Thursday, September 13, 2012

Philosopher's Imprint and Submission Fees

I've been following this discussion at Leiter about how Philosopher's Imprint is charging a $20 submission fee. I didn't have much to say about it, except the obvious--it seems like a really bad idea that would unfairly burden the unemployed, underemployed, non-tenure-track people, and graduate students. I strongly agree with "Third year on the job market," who writes:

I get the sense that people are making nuanced points here whereas it gets ignored (or understated) how TERRIBLE this move is for those of us who don't have a TT job and who are either grad students or doing temp jobs in a bid to secure a TT job (and, arguably, this is the group of philosophers that are the most desperate to have a publication in an excellent journal like PI).

Someone has to say this: Don't do that, Phil Imprint, just don't.

Part of the appeal of Phil Imprint was its democratic vision: everyone can read the papers published in this journal. But this new move cancels out this democratic vision as now not everyone can submit to this journal...*

I strongly disagree with David Wallace, who writes:

Actually, just picking up on Daniel Kaufman's point (which appeared while I was writing my last):

(A) I don't have a problem with the idea that the institution of a contributor to a magazine should pay the magazine to print that contribution.
(B) I don't have a problem with the idea that the institutions of junior faculty should have to pay their journals in order for junior faculty to submit to them.

If your institution isn't meeting your legitimately-incurred work-related expenses, that's a different matter, but it's not clear journals can do much about that.*

What Wallace doesn't seem to understand is that, for those of us not on the tenure track, this is not how it works at all. At all. My job comes with no research requirement or any official expectation that research will be done. If I want to do research, I am free to do so. But obviously I have to do research if I ever want a better job or if I want to stay in this profession long-term. Research is a practical necessity. But if I do research, I have to do it on my own time, and I am on my own. They're not going to pay any submission or contributor's fees for me. And so this idea leaves me and everyone like me completely stranded.

--Mr. Zero

* Emphases added. The ellipsis was in the original.


Anonymous said...

The best part of the whole thread is obviously Velleman's first comment, which is passive-aggression at its best.

Anonymous said...

Mr. Zero,

Have you ever thought of instituting a pay-per-post policy on this blog? Imagine how lucrative it would be! NOT. Most of those who frequent this site are the unemployed and underemployed. Those who need it most can afford to pay for it least. The same holds for PI.

Anonymous said...

Silver medal for Matty Silverstein's libertarian obliviousness.

Anonymous said...

@1:00 PM Oh god yes, I'm glad I'm not the only one squirming at that one. I was actually moved to comment on Leiter for the first time over it.

Anonymous said...

Maybe I'm just being "libertarian oblivious" but...why not just submit work to another journal? It's not like there is a dearth of options.

What am I missing? The necessity of moral outrage for its own sake?

CTS said...

@ yet another 'Anon' 8:24:

Let's think about the possible downsides to tis submission tax.

1) Those for whom a $20.00 lottery ticket is a real financial risk might not submit good wook to the journal in question. Those for whom $20.00 is chickenfeed will submit. This might result in work of better quality going elsewhere. Most of the 'elsewhere' places have longer response times, which is bad for submitters. Only having submissions from those who are willing to pay the lottery ticket might be bad for the journal.

2) One might worry that this 'pay to play' model will expand across journals. This would mean that those who have the income to pay to play have a real advantage over those who do not.

3) As much as we all would like to expand the kinds of publishing venues available to philophers, increasng the advantage of established philosophers over that of new/younger ones neither serves the interests of our discipline nor treats new philosohpers equitably.

Anonymous said...

So: there are fields in which the *research* required to publish a paper costs a lot more than $20. Cognitive psychology comes to mind. Is there something intrinsically unjust about these fields?

I am aware that there is a difference between the cost of dissemination and the cost of research. I am not sure what difference this makes to the argument (I ask this not out of sarcasm, but out of interest in understanding whether there is anything in the argument that I missed).

Anonymous said...

Jebus, why don't we just ask Velleman directly for his research funds to help subsidize the cost of applying for jobs? I can barely hear myself think over the whine!


Mr. Zero said...

