Wednesday, September 15, 2010


In comments, anon 4:34 says that out of a 180-applicant pool for a search run in 2008, fewer than 20% had publications. As hank points out, this does not square with what I have been lead to believe are the facts on the ground. I have been lead to believe that almost all applicants who are ABD or in their first year out have at least one publication, and that in order to distinguish oneself (in a positive way) from the rest of the applicant pool, it is necessary to have multiple publications in excellent journals.

Can some more search committee members confirm or deny anon's data?

--Mr. Zero


Anonymous said...

I've been on 6 or 7 search committees in the past decade, and the right number is definitely way above 20%; in fact, I think it's above 50%. 20% might accurately describe how many have publications in truly top tier journals, but most have a few publications here or there.

I personally don't think it's *necessary* to have publications, certainly not multiple publications, in top tier journals, to be taken seriously as a job candidate, especially if you're still ABD and haven't been in grad school for 10 years. But no one would deny that it helps a lot.

Of course, what is considered a top tier journal, and what criteria are used in judging the importance of publications, are going to vary a lot not just between hiring departments, but even between different members of the same department's search committee.

In any case, I would (try to) publish only when your work is ready to be published, and publish in the most appropriate forum for your work; if that's a specialty journal, or conference proceedings instead, so be it.

Dr. Killjoy said...

Restrict the relevant journal pool to those in the top twenty

My experience is that out of 400 or so applicants only 10% (certainly no more than 20%) had at least one article in one of those journals (and I suspect that no more than a quarter of those were ABD folk).

In fact, I'd wager that during our last search, I saw more CVs that listed nothing but bullshit in the Publication section (e.g., papers under review, papers in volumes that had yet to find a publisher, articles in undergrad poetry 'zines, papers in utterly unknown journals, etc.) than I saw CVs that listed actual published articles in quality journals.

Anonymous said...

Ask yourselves this question. Look at your graduate program and other near you and tell us how many of the ABDs have publications -- much less good publications?

I would be willing to bet that very few do. They have APA presentations, sure. They have other conference presentations, but I would be willing to bet that they don't have them.

Our last search was 2006, and I just looked through my folder and the 10% number of good publications is about right for all candidates. ABDs less so. And 20% seems to be about right.

I also share Dr. Killjoy's views about the crap CVs. Making shit up doesn't help you at all. No one cares if you have something under review at MIND. An APA presentation also matters more than a publication in a poor journal.

Anonymous said...

Surely we shouldn't restrict our attention to things on that Leiter list. I would think a publication in Ethics or JPL, for example, would carry more weight than a publication in Ratio. But, maybe I was misconstruing your point.

Dr. Killjoy said...

You are, of course, correct: on the Philosophy playground, JPL and Ethics brutalize poor lil' Ratio and his skinny, spotty friend The Monist.

The point of restricting the journal list to those twenty was merely to provide a rough-and-ready informative context for the subsequent percentage claims.

Anonymous said...

Yes, that list was for generalist journals. Leiter run another poll focused on moral and political philosophy. And there journals like Ethics and Journal of Political Philosophy are in the top 5.

Xenophon said...

No one cares if you have something under review at MIND.

I take it that the point is that anyone can submit to Mind, so a submission is nothing like an acceptance. I agree, and I'm always surprised when I see CVs with publications and submissions in the same category. But there could be value in listing a submission to Mind on your CV, in a separate "Submissions" category.

First, it says you've been actively writing stuff, and I think that's better than just having a list of future projects. Second, it says you think you're Mind-worthy, to adapt a Seinfeldism, and if you include that submission in your application, the committee can see how their judgment compares to yours.

Anonymous said...

At my Leiter-ranked by not Leiterrific school, about half have publications coming out, and half of them have them in quality journals. Only one that I can remember had one in 'truly top tier' journals - in Phil Studies, in this case. The ones with publications in quality journals -- i.e., journals good for their field, be it ethics or phil mind or whatever -- were competitive at liberal arts schools.

One thing not considered lately is how much difference an advisor can make. If you work with a hotshot advisor, this seems to make up for publications and/or greatness of school. If your advisor is kind of crappy, this seems to hurt, especially as the Leiterifficness of the school declines.

P.S. CS-Fullerton is advertising for two TT jobs, and U of Tennessee is advertising for three TT jobs. A good sign?

Anonymous said...

I've been led to believe (and my one go-round on a search committee adds confirming evidence) that mid-level and lower-ranked programs push their grad students to publish to distinguish themselves, but that it's less likely from top, say, 10 places to have grad students with publications.

Basically, if you need something to make you stand out, a publication helps. But if you have the benefit-of-the-doubt having gone to a more big name dept, it's less of an issue.

Anonymous said...

