Philosophy Has High Rate of Uncited Publications


A discipline-by-discipline analysis of data from Elsevier’s Scopus database concering over 10,000 pieces of research published between 2012 and 2016 shows that a massive amount of scholarly work goes uncited, according to a report in Times Higher Education

Philosophy has the 9th highest “uncitation” rate—52.2% of work going uncited—based on a study of all types of work published in 2012. The highest uncitation rate on this study is in visual arts and performing arts, followed by literature and literary theory, and then pharmacy.

(image from Times Higher Education)

Once the types of publications are limited to academic articles and reviews, philosophy becomes the discipline with the 8th highest uncitation rate—49.1%—with the highest rates belong to literature and literary theory, visual arts and performing arts, and religious studies.

(image from Times Higher Education)

Disciplines in the sciences tended to have much lower uncitation rates.

More information is here.


Related: “Philosophers Don’t Read and Cite Enough

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Matt
Matt
3 years ago

Does this study cite the uncited publications?Report

Julia
Julia
3 years ago

I wonder whether the uncitation rate would be much lower after 10 years, rather than after just 5 years? Maybe philosophy moves more slowly than some other disciplines.Report

Jim
Jim
Reply to  Julia
3 years ago

I’m curious if it could provide percentage of unread publications instead? And I think we need more than raw data — we need some sense of the numbers of pieces being published in these disciplines.

Adding to your question about what we’d get if we extended five years to ten, we need to take into account a 2-3 year lag between writing and publication that may reduce the number of years available in the last 5 years to two.

The other issue is that science scholarship tends to be more atomistic — citations might only be to a single data point in an article with thirty coauthors. It’s a very different publishing model.Report

mm
mm
3 years ago

I know nothing A\about Scopus. Does it survey only Elsevier’s journals or all academic ones?Report

HistoryandPhilosophy
HistoryandPhilosophy
3 years ago

I don’t find this at all surprising since my feeling is that the vast majority of publications are for the purpose of adding additional items to the C.V. rather than because the scholars have something new and important to say. It’s the natural end result of an academic system that prizes sheer quantity of scholarship.Report

Peter Alward
Peter Alward
3 years ago

Actually the data here seems to suggest that Philosophy is doing pretty well compared to other humanities disciplines.

And what’s the diagnosis: that too many mediocre articles are being published in Philosophy journals? or that people are citing a too narrow range of articles?Report

Brian Weatherson
3 years ago

I would like to see the raw data for this to get a better sense of what’s going on. To do a quick check on the data, I did a count of how many articles there were in a couple of journals in 2012, and how many of them had citations in Web of Science. (I used that because it’s very stingy in counting citations, and I think often undercounts.)

Erkenntnis: 35 cited articles out of 51 (or roughly 68.5%)
Nous: 28 cited articles out of 30 (or roughly 93%)

This was hand counting, and if I’m off by 1-3 somewhere I wouldn’t be surprised. But neither were close to 50%.Report

Alex Gregory
Reply to  Brian Weatherson
3 years ago

I’d also love to understand the underlying data properly. One obvious possibility is that these percentage figures are being moved by publications in lower-tier journals not being cited. It’s presumably then a further question whether philosophy would still be low on this list if we focused only on top-tier journals.Report

Jonathan Weisberg
Jonathan Weisberg
Reply to  Brian Weatherson
3 years ago

Kieran Healy’s study of four prestigious philosophy journals (JPhil, Mind, Nous, and Phil Review) for 1993–2013 has some related info:

https://kieranhealy.org/blog/archives/2015/02/25/gender-and-citation-in-four-general-interest-philosophy-journals-1993-2013/

Using Web of Science he finds: “Even though these are all peer-reviewed articles published in high-prestige journals, almost a fifth of them are never cited at all, and just over half of them are cited five times or fewer. A very small number of articles are cited more than twenty or thirty times.”

So journal prestige is likely a big factor. Still, as he also writes, “The story here is rather sobering and, if you’re familiar with the literature on citation, unsurprising.”Report

Brian Weatherson
Reply to  Jonathan Weisberg
3 years ago

I think for all 4 of these journals for 2012, I get 75 articles, 68 of which have at least 1 cite within the last 5 years. So maybe things are getting better?

