Down With the Philosophy Factory

Anti Corruption • 9 August 2018

Academic disciplines in our time have been subjected to the principle that more productivity is better, and a lot more is better than better, giving rise to a kind of productivity syndrome. While we may complain about the importance of quality, how often have you heard of someone not receiving promotion or tenure because his or her colleagues said the quality of the work was unacceptable? This happens, of course, but I am asking you to consider how often.


Having served on many internal and external reviews, I’ve learned that quantity and prestigious venues are typically what win the day. Yet there is no guarantee that a book or article published by a prestigious press is of high quality — we all know that weak or mediocre books slip through. Quantity is so much easier to evaluate. Professor X has eighteen, twelve book reviews, twenty-one conference presentations, two monographs, and an edited volume. The university’s tenure and promotion committee is going to be impressed. End of story.

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