Via Kevin Zollman, I recently learned about the work Elisabeth Bik and her team have done to identify what they call the Tadpole paper mill, an operation responsible for “over 400 [papers] from different authors and affiliations that all appear to have been generated by the same source.” The image forensic techniques that Bik and colleagues use have no ready application in philosophy. Still, there are dubious publications.Continue reading “Non sequitur references and possible paper mills”
I mean, say what you want about the Uniqueness Thesis, Dude, at least it’s an ethos.Walter Sobchak (paraphrased)
Last Spring, in one post and another, I hit upon Nihilism as a third way in the opposition between Evidential Uniqueness and Permissivism. That grew into a paper, Evidential Nihilism, which is forthcoming in Analysis.
My paper with Dan Hicks and Jessey Wright, Inductive Risk, Science, and Values: a reply to MacGillivray, has been accepted at the journal Risk Analysis. It went from social media musing to accepted publication in just a few months.
Back in July, Dan wrote a tweet that concluded “Anyone want to write a little response with me?” Jessey and I replied that we’d be game for it. E-mails followed. We each wrote a snippet of prose. The snippets got worked together into one document, and that document went through a bunch of revisions. We used a google doc, which highlighted changes and allowed us to make comments back and forth in the document itself. Other than a few e-mails, that’s how we interacted. No realtime conversations, even via skype.
I still use LaTeX for my own writing, but the collaborative workflow of the google doc worked really well for this project.
On science and values, accepted and forthcoming
My paper Science, Values, and the Priority of Evidence has been accepted at Logos&Episteme. I worked over the manuscript to meet their style guidelines, sent it off, and put the last draft on my website. Since it’s an OA journal, in the gratis and author-doesn’t-pay sense, I will swap in the published version when it appears.
Now that the paper is actually forthcoming, it can be cited rather than having the ideas from it attributed to me by second-hand personal communication.Continue reading “On science and values, accepted and forthcoming”
Oblique citation and direct rejection
In his PhD thesis, Stijn Conix briefly considers the suggestion “that it does not make sense to think of values and epistemic standards as taking priority over each other.”1 In a footnote, he cites Matthew Brown “who refers to Magnus making a similar remark in personal communication.”
That’s cool, because I have made such a remark. I have a draft paper in which I defend it.
Frustratingly, today I got another rejection notice for that paper. I’ll take a day to cool off before looking at the referee comments again, and then I’ll decide on my next move. The most effective strategy for disseminating ideas might be to just talk to Matt Brown more often. Alas, that’s hard to document on my CV.
LeWitt and le wisdom
Several years ago, my colleague Jason D’Cruz and I set on the idea of writing something about Goodman’s autographic/allographic distinction. In the course of our discussions, he introduced me to Sol LeWitt’s wall drawings. I went down a rabbit hole of reading about them. I saw the exhibition at MassMOCA. I devised a wall drawing of my own.
But our work went in other directions, and we didn’t publish anything about LeWitt or about wall drawings. After a reading group this summer, he commented that this was a shame. So I sent off a short item which has now appeared in Contemporary Aesthetics: That Some of Sol Lewitt’s Later Wall Drawings Aren’t Wall Drawings
The referee commented that this note could have appeared in a longer paper about conceptualism and the nature of art. It could have, perhaps, except that waiting on that longer paper to write itself would probably mean never publishing this bit.
📝: 📚 or 💀? 💀.
As I student, I wrote lots of papers. It was clear when I was done with a paper, because I turned it in and got a grade. As a professor, I write with an eye towards publishing. When I’m happy enough with a paper, I submit it somewhere. When it’s rejected, then what?1
Rejection is a strange and ambiguous thing. Sometimes rejection is because the journal had too many submissions or because the referee was just cranky. There’s no extra stamp to indicate that the paper just isn’t publishable.2 I revise it or don’t, and then I submit it somewhere else. Some papers, even ones that find a good home in the end, are rejected multiple times.
