Paper feedback groups?

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Following Helen’s recent post on finding “first readers” for paper drafts, a reader writes in:

[S]ome authors … lack a community of readers who can provide feedback. Why not something similar to the dissertation groups but for papers and junior academics? This is not helpful for everyone, but I guess those from small departments, etc., may find it helpful.

This is a great query. When I was in graduate school at Arizona and my first VAP job (at UBC), finding readers for paper drafts was really easy. Both departments had large numbers of faculty and grad students, and finding a reader was often as easy as just walking down the hall, stopping by someone’s office, and asking! However, once I moved into a much smaller department, finding people with relevant expertise to read paper drafts became far more difficult. I think it would be fantastic if there were some kind of good online resource for finding readers, perhaps some kind of dedicated message-board at PhilPeople (perhaps sorted by AOS) where philosophers could post “reader wanted” queries, perhaps along with some broad information on the paper’s topic and other details (such as willingness to trade papers, etc.). But, to the best of my knowledge, there isn’t anything like this.

Now, PhilPeople does have a “Get Feedback” function (much like academia.edu) where one can start feedback sessions where people can read and comment on paper drafts. However, while I have seen some of these occur, they don’t seem to be very common and I can sort of understand why. First, as we have recently discussed, authors currently have some real incentive not to post unpublished paper drafts for feedback on PhilPapers. For example, although I myself favor a hybrid publishing model that combines journal publication with crowdsourced prepublication peer-review, I often don’t post draft papers myself precisely because I’m worried that, under our current publishing model, editors or reviewers may take it to compromise anonymized peer review (see e.g., Ethics‘s Submission Eligibility requirements). Second, setting these issues aside, I suspect that many authors might feel comfortable posting a paper for feedback publicly only after they feel confident that it’s in fairly good shape–which is precisely why they might want private feedback first. Third, feedback sessions seem a heck of a lot less personal than getting private feedback (viz. trading papers). 

So, I think it would be great to have some sort of dedicated forum where authors could go online to seek and arrange paper swaps and the like. But, unless I’m just missing something obvious, there doesn’t currently seem to be a good place for this. What do you all think? Would you like something like this? Alternatively, is there such a thing like this already that I’ve missed?

Originally appeared on The Philosophers’ Cocoon Read More

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