Thursday, July 30, 2009

Random Thought About the Philosophy and Pop Culture Books

I wonder if anyone on this list has read enough philosophy and popular culture books, or has some insight or speculation, to answer the following thought I had. There are, as far as I know, three of these series (Blackwell, Open Court, University of Kentucky). (Those books must really sell well!) My impression is that Open Court tends to ask for paper submissions, whereas the other two ask for abstract + CV. (Is that right? Or is this up to the discretion of the individual book editors rather than series policy?) What I'm wondering is whether there is any consistent difference in quality produced by these two approaches and, if so, which way it leans.

My first thought was that requesting full papers rather than abstracts is likely to get better results. First of all, the reviewers are selecting among full works rather than partially thought out ideas, and this makes it easier to judge quality from the outset. And second, people are more likely to try harder if they are trying to get something published than when publication is certain. (Though I could be wrong on this.)

On the other hand, though, requesting abstracts might lead to better results. First, higher level scholars or more ambitious ones are probably less likely to submit papers than abstracts; after all, for most of these books, if your paper doesn't get accepted, then you've just wasted a lot of time on work you can't submit anywhere else without a more or less complete rewrite. The cost/benefit analysis will more likely favor abstracts than papers, especially for people who have more "serious" things to do. Second, if CVs are used as part of the selection process, this might lead to acceptance of papers by people with stronger records who are probably, on average, more likely to produce solid work.


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