A Publishing Guide for Graduate Students (guest post)


In the following guest post*, Perry Hendricks, a productive Ph.D. student at Purdue University, offers some advice for his fellow graduate students about publishing and writing.

Publishing: A Guide for Graduate Students
by Perry Hendricks

Publishing: A Guide for Graduate Students

This post gives advice on how to publish as a graduate student. It doesn’t give advice on how to get a job as a philosopher—I don’t know how to do that: I’m mere grad student scum.

The following advice comes from my experience in publishing, of which I’ve had above-average successat least for a grad student. I’m halfway through my third year of a PhD program, and currently have 18 articles accepted or published in journals and several book chapters published or under contract. I’ve also received tons of rejections from journals.

I’ve divided this post into three sections. In section A, I go over general information that everyone should know when trying to publish journal articles. In section B, I give advice on how to be more productive. And in section C, I respond to potential excuses one might give for why he or she can’t publish as a grad student.

A. GENERAL INFORMATION

1. When submitting a paper to a journal, do not format your paper to their requirements. For almost all journals, this is only required if your paper gets accepted. It’s a waste of time, otherwise. No referee is going to be more friendly to your paper because it conforms to the journal’s standards. (They probably won’t even know what the journal’s standards are.)

a. The only journal I know of that requires you to format (at least partially) to their standards when you submit is The Journal of Medical Ethics.

2. Journals have very low acceptance rates. Many good ones accept around 10% (I’ve seen as low as 2.5%). So expect rejection when you submit, and know where you will submit once it’s rejected.

a. What to do if your paper is rejected.

i. Read the referee reports (if there are any). Mull them over for a little while.

ii. Do not revise your paper in light of the referee comments unless you actually think their objections/comments are good. You probably won’t have the same referee again, so don’t worry about pleasing them.

iii. Submit to another journal as soon as you can—preferably within a couple days.

iv. Don’t take rejection personally. You will be rejected constantly, and often for dubious reasons. (For example, referees often confuse objections to an argument with reasons to reject an article.) So get used to being rejected; don’t be a wuss.

b. What to do/think if your paper is rejected a lot.

i. Consider the objections the referees raise. If they still do not strike you as good, keep submitting your paper.

ii. It takes luck to get published. A single negative referee report is typically sufficient for a rejection. So you have to get lucky and ‘draw’ two referees who like your paper. This can take awhile to happen.

c. What to do if your paper is given a ‘revise and resubmit’.

i. Read the referee reports. Mull them over for a little while.

ii. Address all concerns raised by the referees. This doesn’t mean acquiescing to their every demand—you can push back, as long as you explain why you think the referee was wrong. 

iii. Referees will often contradict each other in the revisions they recommend. This can make it difficult to know how to revise. My advice is to make whatever revision you think is the right one, and make note of the alternative position that can be taken on the matter.

iv. Make all changes in your revised paper red so that they are easily identifiable, and make note of this when you resubmit.

v. Try to have your paper resubmitted within a week.

vi. Explain the revisions you made (or did not make). There should be a place for you to do this when resubmitting.

d. What to do if you do not receive a decision after a long wait.

i. 3 months to the day after submission, send a polite email to the editor checking on your paper’s status. Sometimes, papers get lost in production. Other times, referees (for reasons incomprehensible to me) are ignoring your paper.

ii. If your paper is listed as anything other than “under review” or “awaiting a decision” after 1 month, send a polite email to the editor checking on your paper’s status. It could be something as innocuous as them having trouble finding a referee. But it also could be that they lost your paper in the production process, etc.

e. What to do when your article is accepted.

i. Upload whatever draft the copyright permits to philpapers.org and/or your website. This will enable more people to read your article. You can do this once the article is acceptedthere is no need to wait until it’s officially published.

ii. Around 2 months after acceptance, you should receive ‘proofs’ of your paper, which you will need to edit and get back to the publisher.

iii. If you haven’t received your proofs by 3 months, send a polite email to the editor to check that your paper is moving along the production process.

3. Publishing an article takes a lot of time. 

a. A “quick” referee will review your paper in 2 months. On average, it’s closer to 3 months. And many referees take even longer. (I have had multiple papers under review for over a year.) 

An aside: when you are asked to referee, don’t take more than 1-2 weeks to complete the job. There is no excuse for taking longer than that, and you’re wasting the author’s time and being a jerk if you take longer.

b. If the referees like your paper, you will often get a ‘revise and resubmit’ verdict. Once you resubmit your paper, it will take another couple months for the next verdict. If the paper is accepted, then it will be published online typically within 3 months. So, if everything goes “quickly,” it will be about 7 months from first submission to online publication. However, since most submissions get rejected you will probably submit your paper to multiple journals before it gets accepted. So it will probably take a lot longer than 7 months from your first submission to it being published. 

Example: You submit to journal X, they reject after 3 months. You submit to journal Y, they reject after 2 months. You submit to journal Z, they give you a ‘revise and resubmit’ after 4 months. You resubmit and they accept it after 2 months. They publish online 3 months later. That’s 14 months from first submission to online publication. That’s a long time.

c. You should always have multiple papers under review. (The more, the better; I’d say at least four.) So, try to write at least one hour a day.

i. This can be made easier by (when possible) writing your term papers as journal articles. (For more tips, see section C.1.c.)

d. Because of the time it takes to get an article accepted/published, you need to start submitting papers now. If you wait to submit until year 4 or 5, there is no guarantee that you will have a paper accepted before you graduate. Again, publishing takes a long time.

4. How to write a (non-history) journal article.

a. Typically, you don’t need to do a complete overview of the literature.

b. Be succinct.

c. Get the idea on paper. Worry about editing later.

d. Philosophers tend to be bad writers. To counter this:

i. Read your paper out loud when editing.

ii. Find a philosopher who writes well, and mimic their style. Some good philosopher-writers are: Alvin Plantinga, Saul Kripke, and Peter van Inwagen.

5. How to choose where to submit

a. Don’t submit to bad journals. 

i. You can find a list of generalist journal rankings here. These rankings should be taken with a grain of salt. But any journal on this list is a safe bet as one worth submitting to. 

ii. Look to see what journals philosophers you respect publish in. Those are (likely) safe bets.

b. Research the average time from submission to decision with a journal prior to submitting. Some journals have reputations for being quick, others for being slow.

i. Specialist journals tend to be quicker than generalist ones. But (rightly or wrongly), good specialist journals are typically viewed as less prestigious than good generalist journals.

B. PRACTICAL INFORMATION BASED ON EXPERIENCE

1. When you have an idea, write down (at least) one paragraph explaining the idea that day.Often, if you wait until later to write the idea down, it will either have escaped you or it will have lost its intuitive appeal.

a. Once you’ve done this, aim to finish the first draft of your paper within 1 week (preferably, quicker).

b. Once the first draft is finished, aim to have it submitted to a journal within 1 week.

c. Keep a running list of ‘works in progress’, including abandoned projects.

d. Again, write at least 1 hour a day.

2. Be competitive.

a. You have ideas that you think are right and you know of other ideas that you think are wrong. You should want to show that right ideas are right and wrong ideas are wrong. So, start doing that; start writing papers. 

i. Obviously, competitiveness shouldn’t come at the cost of seeking truth. Don’t publish stuff known to be false. I’m looking your way, eliminative materialists.

3. Exercise. A lot.

a. Exercising can help you think about and develop ideas, mull over referee reports, and so on. Exercise is also just good for you.

4. How to get feedback.

a. If you want feedback on your papers or ideas from fellow grad students or professors, you can:

i. Ask if he or she would be willing to talk some philosophy with you for a few minutes.

ii. Ask if he or she would be willing to read your paper and provide feedback.

iii. I strongly suggest (i). Typically, it will take a long time to get feedback if you take route (ii), whereas you get immediate feedback with route (i). (This is probably because (i) involves much less work on the part of your colleague.)

C. EXCUSES

1. “But Perry, I have no time to do any of this. You just have tons of free time that the rest of us aren’t blessed with.”

a. Unless you have more than one wife, more than two kids, more than one part-time non-philosophy job, and have more than one religious commitment, you very probably have more available time than me. All of this is to say that you very probably have enough time to e.g. always have 4 papers under review, write for at least an hour a day, etc.

b. Being a graduate student (at least in the humanities) is the easiest “job” in the world. All you do is take a few classes, research, TA, and write. You should have ample free time—especially once you’re finished with course work.

c. (Obvious) Tips to increase your productivity:

i. Reduce the amount you drink. (Or do drugs.)

ii. Instead of spending 2 hours a day watching TV, spend 1 hour (or less).

iii. Instead of scrolling on social media 2 hours a day, scroll for 1 hour (or less).

iv. Delete social media platforms that suck up your time without giving you a substantial benefit.

v. Don’t be a wuss.

2. “But Perry, you’re just so smart that it’s so easy for you to publish.”

a. This isn’t true. If you’re a graduate student, you’re probably smarter than me.

3. “But Perry, I have no ideas for papers to write.”

a. Presumably, you have at least some ideas that you can turn into papers. As a graduate student, you should have some passion towards whatever subject you’re studying, and you presumably have some interesting insight to give on that subject. But if you are struggling, consider writing a response piece on a subject you’re passionate about. That’s simple enough.

i. Note: journals typically only consider response pieces to articles they published. So writing a response piece can be risky: if the journal rejects your piece, you probably can’t publish it elsewhere unless you substantially revise it and make it into a stand-alone piece. (The only journal I know that considers response pieces to articles published elsewhere is Philosophia.)

4. “But Perry, my papers are extremely controversial and extremely niche, so no journal will publish them.”

a. While some unorthodox positions are extremely frowned upon by parts of the profession, this doesn’t preclude publishing. The same goes for niche topics. While it might be harder and take longer to publish these types of articles, it can still be done. In fact, I have published very controversial papers and very niche papers in multiple venues. So, again, it can be done.

i. Of course, publishing an article that argues for a frowned upon, unorthodox position might not be a good choice in terms of career prospects. So keep that in mind.

5. “But Perry, your papers are all garbage. So it doesn’t matter that they’re published.”

a. I’m only offering advice on how to publish as a graduate student. So even if you think my papers are garbage, all of this advice is still applicable.

D: GOOD RESOURCES ON PUBLISHING

a. “Productive in Publishing” by Jason Brennan

b. “Publishing in Philosophy” by Michael Huemer

c. “Advice on Publishing Peer Review Articles” by John Danaher

Comments and further suggestions welcome.

