Truth Will Out: The Struggle to Publish

It is all in the small victories isn’t it. Like finishing a book chapter, submitting a paper, getting a paper published, etc. And it is all balanced by the small defeats. Getting a paper rejected, an argument refuted, and your toes stepped on in the queue for the bus. Sometimes one and the same paper, in its lifetime, offers an abundance of such positive and negative treats. This is the case with “There is no Truth-Theory Like the Correspondence Theory” (sung to the tune of “There’s No Business like Showbusiness…” or you can read it here).

At noon on a Friday, sometime in April 2008, I submitted the first draft to an online journal called Sorites. Lo and behold, within 3 hrs (!!?) I received an acceptance message from the editor. He was as shocked as I was. Never had a referee been so quick to referee a paper. Furthermore the referee insisted that the editor congratulate the author for having written a piece such as this. It was about time someone did.

Naturally, I was ecstatic…for at while. A year passed, and then another year, without a new issue of the journal coming out. I contacted the editor, only to find out he had had some health issues for a while, but an issue was being planned. Two years later I gave up, retracted the paper and sent it elsewhere. Why, surely there wasn’t going to be any difficulties getting a paper like this published. Indeed, it had been getting thousands of viewers on Academia (as of today it has +3.100 views). I’d better try for the top journals.

Three years and eight rejections down the road—and a library of referee verdicts on my hard-drive containing every possible (and impossible) kind of objection there was—I have to admit I was starting to feel a little worn down by the whole affair. Could I perhaps be completely in the wrong here?

Having re-examined all the referee reports thoroughly again, I concluded that I was not wrong (or had not been shown to be wrong). The paper very definitely presents a novel approach to the issue of truth. The referee verdicts either turned on some blatant misunderstanding about what the argument was, or they got hung up on what they felt to be a lack of discussion of some or other complication with some particular theory of truth that typically was completely irrelevant for the argument presented in the paper. At other times they simply declared that they didn’t like the paper.

As it turned out, while I was struggling to get the paper published, a Finnish Ph.D. student found my paper interesting enough to make it a subject for his dissertation. I found this out about a week before I finally received a notice of acceptance. The dissertation will be defended roughly at the same time as the paper comes out in print for the first time. This time at least, I come out on a high from the struggle for publication.

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