I just received a rejection notice from a journal. It was the kind of wordy but uninformative prose, filled with trivial but nonspecific detail, which strongly vibes form letter. The real give away was the salutation, which literally said “Dear Professor x”.
There’s an X-men joke to be made here, but instead… grumble, grumble.
Why I hate my publisher
“Hate” may be too strong a word, but I lack an evocative word for this kind of sad, weary resignation. Neither “angst” nor “ennui” are transative.
I published my book, Scientific Enquiry and Natural Kinds: From Planets to Mallards, with Palgrave MacMillan. I’d had a positive experience with Palgrave co-editing New Waves in Philosophy of Science, and they were launching a new series of philosophy of science monographs.
My book was initially available at a fairly high hardcover price of $70-some, but this was to be expected. It was available from on-line sources like Amazon at a bit less, and the eventual paperback would be more affordable. That’s what happened with the New Waves volume, anyway.
But then, in early 2015, Palgrave became part of Springer. This wasn’t because Springer wanted to own Palgrave, but just because Springer wanted the Nature Publishing Group (which belonged to MacMillan) and Palgrave was swept up in the merger deal. To be clear, Springer is among a handful of predatory publishing conglomerates which I would never have published with if I’d had a choice. Monographs published directly with Springer are super-expensive, priced to extract money from academic libraries but not to actually be read by much of anybody.
Since my book was published, the price for the hardcover print has steadily increased. It is now, ridiculously, $100. This is not a matter of increasing the price on reprints or minimally revised editions, but just of jacking up the price for copies from the first print run.
Meanwhile, the eBook is priced at $69.99. Although not explicit anywhere, it’s pretty clear that the motive for jacking up the price on the printed copy is to make a gap between the price of the printed and electronic copies without actually discounting for the eBook.
In the last year, the publisher has started offering electronic copies of individual chapters as separate purchases for $29.95 each. This is terrible, because the chapters are not separate articles. Although some of the parts would make sense read alone, the chapters refer to one another. Among the chapters which are available for thirty bucks a pop are the introduction and conclusion, which are all references and summary and in which no original philosophy is done. The whole reason I wrote a book was because the project grew larger than something that would fit comfortably in an article.
I have written to my publisher numerous times about the sale of separate chapters. It seems like a terrible model both for me and for them. It means that fewer people will respond to my work, except in glib ways that address only part of the larger project. It also means that any customer foolhardy enough to buy a chapter is likely to be pissed off and hate both the work and the publisher. Some people may bumble into paying, but I don’t see how it’s a good business model over the long term.
I have received no response to my queries about the sale of separate chapters. In the same missives, I also asked about whether there would be a paperback edition and was told consistently that sales did not justify it. Despite that, a paperback edition was released this Summer. The price is $95, just $5 less than the still available hardback!
To sum up: Steady and sizeable increases in the price of the hardcover edition. Overpriced electronic edition. Electronic editions of separate chapters. A paperback edition which is priced within a margin-of-error of the hardback edition.
Publish or perish the thought
In a recent article, Daniele Fanelli and Vincent Larivière test the common claim that contemporary academics are publishing more papers than scientists used to publish. They conclude, contra the myth, that “contemporary science is not suffering from a salami-slicing of papers.”
This is compatible with the observation that journals receive more submissions than they used to, because the overall number of scientists has increased. Moreover, as they note, scientists in non-anglophone countries may be feeling more pressure to publish in anglophone journals.
It is also compatible with the observation that scientists’ CVs list more papers than CVs of earlier times, because coauthoring is more common and the number of coauthors per paper has increased. Part of Fanelli and Larivière’s analysis is to abstract from this effect.
Because of their methodology, their results don’t directly address philosophy. It is still plausible that philosophers are now pushed to publish more than philosophers back in the day, especially since there has been a shift from expecting a book for tenure to expecting some congerie of papers. I also wonder whether the growth of co-authorship in philosophy isn’t partly an adaptation to that demand.