Friday, January 23, 2009

Factulty Faculty quality and job market success

There's a line in the PGR that caught my eye recently. It says that " Faculty quality and reputation correlates quite well with job placement..." ("What the rankings mean," sentence #2.) The thing is, I wonder how well the PGR rankings really correlates with job placement. This is unscientific, but I remember reading a while back about Michigan's placement record, and how something like a quarter of their graduates over a 10-year period hadn't managed to secure tenure track employment. My Ph.D.-granting institution is way down the rankings from Michigan, but back-of-the-envelope calculation suggests that we have a better placement record, on a certain conception of "better." That is, although Michiganders get cushy jobs with low course loads at ranked departments at a higher rate than we do, our people seem to get jobs--any job at all--at a higher rate than they do. (Of course, we don't often get cushy research jobs, and we often spend a few years on the market, so it's not all golden.)

So I wonder if anyone has looked into this in any detail. If all you want is a job--any job--is it better to come from somewhere in the middle of the rankings?

--Mr. Zero

36 comments:

Anonymous said...

I always thought that the the qualifier you suggest was implicit in the ranking-correlates-with-placement idea: it's placement in other PhD-granting programs, the job we all dream of achieving (until we realize it's not all roses). You might qualify your final thought though: it's not that coming from a higher program must mean you have a lesser chance of securing any employment than coming from a lower ranked program. Rather, there is probably some self-selection going on here. So students in the highest programs unable to secure the ideal kind of job perhaps would rather go on to something else--law school at an Ivy or something like that. I'm just guessing here; others of you actually have knowledge of these matters.

Anonymous said...

Here's Leiter's posting about Michigan job placement, which I think you're referring to:

http://leiterreports.typepad.com/blog/2007/11/job-placement-f.html

A lot probably turns on what is meant by good job placement--"good" jobs vs. any jobs for example. Leiter seems to admit that some of those out of philosphy might have left because they didn't get a quality job.

Anonymous said...

you misspelled something in the title ("factulty") and used "my my" in the body. fyi.

ps - was this a drunken posting?

Anonymous said...

Along the same lines, I wonder if the drop-out rate of students is included in the overall calculation of placement records.I ask this because it has been rumored that several students annually discontinue their studies at top-ranked schools because of departmental pressures and competition among the students. This matters if the purpose of the Report is for students interested in pursuing graduate studies. It seems that it would make a big difference if in a given year 3 students succeed in getting jobs, yet at one school these 3 are the only ones who survive out of 5 or 7 or 10 students who entered the program at the same time, as opposed to another school where all 3 senior graduate students who entered at the same time succeed in getting jobs. As a student, this information would be important to know when choosing; but it is not clear that this factor is included in the calculations.

Anonymous said...

Friends dont let friends post drunk.

Anonymous said...

A lot of candidates at top-10 schools don't even apply to many tenure track jobs (e.g., those with 4-4 loads). They would rather spend another year in grad school or in a post-doc somewhere than take those jobs. And even if they did apply, they might have no shot because the place would assume they couldn't get the person.

Mr. Zero said...

Thanks for alerting me to the typos. I wasn't drunk, I'm just prone to typos. I'm still a good person, though.

Anonymous said...

i agree with all anons.

fulcrum point said...

Re: Anon 8:54 AM,

I think this has probably been the case in the past (people from specific programs not applying to TT positions with 4-4 loads), but I wonder if that is the case this year. The market is SO bad this year that it seems as though most people, unless they have the option of staying in grad school for 2 more years (I doubt that the market will improve next year; in fact, I have heard speculation that it will actually be worse), are in a position in which they have to apply for just about anything that might be a fit, no matter how remote. This means that it's a buyer's market - big time. So, it seems as though those candidates who in the past might have landed a 4-4 position with relative ease are perhaps being pushed out of viable candidacy by others who would normally only go for the 2-2 or 3-3 loads. In other words, most of us are probably completely screwed.

Anonymous said...

"A lot of candidates at top-10 schools don't even apply to many tenure track jobs (e.g., those with 4-4 loads). They would rather spend another year in grad school or in a post-doc somewhere than take those jobs. And even if they did apply, they might have no shot because the place would assume they couldn't get the person."

Really? My program is top 5 and what you suggest just sounds silly to me. I only have anecdotal evidence to go on, but the only grad students I'm aware of that didn't apply broadly were those who had specific "personal" needs (i.e., two-body problem or overwhelming desire to return to country of origin outside of Bush-run US).

cogitated said...