I was trying to do this for a bunch of journals using Web of Science’s ability to search all articles in a journal, but it classifies PPR book reviews as articles, and a bunch of them are uncited, so doing more is tough.Report

Jonathan Weisberg
Jonathan Weisberg
Reply to  Brian Weatherson
3 years ago

And of course the later years in that study may have dragged down the counts. Papers published in those years hadn’t had long to be discussed in print.Report

David Wallace
David Wallace
Reply to  Jonathan Weisberg
3 years ago

I think the research is more careful than that: the particular data used to count the fraction of papers uncited after 5 years is just the 2012 papers.Report

Jonathan Weisberg
Jonathan Weisberg
Reply to  David Wallace
3 years ago

Are you referring to Healy’s analysis or to Wong’s? I didn’t see Healy using a 5 year window. (Though I’m sure he didn’t just overlook the difference in opportunities for 1993 papers vs. 2013 ones.)Report

David Wallace
David Wallace
Reply to  David Wallace
3 years ago

Wong’s, sorry (and I now see you were referring to Healey’s study in your original post).Report

Jonathan Weisberg
Jonathan Weisberg
Reply to  Brian Weatherson
3 years ago

Kieran’s repo here has a .csv of the papers he studied, in case that helps you filter out the book reviews: https://github.com/kjhealy/philpubReport

Brian Weatherson
Reply to  Brian Weatherson
3 years ago

I figured out a more automated way to do this, so here are some summary numbers for a bunch of journals. According to Web of Science, there are 375 pieces classified as ‘articles’ published in these journals in 2012. (I left out PPR because their book reviews were classified as articles, which kind of messed up the numbers.)

* Philosophical Review
* Mind
* Journal of Philosophy
* Nous
* Philosophical Studies
* Ethics
* Philosophical Quarterly
* Philosophy of Science
* Australasian Journal of Philosophy

Of those 375 articles, 331 of them, i.e., 88%, had at least one citation. Almost exactly half (187 to be precise) had at least 5 citations.

Now obviously these are prestigious journals, and within that set you already see a prestige effect. But any study like this is going to be (as Alex says) very dependent on which journals you focus on.Report

Brian Weatherson
Reply to  Brian Weatherson
3 years ago

I figured out a more automated way to do this, so here are some summary numbers for a bunch of journals. According to Web of Science, there are 375 pieces classified as ‘articles’ published in these journals in 2012. (I left out PPR because their book reviews were classified as articles, which kind of messed up the numbers.)

* Philosophical Review
* Mind
* Journal of Philosophy
* Nous
* Philosophical Studies
* Ethics
* Philosophical Quarterly
* Philosophy of Science
* Australasian Journal of Philosophy

Of those 375 articles, 331 of them, i.e., 88%, had at least one citation. Almost exactly half (186 to be precise) had at least 5 citations.

Now obviously these are prestigious journals, and within that set you already see a prestige effect. But any study like this is going to be (as Alex says) very dependent on which journals you focus on.Report

Brian Weatherson
Reply to  Brian Weatherson
3 years ago

Aargh, post this and then find a bug. Those numbers didn’t count Philosophical Review. So it really should be

391 total articles
347 of them cited (around 89%)
198 cited at least 5 times (just over half)Report

Brian Weatherson
Reply to  Brian Weatherson
3 years ago

And to note that these are serious under-counts, one of the articles listed as being uncited is Jacob Ross’s 2011 paper “All Roads Lead to Violations of Countable Additivity”. That’s not only cited; it’s the main paper I’m discussing in “Ross on Sleeping Beauty” – https://philpapers.org/rec/WEAROS-2. So the 89% citation rate is really a lower bound.Report

Josh
Josh
Reply to  Brian Weatherson
3 years ago

About lower bounds – depending on which citation counter you use (Google Scholar, Scopus, Web of Science, etc.), you get very different results for philosophy. In my experience, everything but Google Scholar significantly undercounts citations, while Scholar may slightly over-count. Scholar has that Ross paper as cited 6 times.Report

Charels Pigden
Charels Pigden
Reply to  Josh
3 years ago

Google scholar is a net undercounter in my experience , but it also overcounts in some cases. For example it counts relevant readings to papers listed PhilPapers as citations. It also picks up citations in online MA and PhD theses.Report

Matt
Reply to  Charels Pigden
3 years ago

This is right about Google Scholar. It’s very useful, but both over-counts and under-counts, and it ways that probably don’t balance out . It’s pretty bad about including citations in books, for example, unless they are in Google books.Report

Charles Pigden
Charles Pigden
Reply to  Josh
3 years ago

Just an addition to my previous post. You can supplement Google Scholar with Google Advanced Search. Type in your name at ‘all these words:’ and the title of your book or article at ‘this exact word or phrase:’ and you are liable to turn up citations that Google Scholar has missed, often in books and sometimes in languages other than English. Of course you often get a lot of dreck so you have to go through the list that Google Advanced Search generates sorting the wheat of bona fide citations from the various forms of chaff that it also delivers (for example those PhilPapers faux citations that I mentioned in my previous post). But you can also turn up information that may serve the dual purpose of boosting your ego and providing bragging material for promotions purposes. For example you may find your papers in online reading lists for courses at universities other than your own. That your peers consider your papers worth recommending to their students is something you can legitimately boast about.

