Should Invited Papers be Marked as Such?

There’s a lengthy discussion of editorial (mal)practice over at DailyNous. In the discussion, a sub-thread developed about invited versus unsolicited papers, and whether they should be marked as such.

For example, the journal I edit, Res Philosophica, recently had a call for papers on transformative experience. We noted in the call for papers that unsolicited papers that are accepted will be published alongside invited papers (and named the authors of the invited papers). All of the papers are refereed, but obviously the invited papers are not triple anonymous. For the invited papers, I default to double anonymous, but on occasion I have used single anonymous review. (For what it’s worth, I never serve as the referee.)

I thought putting the names of the invited papers in the call for papers was transparent, but some of the discussants over at Daily Nous suggested something further: Put a note in all published papers that indicates how the paper was reviewed.

I’m initially inclined to think this is a great idea. A title note, for example, might go something like this: “This paper was invited and double anonymous reviewed by two referees.” Or “This paper was unsolicited and was triple anonymous reviewed by three referees.”

Two questions for discussion:

1) Is this a good idea? I worry that I’m missing potential downsides or pitfalls.

2) If it is a good idea, what information would be good to include? Invited vs unsolicited; triple- vs double vs single-anonymous review; number of referees; date of submission; date of acceptance? Others?


9 thoughts on “Should Invited Papers be Marked as Such?

  1. C

    And a note indicating the paper should be required.

    It’s also probably good if someone were to monitor the relationships between the people doing the inviting and the people who benefit from the invitations. An editorship doesn’t come with a fiefdom, does it?

    1. jdjacobs Post author

      Did you mean that the note indicating that it’s an invited paper should be *required*? I think you left out a few words.

      With regard to monitoring the relationships: I assume the Boards are in charge of overseeing the behavior of Editors; that’s how it is at Res Philosophica. I take it you are worried about an Editor inviting only friends or colleagues?

  2. C

    Right, sorry. Wrote that when I was a bit sleepy. A note identifying something as invited should be required.

    I had assumed that the editorial boards would oversee the behavior of editors, but now I wonder if that’s robust enough. I’m not really worried about editors inviting _only_ friends and colleagues, but I’ve heard some complaints about editors inviting too many friends, colleagues, or former students. Add this to the recent complaints about Phil Studies and I start to wonder whether the boards are watching closely enough or looking for the right things.

    1. jdjacobs Post author

      I favor transparency, but I’m still not entirely sure why a paper that’s invited needs to be marked as such. What’s the argument for that as a *requirement*?

  3. A

    Invited papers should not count as much as anonymously refereed papers, because they are more an indication of who’s well-connected or popular. There are far too many invited papers. Furthermore, they’re difficult to identify. Midwest Studies in Philosophy is invited, the Proceedings of the Aristotelian Society is invited, Phil Perspectives is invited. It appears that some Philosophy Compass papers are invited, and some appear to be blind-reviewed. You’d think papers in Phil Studies are blind-reviewed, but they also publish all the papers from the Bellingham Summer Conference, and those are generally by well-connected, popular people. And then journals (like yours) do special issues all the time with invited papers. And all the invites are issued to people who are members of some in-crowd or other. It’s pretty frustrating for people who aren’t members of the in-crowd. They have to make their way to tenure purely on blind review, which is not easy.

  4. jdjacobs Post author

    In response to A above, I don’t know that I buy those reasons for marking papers as invited. I don’t think that invited papers should count as less. (It partly depends on to whom they are supposed to count less.) If we thought that the referee process were perfect at selecting (and helping to improve?) all and only the good papers, then perhaps that would be right. But we know that’s not true. The referee process is of course partly a matter of luck; less than great papers get published, and great papers get rejected. So I’m still not sure why I should think that invited papers count for less.

    Again, I favor transparency and think it may be a good idea to mark invited papers as such, but I’m not confident that the reason has something to do with invited papers counting for less.

  5. jdjacobs Post author

    I should also say that practices regarding the review of invited papers probably varies widely. We try to have all our invited papers double anonymous reviewed by two referees, and we have ended up not publishing several invited papers on account of referee reports. So perhaps our own practices skew my view of these matters. At the very least, journals should be upfront about their practices and policies regarding invited papers.


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