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Author Topic: Oxford Round Table  (Read 507803 times)
untenured
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« Reply #885 on: January 28, 2008, 11:47:24 PM »

Normally, silence indicates little about a given idea.  However, this thread is going on 59 pages.   By now someone who attended the conference would have spoken up with specific and measure criteria of selectivity or prestige.  Thus, three issues concern me:

1. Evidence posted by forumites of limited library distribution and few citations.

2. No evidence of selectivity as measured by acceptance rate, citation rate, affiliation of publishing authors, or listing in established ranking criteria.

3. Efforts by posters supporting ORT's journal have offered little more than vague assertions of 'worthwhile'ness or 'good'ness.

The evidence appears to weigh in favor of ORT's journal being non-selective and non-prestigious.  I am open to countervailing facts, however, at any time.

Untenured
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Quote from: kedves link=topic=56697.msg1152543#msg1152543
You are among the Pure and Truthful, however small their Number.
My goodness, that was an exceptionally good analysis of the forum.
afacultymember
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« Reply #886 on: January 29, 2008, 4:30:24 AM »

Normally, silence indicates little about a given idea.  However, this thread is going on 59 pages.   By now someone who attended the conference would have spoken up with specific and measure criteria of selectivity or prestige.  Thus, three issues concern me:

1. Evidence posted by forumites of limited library distribution and few citations.

2. No evidence of selectivity as measured by acceptance rate, citation rate, affiliation of publishing authors, or listing in established ranking criteria.

3. Efforts by posters supporting ORT's journal have offered little more than vague assertions of 'worthwhile'ness or 'good'ness.

The evidence appears to weigh in favor of ORT's journal being non-selective and non-prestigious.  I am open to countervailing facts, however, at any time.

Untenured

The problem with the voice of silence is that you must assume:
A) That all (or at least some) scholars that have attended ORT are active posters on this particular board of this particular site (an American publication, I might add).

B) That said scholars are willing to wade through 60 pages of content to respond.

C) That said individuals would feel inclined to respond.

It's not like you have the population of American scholars at your fingertips here.

As for your numbered assertions, #1 and #2 would appear to be valid, given the constraints of the points above. #3 is a bit problematic, since the "supporters" have been few in number.

Perhaps we will get lucky and encounter someone who has been to the conference and published in the journal who is willing to respond to the challenge laid at their digital feet.

Until then "Absence of evidence is not evidence of absence." (Look what you made me do ... quoting Donald Rumsfeld ... NEW.LOW.FOR.ME.)
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untenured
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« Reply #887 on: January 29, 2008, 8:38:20 AM »

I agree.  It is unwise to reach conclusions from silence.  Yet:

- Individuals claiming to have attended ORT have posted on this thread.  They provided no clear evidence of selectivity or prestige

- Only until very recently has this thread reached 60 pages.  Furthermore, one does not need to read 60 pages to contribute effectively.

- I conclude that purportedly ORT-attending individuals would be inclined to respond, as a few have.  If I took time to attend a conference, I would want to defend that conference should the quality of that conference come into question.  This is especially true given the high-ranked nature of the thread on google.

Finally, as I mentioned, those that have attempted to defend ORT have made weak efforts to do so.  Forumites researching the ORT journal have found some evidence of its limited distribution and citation.

I conclude therefore that hard, specific evidence of the ORT journal's selectivity and prestige is unlikely to be forthcoming and simply may not exist.

Untenured
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Quote from: kedves link=topic=56697.msg1152543#msg1152543
You are among the Pure and Truthful, however small their Number.
My goodness, that was an exceptionally good analysis of the forum.
dr_stones
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пошлите законоведами пушки и деньг


« Reply #888 on: January 29, 2008, 9:39:32 AM »

Has there been any actual evidence of ORT's supposed lack of prestige yet, or are we still speculating 59 pages into this thread?

There has been no evidence whatsoever of ORT's prestige.

And the search for prestige has been thorough.

The same could be said of God. There has been no evidence and the search has been thorough (for some, I'd imagine. I didn't even bother to start looking).

So the Oxford Round Table is God?
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"History does not repeat itself, but it does rhyme." Samuel "Steroid Free" Clemens
widmerpool
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« Reply #889 on: January 29, 2008, 10:19:02 AM »

Um . . . all of the dilligent researchers on this thread do know that the the journal is easily available for free on-line, yes? An elegant answer to the quality question would seem to turn on actually reading the work.

http://www.forumonpublicpolicy.com/papers.htm

I, by the way, did not submit (you may remember I was an attendee), so I have nothing to defend. 

Widmerpool
« Last Edit: January 29, 2008, 10:21:25 AM by widmerpool » Logged
onion
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« Reply #890 on: January 29, 2008, 10:33:18 AM »

Um . . . all of the dilligent researchers on this thread do know that the the journal is easily available for free on-line, yes? An elegant answer to the quality question would seem to turn on actually reading the work.

http://www.forumonpublicpolicy.com/papers.htm

I, by the way, did not submit (you may remember I was an attendee), so I have nothing to defend. 