However I am not sure that all this makes all that much difference to the overall picture. Suppose that it is 40% rather than 52 % of philosophy papers that go uncited in their first five years. That’s still a pretty depressing statistic, especially for young philosophers starting out in the business. There is still a 4/10 chance that you will be a philosophical flower born to blush unseen (or at least to blush uncited), wasting your intellectual sweetness the desert air. Not a happy thought.Report

Evelyn Brister
Evelyn Brister
Reply to  Brian Weatherson
3 years ago

Surely there are prestige effects. One way that prestige effects are especially likely to emerge is through lit review citations–that is, when someone needs to signal they read what they needed to. Often this results in citation without uptake: “Although articles X, Y, and Z may seem to have addressed my topic, they did not do it in the way I will in this article.” When someone’s work is being referenced without uptake, then it seems likely that among an author’s multiple works on the topic, the most prestigious will get the citation. That said, I have seen no evidence that specialist journals (which are usually less prestigious) result in more uncited papers, even if the overall citation counts are depressed. Many of us work in tight communities where we stay abreast of each others’ work, wherever it is published.Report

nicholesuomi
Reply to  Evelyn Brister
3 years ago

Given science papers tend to have much heavier lit review citation practices (i.e. a paper states a fact or mentions an inquiry and then proceeds to list as many papers as possible on the matter), I imagine philosophy moving from “I read the important stuff” to “I read everything on a database search” would move it up the rankings.Report

Nick
Nick
Reply to  Brian Weatherson
3 years ago

I am too lazy to do it myself, but has anyone every run similar statistics for “low-prestige” philosophy journals? I wonder just how strong a prestige effect is (and also which journals count as low-tier).Report

Kate Norlock
3 years ago

Of course, citations in many fields in the natural and social sciences don’t necessarily mean they’re really being “read” more in a substantive sense; those fields often pay high attention to the presence of a lit review in the first part of a paper, and I’ve seen mountains of routine publications in Psychology, for example, that basically reprint the same lit review over and over, with mention-adds slapped on for the sake of timeliness.
Don’t get me wrong – I’ve thought since Healy’s research how pointless much of our publishing is and take seriously the utterly means-end nature of most of it. So I’m not saying that we really are read more. I’m just saying the citations of those in lit-review happy areas don’t really indicate much more meaningful engagement than anything we get.Report

sjdallf
sjdallf
Reply to  Kate Norlock
3 years ago

As someone who has published in both philosophy and psychology, I can attest to this. References in psychology and the like are generally more superficial than those in philosophy.Report

History and Philosophy
History and Philosophy
Reply to  Kate Norlock
3 years ago

I think this is true to some extent in some of the humanities as well. I’m more a Historian of Philosophy than Philosophy, and I can say for sure that many history publications will throw tons of citations into gigantic footnotes. Doesn’t mean the author/s have read all of them, but rather they are just citing anything even tangentially related because it makes the submission look more deeply researched.Report

Brian Kemple
3 years ago

According to Google Scholar, my book has been cited once.

In someone’s unpublished paper.

Really vindicates the thousands of hours put in on it.

[I’d like to hope that my work, languishing in obscurity for centuries, is eventually “re-discovered” and changes the landscape of the philosophical world–finally seen by all for the landmark of unparalleled genius that it is. We all have to get to sleep somehow.]Report

Dale E Miller
Reply to  Brian Kemple
3 years ago

The $99 paperback price might be a factor here.Report

Brian Kemple
Reply to  Dale E Miller
3 years ago

Indeed…
*shakes fist angrily but ineffectually in the direction of Leiden*Report

Margaret Atherton
Margaret Atherton
3 years ago

But why do philosophers seem to think that a lit review is inessential to one’s research? Is re-inventing the wheel thought to be a good thing?Report

Chris Stephens
Chris Stephens
Reply to  Margaret Atherton
3 years ago

I agree that philosophers often don’t do enough citation or literature reviews.
But some think they’re more likely to get something original if they don’t get stuck in the standard ways of thinking about a topic. Of course, this doesn’t explain why they don’t do a more thorough lit review after they’ve worked out their view.Report

Daniel Kaufman
Reply to  Chris Stephens
3 years ago

I think philosophers cite far too much. Indeed, refereeing has turned into “you didn’t cite … insert referee’s favorite philosopher.”

