But what these two responses to CIIT really drove home to me is just how powerless we are in this regard. The content of our paper, the specifics of the arguments we gave, seem to me just not the kind of thing that will make a difference as to whether the world goes in either of those directions. If the optimistic scenario comes about, I really doubt it will be even a little bit because people were convinced by our arguments. Whereas if the pessimistic scenario comes about, I don't think anything we have done or said in the paper will prevent our work being used in a way that renders the intersectional theorising a mere ornament. Now the paper is out there, how it is received, which (if either) of these futures shall be realised, is to some very significant extent beyond our control. Perhaps to more experienced scholars this is old hat, and in any case if I reflect on the fact-value distinction, or inductive risk, or the difference between the context of discovery and the context of justification then I can probably make this salient to myself by such a priori means. But I am a junior scholar, and this was striking to me. The alienation of labour under capitalism extends even into the rarified world of academic intellectual production.--Liam Kofi Bright "Intersectional Alienation"@The Sooty Empiric.
Philosophers of science study some phenomena -- e.g., citation practices, scientific credit, the transition from immature fields to normal science, etc. -- as cats looking into a fishbowl. But sometimes we may recognize that we are like the fish in the bowl and can, reflexively, apply our questions and concepts to ourselves either because we ourselves are part of phenomena or metrics akin to 'normal science' or because we participate in science (or both). For example, Liam Kofi Bright published a fine, co-authored paper, "Causally Interpreting Intersectionality Theory," in a prestigious philosophy journal, Philosophy of Science. To be sure, philosophy of science does not just observe science (empirically), but it may also sometimes aim (normatively) to improve science; for example, the Bright, Malinsky, and Thompson papers offers a method of possible "use to both social scientists and intersectional theorists elsewhere in the academy.")
In the blog post I have quoted from, Bright reports on the citations to his paper and the roles the paper plays in subsequent discussions in the field to which it (or the authors of it) hope(s) to contribute. The quoted paragraph is the conclusion to this discussion. Now, before I make some critical comments, it is rather striking that Bright draws conclusions from N=2 (without also noting that two citations within the same academic year is quite good for a philosophy paper). Okay, let me turn to my criticism of Bright's analysis.
First, the implicit model of the scientific credit economy he is working with (and this is somewhat remarkable for somebody who invokes a Marxist conceptual vocabulary) is a price-taking one. That is, you put the paper out there and then what happens to it in the credit economy is outside one's control. It is a completely respectable model, and I have no doubt that lots of folk really think that they should give a paper their intellectual best and that, after publication, it is out of their hands.
But, of course, that's not the only model of scientific credit. For, before publication you can do quite a bit to influence the publication and uptake of a paper by (i) presenting it at the right workshops and conferences; (ii) having influential people read and disseminate your views; (iii) blogging about your work (as Liam's post reminds us, this is also an option post-publication); (iv) archiving pre-prints/drafts; (v) the venue of publication, etc.. None of these (i-v) is fully in one's control (and some less so than others), but they are not entirely out of one's control either. The first, acknowledgment footnote to any paper gives a sense of how much of (i-iii), especially, has taken place. Now, we're already half-way toward a price-setting model of science.
Moreover, as (v) notes, not all journals are created equally. Some may generate good visibility for one's views; some may have referees that improve the final product. Some journals may well be captured by intellectual friends, who facilitate the publication and, perhaps, future citation. While some of this may be obscure at first to junior scholars, one can develop heuristics for it (e.g., checking out who cites who where; what work gets published where, etc.) Supervisors often have rules of thumb about 'journals that publish quality work' (where quality often stands for buddies I admire).
In addition, post-publication you can do quite a bit of extra work to facilitate the nature and scope of uptake of a paper. One route -- it is not available to all of us -- is to become a supervisor yourself and make your students read your work, and if they make their students read your your, etc. (To be sure not all supervisors do this and not all students do the actual reading.)
You can also become a gate-keeper: that is, you become a referee or editor who makes sure that in addition to all the other fantastic suggestions, you ensure your paper is (read and) acknowledged. One way to kill two birds with one stone is to write a handbook/reference article on a topic closely related to your paper. The handbook article may well be cited more than your underlying super hip research - you can even give it a canonical interpretation -- and because the handbook article increases your visibility to editors they are more likely to give over part of the gate-keeping role to you. There is, of course, no requirement that you promote your own work as a referee (and editors can tell the author to ignore that part of your report); I personally enjoy writing referee reports (which I often find-numbing work--a true duty/service to the profession) that suggest engagement with other people's work other, that is, than my own (although I certainly have also called attention to my own work at times when relevant).
Finally, what if you or your intellectual friends (supervisors, buddies, etc.) really think your paper deserves a wider hearing? Why not bring together folk in workshops and conferences that somehow connect to the paper. You need not even present your own work at the conference. But you could use the occasion to write a follow up paper, which may cite your own paper and even give it a canonical interpretation that just so happens to be published in a special issue devoted to themes to your work. (This stuff really happens; some of my favorite people are awesome at making this happen.) Or, you can write a grant proposal inspired by your paper (say, if you are in Europe or in a NSF environment, which values improvement or development of normal science) and produce a whole bunch of PhDs that work on the topic connected to your paper--that is, you become a kind of capital intermediary (exploiter?) in the rarefied world of academic intellectual production. Now you can start taking control of the ecological niche in which your paper is a central node and let the Matthew effect do its magical work, even allowing your work to become used by folk outside your nice (doing pro-seminars for them, say, in China paid for by the publishing house that has taken an interest in your editorial qualities), and then, oh rich irony, once you have become fully vested (recall) to decry the crony-capitalist system of exploitation which offends your egalitarian or scholarly sensibilities, if you have any left.
So, yes, perhaps, it's better to publish and let the paper find its own way in a see of cit-able material.