So: there are fields in which the *research* required to publish a paper costs a lot more than $20. Cognitive psychology comes to mind. Is there something intrinsically unjust about these fields?

Are the junior faculty who can least afford the research costs the most likely to have to pay those costs out of pocket? If so, then yes, there's something unfair about it.

I mean, I think the "submission-fee" model is terrible. Whatever. Maybe I'm wrong. But Wallace and then Velleman think that the submitter's institution ought to pay the submission on her behalf. They think my submission fee should be subsidized by my employer.

Ok. But my employer won't do that. As far as my employer is concerned, my research is a hobby that doesn't have anything to do with them.

They could make the fee-for-submission system basically fair if the fee was on a sliding scale, or if they were willing to waive it for those who lack the institutional support they expect their submitters to have. But they don't say they'll do that, and they don't say why not.

I believe in open access. But if the traditional open-access model isn't working and you have to start charging a fee for something, I don't see why it's better to charge the fee to submitters, almost all of whom will get a rejection letter and no comments in return, than the more traditional practice of charging the fee to readers.

Anonymous said...

Velleman's replies tell me that this discipline is just as classist and elitist as I had suspected. I mean they're just perfect. From his framing to problem in terms of a prisoner's dilemma to the rest of his reply, which is basically: You can't afford it? Not my problem. Start your own journal that's awesome and that can be a model for all open-access journals like I did.

Just effing classic.

Confirmation: 28 dyingspa. Velleman's decision makes me want to blow all my money on a Mark 28 dyingspa. "So many bubbles, you'll want to die."

zombie said...

"So: there are fields in which the *research* required to publish a paper costs a lot more than $20. Cognitive psychology comes to mind. Is there something intrinsically unjust about these fields?"

I think this is an interesting point. There are many disciplines which contain these so-called "fees," including the arts, where the costs can be quite significant. Yet, people going into these disciplines presumably understand that these costs are there. PI seems to be changing the rules by asking for a submission fee, which is not standard practice in this discipline.

One of the ways that institutions subsidize the work of all, students, faculty, TT and non-TT alike, is by paying for access to journals. So I would quibble with the claim that non-TT faculty get no support at all from their institutions. (Although whether that is adequate support is a question worth debating)

As for PI, they could perhaps be thinking that by charging a modest submission fee, they can avoid charging a much larger publishing fee (as most OA journals do). That larger OA fee (say $300) would prevent many from submitting their work at all, since they have no support to pay those fees. Presumably, $20 would prevent fewer people from submitting their work, since more people have a discretionary $20 available to them than a discretionary $300. So, I suppose the smaller fee, spread out over more people has the effect of making the journal more accessible. The problem, of course, is that by charging a submission fee, they are asking people to pay in advance for something they may not get, while a publication fee is a payment for something you will get. Would you rather pay $20 for a chance at something you desire, or pay $300 when you know you can get it?

Anonymous said...

I worry that people complaining about this will drown out those who don't give a shit. Well, I don't give a shit. I'm not rich and I don't have a TT job, but by all means charge me $20 to submit a paper to this excellent, well-run journal. I'll just bring my own lunch to work for a couple of days to make up the cost. Or not, because it's not that much money. We all could have made $20 on Amazon's Mturk for the time we spent reading these damn threads.

Anonymous said...

I've submitted a couple of papers to PI. Both were quickly rejected without comment. It is rather clear that they were not sent out for blind review. Both papers, without revision, were later accepted at "better" journals (according to the ranking for the recent Leiter poll). The big thing that PI has going for it, from my perspective, is that their decisions are quick. But, that seems to come at a cost: Based on what evidence I have, it seems like there is a very good chance that any given paper won't be blind-reviewed by experts in the area of philosophy it engages with. At the end of the day, the speed of PI isn't really much of a selling point for me. Now they want me to pay $20? I can't imagine why on earth I would do that, unless and until other journals follow suit. In the mean time I'll just send my papers to other journals, which is likely for the best anyway.

Of course, I like the idea of open access. But, there is an easy alternative -- post pre-prints online.

Anonymous said...


It's false that no comments = no external review. Here is the instruction that PI typically gives to reviewers:

"We ask you to read the paper within 2 weeks and send us an initial reaction. Your initial reaction may be a 'summary judgment' accompanied by a brief explanation. Alternatively, you may decide that the paper merits more intensive consideration and comment, in which case you should send us a note specifying your own deadline, within 6 additional weeks, for submitting a full report."

So, most likely, your paper was sent out for an external review but the referee chose to do it quickly without comments.

Anonymous said...

6:26, my sentiments exactly.

I have a mildly shitty job (besides my mildly shitty adjunct work), and I can do an extra two hours next week to make the $20. I don't want to. But I'm not under the illusion that David Velleman is oppressing me.

The moralistic bullshit heaped on a journal charging a fee for submissions is far more depressing than the journal charging the fee.

Christopher Hitchcock said...

Anonymous 1:15 A.M. said:

So: there are fields in which the *research* required to publish a paper costs a lot more than $20. Cognitive psychology comes to mind. Is there something intrinsically unjust about these fields?

For graduate students and postdocs, these research costs will typically be paid out of their advisors' grants. (Which often also pay part of the students' stipends and postdocs' salaries.)

That doesn't help those in non-TT or temporary positions, who are at a great disadvantage as a result.

Anonymous said...

I am with 6:26 and 7:34.

Some commentators have been careful to say that, while they disagree with Velleman's decision, they appreciate his efforts on behalf of PI. Let's not forget that Velleman at al. did a truly great thing in giving us all an extra well-run journal to publish in, and an open access one at that.

This does not mean that one should agree with his decision, but given the tone thus far I would understand if he felt 'This is the last time I will try to do anything nice for the profession. Let Phil review sit on their precious papers for 15 months for all I care'.

Anonymous said...


You said "Velleman's replies tell me that this discipline is just as classist and elitist as I had suspected. I mean they're just perfect. From his framing to problem in terms of a prisoner's dilemma.."

How is game theory classist or elitist?

Anonymous said...

Update: Submissions are now by donation, with a suggested donation of $20 and a minimum of $1.

Sounds fine to me.

Anonymous said...

so now I have to actually *pay* ($1) to *submit*???? rawls is spinning in his grave.

outraged said...

$1, $20, what difference does it make? Injustice is injustice. It doesn't come with a price tag.

I refuse to pay. I would not pay one single penny and submit to injustice.

Anonymous said...

I hope 'outraged' is being a troll. Because you cheapen the notion of 'injustice' when you apply it to a case like this.

Intelligent, well-meaning people can disagree about the respective duties and entitlements in a situation like this. It doesn't mean that anyone is being subjected to an injustice. For anyone who makes a living as we do, $20 is not very much money at all.

What's 'classicist' and 'elitist' here is the poor widdle gwaduate students hurling around terms like 'injustice' because they're being asked to spend less than the average dinner-for-two when they submit to a journal that is run by volunteers. If you really worry about such things, lobby your university to help pay for PI. It sounds like all they need is about $8000 a year.

I hope there are more folks in the profession like Sept. 14 6:26, 7:34, and 9:23 than there are people clutching these crutches to entitlement and complaining about 'elitism' and 'injustice' over the thought of having to spend $20 to have a paper reviewed at a very well-organized and respected journal run by volunteers.

outraged said...

Not troll.

Not over-the-top enough, huh?

Anonymous said...

It's just so hard to tell with all the whining that goes on among academics.

Anonymous said...

When was it, I wonder, when philosophers turned from being austere stoic types to a pack of self-righteous crybabies?

Anonymous said...

I blame the gradual replacement of a focus on our duties to others with a concern with what we all think we're entitled to ourselves. I might point to particular institutions that have fostered this sort of outlook, but at this point it seems to be endemic to academia.

A group of persons can no more hold themselves together by whining for greater and greater ranges of entitlement without accepting the responsibilities involved than a physical system can maintain its identity in the face of regularity-eroding stochastic processes. Freedom without determination--autonomous or heteronomous--is an empty ideal.

Ben said...

In the days before online submissions, sending a paper to a journal meant a postage stamp. Granted, some people probably had their department pay, while others had to meet the cost out of their own pocket. But if it's only $1 then I don't see it as objectionable. Unknown currency conversion charges for us non-Americans put me off though...