I often read of the importance of publications in journals, but I have read very little about any value accorded to publication in books (e.g. essays in collections). I am curious to see any insightful comments people, especially those on search committees, have to say about the value of publications in books by respected presses (e.g. university presses, Routledge).

Anonymous said...

do committees really assign a significant weight to APA presentations? i've never tried to submit to the various meetings, partially because the panels/colloquia/etc i've attended in fact tend to be not particularly great. (i would estimate 1 out of 5 panels at the eastern or central were both interesting and informative.) that ratio is lower than at some graduate / specialty conferences.

it's a little late for me now, but this information certainly would be interesting for future job candidates.

Anonymous said...

Note to Dr. Killjoy:

You should start a blog of your own. I would read everything you wrote!

Anonymous said...

@12:11--I only have experience with one school, but I know that many (maybe all) of my colleagues look favorably on APA presentations. They are obviously not given the same weight as good publications, but they are given more weight than many other conferences, and are given more weight than publications in mediocre journals. Also, some of my colleagues (usually older ones) seem to think that presentations at the Eastern are worth more (I have no idea if there is any real basis--acceptance rates, perhaps?--for this judgement).

As for the 20% question--on the three searches I have taken part in, I would say that greater than 20%--maybe even greater than 50%--of applicants have publications. Fewer than 20%, though, have publications in good journals (and I don't mean just very top journals. I am thinking, in general, of something like A and B level journals on the ESF ranking). Having a good publication counted in people's favor, but was not necessarily the main factor (as was born out by some of our hires).

More importantly, though--far too many applicants had publications in very suspicious journals (like fly-by-night electronic journals, random grad-student-club journals, barely peer-reviewed journals run out of some random philosophy department in the former East Bloc, etc...). Grad students need to stop publishing in such places. I teach at a small undergraduate institution, where research is important but not the main emphasis by a long shot--and even here faculty are put off by such publications.

And for god's sake, quit putting merely submitted papers under "publications" on your CV.

Anonymous said...

The first of the two searches (a TT search) I was involved in was four years ago, and the vast majority of applicants had no publications at all. The person we hired (and who was our top choice) had no publications, no submissions, and only one peer-refereed presentation (which hadn't happened yet).

The second search was a more recent VAP search, and the percentages of candidates with publications, of candidates with very impressive publications, and candidates with multiple publications were much, much higher.

I'm not sure whether the difference reflects a trend or the difference between ads or what.

This business of distinguishing oneself in a quantitative way from the rest of the pool wouldn't make much sense in my department. We are pleased to see a publication (when we're impressed by what we read of the published work), especially when we're hiring outside our areas of specialization and competence. But seeing multiple publications in excellent journals really isn't all that much more exciting than seeing one publication in an excellent journal. And none just means that we have to put more faith in our capacity to be good judges of the writing sample.

Anonymous said...

Anon 7:01pm,

I've, however, seen a top tier ivy league hire with the same pubs you disdain (fly-by-night online journals, journals of the Eastern Bloc, and grad student journals.)

Peer-reviewed is peer-reviewed, my friend. I went and actually checked this person's credentials, WHAT journals were what, and it turns out that all of the "shoddy" journals you disdain happen to be what landed this person this job (from an inside source, where the committee simply didn't bother to look into the journals/pubs listed.)

Seems more like quantity versus quality here.

Second, at my institution, where they are "pushing faculty to do research," they list faculty as having a publication simply if they present a paper at a random conference.

So, I think quality is in the eye of the beholder. Besides, I know of several well respected online journals, and I doubt highly that the fact that a journal comes from Europe or that one chooses to publish in a grad student journal, while a grad student, is going to bear against you. Afterall, it shows initiative.

At that, where I work, those who have tenure basically produce absolutely nothing and then bitch when you do publish, anything, no matter where. They cry and moan about the up-coming talent's "research programs" but have no program for themselves. Its quite pathetic, actually. All the while the adjuncts are out-publishing the tenured, making them look like lazy pieces of shit (which they are), and then going to to publish in netter and better journals as time goes by. Pretty funny if you ask me.

Anonymous said...

I am a bit troubled by the fact that only in 20 or so journals does it matter that one has publications! What about good specialist journals, such as Biology & Philosophy, Hypatia, Religious Studies, Mind & Language, Phil Psychology, Journal of Aesthetics & Art Criticism? Or, God forbid, what with philosophers who actually publish in good, nonphilosophy journals such as Cognition? Do search committees really overlook candidates who have papers in such good journals if they did not manage (or try) to publish in Nous or Journal of Philosophy?
Even disregarding the fact that some top journals have put a temporary stop on all submissions, the remaining ones are under so much stress that it often takes months to even get reviewers. I for one am discouraged by this and prefer to submit to specialist journals where I can at least expect a timely review and actual helpful comments, and where my research is not just sitting for months and months.
I don't think this emphasis on a few top journals is helpful, not for these journals, not for the profession, and not for philosophy as a discipline (the long wait times surely slow down the decimation of ideas).
There is still a large difference between an east bloc journal or electronic graduate journal and good specialist journals. We should move away from this elitist myopic attention for names of top journals in publication lists to more objective criteria (e.g., is the journal ranked in ESF, was the paper already cited?)

