Thursday, November 10, 2016

Publishing advice

Jason Brennan has written some advice on how to publish, especially if you are a graduate student. It looks like pretty useful advice for its target audience, but it also cries out for parody. Hence the following:

Productive in Publishing: Some Advice for Academics, Especially Graduate Students

1. Meta: Make sure you are dispassionate
a. “Publish or perish” is misleading. You might die on the inside because of an obsession with publishing
b. Publishing is not the point of being an academic. That would be learning, thinking, and, above all, teaching.
c. Don’t become someone concerned primarily with your own fun and energy. It isn’t all about you. In fact, discipleship might be a good way to go: pick a giant and try standing on its shoulders.

2. Don’t let the important take precedence over the urgent
a. Do what you have to do now first, then write. Because the urgent is urgent.
b. Prep more. Teaching is your job and a way to reach far more people than publishing 
c. Never sacrifice other important things to get research done. You aren’t curing cancer

3. Write every weekday, if you have a job and life that affords you this luxury 
a. But don’t time yourself or keep a log. Stay human

4. Take breaks, enjoy treats
a. Coffee, naps, and exercise might actually help you be more productive

5. Read, don’t write

6. Write first, edit second.
OK, I actually agree with this one. At least, it is what I currently do. I suspect it might sometimes result in less good work, though, because not every flaw necessarily gets edited out

7. Don’t talk to your hairdresser about philosophy
a. “Any philosophy that can be put in a nutshell deserves to be,” Hilary Putnam
b. “Everything should be made as simple as possible but not simpler,” Albert Einstein

8. Try to stay focused on one or, at most, two projects at a time
a. When you get stuck, read more or think more. “Go the bloody hard way,” Ludwig Wittgenstein
b. Keep your head as clear as possible at all times

9. Sometimes you will have 3 things under review, sometimes nothing. That’s how it goes

10. Some articles are like term papers, some are not. Write whatever kind suits what you have to say

11. Work with the best advisor you can, the one you will learn from the most 
a. Philosophy is not a pre-professional degree. Don’t treat it like one

12. You don’t work best under pressure. Unless you do
a. I don’t know you, nor does Jason Brennan

13. Once you have a hammer, pound in multiple nails
a. Unless, you know, no nails are called for

14. Publishing in grad school is not easy, as experience shows

15. Book publishing might seem to be a catch-22, and yet people publish books. So maybe it isn’t

16. Read stuff other than philosophy
a. Philosophers often rely on mistaken assumptions about other fields; easy to spot once you know other fields, and then you have an opening for new work

b. So simply master multiple fields and publishing will be a breeze

17. Don’t write like a grad student. Be someone else. Or be one of those grad students for whom publishing is easy

18. Read your papers out loud. Rewrite until they sound good. Or re-read until they sound good. Maybe try reading in a different accent

19. You do not have to sell the paper. This is philosophy

20. A good dissertation might still be better, and a done dissertation is not necessarily a good dissertation

21. For our last job, we got about 150 applications. I threw out all applications without evidence of good teaching



  2. ... you must be reading my manuscript again.