Peer-review: should we get rid of it?


There are way more manuscripts than opportunities for respected peer-reviewed publications (Sinhababu 2016). So many good manuscripts might never be properly reviewed (or published). This would be bad. In this post, I’ll mention a few potential solutions. Then I’ll briefly evaluate one: eliminating compulsory peer-review altogether. 

1.  Peer Review Is New

I learned from Kate Norlock that peer-review is a relatively recent thing.†

… the surprisingly short history of what we now think of as peer-review [Times Higher Ed.] … the Google ngram on peer-review: [Google ngram article] …. suggests that academics have only been so fixated on it as the measure of our worth since the 1970s.

2.  The Current Form of Peer Review Isn’t Obviously Optimal

One reason for peer-review might be that it inhibits bias. And there is some evidence that anonymous peer-review reduces bias (Budden et al 2008). However, a review of 17 studies Continue reading Peer-review: should we get rid of it?

Interview with ACI Scholarly Blog Index


I recently answered some questions from Traci Hector at ACI Scholarly Blog Index. More about the interview and about ACI below.

What We Talked About

  • My experience of studying religion.
  • Why philosophy led me to ‪cognitive science.
  • How intuition is related to beliefs about god and science.
  • Computational corpus linguistics and how philosophers use it.
  • How I use blogging and ‎social media‬ for my research.
  • My thoughts on podcasts.
  • About blogging as an academic.

The full interview is here: http://aci.info/2016/04/27/aci-interview-with-scholarly-blogger-phd-candidate-nick-byrd/

About ACI Scholarly Blog Index

…an editorially created and curated index of scholarly social media. Authors are selected for inclusion based on their academic credentials as well as the scope and quality of their writing. Metadata, taxonomies, and proprietary Author Profile Cards are appended to each publication. An elegantly sophisticated search interface easily surfaces highly relevant articles. Post-search filtering allows researchers to further hone in on appropriate articles. ACI Scholarly Blog Index is free to use.

Check out ACI Scholarly Blog Index at acindex.com

Where to follow ACI:

Twitter @aciblogindex

Facebook facebook.com/aci.info

LinkedIn linkedin.com/company/4859067

Google+ plus.google.com/+AciInfogroup

Peer-review: on what basis should we reject papers?


When you peer-review a paper, you can make one of a few basic recommendations to the editor. One option is this: do not publish the paper.

So what criteria should you use to make such a recommendation? In this post, I argue that some criteria are better than others.

1. Is the paper convincing?

A friend of mine mentioned this criterion the other day: “…[philosophy] papers ought to be convincing.” Call this the Convince Me standard or CM.

Maybe you think that CM sounds like a reasonable standard for peer-review. I don’t.  Continue reading Peer-review: on what basis should we reject papers?

Podcasts …for research?


In a recent APA blog post historian of philosophy and pun-loving podcaster, Peter Adamson, floated the idea of using podcasts for teaching. Sounds like a good idea, sure. In this post, I’d like to focus on the idea of using podcasts for research. As I see it, podcasts could be AMAZING for research! Yeah, like, all-caps amazing! Continue reading Podcasts …for research?

What do philosophers do, anyway?


Lots of people ask me this question. Students. Friends. My mom!

I spend a lot of time with philosophers, so you might think that I have a good answer to this question. Alas, my answer usually sucks. You can find some of my worst answers to this question over at The American Philosophical Association (APA) Blog: “You’re a philosopher, eh? What do philosophers do?

I’ve also shared my general thoughts on how to answer this question in that post. But if you want really good advice on how to answer this question, check out what philosophers are saying in the comments.

Excerpt

Let me be the first to admit that I’m doing it wrong. My philosophy pitch is…well, boring. And my delivery is awful. When someone asks me about what I do, my first (and now-automatic) response is a sigh.

What can I say? When people so reliably respond to philosophy with confusion or condescension, I become a little insecure. Unfortunately, insecurity doesn’t help. It just makes my next philosophy pitch even worse. I need to break the negative cycle.

 

Special thanks to philosopher Skye Cleary for connecting me to the APA blog.

Featured image: “Philosophy” from dakine kaneCC BY 2.0, cropped, adjusted color

University and Department Rankings: A Custom Solution

Lots of people pay close attention to the US News National University Rankings. But some academics want field-specific rankings. And some academics have created their own. In philosophy, we created the Philosophical Gourmet Report to rank philosophy Ph.D. programs. For many reasons, academic philosophers are becoming more vocal about their criticism of these philosophy rankings (e.g., Bruya 2015, De Cruz 2018). In this post, I will propose a new system. This system will address common complaints about philosophy’s existing ranking system: It will be more versatile, up-to-date, and generalizable.

1.  THE COMPLAINTS

The complaints about the rankings are voluminous — what else would you expect from philosophers? In lieu of an outline of every blog post and every public statement, I provide a list of major themes that fall into three different categories: the practice of ranking, the current process of ranking, and the current leadership of the ranking.

Complaints About Ranking

  1. Rankings might misrepresent the magnitude of the differences between departments.
  2. Rankings might indicate a false sense of hierarchy and/or prestige.
  3. Ordinal lists just aren’t that informative.

Complaints About Process

Continue reading University and Department Rankings: A Custom Solution

Hey Marco Rubio! More philosophy, less rhetoric!

Marco Rubio recently suggested that we need fewer philosophers and more welders because welders make more money. See below:

In case it’s not obvious why this is a foolish suggestion, I’ll explain.

THE MAIN PROBLEM

Here are a couple claims that are probably true:

  1. There is a need for more welders.
  2. Some welders make more money than some philosophers.

Notice, however, that neither of the following follow from those probably true claims:

A. We need fewer philosophers.

B. On average, welders make more than philosophers.

So, insofar as Marco Rubio thinks that A and/or B follows from 1 and 2, Rubio is just wrong. And many people have pointed out that B is just false.†  So insofar as Rubio thinks B is true, he is just wrong.

SOLUTIONS?

What can we learn from this?

  • We need better fact-checking in politics (ideally, politicians would check the facts before they start talking at a public venue).
  • We need more philosophy (viz., a proper understanding and appreciation of good reasoning) — even in the highest ranks of US politics. Maybe we need argument-checking: “Fact-checking is not enough. We need argument-checking“.

TWO MORE PROBLEMS

And for those who still want to point out that we need more welders: fine! Having more welders and having more philosophers is not mutually exclusive! We can have both!††

Finally, there is the implicit suggestion that we should choose careers based on how much money the career offers. Sigh… Look, I get that we need a certain amount of money to flourish. But — contra Rubio’s short argument — surely there are other (more important?) variables involved in a career choice.

 


† “Marco Rubio said wrongly that welders make more money than philosophers” (Politifact). “Marco Rubio says welders make more money than philosophers do. He’s wrong” (Slate). “Philosophy majors actually earn a lot more than welders” (Vox).

†† Thanks to John Ballenger, James Endicott, Andrew Chapman, Cameron Buckner, and Andrew Cullison for making these points (and other points that I haven’t even mentioned). Finally, thanks to my Facebook friends for humoring my Facebook rants about this.

Featured image:  “Gas metal arc welding” via Wikipedia, Public Domain