Thursday, February 26, 2009

Pardon the interruption

Sorry for the slow posting these days; I've been deathly ill for a week or so and unable to think straight for more than twenty minutes at a time (this cough syrup has me feeling leaned).

Rest assured, I'm trying to work on some exciting shit/posts/comics to get this place hopping again (incl. a fuck the faddy nature of the profession and how it does a disservice to younger scholars post).

Though, I must say, you all have been pretty damn good at entertaining yourself. So, in that spirit. Let this post serve as an open thread. Have at it.

--STBJD

31 comments:

Anonymous said...

Has anyone noticed that the new breed of young philosophers publishes a lot more and at a lot faster rate than older generations? While there are exceptions, I have noticed that post-Ph.D. scholars in their 30s and early 40s seem to write on average about 6 papers a year and publish 2 or 3 of those, whereas older generations write about 2 or 3 and get one published. Tenure requirements are usually around 1 article per year, but with some scholars getting as many as 6 articles published a year, I wonder if this will go up. Also, it is unsurprising that the old guard is so intimidated by this new generation; they look lazy by comparison.

Anonymous said...

Who (or what kind of profile) are you thinking of anon? I see many prominent 30/early 40s folks with relatively thin publication record.

Anonymous said...

re: productivity - maybe that's true - I'd be interested to see some stats, and to know whether it is in general (regardless of cohort) more likely for people to publish more when younger (either because one is pre-tenure or because one has more energy?) or whether it is something about this particular generation.

Also, if it is true, why? Is something about the use of computers (much older generations wrote it all by hand and maybe more recent generations are more productive because of that? Or maybe because the culture of publishing has changed - the job market now requires more and more people to start publishing sooner? Or is it that more departments are on the "science model" of emphasizing publishing sooner (earlier in graduate school career?)

Or maybe its just an illusion. When I was a graduate student in the 90s, during one five year period, my advisor published an average of 12 papers per year! Of course he may not be human.

Anonymous said...

I had not noticed. But I do know that in the postdoc fellowship I'm about to start, I'm expected to publish four papers per year.

40ish said...

I suspect it is indeed an illusion. But if it's true, I'm sure it's because of a change in the culture and not much to do with computers.

Hm, actually, I do think that the 35-45 philosophers *in Britain* publish much more than the 35-45 philosophers of the 1980s. And that is certainly because of a sea change in the culture.

Anonymous said...

There is a catch 22 here. There are many younger philosophers who seem to publish quite regularly. But I've seen many cases where what's published is quite poor, and doesn't make any real advance in the literature. The paper has all the trimmings of a journal article, but doesn't do much. In some cases, for example, the publications seem to come straight from grad seminar papers which are sent off in graduate school, regardless if the individual plans to work more in the area. The idea seems to be that publishing itself is valuable, regardless of the quality of the work. There is certainly pressure to publish *something* before going on the job market for the average candidate these days. But it seems to me a mistake for younger faculty and grad students to do this sort of thing a lot. I'm not sure what the cause of this is.

Anonymous said...

Anon 8:22

If that is true, I fear for our profession, becoming more like the corporate world every day. Is it really that important to have such an enormously high output? We're not manufacturing cars here. It seems to me we could all benefit from taking things down a couple of notches, thinking more deeply and writing more slowly, rather than engaging in some kind of race to publish. Increased publication requirements for tenure will continue the general trend in our society toward dehumanization--ignoring of family duties and relationships, etc., all in the name of increased production. And why? I don't see any evidence that the quality of scholarship is better in this (my own) generation of philosophers than it was in the last few.

Anonymous said...

There is a certain kind of paper that is easily published -- one that makes a good criticism of a view and then slightly modifies the view to deal with the criticism. There is another kind of paper that is not so easily published -- one that challenges prevailing views and proposes a new way of looking at things.

I am not the type to write the first sort of paper (not for any particular reason, I'm just more the creative type). But the more pressure there is on graduate students to publish, the more pressure there is to be less creative. And that is a very, very bad thing.

Humans tend to think they have exhausted all of logical space too quickly, and if we encourage graduate students to publish, we are encouraging only the growth of prevailing views, which is a pity really, since none of them really work anyhow ;)

Anonymous said...

Well said, Anon 9:18!

Anonymous said...