Thom Brooks said...

I can respond in a different way. Certainly no one hired in my department since I've been here lacked publications. Many have also had a monograph in hand or under contract in addition to articles. I would think anyone applying for a job at a research university would need publications either forthcoming or in hand.

Anonymous said...

Anon 7:01 here:

I can't really respond to 8:37's claim regarding an Ivy League hire with junk publications, other than to say that there are always exceptions...

However, I would highly recommend that people reading this blog not accept the "peer-reviewed is peer-reviewed," especially not if you actually get a TT job and are working toward tenure. There are plenty of journals that are nominally peer reviewed but that generally won't be well received.

And to 1:17--I think you are taking my post in the wrong way. First, I used the ESF list just as a rough example. You will also note that I include A and B journals. That is a big list--and while I am not going to check, I am pretty sure it includes most of the journals you mention. You are clearly right that limiting things to just a few journals is wrong, and I don't think it is done by most departments.

Finally--I apologize for any slur I might have made against Eastern Europeans. And the fact that there are well-respected on-line journals has nothing to do with my point--I specifically mentioned "fly-by-night" journals. Don't get too hung up on the specific examples I tried to give of crap journals. The completely uncontroversial fact of the matter is that there are many poorly regarded journals out there, and grad students ought to avoid publishing in them. I am certain that my department is not the only one that tries to make decisions on the basis of quality rather than quantity in this regard.

Anonymous said...

7:01 again...I see that I in fact misread 1:17--my bad.

Anonymous said...

Assuming that a search committee is at a point where they're considering a candidate for the advertised position, I don't see how it makes a difference whether the person published in Mind or in The Southwestern Review Journal of Philosophical Crap, unless we're assuming that top-tier journals contain only excellent work or that excellent work appears only in top-tier journals. None of these assumptions seem plausible to me. So, just read the fucking paper (especially if it is the candidate's writing sample) and make up your own goddamn mind!

Anonymous said...

7:35--fair enough. But I suggest as a practical principle that job seekers not confuse facts with norms. So aim to publish in good journals because it is in fact in your best interests, even if it ought not matter in the way that it does.

Anonymous said...

@Thom Brooks

My 20% comment was about ABDs and my search was not a R1. So, maybe you could tell us, if you know:

(1) How many applicants did you have,
(2) How many ABDs or grads who haven't left their program yet.


(3) Applicants from other TT and VAP job.

I think everyone knows that a R1 job publications matter.

My main point is that to get a job in philosophy you don't have to have multiple publications. And I think the kind of views you promote for a top job confuses the issue for most jobs.

Anonymous said...

Thank you, anon 9:01.
You are, of course, right, and I understand that it's in my best interest to publish in top-tier journals. But this fetish with top-tier journals seems to me suspiciously close to, and just as silly, as the fetish with brand names in our consumerist society. I thought philosophers are better than that! Boy, I'm so naive. I don't stand a chance out there.

Anonymous said...

We've had some discussion about what % of candidates have at least 1 publication. There seems to me to be some consensus that the 20% figure is basically right, at least if we're only counting recognizable journals.

I'd like to see a bit more information. What % have have 3 or more publications? What % have 5 or more? Percentages could be given, or just the # of applicants who have 3 or more, 5 or more, etc.

After all, none of us are interested in merely cracking the top 20%. What we all want is a job offer. Can anyone from a search committee help us out with the more detailed information?

Thom Brooks said...

I am sure you are correct that there are different expectations of candidates when applying to research and non-research universities (if this distinction exists). I would not have much knowledge of applications at non-research universities. It was the case that I was ABD when applying to Newcastle and I had several publications. I don't know about life elsewhere.

Euthyphronics said...

Anon 7:35/9:54 (I'm assuming you're both the same poster): ...this fetish with top-tier journals seems to me suspiciously close to, and just as silly, as the fetish with brand names in our consumerist society.

I'm not sure it's just that. Nitpicking over whether a paper was in The Philosophical Review or instead The Canadian Journal of Philosophy is ridiculous, sure. But one thing to keep in mind is that significantly further down the pecking order -- at the Timbuktu Journal of Half-Baked Ideas or whatever -- acceptance rates are much higher. If their websites are to be believed, PR and CJP both accept around 8% of submissions; TJHBI doesn't make that data readily available, but there's good if old/anecdotal evidence that it accepts something like 40% of submissions. So a paper that's gotten into PR or CJP has cleared a much higher bar than one that's gotten into TJHBI.

