Monday, February 2, 2009

Hot topics

One advantage of being a grad student in a top program, it's been said, is that such students get access to cutting-edge work that might not appear in the journals for several years. It also seems obvious that journals are more likely to reject articles that they perceive as not being on the cutting edge. These facts, if they are facts, might seem to give students at top programs a very significant advantage over their less pedigreed brethren, since only they (and the faculty in their programs) would be in a position to submit articles on a given topic just when the journals really want to publish articles on that topic.

Do students at top programs really enjoy a huge advantage in this regard? If so, what can students at non-stellar programs do to minimize their disadvantage? Does fairness require that philosophers at top programs disseminate their current research more widely?

8 comments:

Anonymous said...

I have already started shipping out papers on meta-meta-metaphysics in the hopes to outdo all of Kit Fine's students for years to come.

C

Anonymous said...

Actually, I do find that being at a program well ranked in my area of interest has helped me in terms of getting a leg up in publication and with conference presentations. It's not so much access to cutting edge work, it's more access to people doing cutting edge work, who can help you with your own work.

Also, in a department with people who are really active in terms of research there are more opportunities to work as a research assistant, which is a good way to get your name attached to papers as a second author or otherwise mentioned in papers.

actual_name said...

As far as I tell, faculty at top Ph.D programs who distribute manuscripts to their students will make their ideas (and usually, the manuscripts themselves) readily available elsewhere: on his or her website, at APA meetings, at colloquium lectures, as keynote addresses at graduate conferences, and so forth. So it's doubtful that those enrolled in these programs enjoy much of an advantage in this regard.

I think it's a mistake to assume that even if you attend said programs, these manuscripts will simply fall in your lap. Even if you're in the program, some initiative is required on your part: an e-mail, usually. But folks at lower-ranked programs can send e-mail, too, last time I checked.

And as Anonymous 9:23's comment suggests, there are potential disadvantages to being privy to all these secret unpublished manuscripts. Who's going to publish Kit Fine's students' papers on meta-meta-metaphysics after Kit Fine publishes all those manuscripts they're crimping all their ideas from? Not too many, I'd say.

Anonymous said...

"Cutting edge philosophy"?

WWSS: What would Socrates say?

Anonymous said...

what is with this obsession with pedigree and how it is somehow unfair? grads at top programs get to work with top people. that's why you want to go there. that's why everyone wants to go there, whether or not they got accepted. that's why top programs get to be very selective about the grads they let attend.

There is nothing unfair about not getting into a top program and thus not having access to top people doing cutting edge work. there is, thus, no reason people doing cutting edge research should have to compensate for some other grad's mediocre application that got rejected as a result of which that grad is at a less respected program.

seriously, get over the pedigree obsession, this idea that somehow all philosophy grads are exactly equal but some get access to better resources (people, research, school recognition) than others.

Anonymous said...

what is with this obsession with pedigree and how it is somehow unfair?

I defy you to show us where in the post or subsequent comments someone said that those with pedigree have an unfair advantage. That being said, I'm starting to have some problem with some with pedigree. You, for example, have poor reading skills and seem to be a bit of a brat.

Anonymous said...

"Do students at top programs really enjoy a huge advantage in this regard? If so, what can students at non-stellar programs do to minimize their disadvantage? Does fairness require that philosophers at top programs disseminate their current research more widely?"

read the last sentence. the author is intimating that it is unfair for students at top programs to have the kind of advantage that goes along with early access to current work done by top philosophers. It is presented as if it is arguably unfair that such philosophers work closely wit their own students (at pedigreed programs) rather than sharing their expertise more broadly with students at other programs.

and by the way, not everyone who comments here is a graduate student, pedigreed or otherwise. Calling someone a brat for pointing out a clear theme to man posts here and at philosophy smoker does not mean one is a grad at a top program.

Anonymous said...

This isn't the Philosophy Smoker.

It is presented as if it is arguably unfair that such philosophers work closely wit their own students (at pedigreed programs) rather than sharing their expertise more broadly with students at other programs.

Presented as if arguably unfair = a sign of pedigree obsession?

Please.