[image: Sou Fujimoto, “Many Small Cubes” (detail)]

UPDATE (from JW): There has been a fair amount of pushback against parts of this post here and on social media. I thought I’d say a few words in response. No one, not even the author, is saying that someone should publish 18 articles while they are a graduate student. However, the fact of the matter is that for many graduate students at many programs, having a couple of publications prior to going on the job market will help them get a job, and having none may significantly hinder their job prospects. You might lament this situation for various reasons, such as those put forward by David Velleman in this previous guest post, or because of how a productivity-focused job market privileges the already-privileged and least-burdened (with, say, economic hardship, health problems, discrimination, caring responsibilities, etc.). However, it is a kind of collective action problem—one each graduate student can only navigate, not solve, and the advice in this post is for navigating the system, not reforming it. That said, I do understand the post gives the impression of emphasizing quantity over quality, particularly in its advice about the time it should take to write a paper of submittable quality, and that this is problematic in a few ways (both prudentially for the graduate student, but also for the editors and referees, the burdens on some of whom—and the system as a whole—are already tremendous). So criticism—along these lines and others—is, as always, welcome.

UPDATE 2: Perry Hendricks responds to some of the criticisms of the post in the comments, here.


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Peter Furlong
Peter Furlong
1 month ago

I just want to say I laughed out loud at excuse 5: “But Perry, your papers are all garbage. So it doesn’t matter that they’re published.” I haven’t read any of Perry’s work, but this was funny (and it is the sort of thing that I have heard thrown at other people who publish quite a bit). Report

Corey Dyck
Corey Dyck
1 month ago

I would like to sound a note of caution in taking the advice that, if given an R&R, “[t]ry to have your paper resubmitted within a week.” As a frequent referee, I must say that a too-quick turnaround for an R&R raises my suspicions that the referees’ recommendations have not been adequately implemented (and typically, a journal will ask at least one of the same referees to re-review the piece). R&R’s are usually granted when a fair amount of reworking is required, but the fundamentals are sound, so my advice would be not to rush it but to take the opportunity to improve the paper in line with the referees’ concerns (or if it seems like that would take too much work, then feel free to submit elsewhere)Report

Marcus Arvan
1 month ago

This seems to me to be a very helpful guide. However, one particular piece of advice (“Don’t submit to bad journals”) doesn’t appear to be well supported by the evidence. First, a recent study found that publications in weak journals actually help job-candidates, at least when combined with publications in good journals. Further, in coherence with this study, when I collected informal job-market data a few years back, I found that publications in low-ranked journals didn’t appear to hurt candidates for R1 jobs, and actually helped candidates for non-R1 jobs. This also coheres with my experience on several hiring committees at a non-R1.

https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/31107042/
https://philosopherscocoon.typepad.com/blog/2019/05/evidence-that-weak-publications-help-candidates.htmlReport

Chris A
Chris A
1 month ago

Lots of interesting ideas in here. Two things I’m worried about. I’m sure you CAN go from initial idea to submission in two weeks, and maybe sometimes that works out. But experience says the best papers tend to have benefited from good feedback, which often involves presenting them or getting advice from good people. I don’t see how you get to do that in two weeks. If you want to hit the top journals, I think taking your time makes a lot of sense in most cases. The other things was R&Rs. My suspicion is that a lot of reviewers may be put off by a very fast resubmission. If you identify what you think are significant issues with a paper, and it comes back with revisions in a week, this may not give a good impression of the seriousness with which those revisions have been undertaken.Report

Daniel Muñoz
1 month ago

There is some nice advice in here, and Perry’s clearly been productive, but I would NOT encourage graduate students to submit papers within two weeks of first coming up with an idea.

Good papers take time, especially if—like most grad students—you are relatively new to the area you’re writing in. You have to write a draft, read around, solicit feedback, maybe present at a conference, maybe do a couple of rewrites. Don’t feel like you have to skip these crucial steps just to get your quota up.

I would say that it takes me about a year (and several rounds of comments, from friends or refs) to get a paper in proper shape. I think that’s a more realistic timeline for most graduate students.Report

Travis LaCroix
Travis LaCroix
1 month ago

Look, although the advice in this article is not bad, per se—sure, it is good to set aside some time every day to write, and it is good to send articles out in parallel instead of a serial fashion, and you shouldn’t take rejections personally—the delivery here fails to consider that grad students in other subfields may not be able to just write an hour a day to produce an article in a week.
Some fields of philosophy have differential burdens with respect to research. Does it take the same amount of time to write an article on theism or abortion as it does to write a proof-heavy logic article, or an historical article that requires going to an archive and sifting through unpublished documents, or to keep up with machine-learning research (which moves at break-neck speed) to say something insightful about the philosophy of AI? Maybe. I sort of doubt it though.
As well, there is an obvious ignorance on display with regard to individual differences in the field—for example, the increased burdens that may exist for women, BIPOC, LGBTQ+, individuals with disabilities, first-gen students, etc. Sure: try to publish in grad school, don’t be upset with rejection, try to put some time aside for writing, and all of these things.
But here is some additional advice: one should not let a toxic attitude toward productivity make one personally feel bad just because they aren’t publishing 18 articles in grad school.

Not sure what the editorial standards at Daily Nous are, but repeatedly telling people not to be a wuss seems unhelpful at best. Report

Will Stafford
Will Stafford
1 month ago

What Daniel and Travis have said seems right. How long a paper takes will depend on the kind of work that is required. And having a job, kids or other things that require your time is a reason not to beat yourself up if you feel less productive than your peers. Report

Chris Surprenant
1 month ago

I commend this student for trying to better his/her situation coming from a “less prestigious graduate program.” As someone who also came from a “less prestigious graduate program” and had to publish and network my way into a job, I applaud his/her work.

But “I’m halfway through my third year of a PhD program, and currently have 18 articles accepted or published in journals and several book chapters published or under contract” – holy crap. Is this really what our discipline has become? I went from BA to completed PhD in 4 years. Had a handful of publications in that time because I was mining dissertation chapters. I have no idea how anyone in this person’s position could possibly have 18 articles worth publishing. But I will assume this person is a superstar. Is this really the way our discipline is going? Graduate students from less prestigious places having to crank out publications like they’re some sort of factory worker in order to have a chance at an academic job? Something needs to change.Report

Joona Räsänen
1 month ago

Great advice Perry, though not much new for those of us who are quite productive already (I am a graduate student and I currently have 12 journal papers published). I disagree with something though. I suggest you format your paper to journal style (references). Referees might get pissed off if you do not do that (at least as a referee I find that annoying like I find it annoying if there are typos in the paper etc.) And JME is not the only journal that requires that. For example, the Journal of Ethics sent my paper back to me because of minor mistakes in styles of the references.

I think the copyright issue is a bit complicated really. I think you (legally) should wait until the paper is published before uploading it to academia.edu or similar site (though publishers probably won’t care about this much).

About bad journals. You should not send stuff to bad journals but what is considered bad depends on, among other things, where you work (or want to work). I would say, send your stuff to journals that you read yourself.

Lastly: “But Perry, I have no ideas for papers to write.” I would say that, If you do not have ideas for papers, maybe you should consider some other profession.

Report

Negative Ned
Negative Ned
1 month ago

This is going to be very judgmental but if I hadn’t seen it over and over again I wouldn’t say it.

Most grad students who “make it” have either financial/household support from family or a partner, or they are a “perpetual bachelor/ette” and never form real, lasting relationships and eschew other family/life obligations. Neither is typical.

What we need is advice for the grad student who doesn’t fall into these categories: what should the grad student do who has to work a part-time job to supplement their stipend, who maintains a healthy non-dependent relationship, who meets their non-academic social and family obligations, who doesn’t have a financial cushion, who doesn’t have someone at home washing dishes, doing laundry for them–how does THAT student write a dissertation and publish? What advice do we give them?Report

RyanO
RyanO
1 month ago

Regarding Travis LaCroix’s point that
“Some fields of philosophy have differential burdens with respect to research. Does it take the same amount of time to write an article on theism or abortion as it does to write a proof-heavy logic article, or an historical article that requires going to an archive and sifting through unpublished documents, or to keep up with machine-learning research (which moves at break-neck speed) to say something insightful about the philosophy of AI? Maybe. I sort of doubt it though.”
I second this. As a philosopher of science I tend to spend a huge amount of time reading just to keep up with contemporary research (e.g., in climate modeling). So, perhaps this calls for a prescribed daily practice of 1 hr writing + 2 hours reading contemporary research + x amount of time checking that my understanding of the science is at least roughly right…But I still don’t think such a daily practice would result in anywhere near Hendrick’s publication output (in terms of # of articles, at least).
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Helen De Cruz
Helen De Cruz
1 month ago

Thanks for this.
Just to offer a bit of a different perspective, which is more focused on helping grad students getting to do the writing they want to accomplish, I published this here: https://philosopherscocoon.typepad.com/blog/2021/01/writing-advice-for-graduate-students-writing-that-energizes.htmlReport

Isaac Shur
Isaac Shur
1 month ago

What do you people think about this advice for Master’s students? Specifically, for folks in two year programs geared toward preparation for PhD programs? Does any of the advice change? Does the advice get thrown out entirely in favor of just focusing on a strong application to PhD programs? Thanks in advance to anyone who feels inclined to give their two cents.Report

E
E
1 month ago

Two weeks from idea to submission? This is a brutal reductio of the value of the research norms in our profession. Report

Caligula's Goat
Caligula's Goat
1 month ago

I assume that the goal of publishing as much as possible, from a graduate student perspective, is that doing this will improve one’s chances of getting a job in our collectively dismal (and getting worse) job market. I want to challenge that assumption if only on the basis that the value of publications varies greatly for different kinds of jobs that someone might want to get.

For an R1 University, the total volume of publication is, arguably, going to matter less than the quality of the publications themselves and the publications’ impacts on “cutting-edge” debates. 10 articles in the Journal of Value Inquiry* that have been salami-sliced so as to maximize quantity of articles may not work in a candidate’s favor, in the context of an R1, in the same way as four well regarded, highly read and cited, articles in Ethics, Nous, PPR, Synthese, etc etc. In fact, having many publications in B or C-level journals may be read as implying that a candidate may struggle getting tenure in places where perceived publication prestige matters as much as the bulk of your publications.**

For SLACs and other research-productive but also teaching-intensive places, 18 publications may signal to search committees that these isn’t the right sort of institution for someone like you. Like it or not, people in these places are looking for evidence of not only teaching experience but a commitment to teaching and teaching excellence. Although you will want to show search committees at places like these that you’re publishing enough to easily get tenure, publishing that much may be read as an indication that your priorities are really in your research and that you may not only be flight risk but also not committed enough to teaching excellence to do the job these sorts of places are asking you to do (these concerns can be diminished with equally impressive evidence to teaching but…I don’t think there are enough hours in the day to be this excellent – I may be wrong!).

For even more teaching-intensive places (underfunded large state non-flagship state universities, less competitive liberal arts college) these concerns are even more magnified. It’s not at all clear to me that 18 publications is a plus in these places and it’s likely to be a negative. For community colleges, 18 publications is a kiss of death for tenure-stream positions.

So my own advice to graduate students is that if you want to maximize your changes at being competitive for the largest number of jobs (given that it’s impossible to be competitive for all jobs), having three or four impressive publications (already a near-impossible goal for any reasonable person) is probably better than 18 publications spread around the philosophy journal-sphere. Even better to have three solid publications with some kind of evidence to a commitment in teaching excellence.

Most jobs are not R1 jobs and, in my view, this “prioritize publications at all costs” view is probably not actually as helpful, in terms of securing non-adjunct employment, as it may appear.

*No offense intended to JOVI. Based on experience, JOVI is roughly seen as a B or C-tier journal in the eyes of R1 faculty.

**I hate the prestige system and don’t mean to endorse it. Descriptively, practically, I think it’s prudent to acknowledge it. Report

F
F
1 month ago

I do not agree with the comments that this is ableist. I also don’t think, more generally, that advice-giving needs to tailor itself to all possible qualifications and/or objections. I found this to be an invigorating and inspiring read. It could not be further away from where I am currently in my professional abilities, nor from what I see my innate abilities to be. Nonetheless it is helpful and encouraging to see what is possible in others who are different from me. It is helpful to see that this ideal exists, and it allows me to think that maybe I too can work towards goals such as these. Moreover, I found the playful tough-love tone of this piece to be compassionate and empathetic, not exclusionary. The author seems to me to be saying yes, I know you are human and have human foibles, but this is worth aiming towards; and, more importantly, less unachievable than it seems. And perhaps even more importantly, that your attitude, rather than your material ability/lack thereof, is what is standing in the way. This is an empowering message because my attitude is something that I can change, whereas my material ability is something I cannot.

A message that encourages me to try a little harder is welcome in these times, because without some discipline my work lands up bleeding into the entirety of life (given that my days do not have the structural format that they used to). Now that I don’t ‘head to work,’ or ‘head home from work,’ or see people throughout my day, if I’m undisciplined I land up at my desk 12 hours a day and can feel quite lonely. Some advice that says, hey dummy (or yes, hey wuss), there is no need to spend 12 hours a day doing 6 hours worth of work, is incredibly well received right now. I mention this so that this is not seen as a ‘cope’ or something of the sort. I do not take heart from this essay because I hope to become an automaton of academic publishing, but precisely because I am actually trying to achieve greater balance and distance from my work in my life.
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Shelley Lynn Tremain
Shelley Lynn Tremain
1 month ago

In this month’s installment of Dialogues on Disability, disabled graduate student Alex Bryant makes a number of very valuable remarks about teaching how to write philosophy, writing guides, time, and disability that seem pertinent to this discussion. Do the sorts of standards introduced in this post unfairly disadvantage disabled students and disabled philosophers in general? You can find my interview with Alex Byrant here: https://biopoliticalphilosophy.com/2021/01/20/dialogues-on-disability-shelley-tremain-interviews-alex-bryant/Report

Nicolas Delon
1 month ago

As always the worry with such advice is that it can’t generalize. If all candidates follow it then none will stand out. It’s just amplifying an already intense arms race. Of course, given that the arms race is ongoing, it would be irrational to not do what others are doing to stand out, unless you have a secret trick to really stand out. But the collective action problem doesn’t disappear.Report

R.
R.
1 month ago

Here’s my advice: life is too short to only worry about how productive one is. And it’s wrong to strengthen norms related to the cult of productivity, since they are only exacerbating the prisoner’s dilemma that this rate race in essence is. Let’s all agree to aim for max two articles by the time you go on the job market, on topics you really care about, and that you took long enough to think about so that the resulting paper is not merely clever, but also wise. Oh, and this: Don’t be a machine, be a Mensch. Not just because it’s the right thing to do, but also because it will increase the odds that philosophers on the hiring committee will want to be your colleague. Report

a placement director
a placement director
1 month ago

As someone who has been both a placement director and a hiring committee member, I just want to echo the idea that publishing this much is *not* a good idea for job market purposes. There would definitely be a prima facie stigma (I’m not saying a justified one) against this kind of candidate in my R1 department, which I think would suspect that such a candidate was not serious about their own work, didn’t spend a lot of time polishing papers, or thought that the right thing to do is to try to publish every idea one has (it’s not–that part I’ll stand behind!). Of course, we would try to read some of the work before making a real judgment, but I think this would cloud our initial impression significantly. (And I admit that when I first read this post, my initial impression was–and I’m not saying this is rationally justified or fair at all, and I did immediately call myself out on it, but I do think it’s worth admitting to–that there is no way this person’s work could be good.

Similarly, as Caligula’s Goat says, I do think this would scare off many non-R1 faculty.

However, I suspect there is a special exception to all this for Christian candidates who work in philosophy of religion. For some reason my impression is that many Christian colleges like this sort of relentless output and don’t find it threatening. I’m not sure why or if that is the correct impression or not. (Perhaps they think that Christian candidates will be more likely to genuinely want to work at a Christian university or something.)

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Wayne Myrvold
Wayne Myrvold
1 month ago

I would like to add my own experience to what placement director said. I have, for the past two decades, been a member of a largeish department at a research-oriented university. I have been on a number of appointments committees in that time.

Evidence of potential for excellence in research has always been a major component in our searches. It is good to see publications, but an excessively large number of publications is a red flag. As there are few who can publish top-notch work at a high rate, having more than a few publications pre-Ph.D. raises a worry that the candidate is not serious.

It’s a defeasible worry, of course, and the writing sample sent counts for a lot.
As to the advice to finish a paper within a few weeks of starting it: there may be people in the field who can consistently write papers that are a genuine contribution to knowledge in that time, but there are not many. I have not read Mr. Hendricks’ work, so I pass no judgment on his ability. I know that I, personally, require time to think about a topic before I can write something that would be worth anyone’s time to read, and this applies to most of the people in the field that I know.

My advice to young scholars is the following. Aristotle told us that virtue is a mean between opposing vices. That applies to academic virtues, as well. One vice is excessive perfectionism, endlessly revising a paper and never sending it out. Avoid that trap. Another vice is sending something out that is ill-conceived or half-baked. Aim for the virtuous mean between these vices. If you are in doubt about where that sweet spot is, I hope that you have an advisor or someone else more experienced that you are, whose judgment you trust. Consult those who are in a position to play a mentoring role.Report

Thom Brooks
1 month ago

Many of these points raised in my Publishing Advice for Graduate Students found here – https://papers.ssrn.com/sol3/papers.cfm?abstract_id=1085245 – for those interested. I am working on a book length ms on getting into academia. Report

Kate Norlock
1 month ago

This is a post full of very good advice, although as a constantly tasked referee, I hope that grad students wondering if this is all correct read down far enough to see me say: DON’T ignore referees’ advice on rejections that come with comments! This is very bad advice. Most of it is good. But this is bad. I don’t like any of the criticisms I get on my rejections-with-comments. I don’t like them because they are criticisms when I wanted acceptance. However, taking at least some of them into account has always helped my writing, and more importantly, when I get a request to referee something that I previous rejected for another journal, and I only realize, after opening it to consider the job, that it’s that same work with not one of my time-consumed comments taken into account, then I politely decline to referee (no worries there, you won’t get a biased “wth” report) but I do, I really do find myself wondering who disregarded even my most achievable suggestions for revision. I full appreciate the grimly transactional approach that the current realities are motivating here, and I think the guest-post is, on balance, accurately capturing the deep badness of the state of both publishing and the market, but ignoring all the work of any referee when you don’t like their comments is not advice to take.Report

E2
E2
1 month ago

Others have said it but I’ll reiterate: aiming to have a paper complete from first idea to submission within 2 weeks is not good advice.

By this I do not mean that a good paper cannot be written in 2 weeks. I do not mean that anyone who works this quickly *must* be doing poor work. I do not mean that everyone should try to take longer than two weeks to write a paper. I mean that it is advice that is inappropriate and will lead to bad consequences for at least the majority of those for whom the advice is intended: grads and ecrs.

Some grads and ecrs might be the special kind of super-genius who is intimately familiar with all the relevant literature on the topics they’re working on already and can consistently knock out great and original ideas in a well-polished piece of work within 2 weeks. But most aren’t like this. For most, if they’re going from idea to submission in 2 weeks then the likely result is either going to be half-baked, or, on the off chance the initial idea was a really good one that doesn’t need further development, then it’ll probably be saying something that’s been said before, resulting in a paper that reinvents the wheel but without any attribution or acknowledgement of those who’ve come before. Either way the likely end result in most cases will be is poor scholarship. And for the rest of us, we get yet more papers submitted to a crowded journal system that’s already creaking under the weight of salami-sliced ideas and papers putting forward points that have already been made dozens of times before.

(yeah yeah I know: extremely high publication rate doesn’t entail poor scholarship. I never said it did. I said that if many grads and ecrs were to follow the advice to submit papers within 2 weeks from initial idea, the likely result in most cases will be poor scholarship. Most such papers will get published somewhere eventually because peer review in this discipline is a joke and you’ll get in if you roll the dice often enough, but you’ll also look bad to those who pay a bit more attention to the work (eg, those on hiring committees).) Report

tenure-track professor
tenure-track professor
1 month ago

This isn’t to say this is bad advice, given what philosophy has become. Some of it is good advice. But it’s a shame that this is what philosophy has become.Report

Caroline
Caroline
1 month ago

What does his wife do? Relevant for the usefulness and applicability of the advice, it seems.Report

MM
MM
1 month ago

Just dropping in to point out the casual sexism of this piece: the way wives are framed as time sucks as opposed to maybe easing particular burdens (through the division of domestic labor) that might afford a person more time. Because you know wives and how much time they suck up, if you had more than one you’d never get any writing done. Report

Perry Hendricks
1 month ago

Thanks for all the comments, everyone!

As Justin notes, this post *does not* say that grad students should publish 18 papers (or even a lot of papers). (I’m puzzled about where anyone got that idea from! This is never even hinted at in the post.) Instead, this post is just advice on how to publish. This should also do away with other criticisms that suggest that I’m urging quantity over quality in publications. I do not encourage that. I’ve never written anything in order to make my CV look better. The only time I write is if I have an idea. And if I have an idea, I tend to want to get it written out (and this includes doing the necessary research). I suggest other grad students do the same.