"My program is top 5 and what you suggest just sounds silly to me."

I second what you say. I'm also at a top-5 program and most of the people on the market apply to every job for which they are qualified, including non-research jobs. In the current market this especially applies.

chris said...

Anon, January 24, 2009 8:54 AM, says:
And even if they did apply, they might have no shot because the place would assume they couldn't get the person.

Well, no. We do not assume we cannot 'get' anyone. Sometimes, we guess that the specific 'anyone' is not realy interested in teaching/teaching undergrads/anything other than the kind of grad program from which s/he came.

Now, I can see not wanting to take a positon at a place with a really onerous load - 4/4 or 5/5, or worse - but to not apply to plales that offer VAPs, or even TT positions because they are not one's idea of the promised land? Wow.

Anonymous said...

Answering the original question isn't difficult. Look up the placement records of the top 50 programs, plus the few non-top 50 that still have good programs (i.e. - Nebraska, Iowa, South Florida, etc.). And then run the relevant percentages of graduates who get TT jobs.

I did this when I applied for graduate school, and the results should surprise you. There is basically no correlation between Leiter ranking and TT placement percentage. There's a far better correlation between overall status as a university and placement (i.e. - Georgetown and Duke generally have better replacement records than most of the top 20).

Anonymous said...

While I too applied "broadly", there WERE several jobs about which I said that I'd probably rather become a carpenter over taking. That was coming out of a top-10 program in a MUCH better job year than this, but I think the basic point still applies (and needn't be a top-5, top-10, bottom-50, whatever, issue): we all have limits to what working conditions we'd tolerate to be employed as philosophers; changing market conditions won't necessarily have a major impact on those kinds of considerations. I remember doing an on campus interview at a place and then regretted applying to it. For what if I GOT just that job: it'd be awfully difficult to turn it down, but probably even more soul-crushing to actually take it. . . .

Anonymous said...

One point of anecdote. I have been on two hiring committees in the last three years in a 4/4 tenurable state university. We had on average 200 apps per cycle and about 15% from Rutgers, NYU, Princeton, et al R1 programs and read lots of recs from fame names thereof. We laughed them off the finalist list as "desperate app-lives"--just people covering their asses with last minute applications that they would turn down at a moment's notice should they get something slightly better. That is--unless they appealed to our teaching instincts as someone devoted more to students than to themselves as the next coming of a Frege or Wittgenstein. So--applicants--(hear the deep voice)--in a world where teaching might be the difference between having a career or asking about fries-with-that, will you commit to a life of useful pedagogy as against one fast-fooding our collective selves to hapless oblivion? And for the keepers of fallacies--yeah--I know that one--and am gainfully employed nevertheless. Are you?

Asstro said...

It's bullshit to assume that any candidate, no matter the pedigree, would land any position with relative ease. Very well qualified candidates have to contend with their extraordinary qualifications, which counts against them at schools with 4-4 loads. Fact is, it's a tight market up and down the spectrum. If you're gunning for a research job, you've got others who are gunning for those jobs. If you're gunning for a 4-4 job, you've got others who are gunning for those jobs too. If you're gunning for a research job and you apply for a 4-4 job, what gives you any comfort that a 4-4 SLTC would be interested in hiring you? (Answer: nothing. They'll move to those who are gunning for 4-4 jobs and skip those who are clearly overqualified for their jobs.)

Try it. All you NYU and Princeton candidates, apply for the shittiest job in the JFP. See if you get the fly out. My money's on not even an APA interview.

Anonymous said...

Check the assumption that 4-4 jobs are lower quality. I am on a TT line and quality really has to do with preps, committee work and advising load. I have peers that have a 2-2 load here with a heavy advising load and really bad committee work. What I mean by bad committee work is committee work that you have to supervise tenured faculty and report to a Dean or VP and you are the point person. Many professors would much rather (and fight for) a 4-4 load with light prep and slack committee work. You teachng load has less to do with qulaity of professional life than I thought it did in graduate school.

toothbrush davies said...

Anon 3:26:

Good point. I have found that there is little worse at a job than being required to attend weekly or daily meetings about meetings.

DR said...

I'm not sure about this from Asstro: "Very well qualified candidates have to contend with their extraordinary qualifications, which counts against them at schools with 4-4 loads."

