Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Now what?


Questions have been coming up in various threads about waiting for offers, giving up on waiting for offers, giving up on a job in philosophy, etc. Some of you might (must) be getting offers, and have questions about accepting them, asking for more, etc. This is an open thread for such questions. Ask 'em if you got 'em.

~zombie

169 comments:

Anonymous said...

Leiter's hiring thread is up. If the job you wanted shows up on Leiter's thread, you should give up hope.

Anonymous said...

now that leiter has put up the hiring thread, how often should i check it and feel terrible about myself?

Anonymous said...

We could always set up an IRC chat room to commiserate.

Anonymous said...

I think many people reading this blog should leave philosophy.

I know people who have in the vicinity of 10 publications in good journals and letters of rec from famous people who got no offers this year. I know a recent PhD who has 2 publications, 1 in a top 5 journal the other in a very good journal, letters of rec from famous people, PhD from a top 25 department, and no interviews.

If you take visiting positions for the next 4 years and still have nothing, you may wish you had dropped out now. If you drop out now, in 4 years you just might have made some progress in some non-philosophy field.

I'm very invested in philosophy. The sunk costs for me if I leave are huge. I really don't know what else I can do with my life. But I'm asking myself if it's time to leave.

Anonymous said...

@1041

I'm in the same situation. Faced with a 13 year investment (grad school, undergrad, and postgrad) it's incredibly hard for me to consider leaving.

I'm a middling philosopher, I know it. I have publications but not many. I've presented at the APA more than once and at other conferences. I know *some* people and I had two interviews this year.

But I need to eat. I've been making less than 20k a year for most of my adult life now and I can't keep going. My student loans, rent, and other incidentals have me living like an undergrad. I want a home and a family and I'm now 30 years old. I can't keep doing this but I don't even know what I should be doing to leave philosophy and get a job in a non-philosophy field.

I've hear temp work with an agency is a good way to make inroads. What do the rest of you think?

Anonymous said...

Yep. There's a guy from my cohort who has been VAPing for (I think) 4 years and had a postdoc before that. We both come from a Leiterrific program, but unlike me, he works in an up-and-coming (rather than obscure) area. He has an edited book with Routledge, a monograph coming out in the spring (I forget with whom, but it was a pretty decent press), and about 7 or 8 articles, at least half of which are in mid-range to top journals. My CV comes nowhere close, which is probably why I had a VAP only once (3 years ago) and have been adjuncting ever since. But you know how this guy has been doing? 1 TT interview last year at the APA, none this year. I think a lot of us are kidding ourselves.

Anonymous said...

Perhaps in due course we could have a plan-B open thread here.

Anonymous said...

To Anon 10:41

I think we all agree that the market is dismal. Many folks who deserve jobs aren't getting them. Personally, I likewise agree that philosophers ought to consider careers outside of the academy more seriously: having a Ph.D. can serve you well.

But I don't have a job and I'm not despairing, even though I'm not the sort of ideal candidate you describe. I'm ABD at a non top 25 school, and my letters of rec were not, in general, written by famous people (at most one of my letter writers could be said to be "famous"). However, I landed several interviews this year, and the majority of my interviews were at schools ranked much higher on the Leiter report than my PhD granting institution. I may not get a tenure-track job this year, but I think I came pretty close. And post-docs are looking promising for me.

So while it's true there are undeserved failures, there are also success (or near success) stories as well. If you didn't land any interviews, it might help to ask departments for feedback, as then you'll know if you were even close to the jobs for which you applied. You might also find out what you can do (if anything) to improve your chances.

I emailed one department that did *not* interview me, and I got really helpful comments on my portfolio. I also emailed one department that interviewed me (but didn't hire me), and I got helpful feedback on improving my performance in interviews.

If no one gives you the time of day, then it's probably time to leave the discipline, as then it's likely that no one remembers looking at your application at all. If your application was considered at late stages in the process and yet discarded because of how competitive the market currently is, then I don't think it's time to give up quite yet. Publish a few more papers, and try to find someone well-known to support your candidacy. Then try again.

Anonymous said...

I am in the third year of tenure track job that I feel very lucky to have. Before I got this gig I did a VAP for two years elsewhere. I met a guy there (he was in poli sci) who had been on a series of 1 or 2 year contracts for 13 years. His phd was from Oxford. He finally gave up at year 14. I don't know what he went off to do.