Additionally, there have been accusations that this advice is sexist and ableist. These charges are serious, but their merits aren’t: there is no reasonable interpretation of anything I said that is sexist or ableist.

Finally, one piece of advice that I’ve been convinced should be changed is on B.1.a and B.1.b: a more appropriate suggestion would be 1 month (each) instead of 1 week each. (Of course, for some projects this isn’t possible.) Let’s chalk this mistake up to my status as grad student scum!Report

Lewis Powell
1 month ago

My post was already linked once on the mini-heap; but since I disagree with “do not revise in light of comments you disagree with”, and have different advice, I thought I would re-link it here: https://horselesstelegraph.wordpress.com/2021/01/06/the-evidential-value-of-bad-referee-reports/Report

Carolyn Dicey Jennings
Carolyn Dicey Jennings
1 month ago

“As Justin notes, this post *does not* say that grad students should publish 18 papers (or even a lot of papers). (I’m puzzled about where anyone got that idea from! This is never even hinted at in the post.)”

One of the things I have noticed in my own writing is how easy it is for others to misunderstand what I have intended to say, and even what I think the words do say. (Especially if/when my ideas are very different from the currently received view.) I often spend the most time on my papers in editing/rewriting. One paper that I finally published in 2015 was rewritten, start to finish, more than 4 times (this one: https://faculty.ucmerced.edu/cjennings3/PhilStudies.pdf). While the ideas and basic arguments were the same, in my mind, the papers were very different. The framing, wording, etc. were different. I sometimes had different audiences in mind, or different starting points. Each version grew out of a frustration with a previous version. In one case, I presented a version of the paper at a conference and realized that the way I presented the arguments in the slides I presented was easier for the audience to understand than the written version, so I started from them for the next draft. (True story: the only revision requested by PS for publication was to add an “objections” section. Given how many times I had presented the paper that was easy; I wrote the section with a long line of footnotes: “thanks to xx for this objection.”) Given everyone’s reduced capacity to read and consume information, it is all the more important that your own writing is framed in the right way if it is going to reach your audience, especially if you are relatively junior in the profession (because people aren’t as likely to make an effort; especially especially if you are minoritized). In my view, it just takes time to see how your framing is received (especially, again, if your way of thinking is very different from that of your audience). Echoing Daniel Munoz above, I would suggest that it is perfectly reasonable to write drafts and try them out at conferences/reading groups/workshops for a year or two before trying to publish them.

A separate issue worth considering, that is more general, is that your profile as a graduate student can inform your career fit, so if you publish a lot in grad school you may well get a job that expects that pattern from you. if you are not that person, you may be unhappy in that job. Once you have figured out what the normal/expected range is for the kinds of jobs you want (say, 2-5 peer-reviewed journal/chapter publications at graduation), you might want to shoot for somewhere within that range that reflects your values. If you value slow philosophy, shoot for 2, and you will be more likely to find a place that values that, too. If you value a more nimble publication pace, shoot for 5, and you will be more likely to find a place that values that. I understand that even getting one offer is very difficult. In my personal view, this is more likely, too, if you have a clear, coherent, authentic brand that you can stand by.

All of that said, I am sure it is difficult receiving so much negative feedback at once, especially as a grad student. I am glad you have been willing to share your perspective with us all, even if I disagree with it. Report

AsstProf
AsstProf
1 month ago

Congratulations to OP for their productivity! My first piece of advice which I got as an undergrad and has served me well, is: better to graduate and get a job and get paid better than you’re getting paid now as a student. Especially given your output! Defend your dissertation and get paid that professor money!
My second piece of advice which I got in graduate school is: don’t publish too much too soon, because your views will change, and you really want your best ideas out there front and center. Not every well interesting idea is one you necessarily want to publish? But then there are many stripes of philosophers.
I graduated college over 10 years ago and I’m constantly astounded how much my views change and how much there is to read and how poorly I understood anything when I was younger. I second Daniel Muñoz’s suggestions that articles can sometimes take a year to research and revise well.Report

Non-native woman of color
Non-native woman of color
1 month ago

As a woman of color and a non-native English speaker, I feel these “guest post” terrifying. In all honesty, I am also puzzled why daily nous publishes such posts. I also respect this perspective, but I wonder whether whatever perspective needs to be represented in the daily nous platform?

I personally take long time to write every sentence in perfect English, and shifting the way of thinking from Chinese or Arabic to English NEEDS LOTS OF TIME. And come on, writing good philosophy takes time. As we also know, just introducing some “philosophical questions” and writing too many long essays for a native speaker is much faster, and much doable. I really hope that the meaning of “success” in academic philosophy is not going this way. Report

A
A
1 month ago

I think this post and the subsequent discussion is useful. One thing I’ll add though: It is suggested in OP (and I hear it a lot in similar discussions) that your chances of getting the same referee twice are slim. I’m just not convinced that this is true. Perhaps I am an exception, but I regularly find myself refereeing the same papers many times (in one case 4 times for 4 separate journals). I let editors know that I have previously refereed a paper before I accept the referee request, and only once has this resulted in them seeking an alternative referee. I also have the impression (although it’s hard to verify) that I have had papers refereed by the same person multiple times. I’ll add that my research is pretty broad. This doesn’t just result from me working in a niche area where there is a scarcity of referees. Report

RJM
RJM
1 month ago

I agree with almost all the concerns that have been raised above, and more generally that, in a world that was even a bit better than this one, a lot of this would be bad advice. Still, there’s a point that I think the author is trying to make here that I fundamentally agree with, and I do think it would be good if it were more widely accepted and internalised, especially by graduate students and other precariously employed members of our profession. The point is that producing work that is “publishable”–that is, of a standard that has a real shot of being accepted by reputable journals, even the very top journals–is not some special. rare skill that only philosophical geniuses or people studying or employed at fancy departments possess. it’s just an ordinary skill, one that anyone doing a PhD in philosophy is able to develop with enough time. Of course, this isn’t to downplay the difficulties people face in actually publishing their work. For any skill that most people can, with enough work, develop there will be people who aren’t able to develop that skill, whether because they just lack the time, or for some other reason, and the fact they don’t have the skill merely reflects the fact that something has prevented them from developing it. It is often the case that this obstacle is structural, in which case we should try to remove it. But, at least in the case of this particular skill, I think one of the barriers to developing it is often a basic misunderstanding about how difficult it is to publish your work. So much mystique seems to surround publishing that it is important to dis-spell this misunderstanding.Report

Adriana Alcaraz
Adriana Alcaraz
1 month ago

Even if the post didn’t intend to encourage students to write over 18 articles by the time they finish their PhD, the sort of ‘advice’ you give here adds more pressure in an already toxic academic environment. Grad philosophers students we are already feeling over-pressured to be constantly writing, submitting papers and trying to make our way in the highly competitive academic philosophy market. By saying that ‘if I don’t have more than one husband or partner or else [btw, here you have the first hindrance of sexism on your post], and no kids to look after, I don’t abuse drugs and exercise enough’ I should have more than plenty of time to have four articles at a time under review, you are extremely downgrading the time that takes to go from conceiving an idea to having a manuscript ready. First, many grad students don’t have more than one partner or any other dependents and have a healthy lifestyle yet they struggle with other things (oh, mental health issues! oh, minor/major physical impairments, oh, pandemic!). Second, even if I’m lucky enough to be a privileged white woman ‘working in the easiest job of the world (aka ‘humanities’), I still don’t have a draft ready within a month if I ‘write one hour a day’. Since when do you write a philosophy article by dedicating one hour a day on it? Have you included in this ‘ONE’ hour a day surveying the literature? Ah, no, because according to you I don’t need to, I can just write whatever comes from the top of my head. Have you included in this ‘ONE’ hour discussing my thesis and presenting to a wider audience so I can get feedback and see the different opinions out there? Ah, no, because according to you if my idea is right then I should fight for MY idea to which everyone will agree with. Have you included in this ‘ONE’ hour proofreading, copy-editing and making sure that the language is idiomatic? Ah, no, because philosophy is only done by native English-speakers that manage the language perfectly.
For the sake of my own integrity, mental health and self-respect, I’m off to be a ‘wuss’Report

Moti Gorin
Moti Gorin
1 month ago

All good advice from Perry Hendricks. Even if one cannot or perhaps should not publish 18 articles as a graduate student, it’s a good idea to publish more than 0 articles, and the advice, if followed, will be helpful in doing so.

There can be too much pressure to publish, but the fact of the matter is that in the current job climate, having some publications can be enormously helpful. This is indisputable. Given this, the advice offered is helpful. It will help with that first, very valuable publication, just as well as it will work for that 18th (if you ever get there–I haven’t). I wish I had gotten this advice in such concise form as a graduate student–I had to piece it together from a variety of different sources, but what I pieced together conforms quite nicely with what we find here in one place, provided by Hendricks. What he’s written should be read and, at a minimum, seriously considered by every graduate student in philosophy who intends to pursue an academic career.

As for those who claim that not everyone has the time, it’s important for you to know that you’ll likely have less time as a professor. Report

Joona Räsänen
1 month ago

I want to add something since the discussion is going on… The job market is so bad nowadays that it is better to assume that you are not going to get a job no matter what you do and focus on doing something you like. Some people will think you publish too much, some think you do not publish enough. Others think your papers are not good enough, others think you publish in wrong places. Some will say you are too interdisciplinary to get a job, some say you are not interdisciplinary enough. Publishing is fun, that’s why you should do it. I also think it is much better to have the philosophical discussion on the print where everybody can follow and take part in the debate (paywalls are a problem I admit) rather than have the discussions on the hallways of the Ivy-league universities and submitting to journals only when you have finally managed to prove something – as journals were some kind of dusty archives!

If you do not think publishing/writing is fun you should do something else. If you manage to get a job, then you will have to publish anyway so better start doing it now. (so-called teaching jobs might be an exception here, I guess you should love teaching then… but I do not know about them much. In the Nordic Countries, there are no teaching jobs, all universities are what I guess are called research universities in the U.S).

