In our newest “how can we help you?” thread, a reader writes:
I would be interested in hearing thoughts and reactions to an experience that I think is typical, but sensitive.
Recently, a paper was published in a highly regarded journal. I think the paper is excellent. It argues for a thesis that I think is a constructive elaboration of a thesis that I defended a few years ago in a less regarded venue.
But I wasn’t cited. This can happen, I’m sure. But what gives me some pause is the fact that their bibliography contains most, if not all, the same references that I have referred to in my own work on this topic. Some of the references could be considered obscure. So, I am left wondering how the paper has an excellent bibliography, but perhaps the author did not come across my work or find it relevant. The former possibility is fine. The latter possibility would make less sense to me because it involves the very same argumentative strategy that the author uses in their own paper (but mind you that I think the author does it better).
I’m trying to be mindful here about this experience. On the one hand, complaining about failing to be cited feels like complaining about not being retweeted or shared on social media. On the other, the experience seems to be giving me feelings of exclusion from the philosophy profession (especially as a nonwhite early career academic).
I am also not up to speed with citation ethics. We all know that plagiarism is bad. But sometimes people fail to cite crucial elements of their view that have an intellectual heritage in the works of others. I feel like the risks of trying to enforce a norm against such failures outweigh the benefits. But I also dislike the feeling of being made to feel subjectively irrelevant to a debate where my contribution was objectively relevant at the textual and argumentative level.
This is an excellent query. I really empathize: similar stuff has happened to me a number of times, and I know from talking to people that it happens to other people as well. When this has occurred to me, I’ve given some thought to trying to do something—but, to be honest, as the OP notes it never seemed to me to be worth the trouble. Instead, my approach has been to take the high road and keep publishing work in the hope that it won’t really matter in the end.
But these are just my thoughts. What are yours? It would be good to hear how many people this kind of stuff happens to, and how people deal with it or think the best way of dealing with it is!
Originally appeared on The Philosophers’ Cocoon Read More