I don't know if he was any good. He always struck me as a bit peculiar, but so what? He was an academic. I say this because he was for me a sort of object lesson, wherein I promised myself that I wouldn't allow myself to be strung along like that. I thought about this fellow and asked myself, "Did he start out saying 'Okay, I'll give it 13 years, but not a year more!'?" So I gave myself a one more year to get a job and promised myself that I would do something else (anything really) if a permanent job did come along by the end of my third year at the VAP place. I got my current job at the end of year two.

I really think that I would have left and done something else had the current job not come along. The opportuny cost is just too high. Perhaps I would have become a lens grinder, or whatever the contemporary equivalent is. My $0.02: give it a good try for two, maybe three years and then try something else. As profound as the sunk costs are at this point, they only get deeper as each year rolls by.

Anonymous said...

Okay, stupid question time: Exactly what counts as 'Leiterrific'? Is it just being on the list of the top 50, or is it something more exclusive, like being in the top 10?

Translation: Am I crazy to be super-worried about my prospects, given that my institution is in the 15-20 group?

I mean, if you look at Leiter's hiring thread so far, the list would go like this (accounting only for TT hirings, and using the 'English speaking world list): 24, 15, 3, below 50, 5, below 50, 5.

What's the lesson here?

BunnyHugger said...

I'm in year 7 as contingent faculty (a full time lecturer position). I'm not actually the longest-employed lecturer in my department, not even really close. I didn't bother going on the job market this year and may never bother again, but I'm more or less OK with that. I earn enough to support my hobbies, my job's probably not going anywhere, and I enjoy consorting with the other philosophers in my (quite collegial) department. Teaching intro-level classes most of the time can be very hard on my morale and spirit, but that is my only real complaint.

At this point I think I'm neither moving up nor out; I've settled. Maybe that's sad and maybe it's not.

Anonymous said...

Is adjuncting at a community college a good way of getting a tt job at that community college when it becomes available?

Anonymous said...

Adjuncting is a good way to get your foot in the door even at non-community colleges. At my institution, if any of our adjuncts prove to be successful after a year, we move them to permanent positions and in two cases, we've even been able to put them in our TT stream.

Anonymous said...

I'm one of the lucky ones who this year has landed a tt-job. But I've been on the market since it blew-up in fall of 2008, and I know the sense of despair many people are feeling right now.

Some people have difficulty imagining what else they might do outside of philosophy because they've never really done anything outside of philosophy (along the lines of extended full-time employment).

Between college and my PhD program, I had a variety of non-academic jobs that were both personally rewarding and allowed me to act on some of the moral and political commitments that are important to me. I was reminded of this when, in the run-up to the 2008 elections, I took time-off from job market applications to campaign for one of my candidates. The experience reminded me that there are many things worth doing outside and/or alongside of philosophy.

If you've made it this far, then you're bright and capable of doing something really worthwhile with your life. That may, or may not, involve the professional academic discipline of philosophy for the next 30 years. But coming to learn what else one is capable of doing professionally is a way not only to mitigate the despair, but also to keep oneself honest, and to gain some clarity on what one's capable of achieving in life.

Anonymous said...

2:47: I second that question. I never really got exactly what people meant by 'Leiteriffic'. It seems to be contextually sensitive: frequently, I interpret it as 'top of the PGR', and in a few contexts it seems to indicate 'ranked'.

Anonymous said...

I've hear temp work with an agency is a good way to make inroads. What do the rest of you think?

Temping can be a good way to gain clarity on what you do and don't want out of non-academic employment. And it beats selling your plasma to make rent. Trust me.

zombie said...

Check Leiter no more than once a day. (It doesn't update that often anyway.) Don't feel terrible about yourself.

zombie said...

There are no lessons to be learned from the Leiter hiring thread. There is too little data available there. It might be slightly more instructive to look at last year's thread, but it does not seem to be available anymore.

Anonymous said...

Congrats, 5:06! Where you headed?

Anonymous said...

I received an e-mail from a faculty member at Bowling Green State University. He tells me that I just missed getting a presenter spot in the workshop they were hosting. He offers me a position as a workshop chair, but I would have to pay for my travel and hotel. I decline. Then he writes back offering a small stipend. I decline again. He writes once more and tells me that I also just missed getting into the finals for their TT applied ethics faculty search. I check his CV and notice that he had only one publication when he was hired by BGSU. I have 20-plus publications, including a book. Somehow I'm not impressed with the gatekeepers!

