Upcoming talk: Frost-Arnold on "analytic philosophy" 
Gregory Frost-Arnold will be visiting us on Friday to deliver a colloquium entitled "When, How, and Why Did People Begin Classifying Themselves as 'Analytic Philosophers'?" It promises to be a cool smoothie of philosophical content and history of ideas, garnished with whatever plays the role of fresh fruit in this metaphor.

For anyone who will be in the Albany region and who is reading this before it has already happened, here's the haps:

Friday, November 2
3:30-5:30 PM
University at Albany, Humanities 290

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Author copies arrived today 

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The Leiter side of open access 
This morning, Brian Leiter made this post about Open Access publishing:
The Not-so-High Standards at (at least some) "Open Access" Journals

Not a great advertisement for the genre.

I hammered out a reply, which he added as an update. Here's what I said:
Your recent blog post rightly decries "The Not-so-High Standards at (at least some) "Open Access" Journals" and describes the case as "Not a great advertisement for the genre".

Importantly, the genre in question is not Open Access journals tout court. The real problem here is OA journals that use an author-pays model. Lots of them are straight forwardly scams to chisel money out of institutions that cover that kind of publishing and out of authors who need a line on their CV.

There are other models of OA. Quality OA journals don't charge author fees. I'm thinking here especially of Philosophers' Imprint, but also of less well-known and less prestigious ones like Logos&Episteme. We can argue about their stature in the field, but their being OA is not a demerit.

There is also the model which is sometimes called "green OA", in which authors' papers are systematically hosted in institutional or disciplinary archives. Although this does not result in OA journals as such, traditional journals can facilitate or thwart the practice depending on how they handle rights.

Qualifying your post with the caveat "at least some" is importantly not enough, because we can state precisely what's wrong here. For-profit publishers have an interest in suspicion being raised about OA in general, when really it's a specific business model that leads to egregious abuses like the one that you point to.

Long time readers might remember that I've fumbled this distinction in the past, so my point isn't to excoriate Leiter. Given the long-term importance of Open Access publishing for academia, it's important not to let bad practices tar the whole enterprise. The distinction between different kinds of OA (author-pays, author-doesn't-pay, and self-archived) is important.

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Planets to Mallards across the pond 
Scientific Enquiry and Natural Kinds: From Planets to Mallards, my monograph on things mentioned in the title, makes its appearance this week.

I am assured by my publisher that is in stock and available, and Amazon.co.uk concurs.
However, Amazon.com has pushed availability back to late November. I don't have my author copies, either, suggesting perhaps that the shockwave is still crossing the Atlantic.

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A post on r-strategy would have been more appropriate for Talk Like a Pirate Day 
In a post over at Crooked Timber, John Quiggin invokes the distinction between scholars who follow a K-strategy and those that follow an r-strategy. K-strategists focus their attention on a small number of finely honed publications, which they aim to place in the most prestigious journals. Conversely, r-strategists write on many topics and publish widely.* I had not encountered these labels before, but they nicely tag a distinction I am familiar with.

Quiggin comments, "Academic prestige these days goes mostly to those who follow ... a K-strategy.... And the narrower the specialisation, the better.... For K-strategy people, second-tier publications are worse than valueless." I know a number of philosophers who fit this description. For most of them, though, it does not represent a strategic choice. Rather, they are told to behave this way by people in the department that hired them. They expect that second-tier publications will be counted as demerits when it comes to tenure and promotion. This has the perverse effect that they often abandon papers which ought to be published in the straight forward sense that other people would benefit by reading them. Sometimes a conference paper is abandoned without being submitted to a journal, because it does not look like something JPhil would publish. Sometimes a finished paper is abandoned after being rejected by a few prestigious journals, even though those journals are so overwhelmed by submissions that they typically reject even fine papers. This perversity is compounded when, as sometimes happens, these unreflective K-strategy scholars get denied tenure because they have not published enough.

Of course, most academics are not ruthlessly pursuing academic prestige. Instead, they are attempting either to get an academic job or survive in the niche of the academic job that they have acquired. Scholars without a job or at a job that they would like to escape would rationally try to fit their profile to what they imagine hiring committees want. Scholars with a tenure-track job that they like would rationally to fit their publishing profile to the tenure expectations at their institution.

As is obvious from my CV, I am an unalloyed r-strategist. And fortunately I have a job I like in a department which has broad expectations. Rather than dismissing me for being dilettante, the worst anyone did was overlook the publications which they considered too twee; counting the remainder, I still looked fine.

* By poking around on-line, I learned that the labels are used by economists discussing how academic prestige is generated in economics. The first use I could find in this vein was Faria (2003). But the terminology is adapted from ecology where, according to Wikipedia, it was introduced by Robert MacArthur and E. O. Wilson in the 1960s.

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