By our current hyper-citation standards, the majority of historical philosophical masterpieces wouldn’t be published today.Report

nicholesuomi
Reply to  Daniel Kaufman
3 years ago

Would the majority of historical philosophical masterpieces have been worse off with more citations?Report

Daniel Kaufman
Reply to  nicholesuomi
3 years ago

Not really the point is it?Report

Nichi
Nichi
Reply to  Daniel Kaufman
3 years ago

What is the point, then?Report

Dale E Miller
Reply to  Margaret Atherton
3 years ago

It’s not doing the lit review that’s inessential (even if it’s often omitted), it’s publishing it.Report

Richard Zach
3 years ago

Scopus indexes books only very few books. Eg, if it’s in an OUP book and that book isn’t in Oxford Studies in Ancient Philosophy, it’s not in Scopus. The source list is here: https://www.scopus.com/sources?zone=&origin=sbrowseReport

Richard Zach
Reply to  Richard Zach
3 years ago

I take that back: “Once a publisher is accepted, all books from that publisher that fit the scope of the project are indexed on Scopus.”Report

Bill
Bill
3 years ago

The fact that my papers don’t contain a section called ‘literature review’ doesn’t mean that I don’t , in fact, review the literature on a topic I’m writing about. It does mean that I don’t feel the need to cite everything I’ve read on a topic every time I write about it.

Also – lead times are pretty long in philosophy (not least because reviewing times are long and rejection rates are high. I’d expect that to make a difference to how long stuff takes to get cited.Report

Rick
Rick
Reply to  Bill
3 years ago

Along these lines, some journals include references in word limits This provides an incentive to keep citations minmal, if possible.Report

beauvoir's baby
beauvoir's baby
3 years ago

I am wondering what kind of factors seem to be most highly correlated with a lack of citations. If lack of citations reflects on the quality (including relevance) of the paper, then it seems we should rely more on the judgment of philosophy as a large audience than the peer review process: about half of the papers deemed to be high quality by the peer review process turn out to lack quality. If it does not reflect the quality of the paper, we need an explanation for why philosophers are routinely ignoring quality peer reviewed papers.Report

Tim
Tim
3 years ago

I think the result has been inflated due to the inclusion of my many published papers in the data set.Report

Eric Steinhart
3 years ago

I’d say this is yet more evidence that we should move away from the current publication model. It’s not doing any of us any favors. Burying our work in books and journals that are too expensive for anybody to buy is not helping us.Report

autociter
autociter
3 years ago

This is why I always make sure to cite myself.Report

Dan Hicks
Dan Hicks
3 years ago

The THE story is intellectually irresponsible. There’s no reliable citation index for humanities fields. Scopus typically has the “major” journals in humanities fields, and books published by “major” presses recently (since 2011 IIRC). But it’s extremely patchy for other journals and presses. It’s especially limited when it comes to edited volumes.Report

J. Britt Holbrook
Reply to  Dan Hicks
3 years ago

I think whether it’s irresponsible depends on what you take the message of the story to be. If you think it’s suggesting that philosophy publications (and those from other humanities disciplines) are generally not of high scholarly worth, then it’s irresponsible. If you take it as revelatory of the limitations of Scopus, or to a lesser extent, of different citation cultures in different disciplines, then I don’t think it’s irresponsible at all.Report

J. Britt Holbrook
3 years ago

Folks might find this interesting: http://www.metrics-toolkit.org/Report

Evelyn Brister
Evelyn Brister
3 years ago

I analyzed the citation data for all research articles published in 7 philosophy of science journals between 2005-2009, looking at the total number of citations those articles had accrued in the Web of Science in 2015. Although I was initially interested in analyzing citation patterns according to gender, I thought the most interesting result of the study was that what I found disagreed with the published literature on citations in the humanities and with Healy’s study of 4 prominent philosophy journals. Namely, after 6-10 years, only 8.3% of the articles remained uncited. Results of the study are on the PSA Women’s Caucus blog (analysis of uncited papers is at the bottom of the post): http://psawomen.tumblr.com/post/155168498622/citations-gender-and-epistemic-uptake-part-2Report