Some faculty members at places with 4-4 loads will, in my experience, hold it against a candidate that she comes from a very prestigious program, while others will count it in the candidate's favor. Some departments at my school seem to make a point of trying to hire 'lesser' candidates, thinking that these people are more likely to stick around. Others know that they can get really good people in the current job market and that many of these will stay for one reason or another. I don't think there is a consensus on this in my department. So it is highly unpredictable: pedigree might be harmful, beneficial, or neither in any given case.

Likewise with publications. Too many or too prestigious publications might be held against you by some faculty members at 4-4 places, but others will count a lot of good publications strongly in your favor.

We had a job search postponed in my department this year and we had so many great applicants that I think we would have been mad to rule anyone out as 'overqualified.' That is not to say that our final decision would necessarily have been wholly free of madness. Sadly I didn't get to find out.

Anonymous said...

To dissent a bit:

When I was on the job market (in the past 1-4 years, from a "top 5" school), I applied only to 2-2 or 2-3 jobs, and of these, only jobs that were open or in my AOS. I cut out a bunch because I just couldn't see living in the place -- in fact, all the jobs I applied to were jobs where I could see myself happy. And I still applied to 70+ jobs. I think my friends had roughly the same ethos, although we varied on which locations we found personally unattractive.

So, those of you who are applying to all the jobs for which you are qualified, how many are you applying for? 300? I realized that people this year may need to apply to more because of cancellations, but really? ALL the jobs that you're QUALIFIED for?? No wonder people like Anon 10:07 are pissed. (Though for the record, 10:07, I am personally extremely devoted to teaching.)

Anonymous said...

This isn't totally related, but:

I have to give props to all of those teaching 4-4 loads. I'm teaching 4 per year, with TAs to do the grading, and I still find it takes all my time. So, kudos to you! Any tips?

Anonymous said...

I'm just curious: are there any schools where they give graduate students courses on teaching and course planning? That's the kind of thing that could be really useful, since no matter what kind of job you get, you'll have to do some teaching.

If your school has something like this, did you find it useful?

Anonymous said...

Is it me, or have or have one-or-more year glorified VAPs and research post-docs like these proliferated in recent years?

(From Chronicle online): Christian A. Johnson Endeavor Foundation Visiting Scholar Program

(From JFP): PENN PROGRAM ON DEMOCRACY, CITIZENSHIP, AND CONSTITUTIONALISM POSTDOCTORAL FELLOWSHIP

(From JFP): The Department of Philosophy at the University of Chicago and the Committee on Conceptual and Historical Studies of Science invite applications for an Andrew W. Mellon Foundation two-year teaching-research fellowship

Either I'm just noticing them more now, perhaps because relative to actual jobs they're a higher proportion now than in the past. Anyway, it's like departments are able to garner external funding for these short term things but no money for permanent slots.

Anonymous said...

http://chronicle.com/jobs/news/2009/01/2009013001c.htm?utm_source=wb&utm_medium=en

Akratic Irishman said...

I am a Michigan PhD. Based on my experience, I can say that:

(a) My class had a very high attrition rate. Over the years that I was there, my impression was that the attrition rate was around 50 percent. (Maybe that's improved since I left.)

(b) Most (but not all) candidates applied as broadly as possible, including to 4-4 jobs. (I didn't -- more on that later.) Many of those candidates ended up at places like Stanford, Princeton, Pittsburgh, etc. However, many didn't, and instead accepted 3-2, 3-3, or 4-3 positions (I don't think that I know anyone who ended up with a 4-4 position). Some people eventually left the profession altogether.

(c) Many job candidates were told by committees at the APA from lower-tier departments and/or heavy teaching departments (e.g. 3-3 to 4-4 places) that they did not believe that the candidates would accept their offers (if made), or, if they did accept, they believed that the candidates would try to leave as soon as possible. To be honest, the judgements of these committees seemed generally correct, as I did not know anyone while at UMich who wanted those jobs.

(d) We were discouraged from publishing. In retrospect, this really hurt all but the elect few 'star' candidates (I think that this unfortunate 'ethos' may have changed since I left.)