Widmerpool

Okay, so I just hopped on there and found a paper that relates to one of my research areas. 

I see two major problems with the paper:

1) There were a number of factual inaccuracies.  To be less kind, the author is just straight up wrong about certain dates and other easily verifiable facts that are central to the argument.

2) The author relied almost exclusively on Time, Newsweek, and a local newspaper with no national reach or reputation as sources.

If it were a paper handed in by an undergraduate, I would give it about a B+, depending on the assignment.  The paper was attempting to make an argument about a process that has developed (and changed quite a bit) over the last 90 years or so, yet used no primary sources--nor did it use any sources that were more than about 10 years old.  As for a paper from a fellow professor and academic in a field similar to/tangentially related to my own--I found its argument interesting and a bit provocative, but the scholarship just is not there.  It is not an article that would have been accepted by any of the academic journals in my field, nor is it an article I would assign to my students.

That's my armchair assessment.
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qrypt
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I just LOVE that VOICE. It's so NICE


« Reply #891 on: January 29, 2008, 10:54:14 AM »

Um . . . all of the dilligent researchers on this thread do know that the the journal is easily available for free on-line, yes? An elegant answer to the quality question would seem to turn on actually reading the work.

http://www.forumonpublicpolicy.com/papers.htm

I, by the way, did not submit (you may remember I was an attendee), so I have nothing to defend. 

Widmerpool

A perfectly fine idea - but for better or worse this is simply not how the game is played.  A "good" journal is one that has a high impact factor, with lots of citations to the papers it publishes. 

Anyway, whatever the virtues of on-line publishing, it seems pretty likely that the decision to publish this one on-line emerged from the failure to sell subscriptions to print editions. 
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widmerpool
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« Reply #892 on: January 29, 2008, 11:03:12 AM »

If your claim is limited to "The ORT Journal is not well known or well cited," then it is both true and trivial. 

But another implication throughout this thread has been "The ORT Journal likely publishes bad quality work."  That claim can now be put to the test.

I suspect, on my own overview, that some papers are bad and that some are interesting.  Even if the invites go out randomly, and even if scholars of lower quality than the luminaries in any given field tend to go, and even if the marketing is bad and the ORT sues people and it angers everyone that the ORT even exists, there are still people of above average intelligence who take pride in their work who have composed these papers. 

I would be interested what fair minded readers think of the papers.  Is what you find worse than any number of small, regional and (dare I say) less prestigious conference proceedings or online journals that proliferate many academic disciplines?

Widmerpool

Um . . . all of the dilligent researchers on this thread do know that the the journal is easily available for free on-line, yes? An elegant answer to the quality question would seem to turn on actually reading the work.

http://www.forumonpublicpolicy.com/papers.htm

I, by the way, did not submit (you may remember I was an attendee), so I have nothing to defend. 

Widmerpool

A perfectly fine idea - but for better or worse this is simply not how the game is played.  A "good" journal is one that has a high impact factor, with lots of citations to the papers it publishes. 

Anyway, whatever the virtues of on-line publishing, it seems pretty likely that the decision to publish this one on-line emerged from the failure to sell subscriptions to print editions. 
« Last Edit: January 29, 2008, 11:03:42 AM by widmerpool » Logged
onion
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« Reply #893 on: January 29, 2008, 11:08:36 AM »

If your claim is limited to "The ORT Journal is not well known or well cited," then it is both true and trivial. 

It may be trivial, but this is how many universities judge their faculty's productivity.  My dean and chair would look at the "impact factor" of this journal and count it for nothing--no merit pay, no credit for T&P.
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widmerpool
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« Reply #894 on: January 29, 2008, 11:12:37 AM »

If your claim is limited to "The ORT Journal is not well known or well cited," then it is both true and trivial. 

It may be trivial, but this is how many universities judge their faculty's productivity.  My dean and chair would look at the "impact factor" of this journal and count it for nothing--no merit pay, no credit for T&P.

Would you agree with me that it is possible for quality scholarship to be produced in forums that lie outside the somewhat arbitrary system of impact factor measures and the politics of tenure and promotion?

Widmerpool
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onion
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« Reply #895 on: January 29, 2008, 11:37:31 AM »

If your claim is limited to "The ORT Journal is not well known or well cited," then it is both true and trivial. 

It may be trivial, but this is how many universities judge their faculty's productivity.  My dean and chair would look at the "impact factor" of this journal and count it for nothing--no merit pay, no credit for T&P.

Would you agree with me that it is possible for quality scholarship to be produced in forums that lie outside the somewhat arbitrary system of impact factor measures and the politics of tenure and promotion?

