Imagine a website philosophers can join to post their papers for reading, reviewing (on a wiki), and upvoting/downvoting by other members, and which will periodically publish a journal comprised of a selection of these papers (ones that make it through a review process they qualify for by getting enough upvotes). That’s what Populus will be once it is up and running. “Think the non-horrific parts of Reddit meets PhilPapers,” says Populus founder David Faraci (Georgetown), in a post about it at PEA Soup.
Why create this? Faraci says:
Populus seeks to reimagine the publication process to take fuller advantage of the resources afforded by the Internet to provide a better experience in publishing, reviewing, and archiving.
Authors [on Populus] have access to real-time feedback on their work. They are able to see at all times whether their work is being read and how it is being received, both in terms of votes and feedback on the wiki. Is your work getting less upvotes than you’d like? Are there comments in the wiki you believe you can address? Simply address them and upload a new version…
The hope is that philosophers will see reviewing works on Populus as a duty of citizenship within the philosophical community, much as many do now when asked to referee for other publication venues. However, because the review process relies most heavily on votes, reviewing for Populus is less arduous than reviewing for other journals. If there is a paper you are interested in reading, there is little cost to reading it through Populus and voting. Populus will also incorporate game-like incentives, such as status boosts (e.g., ‘top reviewer’). It is TBD whether these will be purely symbolic or will come with tangible incentives, such as additional voting power…
As Populus membership grows, having work on Populus will make it more visible to the philosophical community. But unlike with other archives, authors also gain insight into their peers’ assessment of their work. As time goes on… information may become available on what other works appeal to the same population as yours. Citation indexing is also planned, and thus eventually Populus plans to offer real-time information on impact factor.
Faraci is currently looking for feedback on and assistance with the project. In his post at PEA Soup he writes:
- I’d like to put together an editorial board whose association with the project will boost its credibility. I anticipate this’ requiring little actual work. If you are a famous person who likes my idea and would like to get on board, that would be great.
- This project will likely require some funding. I’m looking for suggestions for sources.
- I need people with web development or other relevant technical experience who would like to donate (or, if we get funding, be paid for) their time.
- I’m looking for people who want to help or get involved in any other way, especially ones with the general entrepreneurial skills I lack.
Thoughts on the project are welcome in the comments. Those interested in helping can also email Faraci directly at [email protected].