Granted, the TJHBI paper might be just as good as the PR one. But the PR paper's very presence in PR confirms that blind reviewers hold it to a standard that few of its competitors meet, which in turn is evidence for its being of a very high quality. Regardless of the TJHBI paper's intrinsic merits, it doesn't have that evidence of externally-verified quality. If SC members are reasonably humble about their ability to judge philosophical quality, especially in specialties that may not be their own (a trait I think we can agree that we want our SC members to have) they have reason to value this evidence. In a situation where there are more qualified candidates than jobs, it's only rational for them to prefer candidates with publications that have a stamp of approval of this sort to ones that don't.

Unless you think peer reviewing, even at the "best" journals, doesn't correlate with quality significantly better than chance, in which case appearing in a particular journal isn't really evidence of anything. But in that case, peer reviewing is a sham, too; SC members should be happy if you're publishing stuff on your website.

Anonymous said...

Well put, esp. the humility part. I was going to try to make a similar point, but I like the way you've done it.
Let me add that for tenure (not so much for hiring), there's another reason for letting the Top Shelf (for want of a better term) count for more, namely, papers published in them are going to have more impact. Even two equally good papers on the same subject, one in Mind and the other in TJHBI, are going to have very different impacts. Tenure reviews are often looking (reasonably or not) for impact on the literature and the profession. But, as I said, this is only indirectly relevant in a hiring decision.

Anonymous said...

Euthyphronics, you said:
"But the PR paper's very presence in PR confirms that blind reviewers hold it to a standard that few of its competitors meet, which in turn is evidence for its being of a very high quality."

I wonder if this is a reasonable assumption to make. This seems to mean that the same referee reviews papers differently for different journals. Presumably, it also means that the same referee might think that *the same paper* is worthy of publication in CJP but not PR. Do referees apply different criteria of acceptance when refereeing for different journals? That seems implausible to me. I would think that referees apply the same criteria (which include, I suppose, clarity and rigor of argumentation, among others). I find it rather hard to believe that a referee would allow a paper that makes a rather unclear and less than rigorous argument to be published in CJP (or whatever) just because it's CJP (or whatever). If that's the case, then if a paper is worthy of publication in CJP, it should also be worthy of publication in PR, Mind or whatever. The fact that the author didn't seek publication in Mind, for whatever reason (e.g., maybe they don't get back to authors in a timely fashion), should not count against him or her (for hiring purposes, that is; anon 6:51 might be right about tenure).

Anonymous said...

Anon 7:51
Implausible? Go here and check the results of the poll conducted there.

Euthyprhonics said...

7:51: I'm not sure the assumption is needed; my argument was just based on acceptance rates. But I think the assumption is warranted nonetheless. First, evidence that other reviewers review differently for different journals: I have received, from Nous, a report that said "This paper is clear, well-written, and well argued, and deserves to be published. Whether it deserves to be published in Nous is a different matter," and went on to argue the paper wasn't significant enough for such a high profile journal. Nous didn't publish it. A friend of mine recently received an almost word-for-word similar review from another journal, with the same result. Make of that what you will.

For my part, I do review PR papers differently than TJHBI papers (the PR/CJP contrast is a red herring, btw --- I lumped PR and CJP together in my earlier post, because they have similar acceptance rates, whereas the fictional TJHBI has a much higher acceptance rate). That's not to say I accept TJHBI papers that are horribly unclear or poorly argued. But one paper can be superior to another even when both are equally well argued, etc., because one can make a more significant point/move a debate further forward/etc. than the other -- have the potential for more "impact", in 6:51's phrase. Reviewers are sensitive to this -- sometimes on the instruction of the editor.

Also, remember that (i) not all journals will use the same caliber of reviewers, and (ii) the editor, as much as the reviewer, keeps the gates of publication. Positive-but-not-glowing reviews might lead one editor to accept while another editor rejects.

Anonymous said...

Thanks for the link, anon 10:29.

Indeed, 72% answered "yes" to the following question:

In deciding whether to recommend acceptance or rejection of a paper for a journal, should one base one's decision in part on the *reputation*, editorial policies, etc. of the journal?

To me, this seems to lend some support to my suspicion that there is some kind of fetish with top-tier journals that is similar in certain respects to the fetish with brand names in our consumerist society.

Euthyphronics, I concede your point about the role of the editor(s). But then why would editors of less-than-stellar journals not impose the same policy? Presumably, they want to make their journals more "reputable."