IWGVT Scholarship Guidelines
We are convinced that the de facto function of mainstream selection procedures is to exclude. Mainstream selection criteria are subjective and therefore discriminate against theories and arguments which the reviewers and editors hold in disfavor. Conversely, the following guidelines put forth some objective criteria to which, as we have learned and as we teach, good scholarship should conform.
It is common in academic discourse for proponents of one perspective to exclude, ignore, and deny legitimacy to opposing perspectives. Against this, the aim of the guidelines is to achieve a style of debate in which different perspectives engage with one another. We seek to foster a dialogue which is pluralist, because no interpretation of a theory, and no presentation of the facts, will be ruled out a priori, but also critical, because proponents of various perspectives will need to confront the alternatives.
Inform Readers of the Alternatives
An argument is not well-grounded unless the extant alternatives have been addressed. This means that all points of view are legitimate until proved otherwise. Engage and cite the views of others involved in debating the issues you are addressing, and treat them as equals acting in good faith. If you want other people to attend to what you are saying, then attend to what they are saying.
Don’t Deny Legitimacy to Alternative Views
The aim of debate is clarity, not demolition. Avoid turns of phrase such as ‘absurd’, ‘ridiculous’, or ‘impossible’ to deny the legitimacy of opposing views, or phrases like ‘as is widely known’ or ‘of course’ to prove your own views are undeniable.
Identify the conceptual basis of “facts”
Economic data are not undisputed facts of nature but the result of a theoretical interpretation which should be explicit. ‘The real output of the UK economy in 1994 was £570,722m’ is a false claim. ‘Output as measured by the UK NIPAs, deflated using the HMSO GDP deflator, was £570,722m’ specifies the conceptual framework that produced the claim, and lets the reader trace the assertion back to its source.
Distinguish Original Texts from Subsequent Interpretations
You must distinguish clearly between an original text and subsequent interpretation. John Maynard Keynes did not say that equilibrium in the goods and money markets is given by the intersection of the IS and LM curves. This is Hicks’ interpretation of Keynes. Karl Marx did not say that value is a vertically-integrated labour coefficient: this is the interpretation of Marx proposed by Linear Production Theory.
Argue from Evidence
Both statements about the world and interpretations of texts must be supported by empirical evidence, from the world or from the text, respectively. Appeals either to authority or to popular wisdom do not constitute evidence. Avoid Ad Hominem reasoning: don’t try to substantiate or refute an argument by reference to any characteristic of the person presenting it.
Distinguish Between Internal Inconsistency, Interpretive Difficulties, and Disagreement
If you justify your approach by asserting that opposing views are inconsistent, you are declaring they cannot possibly be right and you hence exclude them from discussion. If you have only demonstrated the inconsistency of your own reading of these views, then your proof is false because you have not exhausted the alternatives; but you have closed down the dialogue. If you want to say a view is inconsistent, provide evidence that it cannot be interpreted otherwise. Unless you can do this, instead say that you have difficulty making sense of the argument, or that you disagree with it, as the case may be.
Characterize Schools of Thought in the Preferred Manner
Do not use a characterisation for the purpose of dismissal. In debate, refer to other schools of thought by the name they prefer (for example, ‘surplus approach’ in preference to ‘neoricardian’) unless you are including them in a wider grouping with no recognised name. In the latter case, try to provide an accurate, descriptive term.