Philosophia Introduces Outstanding Referee Award


Philosophia is now offering an annual Outstanding Referee award, and has just announced the inaugural co-winners.

They are:

Dr. David Collins of the University of Oxford, U.K., and Professor Daniel Story of Cal Poly San Luis Obispo, USA.

Mitch Green (Connecticut), Philosophia‘s editor-in-chief, writes that “the Editorial Team considered many superb candidates for this award, and chose to select two co-winners for providing reports, both on initial submissions and revised submissions, that were exemplary for their detailed, insightful and actionable comments on the manuscripts that we invited them to referee.”

Each of the winners will be given free online access to the entire contents of Philosophia for a year, a cash prize of 250 euros, and their names will be featured on the journal’s homepage.

Professor Green adds, “Philosophia plans to award an Outstanding Referee Award annually heretofore. We thank Dr. Collins and Prof. Story, as well as the many hundreds of other scholars who have generously lent their time and expertise to support Philosophia’s commitment to the publication of top-quality philosophical research.”

Related: Referee Awards

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Patrick Lin
1 month ago

This should be a thing for all journals, to incentivize diligent reviews. Nice work, Daniel and David—leading by example!

Patrick Lin
Reply to  Patrick Lin
1 month ago

And kudos to Mitch and his team for doing this. Let’s hope this starts a trend.

Alyssa Timin
1 month ago

Stealing this idea!!

Gorm
1 month ago

I think this is a bad development in our profession. This is just one more small way in which people in the profession will become competitive – and over an issue about which we should not be competitive. We have professional obligations to review papers, and we should be taking these obligations seriously, producing useful referee’s reports. But our c.v.’s are turning into something like a boy scout’s shirt and sash with a series of trite badges on it, indicating that we have risen above the crowd in yet one more small way. We are losing focus on research and teaching. We have to remember that as soon as their is a new goal set – a referee’s prize – then people will shape their behavior to achieve that goal. Use your imagination here … look ahead five years.

don’t mourn, organize!
don’t mourn, organize!
Reply to  Gorm
1 month ago

I think I endorse the general principle you’re articulating — essentially the paradox of incentives, right? But could you please explain in more detail how that would work in this case, and what the negative consequences would be?

I guess I agree it would be lovely if everyone reviewed papers out of a sense of professional obligation. But if people review them because they want to win a prize, and that incentivizes them to review really well, why isn’t that a good thing?

(You say that we are losing focus on research and teaching. Maybe so; do you think that’s partially a result of the introduction of prizes for research and teaching?)

Thanks!

Gorm
Reply to  don’t mourn, organize!
1 month ago

What I had in mind is that it incentizies (is this even a real word?!) types of behavior. It will inevitably lead some people to aim for the prize, to work more on writing a winning review than on attending to more important things, like: (i) writing more referee reports and turning them around quickly, (ii) reponding to colleagues’ papers that are not yet under review at a journal, (iii) giving our PhD students, post docs, and our undergraduates more constructive feedback on their work … etc. And it is all for the glory of being known as a star referee.

don't mourn, organize!
don't mourn, organize!
Reply to  Gorm
1 month ago

Like GradStu below, I doubt that the new award (and others like it) would “shape behavior in the way you’re worried about.” But I guess it’s yet to be seen. In any case, thanks for answering!

GradStu
GradStu
Reply to  Gorm
1 month ago

The mere creation of this award, by itself, will not shape/incentivize behavior in the way you’re worried about, I reckon.

Of course, if hiring and tenure committees started taking this award super seriously and factored it into their decisions in a real way, *that* would shape behavior. But I see no reason to expect that this will happen. My hunch is that being the recipient of an award for outstanding refereeing will certainly never be weighted anywhere near as highly your publication record and teaching in making hiring and tenure decisions. I’m confident it would never even be used as a tie-breaker in hiring between otherwise equal candidates. So, I just don’t see what you’re worried about coming to fruition.

Kenny Easwaran
Reply to  Gorm
1 month ago

Depending on how the prize is given out, couldn’t people shaping their behavior to achieve that goal be a good thing? Maybe the journal should consider quantity of reviews and timeliness both of accepting the invitation and then writing the review, on top of helpfulness of the reviews, to avoid the potential consequences you mention, but I don’t think it’s incentivizing *bad* behavior per se.

Duncan MacTavish
Reply to  Kenny Easwaran
1 month ago

I agree completely with Kenny on this. It’s incentivising good behaviour, not bad. It’s like a blue ribbon for a person who has gone over and above in community service. If the existence of the blue ribbon leads other people to want to do community service, then great! Also, Mitch and his team at Philosophia have been from what I’ve seen doing great since taking over from the previous team, and this is an instance of that.

Luke
Luke
1 month ago

This sort of reminds me of when I tell my kids that I’ll give an award to whoever makes me the best grilled cheese.