Personally, I’ll try to write everyday but fail to do so constantly. I have still managed to publish quite a lot. One of my last journal submission was written in 5 weeks (I would have done it faster but it is co-authored), it was decisioned minor revision and I am now waiting for the final acceptance. I had an idea for another one in my head for a few years but once I decide to write it, it only took a couple of weeks (it contains empirical work that I had to go through as well). It is not impossible to write ‘good enough’ papers in a couple of weeks as long as you work on niche enough topics and submit to specialised journals or less prestigious philosophy journals. It probably is impossible to write a journal article in a couple of weeks if you are aiming for top-5 philosophy journals and you have a broad and ambitious topic. Oh, and since some of you might wonder, yes I am a healthy white male with no kids. I also have zero teaching obligations, very little course work and I get paid quite well for doing my PhD, so yes, that is the best job in the world. All of these probably help. I am not a native English speaker though.Report

Daniel Groll
Daniel Groll
1 month ago

Like many others, I was a combination of shocked and amazed to learn that the author has 18 publications only three years into graduate school. No matter how you slice it, the author has been very successful in getting stuff published. And the heart of the advice is very good I think (i.e. “Get into a regular writing routine”, which is something I wish I had done many, many years earlier. It is quite amazing how quickly an hour’s worth of writing a day adds up).

But it is worth contextualizing the author’s success a little, since I think it’s very easy to walk away with an inaccurate impression of what “18 publications” means here.

First, a fair number of the author’s publications are just a few pages long. I don’t point that out to belittle the work. My point, rather, is that if people translate “18 publications” into “18 papers” and have in mind full, philosophy-journal-length papers, then they will walk away with an inaccurate picture of the author’s publication record.

Relatedly, moving from an idea to a draft in a week looks less demanding when the paper in question is only a few pages long (though it is certainly fast, and certainly faster than I do anything!). This is true both because there’s just less to write but also because such short papers tend to be very, very focused indeed. They’re usually about spelling out a particular idea in the context of a very particular debate.

Related once again: bioethics has more opportunities for publishing these short pieces, either as statements of an original idea or as responses to other people (who have, perhaps, responded to your original paper). So, it’s easier in bioethics to generate publications that are, in effect, cycles of discussions carried out via relatively small philosophical bites. I don’t mean to knock this! I like that bioethics journals allow this kind of back and forth. My point is just that the subfield presents opportunities for publishing that many (most?) other subfields don’t.

And then finally: I think it’s just easier to publish in bioethics than it is in many other areas of philosophy. I think there are various reasons for this, but I’ve already mentioned one: the bioethics journals just publish more, in part because they publish kinds of papers that most “mainstream” philosophy journals won’t consider.

This is in no way meant to diminish the author’s publication record (among other things, many of his publications aren’t in bioethics. And even just counting the “full length” papers, he has published a ton for a graduate student), but rather to correct what I suspect is an inaccurate picture in many people’s minds of what “18 publications” means in this context.Report

David Thorstad
David Thorstad
1 month ago

Thanks to Perry for a great post! I think it’s worth acknowledging that there are a plurality of writing strategies, each appropriate for different types of papers and publication trajectories. Sometimes you have a quick idea and it’s a great idea to dash that idea off into a short paper within a week or two without much additional reading, comment-seeking, redrafting, and the like. But sometimes you have a more complex paper that might need a year or two of research, several sets of comments and many drafts. It’s helpful for me to think not of a single set of advice or procedures for writing papers, but about the type of process, effort and timeline that might be appropriate for any given paper. Report

Get over it
Get over it
1 month ago

I second the person above that said that if you don’t enjoy writing/publishing your work, then you need to move on. I am a slow writer and many of my ideas are bad, but I am constantly thinking about how to tweak ideas and term papers to become publishable. I see many people in my department (I am an MA but there are many PhDs there) loathing the idea of publishing their work. I just want to grab them and shake them out of the delusion that doing philosophy is just reading and teaching. Oh well.
Also, if that wuss line is offensive to you and “toxic” to the field, then I think you should probably go out into the real world and see what people would call you outside of the tower. Report

A Philosopher
A Philosopher
1 month ago

“there is no reasonable interpretation of anything I said…” = desk rejectReport

Daniel Bonevac
Daniel Bonevac
1 month ago

The timeline for journal responses doesn’t fit my experience. A verdict within 3 months is rare; 6–12 months is typical.Report

HowDidIEndUpHere
HowDidIEndUpHere
1 month ago

I’m a little bit surprised (but not completely) by how offended so many people have been by Perry’s call to develop a bit of toughness. Get Over It is right in pointing out that a few minutes in The Real World might help create a bit of perspective, but I actually think what Perry says regarding not being a wuss is important. I’m not sure it’s possible to survive this profession – let alone thrive – without developing a really decent amount of fortitude. I shudder thinking back to my early days of publishing and the crises that submissions and rejections induced in me. Had I not eventually learned how to weather the very stormy waters of the peer review process, I’m not sure my insides would have held out long enough to allow me to stay here. I wish I had learned long before I did that a. this resilience was something that could be developed (as opposed to some mysterious innate property that lucky people had) and b. that *I* could develop it. And for what it’s worth, learning how to cope with the never-ending stream of criticisms and rejections was tied up, for me at least, in a much-needed process of learning how to become a healthy and happy human being. Report

A Paul O'Gee
A Paul O'Gee
1 month ago

I feel like many criticisms of this post would go away if:

(i) There were only vague references to the student’s life/accomplishments
—Ex: why say “I’ve published 18 papers, here’s my advice” when you can say “I’ve been fortunate to publish a lot, here’s my advice”?
–Ex: Why say something like “you have time to publish-after all, I’m way busier than you, probably have more commitments, in good shape and STILL out publishing you ” when you can say “here are tips to help you find time”?

(ii) The somewhat patronizing tone was considered
–Ex: Why call reasons why one might have for not being able to publish a lot, reasons for not turning a one-sentence idea into a paper draft in a week, reasons for not turning in referee reports in 1-2 WEEKS [like a pandemic] “excuses”?
–Ex: Why call people “wusses”?
–Ex: Why say, when considering the objection that some people may not have novel ideas, that writing a response paper “is simple enough”? Why not just say: “here is something you can try if you don’t think your ideas are novel?Report

A Paul O'Gee
A Paul O'Gee
1 month ago

@HowDidIEndUpHere Now one is offended by the claim that developing fortitude is a good idea. No one thinks that it is unimportant to do so. The author did not say “develop a bit of toughness”. What irks people (among many other things) is that they were called “wusses” who make “excuses”. It is easy to give the advice given in a non-patronizing way (as you do). So people wonder: why say something like “don’t be a wuss” when you can just as easily say (again, as you do) the fortitude is helpful and necessary? Report

Avalonian
Avalonian
1 month ago

“These charges are serious, but their merits aren’t: there is no reasonable interpretation of anything I said that is sexist…. ” Ay. Well, here’s the obvious “reasonable interpretation”: you could have said “spouse” or “partner”, both far more linguistically common when talking to a general audience. You didn’t. When someone needlessly singles out only one gender when discussing life burdens, they are expressing the belief that this gender is particularly burdensome. Similarly, when your parents are worrying about the new family that moved in next door and needlessly call them “that black family”, you are licensed to believe that they are drawing some weird connection between blackness and being troublesome. Maybe they don’t have that belief, but they are *expressing* it anyway (we don’t get to have total control over what we linguistically express). What you do in a situation like that is recognize that the expression took place, apologize, and move forward.

Otherwise, thank you for taking the time to write this, much of it is helpful and important. Perhaps one more general lesson from the comments is that people differ radically when it comes to what motivates them. We can all stand to reflect on the fact that each grad student is different and that genuine care requires that we see each person in their particularity. As advisors, we shoulf not try to simply things with one-size-fits-all formulae like “exercise, write an hour a day, and don’t be a wuss”.Report

Fav
Fav
1 month ago

Yeah it doesn’t seem like anyone is ‘offended’ at the author’s tone. But a lot of people are pretty done with the whole pugilistic philosophy-bro shtick.Report

Get Over It
Get Over It
1 month ago

I genuinely have a hard time understanding how this post is sexist and ableist. Do some of you really think that it is sexist to suggest that women write down their ideas whenever they have a free moment if they want to get anywhere in this field? Is there something about being black or gay (as one person above insinuates) that prevents one from following the spirit of this advice? Do lgbt bipoc people operate on a different time-continuum that excludes them from having to prioritize their career prospects like the rest of us poor saps?

Yes, being productive is hard, and having to juggle kids/side jobs/family, etc. makes it even more so. Still, you all are acting like Perry is a monster for telling you that being successful in a highly competitive field means that you have to (uuuhhhh) compete. Report

Who Knows
Who Knows
1 month ago

Re: Avalonian, who said:

“you could have said ‘spouse’ or ‘partner’, both far more linguistically common when talking to a general audience. You didn’t. When someone needlessly singles out only one gender when discussing life burdens, they are expressing the belief that this gender is particularly burdensome.”

I assume that this is about the OP’s reference to their “wife,” i.e.:

“Unless you have more than one wife, more than two kids, more than one part-time non-philosophy job, and have more than one religious commitment, you very probably have more available time than me.“

If my assumption is wrong, then ignore what follows. If not, then it seems that OP is just using “wife” because they have a wife—just as they are using “two kids” because they have two kids. I think that this rules out the interpretation that they’re expressing the burden of the gender “woman,” just as it rules out that they’re expressing the burden of having two kids (rather than one or three or…).

Of course, if expression is out of their control, as Avalonian (I think to some degree rightly) says, then fair enough—though I feel like this raises more difficult questions about the appropriateness of blaming OP. At any rate, I wanted to offer that the sexist reading of OP’s “wife” comment seems plausibly ruled out by the nearby and uncontroversially harmless readings of “two kids” (etc.). They’re all just examples, applicable to OP specifically, from which we are expected to generalize and apply to our own case.Report

tryingtohelp
tryingtohelp
1 month ago

let me explain to the confused people here what is sexist or problematic about this:
a) People have already questioned what job his wife has and who takes care of the household and the kids. Also, about who takes care of the almost-famous mental load of managing all these tasks (doctor’s appointments of kids, the laundry, the grocery shopping, etc.) … and people did so because this is unfortunately a common picture that a man is able to achieve his career goals and maximize his productivity because he has someone who does not only do all his work outside of his job but also organizes which few tasks he should do at home (if any at all). For the people who also have wives who do all their household chores and have no clue what this means: managing all of these chores, doing more than 50% of it, and taking care of a kid is at least a full-time job, if not even two or more. And this whole scenario is not only problematic because this graduate student does not even acknowledge the work his wife does that makes it *possible* in the first place for him to publish this much.. And yes, without saying a word about it, I know that his wife does most of the work at home and is probably also currently homeschooling or babysitting the kids when the kindergarten or school is closed because of the pandemic. Unfortunately, overall this is also a wide-spread phenomena within the Boomer Generation (so most philosophy professors) and is also still the case for following generations.
b) He talks about his wife in this whole article once, only to make the point that she is taking up time or standing in the way of his productivity. And yes, he did not say partner or husband. He was making a point about wives in general. And this is not only out-of-line given a), but also just a classic sexist stereotype: that women, especially wives, are just so annoying to their husbands with all of their women-stuff and reminding them to clean after themselves and wanting some attention—you know, just all these wonderful stereotypes from the 50s. And sure, maybe he was making a joke, but jokes whose punchline is just a stereotype are really neither funny nor anything else than the stereotype in lame. (They are also really simple, do not require any work at all and any ten-year-old can do better jokes than this).
In conclusion, this article just has values, work-life-balances, and gender relations of the 1950s written all over it, including all the weird stereotypes about women that should have died with our grandparents.

