This is not a question about academia per se, but about the academia-administration interface.

When I was a postdoc, I wrote a paper that started to be cited quite often (by the standards of my particular subfield) as soon as I uploaded it to the usual public repository. These were largely good citations, along the lines of "this is a really neat idea" rather than "this author doesn't know what he's talking about". Eventually, I decided against submitting it to a journal, mostly because the unpublished manuscript had already become relatively popular and it wasn't really worth going through the extra work of the journal publication process for essentially no additional benefits re: the visibility of the paper or my reputation in the field. I've been listing it in my CV as a "frequently-cited unpublished manuscript" and everybody has been happy about it.

Now that decision is coming back to bite me in the ass. I am applying to a tenured job and I have to submit copies of representative publications. However, I can't submit a copy of this paper specifically because it has never been published in a journal. I have enough quality publications that this is not a problem, but it annoys me because I'm quite proud of this particular paper, which is as representative of the quality of my work as any of my papers in top journals.

So the question is, those of you who have similarly popular unpublished manuscripts, how do you convince administrators that a paper doesn't have to have a journal DOI attached to it to count as a representative piece of work?

  • 6
    If Grigori Perelman is reading this, "my unpublished work earned me a Fields Medal and Millenium Prize" is not something that applies to me, unfortunately.
    – Koldito
    Dec 3 '14 at 9:57
  • 1
    That's a really interesting question. That being said, I would remove the derogatory "bean counters" from the last paragraph - it's not only stupid bean counters that you will need to convince of the value of your unpublished manuscript, but also smart professors from other fields.
    – xLeitix
    Dec 3 '14 at 10:53
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    Also, I should note that even people that fully understand the scientific merit of your manuscript may take you not sending it to a good journal the wrong way. Think about a dean who manages a department - I don't think a track record of not sending strong material to peer-reviewed journals to avoid the hassle will be a point in your favor in the eyes of a dean.
    – xLeitix
    Dec 3 '14 at 10:56
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    @Koldito This paper belonged in a journal. Revise, perhaps adding more directions for future work and everything the community has added as feedback and send it NOW. Then you can include it under "submitted to..." and "preprint available at.." and problem solved.
    – Alexandros
    Dec 3 '14 at 11:49
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    I think it's always worth getting papers peer-reviewed, and not only to avoid administrative hurdles like the one you're having. If I come across an arXiv paper (even as a citation) I will not at first know that it's highly cited. I do however know from first hand experience that many arXiv papers are flawed. I'm even aware of a very highly cited arXiv paper that has mistakes that invalidate one of the side-conclusions (not the main point though). Knowing that a paper is peer-review at least signals to your readers immediately that it's less likely to have mistakes.
    – Szabolcs
    Dec 3 '14 at 17:55

how do you convince administrators that ...

You don't and you can't, and I endorse Alexandros's suggestion.

The department to which you have applied, if they want to hire you, will try to convince the administrators of exactly this. The admins don't know you and don't trust you, but they might listen to such complaints coming from someone they trust.

In the meantime, in addition to any other benefits, submitting your paper to a peer-reviewed journal will signal to the hiring committee that you are doing your best to make their lives easy.

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