Friday, April 20, 2007

Kluwer and the persistence conditions of articles

I’ve noticed that when you submit a paper on the Kluwer on-line system, they’ve started asking you if you’ve submitted the paper elsewhere. That seems an odd question to ask. I was submitting a paper that had been rejected from somewhere else, but I was kind of reluctant to admit to that while submitting it somewhere else. Partly, that’s because of the psychological pull of the completely unreliable ‘X rejected Y, therefore Y wasn’t good enough for X’ rule, and so admitting the paper’s been previously rejected seems to be admitting something detrimental about its worth, when you want the journal you’re submitting to to think it’s a good paper.

Of course, all you need to do is create a context where strict counterpart relations are invoked and you can answer ‘no’. “I haven’t submitted this paper elsewhere, because I changed footnote 16 since the last time I submitted a similar paper.” And that just increases the sense that this is a silly question to be asking – since the answer given will depend not only just on the history of the world but on the answerer’s beliefs concerning the persistence conditions of papers.

Does anyone know why Kluwer are asking this, and how the information gets used? Any comments on whether it’s a good or bad idea to ask?


Dan López de Sa said...

Oh, I understood that it was another way of asking whether the paper was currently under review somewhere else.

(I think that in other disciplines people can submit a paper simulteanously to different journals, so it would make sense if Kluwer was using the same software for journals in them.)

If you're right about the reading, however, it is indeed a very odd question to ask!

Ross Cameron said...

Ah - I considered the thought that they were asking 'is this under submission simultaneously elsewhere', but I thought they couldn't be asking that since everyone knows you can't do that. But if other disciplines allow that perhaps that is what they're asking. In which case I'm kind of worried now that I answered 'yes'.

Still, you think they could make their question clearer if that *is* what they mean.

Dan López de Sa said...

“… that’s because of the psychological pull of the completely unreliable ‘X rejected Y, therefore Y wasn’t good enough for X’ rule…

I've had the following question for some time now. Suppose that a paper of yours is rejected, no resubmission invited, and that the negative referee’s report is clearly due, by your lights, and as things might conceivably be, due to a basic misunderstanding. Suppose further that, after reflection, chat with colleagues, and the like, you’re even more confident about your previous judgments. Do people think it is ever permissible, in such a situation, to let the editors know about this view of yours? If it is, would it be advisable at all?

Ross Cameron said...

Good question - I'd like to hear opinions on this as well.

I've never made such comments to editors, even when I've thought the case is pretty watertight. (I.e. "the author says p, but that's absurd" when I said not-p because p was absurd, etc.) I wonder what the editors themselves would prefer.

Aaron Meskin said...

I certainly think it's permissible. What would possibly make it impermissible? In general, I think we (i.e., philosophers) worry a bit much about this sort of thing. At worst, a grumpy editor will tell you off. Big deal.

Is it advisable? I suppose if I thought it were the sort of thing that the editor really should know, then it might well be advisable. After all, the editor should welcome information about the quality of refereeing that is being relied upon.

I simply can't see how an editor could *legitmately* hold a (brief, clear, polite) note re your opinion against you ...if the case is really as you describe it.

I wouldn't spend a lot of time on it though...I suspect it's not much of a useful strategy for getting published. (But I do have a vague recollection of one case I heard about where an editor reconsidered after getting such a reply.)

Ross Cameron said...

Thanks Aaron - an excellent application of the truthmaker principle! :-)

Clayton said...

I recently had (I believe) a situation like this. The chief complaint the ref had about the paper seemed to be that it relied upon an argumentative strategy similar to one found in a book published months after the original submission. Apart from the fact that the book attacks the same view criticized in the paper, there is nothing else the paper and book had in common. AAAAAAArhg! Making matters worse, this was a revise and resubmit. As nothing short of time travel would have gotten around what was believed to be the main problem, I felt (feel) a bit jerked around.

Some friends said to write back to the journal politely so that at the very least, the editors can think about who they have serving as refs. I went the cowardly route and sent a cordial note to the editors thanking them for the feedback.