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Philica FAQs

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  386 Articles and Observations available | Content last updated 24 September, 07:44  
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Frequently Asked Questions

Introductory matters
How does Philica differ from other open-access publishing projects?
How do I pronounce Philica?
Where does the name come from?
What do the icons after people’s names mean?
How do I feedback to Philica? Do you have an email address?
Philica is a great idea — how can I help?
What’s to stop people stealing my ideas?
What’s the catch? What’s this going to cost me?
Anybody you need to thank?

Publishing questions
What’s the difference between an Article and an Observation?
With no editors and with the immediate publication of submissions, isn’t Philica just going to fill up with junk articles?
Can you explain the reviewer numbers?
Can I change my Article or Observation once it’s been submitted?
Can I remove/alter my comments/reviews once I have made them?
Once I’ve published it on Philica, can I publish it elsewhere?
What reference system should I use in my writing?
How do the ratings work?
Can I review and rate my own work?
I published something in a journal a few years ago and nobody seems to have noticed it. Can I put it on Philica as well?
What’s the difference between Peer Review and Additional Peer Comment in the reviews?

Membership questions
I’m a PhD student and know more about X than anybody, including my supervisor — why can’t I open an account?
Although membership is intended only for professional researchers, what’s to stop just anybody joining?
I’m from a local authority/charity/company — can I publish?
I’m an independent/retired researcher without an affiliation — can I join?

Technical questions
How do I enter formulae in my work?
What systems/browsers can I use to access Philica?



Introductory matters
How does Philica differ from other open-access publishing projects?
In short, Philica is different because it dared to rethink every aspect of the publishing process. Following calls for an open-access model, several publishers and universities looked around for a way of giving readers free access to refereed journals. Their solution was either to shift the cost to the writer — many open-access journals use a pay-to-submit system which costs as much as several thousand dollars to have a paper published — or to fund publishing from a country’s taxes (which seems an odd way to provide such an international resource).

Of course, these funding models are certainly better than pay-to-read: they make research accessible to the public and to developing countries, for one thing. However, at Philica we went right back to the drawing board and asked ourselves the most fundamental question, “Why does anybody have to pay?” We saw that other open-access journals still cost a fortune to run because they have retained the old-fashioned submission and peer-review processes, requiring editors, secretaries, designers, typesetters, etc., etc. This seemed to us entirely to miss the point of working on the Internet! Philica can be made free to everybody, whilst retaining the benefits of peer-review, because of the open, online submission and refereeing processes. This system not only allows universal access to the information, but also carries a whole raft of other benefits over the old system in terms of speed, transparency and fairness.

The other major benefit to arise from the Philica system is that because we don’t need an editorial staff we can accept submissions from absolutely any field of research. This shocks many academics, because they aren’t used to this, but be bold for a moment and ask yourself: who actually benefits from a system where journals contain articles from only one narrow field? Certainly not the reader, because they still need to read lots of different journals to ensure they keep up to date with the literature, and today cannot hope to do this properly without using some sort of electronic search engine. No, the reality is that journals with a narrow focus were essentially a publisher’s convenience. By re-writing the rules of submission and review, Philica does away with this, making it easier for researchers to find the papers they need to read.

How do I pronounce Philica?
It’s pronounced with two short i’s and stress on the first syllable: FILL-ih-kuh. The subdisciplines, e.g., “Psycho” are all named so that they will roll together with “Philica” to give a single pronouncable name, e.g., “PsychoPhilica”, “EduPhilica”, etc. Many thanks to beta-tester Celia Jones for thinking of the name JurisPhilica, as we’d struggled to think of a title for the law section without success.

Where does the name come from?
Its roots lie in the Greek -phile, indicating a lover or liker of something. So if you’re a mediphile you’re fond of medicine, hence you’ll read MediPhilica. Yes, we know it’s not pronounced the same. Incidentally, Philica is also a genus of shrub and a traditional English female name — both from the Greek root phyllon, meaning “leaf”.

