Despite my first post here, I don’t plan to use this blog to engage in handwringing about past failings on my part. I’ll comment on blogs and politics, like my co-bloggers, but I’ll also blog a bit about my academic interests and concerns.
On that front, I’d like to lament the apparent slow, silent death of BEARS, or Brown Electronic Article Review Service (in Moral and Political Philosophy). The idea behind BEARS was to provide a forum for discussion of recently published articles. Journals have limited space for rejoinders, and incorporating responses to articles in later peer-reviewed articles both postpones and buries potentially fruitful conversations on important ideas. Also, while books are generally reviewed in multiple journals, articles are virtually never reviewed.
The idea behind BEARS was to provide a space for this sort of activity–short reviews (under 1000 words, generally) of articles published in the last six months. No formal peer reviewing, although the BEARS gatekeepers make the choice to publish or not.
I’ve not read everything on BEARS, as it is oriented a bit more toward the analytical philosophy side of political theory than I would prefer. I’d strongly recommend two of the symposiums–one Elizabeth Anderson’s very important “What is the Point of Equality?” and another on John Kekes’ very wrongheaded “A Question for Egalitarians”, both with replies from the article’s original author.
I say slow, silent death because in the last couple of years there has only been one symposium and one article review posted. I have no idea if this is due to lack of submissions, lack of readership, or a shift in priorities for the editors. I suppose I should put my money where my mouth is and submit something if I think this is such a great idea. If the problem is with submissions, it seems plausible that many worry that it may not “count” for tenure and promotion, and probably with good reason. Not much to be done about that, I suppose, except to hope that if this form of publication were to become widely read that might eventually change.
In the meantime, I’m curious if other disciplines or subfields have venues for this kind of conversation. Or if there are ideas for reviving either this service, perhaps in the blogosphere. If any other political theory/philosophy sorts are reading this, let’s all submit something and see if we can’t get this service going again. I’ll send something off as soon as I finish the damn diss chapter I’m working on.