Evelyn Brister
Evelyn Brister
3 years ago

In the comments above, and in the original THE study, I don’t see a citation to the most recent, most complete study of uncited research in the sciences, which was released by Larivière and Sugimoto at the end of last year. A news article about it is here: https://www.nature.com/articles/d41586-017-08404-0
Their finding, like mine, is that the percentage of uncited research has been overstated.
There’s an unquestioned assumption, too, about whether the only way that a paper affects further research is through its citations. Certainly, citations can be an effective dispersal mechanism, but in both the sciences and humanities, research is often published in chunks or stages. For instance, I might work through an idea well enough to get an article published, and through that process realize how to strengthen and extend my argument in a second article. Perhaps the second article comes out at the same time, and people who are aware of my research will cite the more developed one. The first one was not a waste, though. Many similar cases can be constructed.Report

J. Britt Holbrook
Reply to  Evelyn Brister
3 years ago

And the series of articles might end up as a much more fully developed argument in book form, which would potentially complicate the citation picture further.Report

Erik Angner
3 years ago

I took a closer look at the Scopus database a few weeks ago for independent reasons, and was shocked at how few of my and my colleagues’ publications were in there. I have no way of knowing if we’re representative or what the explanation is, but I’d love to know if other philosophers have the same impression. You can easily check your own data by clicking on this link and searching for your name: https://www.scopus.com/feedback/author/home.uri

If you’re in the mood and the Editor doesn’t disapprove, maybe report the rough percentage of your publications that are in the database in the comments below? Mine is 60-70% and one of the missing publications is my most cited monograph.Report

J. Britt Holbrook
Reply to  Erik Angner
3 years ago

Scopus lists 15 publications for me (171 total citations, H-index of 8).
Web of Science lists 6 publications for me (11 total citations, H-index of 2).
Google Scholar lists 68 publications for me (592 total citations, H-index of 13).

The numbers will be different for everyone, of course. But generally speaking, philosophers will look better in Google Scholar than in Scopus and better in Scopus than in Web of Science.

The differences in the numbers are due to what publications are indexed in each database. Scopus indexes more venues in which philosophers tend to publish than does Web of Science, and Google Scholar indexes a lot more. Since citations are also counted only from publications that are indexed, all of our numbers will probably look better on more inclusive databases.Report

Charles Pigden
Charles Pigden
3 years ago

There is an issue about time-frames that may be relevant here. The nine papers I published in the first 10 years of my career (1985-1995) now have an average citation rate (exclusive of self-citations) that I am pretty happy about. But almost all of them were ‘sleepers’.with hardly any citations to begin with and a lot more later. The *total* number of citations to those nine papers at the end of 1999 was less than the *average* number of citations to those papers as of 2018. They have actually had a tenfold increase in their citations in the last nineteen years, nearly three-quarters of the citations dating from 2006, that is the third decade of my career, eleven years after the last of them was published. I’ve got a reasonably well-cited paper (26 citations) which went totally uncited for 10 years, whilst my least cited paper (just one citation) had to wait for a *quarter of a century* before it finally got a hit (surprisingly in Polish!). I used to get depressed about how unread I seemed to be. I sure am glad that I did not die young as I would have died disappointed.

Now an interesting question for the older participants on this thread is whether not they have similar tales to tell. Am I an outlier? If not, then the statistics are not quite as depressing as they seem since being uncited or undercited in the first five years need not be a passport to intellectual oblivion. If I *am* an outlier, however then this may make things worse, since those who get cited, tend to get cited early; those who don’t get cited early tend not to get cited at all.

