Tuesday, January 21, 2014

Mediocre Band of Mediocrity

I was inspired by a discussion on twitter this morning about those who seem to thwart progress in poli sci research, so I thought I would identify the members of the Mediocre Band of Mediocrity.*
* Yes, I am ripping off the Evil League of Evil (NFSW language)  As this is parody, it is ok.  Maybe.
  • Field Guardian: Self-appointed defender of the lines between subfields.
  • Meeting Extender: A member of a department who always has additional questions at the end of a meeting or has a deep need to comment on every agenda item no matter how unrelated it is to his/her situation. (H/T to Don't Follow Me)
  • Reviewer #3:  This reviewer has many tactics to block a potential publication, whether it is taking many months to review something, insisting on citing scholar x who is almost always reviewer #3, insisting that the author engage in methods that would require an entirely different project, and so on.  Sometimes goes by Worse Reviewer.  (H/T to Cullen).  This menace only exists thanks to:
  • Indecisive Editor: This challenge to progress is good at delaying decisions, whether that is finding reviewers, seeking additional reviews when the reviews at hand are actually sufficient, sending out an R&R resubmission to entirely new reviewers, and so on.  Reviewer #3 is Indecisive Editor's henchman, although, of course, there are some principal-agent problems.
  • Captain Pedant: This mediocre-doer is often confused with Meeting Extender, who is a natural ally.  But C.P. reeks havoc inside and outside of meetings, spending much time on secondary issues, debating arcane procedures rather than addressing the issue at hand.
  • Free Rider: Taking the logic of collective action's implications to be a way of life, this mediocrity has learned that it is better to be unreliable than to do one's share.
  • Prestige Pusher: Views the world through with very thick lenses, only taking note of those with rank, title, or noble birth (got their degree at a few key spots).  Confuses titles and lineage with wisdom and insight.

To be clear, these are really minor menaces who are mostly inconveniences.** This is not a complete list (I am open to nominations for other members of the MBM).  The good news is that they can be defeated or circumvented, but doing so requires more work than should be necessary. 

** I would include Predator Panda in this collection of rogues, but both he/she actually rips off South Park very blatantly AND is far more than mediocre.  The rest of the folks listed above may be inconvenient, narrow-minded, indecisive and so on but they are not nearly as harmful or as ... evil as those who prey upon their students.

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