(e) Some people -- including myself -- applied selectively. In my case, I didn't apply to anything heavier than a 3-2, or in a place that I really didn't want to live (e.g. the Deep South of the U.S.). My reasoning was simple: I knew that once I landed a tenure-track job, the UMich department would believe that they had no further substantive responsibility to help me in future job search efforts. I didn't want that to happen until I landed a tenure-track job with which I was happy. So I was picky, and ended up accepting some non-tenure track positions rather than lose the Department's support for my future job applications. Eventually, I ended up in a very nice position (2-2 teaching load, good research department, etc.), so the strategy paid off. Most people that I knew at UMich, however, did not pursue this kind of strategy.

Based on my experience, then, I would have to say that a UMich PhD may give one a much better chance of scoring a position at a place like Princeton than a PhD at a lower ranked department, but it may not help at all (perhaps the opposite) at scoring 4-4 teaching positions. In short, Mr. Zero's analysis strikes me as broadly correct.

Anonymous said...

Anon 10:50 my hat is off to you also. I am on a 0-1 load with a JR faculty member to ride heard over my GTAs and I am finding my time in the Spring to be limited for what I need/want for writing. Keep up the good work out in the field.

Anonymous said...

I'm just curious: are there any schools where they give graduate students courses on teaching and course planning?

Well, we do that here at Georgia State, since we have our M.A. students teach Critical Thinking in their second year. A description can be found here.

-tim o'keefe

Anonymous said...

If you are writing sentences like that second one, 6:57, I think time management is the least of your problems.

g said...

Anon 10:42AM, are you entirely unaware of the fact that in some subfields the number of jobs per year is not 300 but, say, 3, or 10, or 20? sometimes applying to ALL the jobs you're qualified for and then some would mean sending out a whopping 35 applications.

Anonymous said...

Dear 6:57,

What the hell are your trying to say?

Phallusophy said...

Anonymous from two days ago writes, “When I was on the job market (in the past 1-4 years, from a "top 5" school), I applied only to 2-2 or 2-3 jobs, and of these, only jobs that were open or in my AOS. I cut out a bunch because I just couldn't see living in the place -- in fact, all the jobs I applied to were jobs where I could see myself happy. And I still applied to 70+ jobs.” I assume that you must have had some AOS that was relatively in demand that year or else things were particularly good that year or both. I applied to all jobs that were open or in my two (closely related) AOSs. I was not at all discriminatory about location or course load (basically, because I can see myself happy in lots of locations and situations). I applied to less than sixty jobs. I have friends working in related fields who were discriminatory about location and course load and sent fewer than forty applications. So, which is it, Anon, did you specialize in comparative philosophy of bioethics or was your year a bumper crop or both or what?

On a different note, I have some question about jobs outside the US or Canada. I applied to several of these jobs. I got interviews from schools in the US and Canada and beyond, but, judging by proportion of success, my applications to schools outside the US and Canada did much, much better. I assume that this is explained by a lower number of applications sent to these schools (though, I have spent a significant amount of time living outside of the US, which I pointed out in cover letters, so that could have some part to play). If that is assumption is right, I wonder why philosophers are more willing to apply to a series of less than desirable VAPs looking for—perhaps (like the Akratic Irishman above) the perfect job—but, often, just any job, rather than apply for a desirable TT in Hong Kong or Turkey or wherever (most of those overseas jobs are 2/2s, for instance and have excellent compensation) and apply from there for future positions? I’m assuming the explanation is generally something other than, “Gross, I don’t want to live in another country!” or, “I really can’t leave the US for a few years for some particular reason.” Perhaps philosophers reason that people by and large stay in the first TT they land, and they don’t want to spend the rest of their lives outside of the ‘western’ world. But I would suspect that the reason people generally stay in the first TT they land (if they do) is that their desire to leave the job/place doesn’t overcome their disapprobation of the job search and significant publishing required to do so. If people really want to come back, their hatred of the job market and publishing will presumably be overcome, so the previous is no reason to think taking a job overseas dooms you to staying permanently overseas. But, maybe there are other reason. For example, maybe people think SCs at US/Canadian schools are less likely to hire people who have worked overseas because SCs will think this will have somehow damaged them. Maybe people think SCs will think people who have lived/taught overseas won’t be up on what’s going on in American/Canadian philosophy, or that they will have picked up teaching methods that don’t work well for American/Canadian students. Or, maybe people think that people who teach overseas will fall out of ‘the loop’—maybe they think they won’t be able to network sufficiently to land a job in the US or Canada. Anyway, there are a lot of questions here: How many fewer people apply to jobs outside the US/Canada? Why do fewer people apply to these jobs? If that has something to do with expectations about being able to come back, what are those expectations? And, finally, are those expectations accurate—are people who teach overseas not usually able to come back?