Anonymous said...

Just to say last year's hiring thread is still on Leiter's blog at http://leiterreports.typepad.com/blog/2011/04/tenure-track-and-postdoc-hiring-by-philosophy-departments-2010-11.html

squid pro quo said...

To Anon 11:15,

Last year I had 2 Plan B's for non-philosophy employment. The first was to become a paralegal. One doesn't need any additional schooling to get certified to do this, it's a fast growing field, and the pay is modest but beats the heck out of adjuncting.

The other plan was to get a master's degree in education so I could transition into public school employment. My PhD university also had an education department that offered TA-ships and tuition remission for MA students in education (probably very few people did this since most folks pursuing masters in education already are teaching full time). See if your university has something similar. If you can, pick up certification in special education - there is a ton of demand for this in schools.

I was very fortunate to get a TT job last year. If I hadn't gotten it, I would've tried for one more year and then started looking into other options. You're absolutely right that as one approaches his/her 30s, it becomes very difficult to keep living like a student and dreams of philosophy start to take a back seat to practical realities and priorities.

FemFilosofer said...

Maybe I received more kindness than is customary, but I got phone calls from the chairs of both departments that flew me out the day someone else accepted an offer. I'm surprised that one doesn't hear from schools that flew them out in a more timely fashion, but I shouldn't be surprised by this profession anymore.

I think a thread about how to branch out into the private and public sector is a good idea; something, perhaps, the APA ... ahem ... should be doing. This was only my first real shot at the market (I just defended this past Summer), so I'm not ready to give up yet. But if there are things I can do within my University or classes I could teach that are translatable into outside-of-academia marketable skills, I'd like to pursue those.

Anonymous said...

There are a lot of great topics emerging in this thread, each of which seems worthy of its own post. To add another to the mix: for those fortunate enough to receive an offer in this hellish job market, how should one approach negotiations? Is there anything to leverage in a market where one is considered beyond fortunate simply to be considering employment? And how seriously should one take concerns about gender differences in how one's negotiating is perceived?

Anonymous said...

A few thoughts on Plan B's based on my own limited experience/knowledge:

Unless your research is applicable to some non-academic career, you do some kind of interesting volunteer work that can somehow help you transition into a job, or you had another career prior to undergrad or between undergrad and grad school, the transition will probably be difficult.

For philosophy PhD's there isn't really an obvious alternative to teaching (that I'm aware of). It seems like a lot of the careers that are often cited as good alternatives are either very difficult to get into (eg. journalism, publishing) or require several more years of education (eg. law). And if the reason most of us are seeking alternative careers is uncertain career prospects and the need to earn money then options like these don't seem to be much of a solution.


Last year I went to see a career counselor at my university and asked what I could do with a philosophy PhD. She said that I need to figure which skills I possess and then look for jobs that require those skills. There are probably very few non-academic employers that are looking for people with phil PhD's but there may be employers looking for the kinds of skills that someone with a PhD in philosophy possesses. The challenge is to figure out what those jobs are and then make yourself desirable to employers in those fields. Neither of those tasks is easy. Even after putting some time into trying to figure out other career options I still have no idea what to do.

It'd be great to hear success stories from people who have transitioned into rewarding non-academic careers. They probably don't read The Philosophy Smoker though...

zombie said...

Anon 6:17 -- thanks. The link I had to last year's report was dead, for some reason.

Anonymous said...

"I think a thread about how to branch out into the private and public sector is a good idea; something, perhaps, the APA ... ahem ... should be doing."

And departments. But try convincing anyone teaching at a major research university that their students should do anything but teach and write on philosophy.

Hell, at some schools, even suggesting that you might want a community college job is enough to get you the stink eye. It's not enough to be a professor; you have to be at the Right Kind of School. Anything else is failure.

Anonymous said...

I vote for a "plan B" thread.

Anonymous said...

"I check his CV and notice that he had only one publication when he was hired by BGSU. I have 20-plus publications, including a book. Somehow I'm not impressed with the gatekeepers!"

I'm so guilty of doing and feeling the same; checking CVs of people who are doing interviews and shutting the gate in my face. Despair and depression. Plan B, I'm ready for you, whatever you are.

Anonymous said...

Plan B does not have to mean leaving the academy. If you're a VAP or adjunct or almost-finished PhD, look around at the administrators on your campus who do NOT also have faculty appointments. (There are two types of administrators: academic administrators who also have faculty appointments and administrators who don't, but often have PhDs.) Then see if the non-faculty administrators are doing things you might like to pursue.

