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On the increase of collected volumes

An assistant professor writes in with this query:

It seems that increasingly senior and mid-career philosophers are publishing in edited volumes rather than in blind-reviewed journals. To my mind, this is unfortunate for several reasons. First, it allows papers of questionable quality to be published. Second, it makes responding to those papers impossible–there are no venues for such responses. Third, it makes getting those papers harder, because libraries don’t have these collections.

There is only one upside I can think of: it opens up room in good journals for early-career philosophers. Perhaps this is enough to make up for its drawbacks.

I’m curious whether your readers agree that there has been an increase, and whether they think it’s an all-things-considered good thing or bad thing.

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5 responses to “On the increase of collected volumes

  1. Tuomas November 5, 2012 at 12:30 pm

    There may have been an increase in such volumes, but I feel that the increase may not be any greater than the increase in philosophy publishing in general (there are also new journals emerging). In fact, many publishers, such as Cambridge, are now highly selective when it comes to edited volumes.

    It’s also not clear to me that the papers in such volumes are automatically of inferior quality than journal papers, even if this may sometimes be the case.

    It is an unfortunate fact that replying to papers in volumes is more difficult, but the same may be true even of monographs, as there are few dedicated venues for this. I do think that many journals might still consider a paper written in response to an influential article in a volume.

    In any case, I find that many edited volumes are extremely interesting and of high quality (and not only because I recently edited one myself!), so I don’t consider their prominence to be a bad thing as such.

  2. Anonymous November 5, 2012 at 4:13 pm

    Another negative: the proliferation of such volumes helps those who are already recognized and well-thought-of, and harms those who aren’t well-known.

  3. another AP November 5, 2012 at 4:47 pm

    Yet another negative: edited volumes are mostly a venue for well-connected white men to publish the papers of their friends. Two random examples of recent edited all-male lineups are Dougherty’s “Evidentialism and its Discontents” and “Epistemic Modality”. Even the “good ones” are terrible on this aspect; Tuomas who comments above edited a book that had only one woman contributor out of 14. I could see a case for this being excusable for a double-blind journal. For an edited book where one or two people chose the papers and the theme (i.e., chose to exclude women writers or chose a theme on which women weren’t writing), that just doesn’t look good.

  4. another AP November 5, 2012 at 4:49 pm

    I know that in “naming names”, I could make enemies, so that’s why I’m leaving these comments anonymous; but I feel it’s important to be specific in criticisms like this, and not just worry about vague or general claims.

  5. Grad Student November 5, 2012 at 7:33 pm

    In general, are pieces that aren’t blind-reviewed worth as much as ones that are? Particularly when it comes to tenure decisions.

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