However, even if ‘sleeper’ papers are fairly common, I am not sure how much difference it makes to the overall picture. For the problem in philosophy and in many of its subdisciplines is that far too many papers are published annually for any single person to keep up with. (Where the output of papers is more manageable the situation is not so dire which probably explains Evelyn Brister’s relatively rosy results. There are – fortunately or unfortunately? – far fewer philosophers of biology or physics than there are, say, ethicists.) Too much is published to pay attention to everything. What compounds the problem is that many of us have interdisciplinary interests and a yen for the history of the subject. If I am endeavouring to extract philosophical juice from the writings of Frances Hutcheson (1694-1746) then I will have less time to devote to the latest issue of Synthese. If I am reading Daniel Kahneman on *Thinking Fast and Slow* then again I am less likely to be reading the latest article in Phil Studies. And if some lucky old bastard such as myself is finally getting the attention for his early work that he has long thought it deserved, well, the attention that is being paid to my younger self is attention that is NOT being paid to a younger philosopher of today. On the assumption that people are less likely to cite what they have not had the time or the energy to read, we have an obvious explanation of why so many papers go uncited or undercited. And it’s not a problem for which there is an obvious fix. I suppose that institutional changes modifying the professional incentives might mitigate the ‘publish or perish’ syndrome, but I don’t publish (nowadays) because I am afraid of perishing. I publish because I want to help solve philosophical problems and to be recognised for doing so. If I won Lotto tomorrow I would not publish less but more, as I would have more time to devote to research and writing. And the same, I think, goes for most of the profession. But a profession, composed of thousands of people most of whom are eager to say their say and for their say to be read and recognised, is profession in which much of what is said is likely to go unread, under-read and consequently under-cited. Thus many, perhaps most, of us are being swatted by the back of an invisible hand. Each ‘intends only [to solve philosophical problems and to be recognized for doing so, but] he is in this, as in many other cases, led by an invisible hand to promote an end which was no part of his intention [namely that his solutions (if any) and those of many others are likely to remain unread or under-read and therefore unrecognized or under-recognized].Report

Charles Pigden
Charles Pigden
3 years ago

There is an issue about time-frames that may be relevant here. The nine papers I published in the first 10 years of my career (1985-1995) now have an average citation rate (exclusive of self-citations) that I am pretty happy about. But almost all of them were ‘sleepers’.with hardly any citations to begin with and a lot more later. The *total* number of citations to those nine papers at the end of 1999 was less than the *average* number of citations to those papers as of 2018. They have actually had a tenfold increase in their citations in the last nineteen years, nearly three-quarters of the citations dating from 2006, that is the third decade of my career, eleven years after the last of them was published. I’ve got a reasonably well-cited paper (26 citations) which went totally uncited for 10 years, whilst my least cited paper (just one citation) had to wait for a *quarter of a century* before it finally got a hit (surprisingly in Polish!). I used to get depressed about how unread I seemed to be. I sure am glad that I did not die young as I would have died disappointed.

Now an interesting question for the older participants on this thread is whether not they have similar tales to tell. Am I an outlier? If not, then the statistics are not quite as depressing as they seem since being uncited or undercited in the first five years need not be a passport to intellectual oblivion. If I *am* an outlier, however then this may make things worse, since those who get cited, tend to get cited early; those who don’t get cited early tend not to get cited at all.

However, even if ‘sleeper’ papers are fairly common, I am not sure how much difference it makes to the overall picture. For the problem in philosophy and in many of its subdisciplines is that far too many papers are published annually for any single person to keep up with. (Where the output of papers is more manageable the situation is not so dire which probably explains Evelyn Brister’s relatively rosy results. There are – fortunately or unfortunately? – far fewer philosophers of biology or physics than there are, say, ethicists.) Too much is published to pay attention to everything. What compounds the problem is that many of us have interdisciplinary interests and a yen for the history of the subject. If I am endeavouring to extract philosophical juice from the writings of Frances Hutcheson (1694-1746) then I will have less time to devote to the latest issue of Synthese. If I am reading Daniel Kahneman on *Thinking Fast and Slow* then again I am less likely to be reading the latest article in Phil Studies. And if some lucky old o-and-so such as myself is finally getting the attention for his early work that he has long thought it deserved, well, the attention that is being paid to my younger self is attention that is NOT being paid to a younger philosopher of today. On the assumption that people are less likely to cite what they have not had the time or the energy to read, we have an obvious explanation of why so many papers go uncited or undercited. And it’s not a problem for which there is an obvious fix. I suppose that institutional changes modifying the professional incentives might mitigate the ‘publish or perish’ syndrome, but I don’t publish (nowadays) because I am afraid of perishing. I publish because I want to help solve philosophical problems and to be recognised for doing so. If I won Lotto tomorrow I would not publish less but more, as I would have more time to devote to research and writing. And the same, I think, goes for most of the profession. But a profession, composed of thousands of people most of whom are eager to say their say and for their say to be read and recognised, is profession in which much of what is said is likely to go unread, under-read and consequently under-cited. Thus many, perhaps most, of us are being swatted by the back of an invisible hand. Each ‘intends only [to solve philosophical problems and to be recognized for doing so, but] he is in this, as in many other cases, led by an invisible hand to promote an end which was no part of his intention [namely that his solutions (if any) and those of many others are likely to remain unread or under-read and therefore unrecognized or under-recognized].Report