13

My question was put on hold for the following reason:

"Shopping" questions, which seek recommendations or lists of individual universities, academic programs, publishers, journals, research topics or similar as an answer or seek an assessment or comparison of such, are off-topic here. (See this discussion for more information.)

  • What does this mean?
  • Why are shopping questions not welcome here?
  • How can I salvage my question?
| |
13

What exactly is a shopping question?

A shopping question is a question that appears to seek help choosing or finding

  • an individual journal,
  • an individual publisher,
  • an individual university,
  • an individual academic program,
  • an individual field,
  • an individual research topic,
  • an individual funding agency,
  • a commercial online service,
  • or similar,
  • but not a software solution.

It does not matter if help with a choice is only requested implicitly or if you need the information in question for other reasons. What matters is that answers to the question could be used for making such a choice. Note that questions about how to make such a choice in general – that do not involve naming any of the above – are not considered shopping questions and may be welcome here (see below).

In most cases a shopping question can be identified by fulfilling one of the following criteria¹:

  • Naming one or more of the above would be an answer to the question.
  • Evaluating, criticising, or comparing one or more of the above would be an answer to the question.

Examples for shopping questions are:

Do graduates from slavistics or anthropology have a higher average income?

Is there a university in Liechtenstein which offers a degree in llama wrangling?

Which is the most-cited journal that covers underwater basket weaving?

Why are shopping questions disallowed?

Shopping questions tend to suffer from at least one of the following issues:

  • They attract answers that are primarily based on opinion. Even if the question is asking for objective criteria (e.g., existence, citation counts, position in some ranking), people will offer opinions as answers. They may even attract rants or bashing as answers.

  • There is no objective way of deciding whether one answer is better than another. Therefore votes tend to be dominated by personal preference and the question will turn into a popularity contest. Again, this also applies if the question is asking for objective criteria.

  • They attract a lot of answers.

  • There is a huge amount of analogous questions and answering all of them would turn this site into a database – which we do not want it to be and which it is not suited for. Also, keeping the information up-to-date would be a problem.

  • We want to stay neutral in such matters. If we don’t, we may become subject to accusations of unprofessionalism or even libel.

  • No single person can compare the alternatives in life-changing career decisions (such as choosing a field), because everybody only has one life. At best you could statistically evaluate the experiences of people who made a similar decision a decade ago. However, during such a long period of time there will likely be changes that invalidate the comparison.

How can I salvage my question?

In most cases, the closest, on-topic question would be on how to find a journal, university, topic, or similar or how to decide for one of them. Note that the latter question may still be not suited for this site due to being too broad or depending on individual factors. In particular it usually does not help to anonymise the choices when you are asking for a comparison.


¹ If you wonder what the exceptions may look like, here is one:

Which journal was the first to use an online submission system?

| |
  • 1
    Please feel free to edit this answer to make it more informative, friendly or intelligible. – Wrzlprmft Jan 29 '17 at 11:08
  • I reverted your edit because I do not feel the linked question shows any kind of consensus. If users liked the policy change, there should be loads of votes for it. – Anonymous Physicist Apr 24 at 12:06
  • @AnonymousPhysicist: The answer in question has +9|−1, which is a pretty strong consensus for this meta (and most other sites). You can also turn things around: There is clearly no consensus for banning such questions. (Of course, then it depends on what you consider the status quo.) – Wrzlprmft Apr 24 at 12:21
  • @AnonymousPhysicist The participation on Meta is generally quite limited and 9 upvotes can be considered a fairly reasonable consensus. – Massimo Ortolano Apr 24 at 12:41
  • It doesn't bother you that shopping for software is okay, but shopping for journals is not, on a site about academia? – Anonymous Physicist Apr 25 at 1:31
  • @AnonymousPhysicist: There are reasons for this distinction, but this is not the place to discuss it. This post describes the status quo and serves as guidance. If you honestly want to allow journal shopping and have good arguments for this, please create a new Meta question. – Wrzlprmft Apr 25 at 6:29
  • "If you honestly want to allow journal shopping" Quite the opposite. – Anonymous Physicist Apr 25 at 6:34
  • 1
    @AnonymousPhysicist You proposed in this answer to close software recommendation questions. Your answer has a negative net score, whereas the here linked answer has a sufficiently positive net score. If you want to further push your idea, modify that answer of yours to be more convincing, not by editing this FAQ: that discussion is the right place. – Massimo Ortolano Apr 25 at 7:36
  • It seems to me that "seeking a software solution" is quite different from "seeking a software product". The latter seems clearly to be shopping if the word has any meaning at all. – Buffy May 17 at 20:16

You must log in to answer this question.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged .