Brevity update

Thu 26 Sep 2013 11:25 AM

My inclination, I like to think, is to write shorter papers rather than longer ones. Several times in the past, reflecting on this has led me to tabulate my papers by length.

It has become a biennial tradition; cf. 2007, 2009, and 2011. So it is about time for an update.

Boldface below indicates an item that wasn't included in the previous round up.

Numbers are in thousands of words, given to two significant digits.

* indicates a co-authored article.

10. Why novel...* (2013)

8.2 Reid's defense... (2008)

8.0 On trusting... (2009)

7.8 Realist ennui...* (2005)

7.3 Judging Covers* (forthcoming)

6.9 The Identical Rivals...* (2010)

6.9 Is there an elephant...* (2007)

6.7 Drakes, seadevils... (2011)

6.7 Inductions, red herrings... (2010)

6.5 Reckoning the shape... (2005)

6.4 Are digital pictures...* (under review)

6.3 Historical individuals... (2012)

6.1 No grist for Mill... (forthcoming)

6.0 Historical individuals... (2010)

5.9 Distributed cognition... (2007)

5.5 Demonstrative induction... (2008)

5.1 Williamson on knowledge...* (2003)

5.0 Art concept pluralism* (2011)

4.8 Miracles, trust... (2011)

4.6 Background theories... (2005)

4.4 Peirce... (2005)

4.2 The price of insisting... (2004)

4.1 What scientists know... (2013)

3.9 Success, truth... (2003)

3.8 Let a Millian... (under review)

3.3 Un... Identical Rivals (2003)

2.9 Mag Uidhir... (2008)

2.7 Whats new... (2006)

2.6 Hormone research... (2005)

1.7 Reid's dilemma... (2004)

1.7 review of Evidence and Method (2013)

1.6 review of Carving Nature... (2012)

1.4 Philosophy of Science in the 21st.... (2010, 2013)

1.3 Early response... (2008)


from: Derek C

Mon 30 Sep 2013 12:48 PM

So, "7.3 Judging Covers* (forthcoming)" contains 7.3 thousand words? Is this the right way to read this chart?

In any case, this is interesting. I also find myself making a conscious effort to write shorter rather than longer papers. I suspect that this has something to do with my general distaste for papers which, at least by my evaluation, could have been significantly shorter. It's also interesting that there doesn't seem to be a pattern; that is, your early papers don't seem longer or shorter than your later papers. I would have expected a pattern to emerge, especially as your research practices and views develop.

I would also think that, all else being equal, shorter papers have a higher likelihood of being accepted for publication if for only those reasons stemming from practical limitations -- i.e. cost per page for the journal, difficulty finding reviewers, long back-log of accepted papers ready for publication, etc.

Do you have any data concerning the average word-count for papers published in one of the "H4" journals -- Nous, Journal of Philosophy, Philosophical Review, and Mind? It would be interesting to see how word counts in these journals compared to others, especially open access journals, such as Philosophers Imprint and Ergo, since they, presumably, have less (or just different) practical influences.

from: P.D.

Mon 30 Sep 2013 03:04 PM

Derek: You're reading the chart correctly.

Regarding the lack of a pattern, see the next post.

Although exceptionally long papers might be rejected for editorial reasons, I don't think an especially short paper is any more likely to be accepted for being short. I don't have the sense that journal editors have to fret over page counts in quite the same way that magazine editors do. And certainly referees aren't thinking of that when recommending acceptance or rejection.