Widmerpool

Yes, in that impact factors and tenure and promotion politics can corrupt scholarship qua scholarship.  However, if you read my earlier post, I'm not sure that what's going on in the FPP is "quality scholarship" based on generally accepted academic standards (at least in my field): namely, the sources used and the lack of solid argumentation.  Moreover, I think that if it were truly good scholarship in Public Policy, the piece would appear in, for example, the Journal of Policy History, which has rigorous standards, good editors, but a small readership and impact factor.

Maybe it will take a number of years for the FPP to catch on and then it will be leading the journal in public policy.  I'll give it the benefit of the doubt.
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widmerpool
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« Reply #896 on: January 29, 2008, 11:48:37 AM »

If your claim is limited to "The ORT Journal is not well known or well cited," then it is both true and trivial. 

It may be trivial, but this is how many universities judge their faculty's productivity.  My dean and chair would look at the "impact factor" of this journal and count it for nothing--no merit pay, no credit for T&P.

Would you agree with me that it is possible for quality scholarship to be produced in forums that lie outside the somewhat arbitrary system of impact factor measures and the politics of tenure and promotion?

Widmerpool

Yes, in that impact factors and tenure and promotion politics can corrupt scholarship qua scholarship.  However, if you read my earlier post, I'm not sure that what's going on in the FPP is "quality scholarship" based on generally accepted academic standards (at least in my field): namely, the sources used and the lack of solid argumentation.  Moreover, I think that if it were truly good scholarship in Public Policy, the piece would appear in, for example, the Journal of Policy History, which has rigorous standards, good editors, but a small readership and impact factor.

Maybe it will take a number of years for the FPP to catch on and then it will be leading the journal in public policy.  I'll give it the benefit of the doubt.

To my mind, you don't have to go as far as giving benefit of the doubt.  You have uncovered a substandard piece.  I have read some through others and found them, shall we say, not terrible?  I could imagine seeing them in a journal somewhere.  Some demonstrate careful thought, cite widely, and are interesting. 

Since I believe the peer review process for FPP is nominal (that's why I didn't submit), I don't see how it becomes impactful in the politics of the academy without substantial changes, ones that a "invite anybody that can pay" outfit is unlikely to execute.  The journal is another carrot for middle level scholars to attend.  But that doesn't necessarily correlate with the papers, or the quality of discussions at the conference, being worse than what occurs at all kinds of other, tenure worthy academic contexts. Peer review, impacts, etc. are all important, but they are not necessary or sufficient condiditions for interesting arguments. After all, so much garbage makes it's way through the normal channels.

Again, the quetion of quality in the journal is easily answered; read widely and carefully, then make an honest judgment.

Widmerpool
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bewildered
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« Reply #897 on: January 30, 2008, 2:46:37 AM »

As long as we're giving it the benefit of the doubt, let's extend the same benefit to all of its contributors:  they COULD have published in any journal they wanted to, some of which would have doubtless impressed their Deans, search committees (and potential search committees), grant committees, etc., more than this journal will-- and some of which, by having been more widely heard of, would actually have resulted in a greater "impact" in the field.  But despite this ability to publish anywhere they please, the contributors all CHOSE this journal... perhaps because it's uncorrupted by such petty concerns as "impact factor."

That said, if an article in it that's directly related to my research topic does turn up on an abstract search, then I certainly will have a look at it.  I mean, I've looked up topically-relevant articles in crappy journals before... and usually found them worthless to me, which explains why they were in crappy journals, but still.... Anyway, I was being flip and tongue-in-cheek in my last post; you earnest defenders didn't think I was seriously making a distinction between being "worried" and being "afraid"?
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gerontion
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« Reply #898 on: January 30, 2008, 9:15:30 AM »

I was recently sent an invitation to ORT, and my first impulse, to which I succumbed, was to send an indignant request to be expunged from their records: the whole thing was so transparently a ploy designed to appeal to the vanity of (and this was the hurtful part) academics they thought would fall for this kind of thing. Adding to my scepticism was the ludicrously wide subject proposed for the round table: 'Allusions to God in English and SAmerican Prose and Poetry since 1700' (One wonders why they bothered with 'since 1700' -- why not 'since the beginning of time?')  I also noticed that my address, three years out of date, contained exactly the same errors as the circulars I get from booksellers -- so that solves the mystery of where they get their names from. Having fired off my salvo, I felt a bit chastened, and thought I'd better check on ORT's showing on-line -- and found this Forum, for which I'm grateful. I just can't help wondering: why 60 pages debating the merits  of a scheme that is so transparently aimed at people who flatter easily and would like to say they've been to Oxford? Incidentally, I've not read all 60 pages so don't know: has anybody noticed that the ORT website, active until recently, has gone dead? Another respect in which ORT is like God?
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normative_
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Check, please.


« Reply #899 on: January 30, 2008, 10:21:15 AM »

Another aspect in which ORT is like one of those mass mailings from Nigeria, I'd say.

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Excellent analysis by Normative.
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Normative, that was superb.
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