What do the icons after people’s names mean?
People can have up to two icons after their names. The red tick () means that this person has proved their status as a bona fide academic (Click here for details of how to do this) and the question mark () shows that the person has not done this. Any other icon (e.g., ) shows that this person has made a donation to the running of Philica and so is a thoroughly nice person for whom good things should happen. You can click on any icons you see for more details.

How do I feedback to Philica? Do you have an email address?
You can contact us using this form.

Philica is a great idea — how can I help?
The best way to help Philica succeed is to make a donation, however small, using the donation page. This site costs quite a lot to run, and your support helps keep it here. Please note that we don’t get paid for running Philica.

The other way you can help is by assisting us with the huge task of listing the world’s universities, colleges and research institutions. If your country is not listed below then please get in touch if you want to help us by adding your country’s institutions.

Countries currently in our database:

  • Algeria
  • Argentina
  • Australia
  • Austria
  • Belgium
  • Brazil
  • Canada
  • Chile
  • China
  • Colombia
  • Cuba
  • Denmark
  • Finland
  • France
  • Germany
  • Greece
  • India
  • Ireland
  • Israel
  • Italy
  • Japan
  • Jordan
  • Luxembourg
  • Malaysia
  • Netherlands
  • New Zealand
  • Nigeria
  • Pakistan
  • Poland
  • Portugal
  • Romania
  • Russian Federation
  • Singapore
  • Slovenia
  • South Africa
  • Spain
  • Sweden
  • Turkey
  • United Kingdom
  • United States
  • Venezuela
  • Republic of Korea

What’s to stop people stealing my ideas?
Plagarism is really no more likely than with traditional paper publishing. Your protection is the ability to show exactly when your work was published — information that is stored and displayed with every piece of work on Philica.

What’s the catch? What’s this going to cost me?
Nothing! Philica is completely free for the whole world to read and authors do not pay anything to publish their work or have it reviewed. And this will always be the case.

Anybody you need to thank?
Why, yes. We would like to credit the following open-source software projects: TinyFCK online word processor, which is iteself simply a combination of TinyMCE and FCKEditor, is the system used when entering and editing Articles (it is TinyMCE which currently has problems working with Opera, but no doubt this will be fixed with time); PHPSmartyPants is the system which checks each page and automatically inserts “curly quotes”, sloping apostrophes ( ’ ) and long dashes — when entering Articles and Observations you can produce a long dash by typing two adjacent hypens; MimeTeX is the system used for rendering TeX equations.



Publishing questions
What’s the difference between an Article and an Observation?
A Philica Article corresponds to a traditional journal article. It can describe a theoretical analysis or an empirical study in depth. An Observation is shorter — only a paragraph or two. Observations are intended as a way of sharing ideas, case notes, curiosities, or other things you have noticed in the course of your work that you believe will be of interest to your colleagues. Observations are not expected to be as rigorously tested or defended as Articles, but still you should only publish information that is likely to be useful to others.

Incidentally, the Observations section was the seed for all of Philica. The founders of this site are experimental psychologists who found there were no opportunities in the journals they read for researchers to share short comments of general interest. The plan was to create a site called PsychObs, where psychologists could publish such things. They met in a pub to thrash out the idea and, as is often the way with discussions in pubs, the idea became increasingly grandiose! By the end of the evening Philica was invented, covering every academic discipline and providing full Articles as well as the original Observations. We remain proud of our Observations system and believe it provides a valuable forum for the exchange of academic ideas and the stimulation of research activity.

With no editors and with the immediate publication of submissions, isn’t Philica just going to fill up with junk articles?
This is an important question, but who is to say what is junk and what is not? Traditional journals inevitably reflect the biases of a handful of editors and reviewers. This means that if your paper doesn’t match their theoretical or methodological outlook, it won’t be printed; differences of opinion, however genuine and fair, are very rarely tolerated in the traditional publishing route. Editors and reviewers wield altogether too much power over what gets into the literature (and we say this advisedly, having done both roles ourselves).

