Sending out ‘different’ papers with similar arguments?




In our March “how can we help you?” thread, a grad student writes:

Is it acceptable to simultaneously send out two papers which share the same general arguments but have vastly different presentations/styles (and even different conclusions)?

Example 1: Suppose there are multiple theories, A, B, C, D, and E, on an issue. You argue that a satisfactory theory should satisfy desiderata D1 and D2. You argue that theories A, B, and C fail to accomodate D1, theories D and E fail to accomodate D2. You argue that theory A with a restriction would accomodate both D1 and D2. Therefore, a restricted version of theory A is superior to all other views in the literature.

A reviewer proposes that you ignore B-E and just focus on A. You can instead argue that although theory A satisfies D2, theory A fails to accomodate the plausible desiderata D1, and this could be solved by adding in a restriction without compromising on D2.

Adopting the changes would result in a paper with a different conclusion (You will no longer be arguing for a view that is superior to all other views. You would be merely arguing that theory A needs a restriction). The presentation of the paper would also change substantially since it’s focused on theory A rather than the broader literature. But the main general argument (that D1 is needed, and theory A with a restriction can accomodate D1 without compromising on D2) is the same. Would it be permissible to send out both the original version and the revised version to different journals given such differences?

Example 2: You have a standard paper, say 8k words long. Some reviewers recommend that you consider re-framing it as a reply paper to author X specifically, and make it a short reply-style paper (3k-4k). Doing so would change the presentation and style of the paper, omit a number of details (e.g. some objections and replies are left out), and cut out parts that connect to the broader literature so that you only focus on author X. But the shortern reply-style paper would still have the same general arguments. Would it be permissible to send out both the long version and short version to different journals given such differences?

This is an interesting query. I’m not entirely sure, but my sense is that Example 2 is probably impermissible but Example 1 more of a gray area case. The issue in both cases is that the main arguments are pretty similar, and if reviewers or editors at different journals found out about it, they might get upset about it. For this reason alone, my attitude has always been that it’s not worth risking this kind of thing. The last thing you want to happen is for a referee or editor to make a formal complaint of research conduct–which, although the likelihood might be small, could be a real issue. Personally, I prefer to play it safe. What do you all think?

Originally appeared on The Philosophers’ Cocoon Read More



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