Due to the move to Las Vegas, I wasn’t initially sure if I wanted to submit something for this year’s ASA conference. In the end, the promise of not having to leave Caesar’s Palace and the opportunity to play blackjack with some “famous” sociologist won me over. (Well, that and the fact that my wife has never been to Vegas and wanted to go.) Given this decision, I was faced with the reality that I needed something to submit. The fact that the ASA requires a complete draft nearly seven months before the conference takes place has always been annoying. Further, the number of sessions I’ve attended that were absolutely painful to sit through suggests that this practice does not, in fact, improve the quality of the end result. I don’t know why they require a full paper (better quality? fewer no-shows and cancellations? because they hate us?) but I suspect that it may have a negative effect on paper quality, if the cobbled-together paper that I submitted this morning is any indication. To the best of my guessing ability, these are the four types of submissions that ASA receives:
- Cobbled-together crap (25%) – These papers are submitted by grad students interested in padding their C.V.s and people like me who’s conference funding depends on the presentation of a paper. Hopefully, most of these papers end up at roundtables. Chance of future publication: 0%
- Flawed papers (50%) – These are papers that, for a variety of reasons, are not suitable for peer-reviewed publication. This includes, but is not limited to, exploratory papers with small samples, papers that make no contribution to the literature, and papers with undergraduate students. Chance of future publication: 1%
- Completed research papers (5%) – These papers were completed during the fall semester by people who can afford to wait a few weeks before submitting them to peer-reviewed journals. This submission likely takes place the day after the ASA deadline. In rare cases, these papers appear in print before ASA. Chance of future publication: 80%
- Papers with promise (20%) – These are papers that could be revised for submission to a journal in the future. Of these, about half will likely never be submitted because they were written by people, like me, for whom conference presentations count as “scholarly activity.” Others will be submitted within a year after the ASA conference at which they were originally presented by those at more research-intensive schools whose teaching loads allow them to spend actual time on research. Finally, a few of these papers will spend time on every burner and eventually make it to publication. Chance of future publication: 30%
Combined, these completely made up numbers suggest that about 10.5% of ASA submissions in a given year will eventually be published in a peer reviewed journal. Given the crap I’ve seen (and submitted) to ASA, that sounds about right.