

Thanks again, Kate Norlock. Your perspective seems shrewd. It helps me realize that my interest in 1 is naive.

Fortunately, I got your eaten comment via email, which had a link to “Anonymity of peer review reports definitely enables egregious behavior”. I am very glad to have found this. I’ve been personally and academically interested in learning more about the costs and benefits of anonymous reviewers for awhile. Your post does really well to point out things I’d overlooked (e.g., the point that Budden et al 2008 does not compellingly show that anonymizing authors in the peer review process prevents gender bias). Thanks again!

(Apologies for typos)Report

Kate Norlock
Reply to  Nick Byrd
5 years ago

My pleasure, Nick Byrd. (I was so intrigued to read of your long-standing interest in anonymous review that I actually thought, “He should write about it!” Bad Kate, wanting more journal articles. I’m just part of the problem!)Report

Nick Byrd
Reply to  Kate Norlock
5 years ago

Haha! It runs deep in all of us I’m sure.

But I am writing about it …on my blog (goes up Sunday or Monday).Report

Samuel Douglas
Samuel Douglas
5 years ago

I want to preface this by saying that I’m not referring to anyone in particular, nor is this intended as any sort of slight, professional or otherwise.

There have been some comments by people, who have acted as referees, putting forward the view that a high proportion of papers they see (in that capacity) are not good enough to publish. In other words it is right that they reject them. Is there anyone who acts as a referee who does not find that most papers they see inadequate? That’s not rhetorical – I think the answer is actually quite important. I find myself thinking perhaps anyone who would not reject most papers they are sent is not going to remain a referee for very long. I would appreciate any thoughts on this, including evidence that is inconsistent with this idea.

Alternatively, we could accept that most papers submitted to for publication are not in fact meeting the required standard, as has been implied by multiple comments above. If most papers – including those that are rejected – are written by people with PhDs, then we must conclude that having completed a PhD is, all things considered, no guarantee that one can actually write an acceptable article! If this were true, it should be of concern to us. It would imply that not only does a PhD in philosophy not prepare one to work outside academia (as has been discussed elsewhere), it is not sufficient preparation to work within it. Is it the case that most PhD-granting institutions are producing graduates incapable of doing one of the most important things that can help them reach their career goals? Again, that’s not an entirely rhetorical question.Report

Heath White
Heath White
5 years ago

I agree that Neil describes a problem but I don’t think his solution—more journal space—will solve it.

Mainly, because there already is more journal space. He mentions 100 journals which are “prestigious enough to help with jobs, tenure, and promotion.” But there are hundreds more journals, and thousands more articles, that are insufficiently prestigious. So what Neil is describing is not a shortage of space, but a shortage of prestigious space.

But there will always be a shortage of prestigious space, because prestige is a positional good, and therefore there is a finite amount of it. The “top five percent” will always be a fixed proportion of the population.

The real difficulty is twofold. First is the problem that with (i) an increasingly tight job market, (ii) a glut of PhDs, (iii) prestige allocated by meritocracy, and (iv) the only element of perceived merit you can influence after being accepted to a (more or less prestigious) grad program is your publications, prestigious publication matters much more now than it used to. The consequences for not getting it are dire, so people try harder. Solving the jobs crisis would solve the publication crisis.

The second problem is that publication is a collective action problem. If everyone submitted half as many papers to journals, there would be pretty much the same distribution of prestige, but much less labor on the journal system. However, each individual has an incentive to publish more than everyone else, and collectively this balloons into massive amounts of submissions. The problem is the same as sheep overgrazing the commons, or fishermen overfishing the oceans.

The best-known solution to this kind of problem is property rights. In this case, the solution would be something like this: give everybody in the profession a “license” to submit some number of articles. You could allocate this various ways, but it would limit the amount of refereeing anyone had to do, and it would ensure that people only submitted their best work. If people did not want to use their license one year, they could trade it for a next-years-license with someone who wanted to publish an extra article this year. Such a cap-and-trade system would require some Big Government over the currently anarchic journal system. But it could be enforced by, say, a consortium of the top journals, and other journals could join over time.

I don’t know if anyone in the philosophical world would go for such a solution. But I think it at least addresses the real problem of prestigious publication and journal overload.

To the extent that that what people want is just to get ideas circulating, rather than tenure and promotion, then some of the other “B-journal” ideas above would work, or we have blogs, or we could get PhilPapers to host authors’ unpublished work. That problem is much easier to solve.Report

AL27
AL27
5 years ago

Another suggestion. Consider a top journal in sciences: Nature. There is Nature, but there is also Nature Chemistry, Nature Physics, Nature Cell Biology etc. All published by Nature Publishing Group. Of course, while it makes sense to talk of sciences (as opposed to humanities or whatever) the present state of divisions of sciences makes sense to have these distinct journals. Perhaps, we have reached a similar point in philosophy: there is sense to talk of philosophy in general, but it also makes sense to make more fine grained distinctions within philosophy and correspondingly have more specialist journals. One way out of problems might consist in making new top level journals, that are somewhat attached to the existing generalist ones. For instance, copying the Nature example, we might want to consider possibility of creating something like Mind Epistemology, Mind Metaphysics, Mind Feminist Studies or what have you, while reserving Mind (tout court) for some generalist topics.Report

Felmmando
Felmmando
4 years ago

“Next question: how many papers are published in journals prestigious enough to help with jobs, tenure, and promotion? I’ll assume 100 or so journals of this kind.” I’m curious about work in journals outside that group and its authors. Do they have careers to which these publications are useless? If so, how do they get jobs, tenure and promotion? If not, what do they do for a living? What are their motives for publishing?Report