NEN Paper Prize Announcement

There are comparatively few prizes in philosophy. Fewer still are awarded for specific papers. To our knowledge, none is funded largely by small-dollar donations, and none is awarded by the community via a transparent review process.

We aim to start a prize with all these features. You can read all the details. Here’s a quick rundown of our idea:

  • Paper submitters pay a $22 submission fee, 100% of which (after credit card fees) goes into a prize pool. (Attendance at the workshop is free!)
  • Submitters will blindly score 2 other submissions according to a rubric on which we’ll solicit community feedback after all submissions are in.
  • The top 5 submissions from the initial scoring round will be subject to a Condorcet polling round by the entire community of submitters.
  • The top 1-3 submissions from the Condorcet round will win the associated cash in the prize pool.
  • We’re capping the submissions at 100 for this year (so ~$2,200 in the prize pool). If we hit 75 submissions, we will split the prize into two and add one runner-up (90/10 prize split). If we hit 100 submissions, we’ll do two runners-up (80/10/10).
  • The author of the winning paper will be invited to present their work at the 5th Annual NEN Workshop, being held this year at the University of Maryland, College Park.
  • Depending on the total number of submissions, we plan to invite 1-2 runners-up to also present their work.

We’ve added a mechanism whereby anyone can reserve a slot (we expect the limited number of slots to fill up quickly), in case they don’t yet have a paper ready for submission.  We hope to raise outside matching grants (if you’re interested in contributing, get in touch). 100% of any outside grants will be added to the prize pool, potentially substantially increasing the overall payout.

We expect there there are many ways this process could be improved, and we hope to pursue them in future years. For this pilot year, we think our idea has four main advantages compared to other prizes in Philosophy.

  • First, it is open to the entire community of philosophers. There are no memberships to buy, societies to join, or social networks to belong to.
  • Second, it is as transparent as possible at all stages. There are no “selection committees” or opaque review procedures.
  • Third, it can scale. Since it does not depend on a single group of editors and referees, if it works for 100 submissions, it can perhaps work for 1,000; it can also be duplicated at current scale in other areas.
  • Fourth, it is novel. Novel things are worth trying, especially at low cost.

We think the prize offers an important test of the hypothesis that good philosophical work will rise toward the top in a fair, transparent process of blind review and comparative voting by experts. We look forward to seeing what philosophers submit and, importantly, what philosophers decide is best.

Read more about the prize, and submit your paper (or reserve your slot).