And if you agree with a) and b) being the case but do not know why this is problematic and/or sexist: maybe read literally any book on feminism or literature produced by women addressing these issues that was published anytime since the beginning of history. or maybe have friends that are younger than 50? I can’t help you.

(And yes, this did not even address the obvious heteronormativity in this post)Report

No chair
No chair
1 month ago

“Unless you have more than one wife, more than two kids, more than one part-time non-philosophy job, and have more than one religious commitment, you very probably have more available time than me.”

Does the claim about religious commitment imply that the author ignores the value and contributions of that commitment, has disdain for that commitment, has outmoded views about the place of that commitment, considers that commitment a useless distraction from philosophizing, a mere obstacle to be dealt with, or some such thing? Of course not. A charitable reading would suggest, at worst, that he’s just mentioning things which—other than, but no different from, philosophy itself—play an important and substantial role in his life, and therefore take some time away from work. A reading on which the use of “wife” is sexist seems no less charitable than the condemnatory reading of “religious commitment.” That’s not to say that one couldn’t read things in the sexist way—but why do that, when the intention is clearly just to give personal examples of things he cares about?

Plus, there’s a far more serious problem with this piece, IMO: the implied (and perhaps tacitly/accidentally endorsed?) dismal state of the discipline. This itself has enough problematic consequences, especially considering its disproportional impact on women philosophers, philosophers of color, philosophers with little financial stability, philosophers who are caretakers, non-English speaking philosophers, etc. But we’re going to get hung up on the word “wife?” Someone above mentioned getting out of the tower…
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Julia
Julia
1 month ago

Re: Who Knows: Well, suppose he had written “Unless you have … more than two daughters” instead of “more than two children.” Even if his own children are both girls, this phrasing would clearly suggest that there’s something relevant about the children’s gender, and that the point he’s making does not apply to sons, right? Exactly the same is the case for choosing the word ‘wife’ rather than ‘spouse’ or ‘partner.’ He’s saying that his readers don’t have an excuse unless they have more than one *wife*. So he’s either forgetting that not all of his readers are straight men, or he is (maybe unintentionally) suggesting that wives are time-sinks whereas husbands are not.Report

Francesco
Francesco
1 month ago

The advice is all well and good. However I think people who struggle with writing or publishing would rather like to learn something about what goes into the creative process itself. This is also something that can be learned. Looking at his papers, Perry Hendricks has a clear strategy, built around adopting and defending (in his case, two) views. I think most grad students in philosophy are not so committed to any particular view to be not only willing but also able to write about it in the way Perry does. What is the advice in this case then?Report

Arie
Arie
1 month ago

How odd.

This is irresponsible and unhelpful. Clearly you made no attempt to understand the authors intent. Instead, because you don’t care for one line and word he chose, you thought it would be productive to craft some stereotypical narrative about the inequality found in some relationships from baseless assumptions? Assumptions you could not and should not make about the author and his family members.

Not sure what the goal of this bullying was. Just a chance to show your morally superiority? None of this is constructive and I highly doubt the author will take into account any of your concerns after your attempt to punish him. Which, doesn’t appear to have been your goal anyway.

Hopefully you will reconsider your approach when engaging with content you find problematic in the future. I’m sure you would appreciate others take a more charitable and meaningful approach when critiquing your work.

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MM
MM
1 month ago

To be fair, I didn’t drag his wife into this; my derisive comment hinged on the implicit associations encouraged by his comments (see Avalonian’s comment, which I think displays the much valued principle of charity in practice). I talked about how wives are framed in general as a consequence of his particular invocation of his wife. While you might disagree with this move, it seems reasonable in a context saturated with sexism (hint: the context I’m talking about is the actual world. For more on this context see other comments, women’s testimony, etc.). At least, it is reasonable enough for plenty of people to get the joke I made above, including the criticism that was wrapped in it. Also, I thought the satirical tone of my comment would be fair game on a level playing field where a guy writes a blog post about publishing and tells people not to be “wusses”. Also, I’m a grad student too, and, to my mind, a mediocre one (my meagre pub, singular, is forthcoming), so it’s not like I’m punching down, in case that was anyone’s worry.

At this point, I would also like to register my annoyance at the effort to repeatedly deflect criticism by attempted self-mockery using the phrase “grad student scum”. (I have purely comedic aesthetic criticisms about this, but I’ll leave those out for now). (To my chagrin?) I am somewhat like BL in this respect: I don’t think being a grad student gets you a free pass for avoiding criticism when you say (putatively) silly things (even if you didn’t mean it or were misinterpreted; aren’t we trying to avoid being misinterpreted when we write philosophy?). That said, I disagree about precisely what things are (putatively) silly to say. If I’m wrong though, chalk it up to me being a grad student? (Again, jokes)

As for the advice itself, I think most of the good advice in here has been said better already by other people. As others have pointed out, what makes *this piece* bad is the delivery and it’s (somewhat? very?) self-aggrandizing tone that comes through from its virtue signaling (18 pubs, very busy/barely time, drink less; signalling which is not avoided through self-mockery) and its vaguely sexist implicatures (intentional or not; you don’t have to believe sexist things in order to do or say stuff that is sexist). I know it sucks being tone policed, but the thing is, we do things with words and how we say them, whether we intend to or not (again, see Avalonian’s comment).

It seems one question is who should be more/most charitable to whom, how should criticism be delievered, and who should receive criticism patiently. I thought I had licence for my delivery given the “wusses” stuff.

My grammar probably sucks in this post, but hopefully not my reasons.

Maybe we all learn to be a bit better from this.

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Shelley Lynn Tremain
Shelley Lynn Tremain
1 month ago

I have written a post at BIOPOLITICAL PHILOSOPHY that derives from this post. You can find my post at our blog here: https://biopoliticalphilosophy.com/2021/01/23/hendricks-philosophy-maid-and-eugenics-making-the-connections/Report

Who Knows
Who Knows
1 month ago

Re: Julia,

I understand your perspective, and I think it’s an important one to voice. I also agree that subtle instances of sexism are worth being vigilant about. However, in this particular case, I have to respectfully disagree.

To me, the crucial question, vis-a-vis charity, is this: were we to ask OP if he intended specifically to single out his wife *as a wife* rather than *as a spouse who, in his case, happens to be a wife*, what would he say? I would bet a decent sum of money that he’d reply “the latter.” I think that this becomes more obvious if we reflect on the use of children, which you and both mention in different ways. Is he forgetting that not all of his readers have two kids (or any kids, for that matter)? I don’t think so; I think he’s very likely just using them as personal examples. (If he has daughters, and he had said “daughters” instead of “children,” I’d likely feel the same way.) But in that case, why should we think differently about his use of the word “wife”?

I think it’s important here to keep in mind the very different contexts in which words like these are used. Some people, perhaps quite rightly, are uncomfortable with the use of the word “wife.” It feels less inclusive than “partner” or “spouse.” It connotes, at least by association, pejorative and stereotypical uses of the term (e.g., “the nagging wife”). Even the phrase “has a wife” feels weirdly possessive. It’s perfectly reasonable to be sensitive to those kinds of things, and, as I mentioned in my partial agreement with Avalonian, what the word expresses is partly outside of the speaker’s control.

Still, for very, very many people–I’d wager the majority, in the English-speaking world outside of academia–“husband” and “wife” are completely innocent terms, which are intended to mean nothing other than “my spouse.” So, that’s all to say: we can be aware of the accidental impact of a word, I agree, but I think this must be carefully distinguished from the speaker’s intention–one which, in this case, seems totally innocuous.Report

GotFortitude?
GotFortitude?
1 month ago

@Arie I must have missed Dostoyevsky’s great Russian novel “Criticism and Punishment”Report

Grad Student4
Grad Student4
1 month ago

Absolute brain rot in these comments. Just exasperating, terrifying, tragic brain rot. A grad student publishes some take-it-or-leave it advice with evident good will and epistemic humility, and the paladins of philosophy have emerged to tell him he’s sexist and probably doesn’t actually care about philosophy and probably doesn’t have good familial relationships and by implication probably is a piece of dung that should just leave the profession. Now I’m thinking maybe I should leave myself.Report

A. Jouis
A. Jouis
1 month ago

I think that the comments on the wife part have misunderstood what the author meant, to me, very clearly, he is meaning unless you have two families (ie two wives and hidden from each other) which is a practice much more common in heterosexual men but altogether rare.
On the publishing rate, I think people don’t give themselves enough credit, although I would encourage a thorough literature search before embarking on a paper, the common wisdom that your ideas have in all likelihood already been published by someone, unless you’re publishing hyperspecialised baby steps, is not true at all, and even so it could be that your idea is just a much more interesting framing even if the argument is similar.
Also any literature not available on sci hub nor research gate, nor academia.edu nor in open access should not be expected to be found nor cited.Report

E3
E3
1 month ago

@Grad Student4, setting aside the questions of sexism, no one at any point has said that the OP “probably doesn’t care about philosophy”. Replies have said that (1) a very high publication rate as a graduate student is a red flag that has the potential to harm job prospects overall; and (2) the advice for other grads to have their papers complete and submitted in 2 weeks (or even two months) fails to take into account factors such as (a) the time most philosophers will need to properly develop an idea, (b) the amount of time it takes to draft a longer-than-two-pages paper (especially given different writing styles), (c) the amount of time it takes to review a literature to ensure you’re not making an already-made point or just to stay on top of things generally, (d) and various personal and professional commitments that might prevent them from consistently and speedily writing. The advice might work for some, it won’t work for all, and I suspect not most.

