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Caveat Emptor

The opinions expressed on this page are mine alone. Any similarities to the views of my employer are completely coincidental.

Thursday, 21 April 2016

Songs for Swinging Lovers (of Bourdieu)

It had to be U - the SVD song by the multi-talented Michael Greenacre.

Tuesday, 19 April 2016

Why do institutions insist on stupidity?

I don't know what the answer to my question is, but it seems an important one to ask.

I submit an article to a well known sociology journal. The journal has a policy of double blind anonymity. Fair enough, it's their ball and if I want to play I have to play by their rules. I make sure that there are no obvious clues in the text  as to who has written it. Within a couple of  hours I get the text sent back to me repeating their anonymity policy and telling me that I have not adhered to it and therefore my submission has been unsubmitted. Strange.

My sin is that I have included a reference to my own work.

But wait a minute. If I were to write: "...as I have written previously (Mouse and Mills, 2014)" then clearly my authorship is revealed and it is correct to disallow it. But if I write , as I did, something like "... recent contributions to this literature are Spatchcock and Bogbrush, (2010), Mouse and Mills (2014)..." then  nothing at all is given away. In fact if Mouse and Mills (2014) is a standard reference then deleting it and substituting "Author Reference" doesn't make it less likely a referee will identify me as the author, it will, if they have any knowledge of the field, make it more likely! So the policy in this case will achieve the exact opposite of what it is intended to do.  D'oh!

Not that I  really care one way or the other. The claim that authors are anonymous is just bullshit anyway. It's trivially easy for referees to find out who the authors of journal submissions are and if you an expert in an area you know more or less who is doing what without having to go anywhere near Google. You've heard the seminar, seen the conference presentation, read and cited the working paper long before the thing is published.  I have a paper which has been outright rejected by two journals which is already being cited and appears in class reading lists (not my own!). 

The only people we are kidding by pretending that refereeing is double-blind is ourselves. Nobody believes it, so why do journals insist on maintaining the fiction? Academics really are very good at making themselves look absurd.

Wednesday, 13 April 2016

RIP Arnold Wesker

So Farewell
Sir Arnold Wesker.

Yes. In your kitchen
it was a wedding feast.

Chicken soup with barley,
Roots. Honey.
Chips with everything.

But now
You've gone
To your own and golden city.
Words on the wind.
Say goodbye.

E. J. Porter (15½)