How to Bypass Peer Review in Publishing in High Profile Venues

…without, of course, having a colleague pull strings in your favor, which we know never happens. Here is a pattern I’ve noticed for a while:

  1. A particular topic becomes popular in some field.
  2. A group of highly touted cool kid Jr. scholars in that field post and circulate half-baked drafts on the topic.
  3. The drafts become widely known, not due to their merits, but because such-and-such cool kids have drafts on them. “Cutting edge” drafts, not even published yet!
  4. Nobody else can write on that topic without interacting with the half-baked drafts.
  5. The half-baked drafts largely chart the course on that topic.
  6. Nobody qualified can blind-review the drafts because everyone already knows whose they are.
  7. Half-baked drafts eventually get invited for publication in high-profile venues on the topic.

Moral of the story: be a cool kid!

I could be wrong, of course. Maybe the cool kids aren’t doing it on purpose. But there sure are a lot of really bad papers that get undue attention and make it to the top without undergoing serious review, and most of them just so happen to be written by the cool kids.

Federal Philosopher

Federal Philosopher is a philosophy graduate student in New Jersey. She was awakened from her political slumbers after listening to speeches by Margaret Thatcher. She loves philosophy, but thinks the profession has been hijacked by a bunch of leftist bullies who are little more than partisan journalists that happen to know philosophical jargon. She carries a recurve bow and quiver full of arrows at all times, so as not to trigger leftists by saying she packs a .380 in her purse.

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  1. This describes pretty well how Sharon Street got her celebrated debunking paper published, which is one of the worst papers I’ve read, ever.

    • It’s well-known that Wilson’s paper struggled to make it to publication. I had a high-profile professor explain this as clearly sexism. However, that same professor went on to explain that she had presented the paper so widely that journal editors struggled to find qualified blind referees for the paper. There is no need to appeal to sexism. The professor had just given the better explanation. The claim of sexism was further undermined by the fact that Wilson’s work in the paper largely resulted in her winning the prestigious Martin R. Lebowitz and Eve Lewellen Lebowitz Prize.

      The difficulty with finding a good referee is obvious when you look at her long list of people in the acknowledgements. It includes a huge number of the people who work on grounding.

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