(1) is a fact of the world that anyone considering this advice should be very much be aware of. (2) is a criticism of the advice qua advice to graduate students in general, not a criticism of Henry’s published philosophy. (I think you’ll find it you go through the thread carefully that not a single bad word has been said on that front.) Whether the advice was “take it or leave it” or not, it was posted in a widely read public venue – – – such criticisms are therefore important and should be encouraged. I suspect many grads will find the criticisms helpful. Report

AnonGradStudent
AnonGradStudent
1 month ago

There is plenty to dislike about this post. As several commenters have pointed out, most of the good suggestions have been made a thousand times before, and the suggestions that are somewhat novel are at best highly context-dependent and at worst totally counterproductive. It also takes an odd, moralistic detour in the middle by singling out drugs and alcohol as something grad students ought to cut out in order to be more productive. This being said, many of the accusations being lobbed at Perry are absolutely ridiculous. His usage of the term ‘wife’ is obviously due to the fact that he is referencing his own life and commitments in response to the ‘excuse’ that most grad students are too busy to publish. There is absolutely no reason to infer from this usage that Perry thinks wives are especially burdensome or distracting compared to husbands, common law spouses, thruples, boyfriends, girlfriends, or any other sort of romantic partner/partners. Equally if not more absurd is the insinuation that, by not qualifying his short blog post in a million different ways to address every possible difficulty a grad student might face, he is failing to acknowledge the fact that his productivity is due in large part to his privilege relative to “BIPOC, LGBTQ+, individuals with disabilities, first-gen students, etc”. By his own admission, Perry has two dependents and works a part time job (presumably to make ends meet). In several important ways, this makes him significantly *less* privileged than the average Philosophy Ph.D candidate who has no dependents and does not need to take on additional employment outside of their T.A. contract while completing their degree. Of course, all of the various personal and socially imposed challenges people face are not perfectly commensurable, but speaking as a grad student with a couple chronic health issues that have limited my ability to work in the past, I certainly don’t think that Perry’s life circumstances are so much more conducive to academic work than my own that I would have absolutely no success if I tried to apply some of his tips in an attempt to publish more. Report

David Wallace
David Wallace
1 month ago

Proposed addition to C.1(c), (Obvious) Tips to increase your productivity:

(vi) Instead of spending 2 hours a day on microscopic analysis of the fine-grained implications of a DN guest post, spend 1 hour a day (or less).Report

Another Grad Student
Another Grad Student
1 month ago

A majority of the criticism of Perry was careful, thoughtful, and made me think harder about my own writing and about the problems of Perry’s argument. That said, I wish to express my agreement with AnonGradStudent, Grad Student4, Get Over It, and Arie about how “ridiculous” some of the other criticism was. I feel bad for Perry, and Justin, who clearly wanted to be helpful or at least generate discussion about the actual topic, and then were subject to these inane comments. I think it is rarely appreciated how hard that can be on someone, in real life, when people respond to your writing online this uncharitably. Perry was probably shocked and hurt. Two quick items:

Three (by my count) commenters made something like the trivial argument that Perry should not be considered above criticism. Uh, what several of us are saying is that your particular criticisms are unfair and profoundly not compelling, not that there should be no criticism at all. It seems people who make the most unfair criticisms often hide behind “are you saying there can be no criticism???” but we’re not saying that, we are just holding you to the same standard to which you claim to hold others.

Avalonian’s post was particularly unhelpful and seemed to be a jumping point for other inane criticism. I agree with AnonGradStudent there is absolutely no reason for the relevant inference, the word in question was not “singling out” anything because he was referencing his own life. Avalonian your analogy to the neighbors is unhelpful and not an analogy…you are trying to make the OP guilty by association to a case of racism that is clearly offensive. Your saying the OP should “apologize” is absurd in the extreme, and it is an empirical claim whether “partner” and “spouse” are more common (and you say not just more common but “far more” common! Wow, armchair empiricism with confidence)…I observe the opposite and I see “my wife” and “my husband” used constantly in the situation you say (speaking to a general audience). Last, you never answered what you promised which was the “reasonable interpretation” of sexism. Your post was anything but reasonable.

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MM
MM
1 month ago

David Wallace is right, so this will be my last post on this thread and I am going to frame it in terms of some writing advice. (Look forward to my DN guest post on writing well…. jk)

A good thing to do when writing is to think about your audience, who they will be and how they might interpret what you say. I think this is a careful and subtle skill that takes time to acquire. Lord knows I often do it very poorly, but practice has helped, as have good mentors and friends. As Jennings’ post above makes clear, achieving the right balance here can take quite some time and that is why taking time to edit and reflect is valuable and useful.

In effect, when I teach undergrads to write, I tell them that they are learning a subtle art of mind control, if done right. Why’s that? For one thing, it sounds funny when I say that, and humor done well can be a useful rhetorical trick for winning your audience’s good will. But, more seriously, I tend to think people are humean in respect of what particular associations their minds are liable to make. Accordingly, if you can think ahead to the associations your audience is liable to make, you can write in such a way that they will probably make the associations you want them to make. I encourage students to see the onus as on them for their audience to come away with the right interpretation. It sure makes the reader’s job easier.

Now here, the obvious audience is graduate students in philosophy as is signaled by the title of the guest post. So while it might be true what someone said about innocuous connotations of “husbands and wives” for joe public, I don’t think that is a necessarily fair assumption about your audience when your audience is graduate students in philosophy in general. Why? Well, this is a group that likely has richer analyses of particular identities that are associated with such terms and similar ones. This is a group that is going to be aware of some contextual matters that will make certain associations more than likely.

For these reasons, if my students use particular examples in their writings, when I give them feedback, I ask them to also articulate the general lesson to be drawn from the example. I want to encourage them to make their point clear.

@Francesco, my advice for the creative process is to read widely and talk to different people. Not saying that this is original advice; sometimes the recieved wisdom is right. In my own experience, good reading is a foundation for good thinking and good thinking the foundation for good writing. Also, I think it helps to do whatever it is you do to enjoy life and feel fulfilled. I find I’m never very productive when I have too many other stressors and life anxieties. For some people, what makes them fulfilled might be having a loving family or partner at home. For others, it might be having an awesome supportive friend circle. For others, it might be having different connections, or very few, maybe some pets. For some people, that might be having a faith community. People are very different in this respect.

This all brings me back my original criticism. In this piece, sure, wives are brought up alongside other things that the author regards as valuable. But! All those things are written about as things that take up one’s time, and, given the way this whole thing is framed, the implication is that they take time away from (the all-important tasks of?) work and writing. What goes unacknowledged is the way that these things in one’s life can help one to be productive because of the fulfillment and support that they bring, even if they require one’s time and effort. Actually, the time that such things take you away from writing might actually be part of what makes one a productive writer! Moreover, the support that wives have provided to their (sometimes quite successful) male counterparts throughout history has very widely gone unacknowledged. That is overlooked again in this piece and simply mentioned alongside other things that take up time, valuable or not, is just part of what I find so damn tiresome about *this piece*.

For those with other criticisms from a BIPOC, Disability, LGBTQ lens, I apologize for focusing on just this one criticism. I think your criticisms are valuable as well.

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Lisa
Lisa
1 month ago

Much of the comments here have been focused on particular pieces of advice or expectations of a level of productivity. I’d like to come at this from a different angle: that of the referee. Increasingly, I am finding myself refereeing what seem to me to be seminar papers — they are perhaps specialized enough to be able to avoid desk rejection. While these papers merit an A as a seminar paper, they are far from ready to be published. More often than not, I end up writing a fair amount of comments to help the author work the paper up. But at the same time I am muttering that this sort of comment is the responsibility of the seminar instructor or supervisor. The time I spend being a good referee takes away from my own research, my own students, and my departmental responsibilities. I do not get paid extra for refereeing these papers. I do not get extra hours in the day. So, as graduate students are thinking about whether or not they should try to publish a paper first, I ask simply: please talk to your professor or supervisor, ask them to read the paper you intend to submit and provide feedback, and ask them whether it is ready to be submitted for a full on refereeing process. Do not use the journal refereeing process as a mechanism to get feedback on your work. And to the faculty who are working with graduate students, please complete your end things: be willing to read grad student work, provide feedback, and give realistic and balanced advice about journal submission. Report

GradStudent
GradStudent
1 month ago

@Lisa. I’m definitely sympathetic to the massive burden that referees are currently faced with, but I think this problem is difficult to meaningfully address given the current incentives the system produces. As things stand, it is rational for grad students (and non-tenured academics in general!) to submit any and all coherent papers they have completed even if many of these papers are not really publishable in their current state. There is simply no downside to doing so and a potentially large upside because, despite the best efforts of editors and referees, substandard or “seminar level” papers routinely do pass through the review process and get published. Indeed, I know for a fact that one of the top Ph.D programs in the U.S. advises their students to more-or-less throw stuff out to journals constantly and see what sticks; a strategy that has resulted in many of their doctoral students having 2-4 publications in respectable journals prior to completing their degrees. Given this, my hunch is that instead of expecting grad students to self-police, journals should just start quickly desk rejecting more papers. Not only will this take the burden off of reviewers, it will also benefit non-tenured academics trying to publish because if their paper isn’t close to making the cut at a particular journal it really isn’t optimal for them to have to wait 2-3 months to be told this, especially given the fact that almost all journals forbid the submission of articles that are under review elsewhere.
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What Chair?
What Chair?
1 month ago

Re: MM, who said:

“But! All those things are written about as things that take up one’s time, and, given the way this whole thing is framed, the implication is that they take time away from (the all-important tasks of?) work and writing.”

We can assume that the author is religious, given his reference to “religious commitments“ in the list of “things that take up one’s time.” Do you believe he meant to imply that working on philosophy is more important than religion? I don’t know of any religious person, philosopher or otherwise, who would think such a thing. Of course, one *can* read him that way. But he’s clearly not suggesting it. By parity, he isn’t suggesting it about his wife, his children, or anything else he mentioned. He doesn’t need to go out of his way to (distractingly, given the point of the piece) praise these things, not least because it’s already obvious that he values them.Report

David Wallace
David Wallace
1 month ago

@Lisa/GradStudent:
Possibly I have a too-constrained view of what a “good referee” should do, but I don’t regard “help[ing] the author work up” the paper as part of my job, unless I’m giving an R&R verdict. The journal editor is asking me whether the paper should be published; my obligation is to give them an answer and a justification for that answer that both they and the author can understand. If the paper’s central argument has a fatal flaw, I need to explain that flaw. If there are unacceptably serious failures to engage with existing debates, I need to explain those failures. If there are severe technical errors in the paper, I need to say what those errors are. If the paper just doesn’t make an original contribution, I need to explain why that is. That task takes time, of course, and some of Lisa’s comments apply to that task as well (though I don’t agree that I don’t get paid for doing it: it’s part of my core job description, albeit not a very well measured or incentivised part). But I don’t owe the author further advice as to how to improve their paper. That’s their problem, and their supervisor’s or mentors’ problem; it’s not the journal editor’s problem, and so it’s not my problem. Report

MM
MM
1 month ago

Re: What Chair?

Okay, I’m seriously stopping after this per David Wallace’s advice.

If you read what was written, it is pretty clearly not a question of what the original author values or not, nor whether he is personally sexist as others have misinterpreted. There is a conjunction of things going on: the unique mention and what goes unsaid. When combined in a particular context, these produce a particular effect in a particular audience. You disagree that this effect is reasonable, I think it is reasonable given the presumed audience and some relevant contextual information. I would feel fairly confident wagering that it seems plenty reasonable to others in possession of what they likewise take to be the relevant contextual information. So maybe what you disagree about is just what counts as the relevant contextual information. As someone else said earlier, albeit with some really poor taste personal assumptions and criticisms which I in no way endorse, if you do not understand that some of what I take to be relevant contextual information is reasonable, then I (probably?) can’t help you (but I’ve tried).

Whether rightly or wrongly, like I said, I’m a humean about these things, this is (a rough approximation of) what I hear when the author refers to his religious and other commitments as he does:

If you don’t have some comparable quantity or quality of commitments as I do, then you probably have more time than me (I’ll come back to this conditional, but this is almost verbatim, so, at the very least we can agree that it is reasonable for me to hear it).

If you probably have more time than me, then you should be capable of publishing your work (granted, but because I simply take the consequent to be true; also not unreasonable for me to hear)

If you don’t have some comparable quantity or quality of commitments as I do, then you should be capable of publishing your work (same as above, but simply because I take the consequent to be true; also not unreasonable to hear in light of the above)

If you should be capable of publishing your work but you do not, then you might be (probably? I’m not so sure about the modal strength with which I hear this) relying on some (combination) of the excuses I list here (obviously false, however, whether or not it is unreasonable for me to hear this is an open question; at least it doesn’t seem prima facie unreasonable given that the author provides a list of excuses and tips for being more productive)

And then there seems to be some further conditional of the form:

If you rely on some (combination) of the excuses I list here, then you’re doing something wrong, (or as others have put it: maybe you don’t belong in philosophy, etc.). (I also think this is false; again, open question as to whether or not it is reasonable for me to hear this, but like I said: humean)

If you put it all together you get something like:

If you don’t have comparable commitments and you’re not publishing, you’re doing something wrong. (yeah….no; call me foolish but some of the weird moralising tone in this piece would seem to explain why I hear this)

So let’s go back to that first conditional because that’s the one I’m focused on. I’m saying, let’s investigate that conditional a little more and see about how those commitments figure into productivity, for which available time is simply one relevant factor.

All the author does is list those commitments as a way to talk about how little time he has, despite which he manages to be very productive. Good on ya, bro. He could think they’re the most valuable commitments in the world, great, good for him. That’s not what I’m on about.

I’m saying, hey, you know that thing you list as a commitment that takes up some of your time, and even if you value it most highly? The one for which you use a decidedly gendered term? Maybe that commitment doesn’t actually leave you with less time for writing and being productive. Maybe it actually generates more time and productivity. And if that’s true, might that not be worth mentioning in a piece that is putatively about productivity insofar as it is connected to publishing? So why not mention it in a piece that is supposedly about giving advice about productivity/publishing? It never occured to you? Odd that it never occurred to you, why might that be?

I leave it to the audience to fill in the space of reasons in light of what has already been said.

All mistakes are my own.
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Sam Duncan
Sam Duncan
1 month ago

Even if the advice in this post has been published by others elsewhere, it’s still good to publish it if the advice is good advice. What harm does it do? None. What good might it do? Well a bit since not everyone has read those posts. Some of this is unambiguously good advice. For instance, developing a routine and sticking to it it if you can is enormously helpful for doing anything whether it’s writing, class prep, training for a foot race, or keeping your kitchen clean (not that I always take that good advise as evidenced by the fact I’m posting here at 7 AM). Some of the other advice here strikes me as not so much outright wrong but as possibly too simplistic. But rather than blast Mr. Hendricks I think the best response, and certainly the most helpful response for everyone, would be to take this as a jumping off point for a bigger discussion about publishing. For instance, I think he’s a little too ready to dismiss referee reports. I’ve had more than a few papers that would have gotten in print sooner if I’d taken the referee reports from rejections more seriously than I did. On the other I’ve also had papers that became clearly worse and were later rejected due to me changing things in light of referee objections. It’s *hard* to know what to do with referee comments and I doubt that any hard and fast rule or bullet point can settle the issue. I do think Mr. Hendricks advice is good in that many graduate students have a tendency to do too much to in response to some of the dumber and more malicious referee comments but taken literally I’m more dubious. The same goes for submitting papers so quickly. I often find that I hit a wall with a paper benefits enormously from me putting aside for a few weeks or even longer and then coming back to them. Again I think Hendrick’s advice is useful in that grad students and many others err in the direction of taking too long and many of us at all stages in our careers struggle with procrastination. But again as a hard and fast rule I find it much more dubious. Anyway, what I’d really like to see is more people in the profession talk about their process for writing and their development on this issue. What’s worked for you? What hasn’t? What are what you take to be good habits you’ve developed? How did you develop them? What are bad ones? I think that would be interesting and helpful. I’d honestly like to see a whole series of posts like that here or elsewhere.
Finally, I guess I really shouldn’t but I can’t help but weigh in on the criticisms some people have leveled at the post. I’ll mostly avoid the whole minefield of the accusations of bias except to say I find them just unbelievably uncharitable. But one point I would add is that I strongly suspect that Mr. Hendricks is being judged by a double standard here. I’ve seen many posts from established figures on the Daily Nous that were much more abrasive, dismissive, patronizing, and judgmental, light years more self-aggrandizing, and generally just much more blatantly jerky and I don’t remember any of them getting anything even resembling this kind of pushback. Report

Prof L
Prof L
1 month ago

This awful practice of focusing on a single phrase, giving it the *worst possible* interpretation, and then getting up in arms about it (as sexist or biased in some other way) is just awful. It bizarre, mean, and petty. How about: he’s listing commitments he has. Pick a reasonable, more innocuous interpretation. You are choosing to get angry.

However, that phrase did make me wince a little, and here’s why—I had flashbacks to graduate school where discussions of “work-life balance” focused on things like “my wife wants me home for dinner and won’t let me work on weekends” and “she needs a break when I get home at dinnertime, so my evenings are stressful”. I remember feeling utterly defeated, like how can I possibly compete? This has less to do with PH and more to do with my experience, but I have been annoyed at how these kinds of discussions tend to presume either that one can afford full-time childcare, or one’s partner stays at home. That’s true for a lot of people—but for many others, it’s not. Again, this is no reason to think PH is sexist (he’s clearly just talking about his own commitments!), but it would be nice to focus the discussion in different ways.
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What Chair?
What Chair?
1 month ago

Re: MM,

I appreciate the time you’ve put into your reply (I mean that sincerely!). It has helped me understand a bit better where you’re coming from. I wanted to add that I *do* think such an interpretation can be reasonable, given the right contextual information—that goes for most things, I think. And I am aware that these contexts exist. At the end of the day, I suppose this has more to do with the contexts I prioritize as relevant to the piece itself: there is another context, which perhaps you or others find less relevant, in which the most reasonable interpretation is entirely innocuous, in which “wife” is simply a common word among everyday non-academic people with no negative connotations, etc. I don’t doubt that other contexts exist, and I *do* (try!) to prioritize them in other cases, at least when they seem to me to have more serious consequences. I just can’t do that here—more precisely, I can’t consider relevant the context in which the inference to these being “excuses” is reasonable (though I get how it is reasonable *in* that context!). So, that said, it may just be that I (probably, as you note) can’t convince you or others that the context *I* find relevant *is* relevant. That’s fine with me, I suppose. All the best.Report

MM
MM
1 month ago

Re: What Chair?

Precisely. Or, at least either one of us performing that task will take far more work than is worth investing further in the comments section of DN. All the best to you too. Report

Shelley Lynn Tremain
Shelley Lynn Tremain
1 month ago

I f you read or listened to the BIOPOLITICAL PHILOSOPHY post that I mentioned in my second comment to this thread and were troubled to learn about the eugenic practices that Canadian feminist and other bioethicists and legal scholars have developed (MAiD), write and teach about, and aim to convince the Canadian Federal Government to expand, you might be interested in today’s BIOPOLITICAL PHILOSOPHY post.

Yesterday, the Human Rights Division of the United Nations issued a statement condemning legislation (such as MAiD) that enables greater access to medically assisted suicide especially to disabled people. I have posted the U.N. statement to BIOPOLITICAL PHILOSOPHY here: https://biopoliticalphilosophy.com/2021/01/26/canadian-bioethicists-and-legal-scholars-run-counter-to-global-consensus-on-medically-assisted-suicide/Report

Jason W. Bawdl
Jason W. Bawdl
30 days ago

I think when starting out as a grad student, a few mid-tier publications are nice to get oneself going. But, as my former adviser once put it: the goal should be to produce better and better work (e.g. better journals, deeper thoughts, more compelling execution). Report

Zara
Zara
29 days ago

Suppose that you’re a grad student and you are writing four publishable papers per year. Here’s a serious piece of advice: if you can put two on ice for a few years do so. You are better off on the job market with eight published papers and ten papers waiting for you in case you need them later. For the purposes of getting a TT job, eight publications is as good as eighteen. And if you do get a TT job, you might have a year or two where you couldn’t write, and this is a perfect time to reach into your bank of unpublished publishable papers you wrote in grad school. Even if you get a two-year contract, you can publish some of those unpublished gems while you’re working up a bunch of new courses.Report

Kabutipsy
Kabutipsy
26 days ago

Publication is the ticket to academic jobs, and isn’t that the goal of most people getting technical training in this field? Mr. Hendricks has an impressive publication record and shares advice based on his personal experience. And he is criticized as sexist for having a wife and ableist for assuming other philosophers might speak English? This is a competitive field folks…developing good habits and some thick skin is a requirement. The rage machine producing these uncharitable comments then accuses Hendricks of creating a toxic environment in philosophy because he shares some tips for other grad students? Some folks here might benefit from a little introspection. Report

Daniel Swaim
Daniel Swaim
22 days ago

It frankly strikes me as terrible advice to suggest that graduate students should maintain a submission repertoire of 4 submissions at any given time. Report