Refereeing as as Service

There should be a website (or app) that helps with the following kinds of issues.

  • I recently wrote a paper on ability modals in which I sketch some ideas for how a certain linguistic phenomenon might be compositionally derived. I'm really unsure about that part of the paper, because I'm not an expert in the relevant areas of formal semantics. I'd like to get advice from an expert, but none of my friends are, and I don't want to bother people I don't know.
  • I once wrote a paper on decision-theoretic methods in non-consequentialist ethics. But I don't know much about ethics. I'd need someone to tell me how non-consequentialists typically think about decisions under uncertainty, who has already tried to sell decision-theoretic methods for that purpose, and what key papers I need to read.
  • When I submit papers to journals, I often get rejections pointing out problems that are easy to fix. It would have been good if someone had pointed out these problems to me before I submitted the paper.
  • I think many of my drafts and papers are a little hard to understand, but I'm not sure why. I'd like someone to give me feedback on which passages are confusing, where a reader might get lost, etc.

Basically, I'd like to hire (different kinds of) referees to look over my drafts and give me constructive feedback.

I'd be happy to pay (say, £50 or £100) for that service. And obviously the referee would be thanked in the paper. So the task should be more attractive for referees than ordinary refereeing for journals. I'd certainly be willing to perform such tasks for others, if I'm capable and interested in the topic.

Does anything like this exist?

If not, can we bring it into existence?

I'm sure I'm not the only one who could benefit from such a platform. It wouldn't just help individual philosophers. It would also improve the quality of philosophical output, and it would especially help philosophers who don't already have a great network of experts to draw on. So it would work against the unfair tendency that philosophers who already do well get the most help.

(Of course, the details would have to be spelled out carefully. For example, I wouldn't want to pay a random person on the internet £100 for superficial and unqualified comments on my papers. Perhaps potential referees must be linked to a philpapers profile, and perhaps they need to be approved by the person who posted the job offer. Perhaps the monetary incentive should be dropped, or replaced by something else.)


# on 14 March 2020, 06:59

What about first posting the prepared paper as a blog post, for comments? Not guaranteed, but... someone might stop by.

# on 14 March 2020, 11:44

True, better than nothing. But I doubt it would help much with the kinds of problems I mentioned. Even in the unlikely event that someone bothers to read an entire paper I post, they are unlikely to write a full report, pointing out possible problems in the argument, missing literature, passages they found hard to understand, etc.

# on 14 March 2020, 17:55

Agree, it's unlikely. Or maybe on some forums interested in the topic you write.
As a crowd, they could give (scattered) feedback here and there, IF you're writing something controversial or unexpected (in + or - sense).

I had in mind an article I read a couple of days ago, in the field of artificial general intelligence safety / existential risk.
Latest here

After publishing (though that was in conference proceedings...), the author got more feedback than what he would have ever wanted, on forums debates (lesswrong and others)

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