Anonymous said...

I'd love to see the question Phallusophy raised picked up as a thread, or just seriously discussed: If one lands a first TT outside the US/Canada, does that sabotage one's chances of ever coming back? If it's a decent place academically, one publishes while there, the language of instruction is English (or not, even - does it make a difference?), the academic system is not entirely different-- do you take yourself out of the game forever by stepping off of the continent (other than to the UK/Australia)?

Anonymous said...

By your name, Phallusophy, I am going to guess this is not your case - I am a woman. I have lived outside of North America before and highly enjoyed it, but particularly as a single woman I would not feel comfortable living full-time in Turkey, not to mention some of the Arab states that are developing extension campuses of U.S. universities. As for (non UK) European universities, the completely anecdotal impression I have garnered from folks coming from those institutions is that being hired relies heavily on having the right connections (as well as, of course, being bright and promising). This gave me the impression that there was little point in trying, but perhaps I was wrong?

Barry Stocker said...

Anonymous 7.46 AM

January 29


Have you been in Turkey? I'm a male teaching philosophy. There are some single foreign women teaching philosophy in Turkey and many across academic disciplines. There are problems people have with being in Turkey, but these mostly relate to unpredicatability and arbitrariness of administrators, or the slowness of administrators. I've never met anyone, or heard of anyone, who thought it was so difficult to live as a single foreign woman in Turkey that it was a major complaint. Universities which employ foreigners are mostly in Ankara/Istanbul where there are many secular people living 'modern western' life styles. Maybe you have had bad experiences in Turkey or you know people who have. I don't want to trivialise that, but it would have no resonance with the experience of western women I know teaching in Turkey.
I don't think it's a very good idea to lump all non-UK EU countries together. Irish universities and Nordic universities seem to hire people in a reasonably open competitive way, though as these are small countries that does not amount to a huge number of jobs. This is no so much the case in Germany, France, Italy and Greece, just to name countries for which I have experience. But it is misleading to talk as if the EU was one experience in the UK and another experiuence in all other member states, in relation to higher education, or anything else.

R. Kevin Hill said...

On the "wouldn't accept, wouldn't stay" phenomenon. When I was on the market (a total of six seasons spread out over many many years) I was struck by the fact that "lower" jobs would seem to ignore "better" candidates, and thought that this might be due to irrational factors (resentment of one's "betters" or fear of being shown up). But now that I have participated in a number of searches on the hiring side, at both strong research universities and less prestigious institutions, I can say that the lower hiring institutions have a very good reason for their behavior. First, in one search I did the following kind of analysis: I rank ordered the applicants for our position by Leiter Rank of producing PhD program, and rank ordered the JFP in area competing jobs by a combination of Leiter Rank and, where that was impossible, a rough combined US News Rank (I say rough because they have these separate, incommensurate lists by type of institution and even geographical region). I then mechanically paired candidates to jobs, in descending order. The person we ultimately ended up hiring, after being turned down by the person we made our first offer to, was very close to the person paired to us by the mechanical procedure (I think it was off by two slots). Second, in every hiring cycle, there is always the risk that if a position isn't filled, the line may disappear for budgetary reasons the following year. Third, funds for recruiting are scarce. So if, say, you have enough funds to invite out four candidates for on-campus interviews, and you invite out the four best applicants, you will almost certainly (1) not hire anyone that year, as all four will go to better places, and (2) possibly lose the line for having failed to fill it. Now while there is some sense in having a range of quality in your Final Four, if the first two are beyond your reach, then what you are really doing is ameliorating the anxiety of the overqualified, wasting money, and picking a Final Two. Also, by some Mystical Law I cannot understand, every search I've ever seen generates a member of the Final Four who is absolutely awful for reasons that can't be seen form the dossier but only in person. After you've been through this process and time and time again found yourself compelled to hire a particular person because the rest of your candidates eliminate themselves, you start thinking about how you can maximize your search dollars' bang for the buck. And the only way to do that is to try to limit your Final Four to people who are clustered close to your own strata. Otherwise the whole on-campus process is an expensive waste of time, since the market will simply dictate to you who you get to hire anyway.

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