On the other hand, Philica articles can only be published by people who are bona fide academics. This means that the authors here were all judged competent to work as researchers, thinkers and/or educators by the people who employed them. If such a person goes to the trouble of writing a paper, we believe it should be published. If you disagree with its content you can deal with this by giving it negative reviews which everybody can read, and which can therefore allow people to interpret the paper with caution (or to choose to hide it from their view). But just because you disagree with a paper, does this really mean it should never see the light of day at all? This is academia, not Fascism!

Of course, if things get published that genuinely do not belong, such as garbage or jokes, then mechanisms exist to remove these.

Can you explain the reviewer numbers?
Every member has two unique numbers — their user ID code and their reviewer ID code. The user IDs are more-or-less based on the order in which people joined the system (in general, a lower number means someone joined earlier); the reviewer IDs are randomly allocated and have no relationship to the user ID or the time at which someone registered. As such, there is no way to work out who somebody is from their reviewer code, allowing them to review anonymously.

Can I change my Article or Observation once it’s been submitted?
No. It is essential that you check what you have written and are happy with it before submitting. You have a chance to review your work exactly as it will appear, and should take great care here.

We will soon be offering an additional service whereby we can make corrections to submissions provided this is limited to correcting factual errors and not changing arguments or conclusions. Keep an eye on Philica for details.

Can I remove/alter my comments/reviews once I have made them?
No. As with any other form of academic publishing, once submitted your review is done.

Once I’ve published it on Philica, can I publish it elsewhere?
If you submit work here, the copyright remains with you. This means that you can publish it elsewhere, although you must cite the publication here if you do so.

What reference system should I use in my writing?
You can choose to use either the Harvard system, e.g., “Smith (2006) said…” or “…cats have tails (Smith, 2006)”, or numbered endnotes as you prefer, but please stick to just one system within a given submission. Please see the style guide for full details of how to format your work for Philica.

It is important that contributors keep to a common style to facilitate good communication and efficient access to their information. The style we require is as simple as we could make it, and so is not difficult to follow. Failing to follow the style guide can make your contributions look unprofessional. Severe failures to follow the guide can lead to your work being removed until it is improved!

How do the ratings work?
When people review Philica entries, they rate them on three criteria: originality, importance and overall quality. These ratings are on a scale of 1-7, where 1 is very poor, 7 is very good and 4, the mid-point, represents a rating of middling quality. The ratings you see, however, when you view an entry or a person’s profile fall on a different scale where 100 represents the mid-point. These ratings also take into account the quality of the raters’ own work on Philica, and so can change all the time: rating one person’s work can change the ratings of dozens of others as your rating will affect the influence of the ratee’s existing reviews.

In essence, the final ratings are calculated according to the following formula. Let’s say we’re considering the quality rating for an Article. The weighted quality rating for Article j, , would be:



k is the number of reviewers who rated the Article, is the original quality rating of Article j from reviewer i (out of 7), is the mean rating of the reviewer’s own works (also out of 7; the exponential component equals 4 if the reviewer has no ratings), and c is a weighting value that equals 1 for unconfirmed users and more than 1 for confirmed users.

It should be apparent, then, that a recent original rating of 4 from an unrated reviewer will give a weighted rating of 100. A rating below 4 will give a value less than 100 and a rating above 4 will give a value of over 100. As the quality of a reviewer’s own work rises relative to the mid-point, so their ability to deflect other people’s weighted ratings away from 100 increases, especially if they have confirmed status. If a reviewer has poorly rated work, their ability to deflect other people’s ratings away from 100 lessens.

Can I review and rate my own work?
No — that would be madness! As the author, you can add further comments to your work, but you cannot rate it.

I published something in a journal a few years ago and nobody seems to have noticed it. Can I put it on Philica as well?
No. You cannot publish work that has been previously published somewhere else. However, you are welcome to publish work that you wrote or carried out in the past, perhaps where you could not find an outlet at the time, provided this is the first time it has been published anywhere. If you’re really keen for people to read some of your older work, why not submit a literature review to Philica?

