Saturday, February 04, 2006

Graduate Student Publishing

Thom Brooks, The Postgraduate’s Guide to Getting Published.

This is a very helpful guide to getting published as a graduate student. For some commentary on it, see Leiter Reports.

Students should also be cautioned not to publish too much too early. If they publish lousy work, it will haunt them for the rest of their career. Even good work is going to count in their favor only if it's published in the right places. Ideally, if a piece is good, it should be published, and it shouldn’t matter where. But things are not so simple. For readers don't have the resources to determine the quality of every article. Hence, they often decide what to read and cite based on where it is published, especially when the name of the author is otherwise unknown.

Students should be aware that where they publish is at least as important as whether they do, especially if they aspire to a job in a research institution. In my experience, search committee members pay a lot of attention to journal (and press) names. Articles in good journals are big plusses and articles in decent journals are plusses, but articles in journals that are not considered “good enough” are minuses. Students should be aware of this when deciding where to submit.

Unfortunately, the solution is not to inundate J. Phil. and Phil. Review with submissions. Most of those will be rejected, probably without an explanation. Students need to search for journals that are right for their work.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

I can see faculty do not have time to read all that is published, hence use a heuristic in which they evaluate individuals on the basis of where articles are published rather than on an actual reading of articles. How then is it that the lousy articles hurt so much, if they are not really read that often?

5:08 AM  
Blogger gualtiero piccinini said...

Sooner or later, someone will read them and spread the word.

6:33 AM  
Blogger gualtiero piccinini said...

In fact, they will definitely be read by the time you are up for tenure.

6:50 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

in your opinion, how important are publications in order to get post doc positions in the USA? I know that in UK, graduate students applying for jobs usually have already a good set of publications. but here in the USA, I was told that, also because of the different graduate educational system, other considerations come first (good teaching records, for example). do you agree?

10:09 PM  
Blogger Doctor said...

The discipline of philosophy is part of corporate America and capitalism; and academic philosophy, accept it or not, is very much a caste system. You have to be on the "in" starting very early in school or else you will remain a bottom feeder, despite your best efforts. And if you are not on the inside track by your undergraduate career, there is nothing at all to ensure your success in philosophy, and there are very many forces that will work against you (including, alas, capitalist principles themselves). This is true even if you are a fabulous philosophical mind and become an amazing writer. This is true even if you have inordinate amounts of positive energy--believe me--my fellow graduate students would never believe I of all people became this realist about the discipline of philosophy. My experience is that by then it is too late. I published as a graduate student (in good journals) because I had ideas I had to get out there and because I hoped to make up for the fact that I was very late bloomer, did not have the grades to get into a top-tier graduate program (my program was in the top 30 on the Leiter overall rankings when I started) and slipped to 40 something later. I have invested my whole life in a philosophical education, getting a doctoral degree, working on publications and now for a couple years at my first job, which has a large teaching load, trapping me, preventing me from having the time to work much on further publishing, and the result is that I have nothing now. Applied for dozens of job openings in the JFP, and no one is interested, and even less schools are interested now than before I had solid teaching experience (and I might add, I have become an amazing teacher). The fact that philosophy is a caste system has certain unsurprising consequences, the most aggravating of which this year is the certainty in my mind that some of the "top" figures (or at least rising stars) in the field of philosophy suffer from a sickening and unbearable inflation of merit. More than once this year (2007), I have encountered publications in top philosophy journals by such figures--where the only thing original in the article is an idea I wrote about and submitted to the very same journal several years earlier (3 and 5 years to be exact), receiving rejections and no substantive comments at all. One thing that drew me to philosophy was the premise that what matters are the ideas -- the content, and philosophy was my refuge from the capitalist system that I despise (e.g., 40% of US wealth being owned by 1% of its citizens; 50 million US citizens w/o health care; those born into poverty tend to remain in poverty. . . you know the story). However, philosophy is no different from this system, and no one really knows the extent of it because guess who provides the statements on the public status of philosophy? Those at the top. Apparently, ideas in philosophy do matter -- but only when those ideas are coming from the top of its caste. It is the saddest thing to discover that one’s refuge is as sick, unjust, and perverse as that from which one was seeking refuge. Perhaps the job market is doing me a favor.

5:36 PM  

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