Anon 8.22 writes: "I don't see any evidence that the quality of scholarship is better in this (my own) generation of philosophers than it was in the last few."

I think that the level of sophistication (in the average contemporary paper) is higher than in the work of the boomers. In a battle of raw philosophical intelligence, I'd bet on the Ted Siders, Jason Stanleys, LA Pauls and Dave Chalmers over most of the previous vintage of superstars.

It's tempting to question the level of depth or originality in the contemporary work relative to the past. This temptation is due to our tendency to remember the good stuff from the past whereas the present seems cluttered with mediocre and uninspired work.

There was an awful lot of bad work published in good journals in the 70s and 80s. I'd say that there is less horribly bad work published in top journals today.

There are some young philosophers who publish a lot, but Jesus, think of Nicholas Rescher or Jaakko Hintikka. Both of whom publish important work by the way. Is there anyone in the 30/early40s age bracket that produces like that?

40ish said...

There are a lot of really good points in this thread. But 4:13, you'd really bet against David Lewis, Saul Kripke, Kit Fine? I think you're nuts.

Anonymous said...

Anon 4:13
Lesser known, but he publishes on average 6 articles per year plus a few books and editorials along the way...Colin Farrelly. The quality of his work is excellent. Overall, an excellent scholar...very productive, though not a superstar yet.

Anonymous said...

Just a question about expectations for tenure, if anyone knows.

Suppose you're at an R1?
Suppose you're at an R2?
and cetera for the different tiers of research departments.

Now, what about SLAC's?

I ask because I have 2 papers written and ready for submission, a third one half written, and 2 more in the planning stages, and then maybe a book. It will take me a while to write these and get them into publishable shape. Ditto for the book. Probably, a year and a half to two years, maybe longer. Is that too long? How do people publish more than 2 papers a year?

I also ask because I want to have kids too, which at my age, is getting to be an emergency, i.e., I would have to do it before I got tenure anywhere.

Would 5 articles plus a book be enough to get me tenure at any of the previous places, some, one, none? What about only 5 articles? What does it take? Not that I have a job yet, but...

Anonymous said...

At my current job, which is an R1, the expectation is either 5-6 articles or 1-2 articles and a book for tenure. When I was on the market a couple of years ago, I had on campus interviews at various mid-ranked or unranked R1s, and a very selective LAC. Each of these places told me that they'd expect roughly the same thing -- 4-6 articles or a book and an article or two. Of course, the quality of the journals that you need to publish in varies depending on the place in question. The more selective schools will want you to publish those 4-6 articles in roughly the A+ or A journals here: http://the-brooks-blog.blogspot.com/2008/09/more-on-journal-rankings-case-of_15.html

Anonymous said...

5/6 "quality" publications for tenure.
SLAC.
I think a book counts for 3 papers.
Department and Dean judge quality.

Anonymous said...

I teach at a good but not great LAC. Here, teaching is the most important thing for tenure, with research a close second (and gaining in the 4 years I've been here). Our department has no official number of articles required, but all of us nearing the tenure decision, as well as those recently past it, have anywhere between 5 and 12 articles in respectable but not top-tier peer-reviewed journals (some with books as well).

I don't foresee any in this cohort to have a problem in terms of quantity of research.

Anonymous said...

At my up and coming LAC, the tenure expectations are 3-4 articles or a book and an article or two. I'm not sure how strict the 'quality of journal' expectations are. I think they need to be at least 'B' level journals. The teaching load is between 3/3 and 4/4. Quality teaching is also taken seriously, but I haven't heard of anyone getting denied tenure over it. I definately know of people who have been denied tenure because they did not meet research expectations.

Anonymous said...

I'm at a research university in lower-tier II territory in US News. Tenure requirements are 4 articles in high-quality journals plus a clear research program laid out for post-tenure. Teaching load 3/3 with normal service, etc. Which journals count as "quality" determined by Department and appears to be improving. There have been faculty denied for insufficient research output.

Anonymous said...

Is there a generally understood meaning of "R1 university" now that it isn't an official designation? I mean, when someone in this thread or another uses the term, I'm never quite sure what I'm supposed to think.

Anonymous said...

If you're coming out of top grad programs other than NYU (and possibly Princeton) and competing for 2/2 jobs in M&E, you need four or five publications for a decent shot at landing a job. Of those schools I had interviews with, I was told that I was not top choice for two of the jobs because I only had two publications. The people who landed those jobs each had at least five publications--as ABD's. I'd like to resist this push to over-productivity, but what can I do? The supply of us PhD's is so plentiful, how else can you effectively set yourself apart?

Popkin said...

"If you're coming out of top grad programs other than NYU (and possibly Princeton) and competing for 2/2 jobs in M&E, you need four or five publications for a decent shot at landing a job."

This is pretty clearly false. You just need to look up the new TT hires listed on Leiter. The odd person might have 5 publications, but many have 1 or 2.

Anonymous said...

Anon 5:22 is completely mistaken. I am at a school that hired for a 2/2 in M&E last year, and we hired someone from neither NYU nor Princeton, and the hired candidate had 0 publications.

g said...

I would like to second Anon 2:44pm's question: what is to be understood by 'an R1 institution'?
The need for such a definition seemed to me particularly acute upon encountering the surprising copula "unranked R1s" in the post of Anon 7:59am who says s/he works in an R1 school. So now I am completely baffled. I thought the R stands for Ranked, and that R1 meant 'tier 1'; but does the R merely mean Research? Then what's the 1 for? And if indeed R1 means top-ranked - what exactly does that mean, the highest Leiter rubric, or just tier 1 broadly construed, meaning - ranked, in the top 50?

Mr. Zero said...

Research I University

Anonymous said...

Mr Zero,

I'm Anon 2:44 who asked what R1 is.

I knew it meant 'Research 1'. But that's why I asked what it means "now that it isn't an official designation." In 1994, you could look at the Carnegie Foundation's list, but now Carnegie doesn't use that classification, and as far as I can tell nobody does.

Would 'R1' now just include whatever universities *now* satisfy the 1994 Carnegie criteria? Or does it mean something like "top 60 university"? Or is it looser and more impressionistic -- in which case I don't have a good feel for it. Would it include the University of Vermont?

g said...

So in short, what used to be R1 is now "Research University/Very High" as in, very high research activity, of which there are 96 institutions. Thanks for the clarification, Mr Zero!

(Other helpful links are http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Carnegie_Classification_of_Institutions_of_Higher_Education
and http://www.carnegiefoundation.org/Classification/)

Anonymous said...

R1 = Research 1, a Carnegie classification. Actually, "Research 1" has been replaced, in the latest rankings, by a much less catchy title: "Very High Research Activity Research University." There are 90 or so in the US.

These rankings have nothing to do with the Leiter rankings, so there's nothing surprising about an "unranked R1." However, I believe that one of the criteria for being a R1 is (or at least used to be) that the teaching load is at most 2-2. So, although many of the R1's aren't leiter-ranked, they're probably all excellent jobs in terms of teaching and research support.

I think this is the last list that used the R1 term:
http://math.la.asu.edu/~kuang/ResearchI.html

Here's the most recent list:
http://www.carnegiefoundation.org/classifications/index.asp?key=63&search_flag=true&ref=748&start=782&basic2005=15&submit.x=25&submit.y=17

Anonymous said...

What the hell, Mr Zero? No fair doing research. That kills the whole discussion. You're supposed to deduce the meaning of 'R1' from first principles. If we actually wanted questions answered, rather than just discussed, we'd be in a different profession.

Anonymous said...

Thanks everyone for all the help. But
I notice no one has said anything about trying to do this with a family?

Anonymous said...

re: trying to do this with a family

Buy, borrow or steal a copy of _Professors as Writers_ by Robert Boice, and/or _How to Write a Lot_ by Paul Silvia.

It is certainly possible to publish a lot and have a family. It requires organization and discipline. Easier said than done. (Just like losing weight and getting in shape is easy even with a busy life - if you eat sensibly and exercise 30 minutes 3-4 times per week, it'll happen).

Get these books and do what they recommend! It will change your life.

Ethics girl said...

But don't we lose sight of why we are writing when the pressure is to publish in such volume? I'm sure other people here have felt the pressure to send in pieces which are basically just philosophical strutting, and which don't really achieve anything much.

We are all set up in competition with each other over who is the most prolific writer, as if we all want to be the prize battery hen, but are we taking our eye of the progreesion of human thought and the quality of the field?