Wednesday, December 05, 2007

Philosophy Journals

From Lemmings, this link to Jonathan Kvanvig's data on the rejection rates and scholarly impact of philosophy journals (here).

It's depressing reading, at least for me, for a couple of reasons. First, the rejection rates for nearly all the journals listed is 90%. Nobody likes to play a game where the success rate is 1 in 10.

I look at those numbers and wonder, too, if they are a self-fulfilling prophecy: i.e., a paper is frequently cited not because of its worth but because of where it was published. After all, we cite papers for all kinds of reasons. One reason has nothing at all to do with the worth of the paper but because we want to signal that we've done our homework, and one way of doing that is to sprinkle in a few references to work in certain journals.

Given these kinds of questions, questions which beg for further study, I get particularly sad when I read that these indices of scholarly impact are used in tenure decisions. Until I hear more, that sounds like an attempt to cloak these decisions in a veneer of pseudo-scientific respectability.


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