What’s the difference between Peer Review and Additional Peer Comment in the reviews?
A Peer Review is the first review by a given reviewer. At the time of writing this review, the reviewer also rated the originality, importance, and quality of the article. However, each reviewer can only do this once — if they review the article again they do not get the chance to rate it and their comments are described as “Additional Peer Comment” rather than “Peer Review”.



Membership questions
I’m a PhD student and know more about X than anybody, including my supervisor — why can’t I open an account?
We know that many PhD students are highly knowledgeable and capable of writing Philica-quality articles, and if writing articles were all that membership allowed we would let graduate students join. However, membership of Philica also allows peer-reviewing of other people’s work. It is not normal practice for students to do this to the work of fully-qualified academics, and we do not consider it desirable to change that here.

Therefore we will very soon be introducing a form of graduate student membership which will allow publication (as long as it is with your supervisor), but not the reviewing of other people’s work. Keep an eye on the site…

Although membership is intended only for professional researchers, what’s to stop just anybody joining?
All Philica members are strongly urged to prove their bona fides as soon as possible after joining. The work of confirmed members is immediately apparent as it is marked with an icon. An unconfirmed Philica membership is much less useful than a confirmed membership, since (a) unconfirmed members’ reviews carry less weight than confirmed members’ reviews and (b) readers are less likely to trust research from unconfirmed authors. In other words, there’s not really much point joining if you do not go on to prove your status.

Another important safeguard is that when joining Philica, members affirm that they are employed by a recognized organization such as a university or government body. Anybody falsely claiming to be a member of an organization is committing fraud, and if anybody were to claim a bogus affiliation we will assist law enforcement organzations and the affected institutions in tracking them down.

I’m from a local authority/charity/company — can I publish?
Yes, provided your organization meets a few standard criteria. If you want to register for an account please contact us with the details of your organization and we will arrange it as quickly as possible. We consider it particularly important that non-academics prove their employment status to us, and may make it a condition of registering.

This said, we very strongly recommend that members of government bodies, charities, etc. wishing to publish research also make contact with an interested academic and involve them in the project and the publishing. This will make your work not only more robust, but also more credible. We will soon be adding a notice board where people from charities etc. can find academic researchers for partnerships.

I’m an independent/retired researcher without an affiliation — can I join?
Possibly. We know that there are plenty of independent and retired reseachers out there who are doing quality work — you will see some of it published here already. However, the genuine independent and retired researchers will understand that there are also a lot of people out there who are looking for somewhere to express ideas and opinions but who lack the benefit of research training or a proper grounding in the issues they aspire to discuss. Therefore, if you have qualifications and/or experience in research, please write to us at the address given here with details of your qualifications/experience. Please also let us have your address, your email address, and your desired username and password for your account. We will inform you of our decision by email as soon as possible; our decision whether to grant membership to researchers who are not employed by proper research instutitions is final.

One of the good things about joining as an independent researcher is that the process automatically involves our checking your bona fides, and so you are immediately registered as a confirmed member.



Technical questions
How do I enter formulae in my work?
There are two ways: either you can create graphic files of your equations and upload these in the usual way or you can use the world-standard TeX format. TeX format is invoked simply by surrounding a code string with [tex] at the beginning and [/tex] at the end. So, for example, if you are writing an Article or Observation and type:
[tex]\epsilon_i=\frac{1}{2}\sum_{i=1}^n(t_i-a_i)^2[/tex]
the final work will display:

For more details on the TeX format see our TeX reference guide

What systems/browsers can I use to access Philica?
In principle, given that Philica is entirely web-based with all the clever stuff taking place on our servers rather than your computer, it should run on almost any computer and browser combination. We regularly test Philica using different systems to ensure compatibility. At the time of writing, we have tested it with both Macs and PCs running Firefox, Opera, Internet Explorer and Safari. The only vaguely advanced requirement is that your browser must handle JavaScript in order to enter Articles, and at the moment we know that certain browsers (most notably Opera) have some problems with the JavaScript code we use (see here).




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