Hey Zander, great comments.
I wonder if there is a citation index that includes the citations of publications that cite you. That might help to determine how important the one-citation articles are, since they may be cited by works that are a lot more important. But if most one-citation articles lead to a dead end, then getting a citation wouldn’t be such a big difference. Maybe that’s irrelevant though.
I think (Petersen et al. 2011a) shows a similar distribution over individual researchers.
Great point about different fields having different expected values. Was going to discuss that in the next post, but thanks for bringing it up now.
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Liz, what would you think if the volunteers were ignorant of important facts that bear on the decision? Most people don’t realize that there are huge differences in cost effectiveness, that you can do a lot of good with your time in unconventional ways, and other 80K principles. I don’t think people are blameworthy for not hearing about these principles or coming up with them themselves. Since most people don’t even realize that there is something to think twice about here, I would hesitate to think they’re blameworthy. I guess I think they show great concern for others, given what they know, and that’s what counts.
This is an excellent post. But one further question that may be worth thinking about is the connection between research progress and moral progress. The people who make the most important decisions on these topics may care little about what philosophers have to say about them; if so, the marginal impact of your work seems small.
In other words, the fact that philosophers discuss the practical question, “What ought I to do?” does not (on its own) make philosophy a practical career. We should try to figure out how philosophers can maximize their impact by translating research progress into moral progress – through teaching, political influence, media attention, and pollination into other fields. And it’s also worth thinking about the extent to which consensus among philosophers is key to achieving moral progress, and how likely philosophers are to reach consensus on some of these questions.