High on the list: grants/contracts and development. If you're good at this, you will always be in demand. Many of those administators have PhDs. Go to any and all workshops they offer on pursuing funds. Write a successful grant proposal for your department or college.

Universities hire all kinds of administrators and you might find other tracks of interest. E.g., at the many humanities institutes around the country, look at their staff listings. The director typically has a faculty appointment, but the assistant director usually doesn't. If you're good at organizing things and have a PhD yourself, that might be an option to work toward.

Other jobs are very close to the academy: e.g., state humanities councils. Look at their staff listings and see what credentials they brought. Many have PhDs, but have never had a TT faculty appointment.

The advantage of staying in (or close to) the academy is that it will be much more likely to be flexible if you want to teach a course or go to a conference. And staying in touch with your academic specialty might mean you can someday land that TT job you crave. (I can think of quite a few people who followed this route, but won't go into details here as they could be identified.)

Anonymous said...

4:39, that is literally the only time i have ever heard of adjuncting leading to a tenure track line. i've usually heard it the other way. i mean that's awesome, but we need a bigger sample size. has anyone else experienced this?

Anonymous said...

Here is my 2 cents:

(a) There is nothing wrong with making a career in a non-tenture track job, under certain conditoins. Here I don't mean VAPing but "Lecturing." These positions often include benefits, raises and a kind of promotion, and while not as much job security as tenure-tracks, offer as much as most people get. These are becomming more and more common and we have to get used to it.

(b) The hardest thing about leaving the field is the sense of failure that goes with it. But this is misplaced. Just because you don't get the J-o-b doesn't mean you 'failed' or 'wasted your time'. Philosophy is a way of life before it is a professorship. The virtues and friendships you developed in the past few years can remain with you as you look into new opportunities.

Anonymous said...

If you don't have the PhD in hand yet DO NOT let it become public knowledge in your dept that you are making any plans to leave the profession.

Anonymous said...

12:32 wrote "Philosophy is a way of life before it is a professorship. The virtues and friendships you developed in the past few years can remain with you as you look into new opportunities."

You are kidding right? All I got from grad school was this drinking problem.

Anonymous said...

I want to second what 12:32 says. It may be cold comfort, but it IS worth remembering that philosophy existed LONG before it became professionalized (and many would argue that it was much better in those days anyway). Anyone who is interested in and enjoys philosophy, who has received philosophical (formal or otherwise) training, and is willing and able to put that training into practice is a philosopher whether or s/he is able to secure a TT job in philosophy (or any academic job, for that matter). I have known many academic philosophers who are total charlatans, and many bartenders and baristas who are great philosophers. (Not saying that anyone with a Ph.D. should settle for these kinds of jobs, but you get my point...)

Anonymous said...

@2:23: Why do you say that? Will people on one's committee make it harder to finish?

Anonymous said...

For Plan B resources: I'm not on the job market this year, but my institution has university-wide monthly activities for graduate students looking outside of academia. The year I go on the job market, I will certainly be taking advantage of those resources, just in case I do end up not making it on the job market. I don't know if my institution is unique in this way, but it may be worthwhile to see what your university has to offer (even if they don't have a formal programmatic offering, you may be able to take advantage of resources in whatever career center they have).

zombie said...

Anon 8:41: If you have multiple offers, you are in a position to bargain on the salary and benefits.

When I was offered a job, I immediately asked about the possibility of negotiating the salary, the offered bennies, the prospect for annual raises, the moving allowance, etc. Your goal in that first phone call should be to get as much info as possible about what is offered. You don't have to accept right away.

If you have any other offers, or upcoming campus interviews, let the SC know that right away. While you may well feel lucky to be getting a job offer, it doesn't hurt to let them know they'd be lucky to have you. If you've made it that far, they already want you.

(If the offer is from a state school, it is sometimes possible to get specific salary information, since the faculty are considered public employees. It might take some digging around on the webs to find it.) Keep in mind that the dept does not necessarily have any control over the offered salary and benefits, and in this belt-tightening climate, you might not get much. It makes more sense to ask for more salary than for more on the one-time expenses like start-up and moving allowance. Since your future raises will be a percentage of your salary, the more you start with, the more you get in future raises.

Anonymous said...

What I got out of ten years of graduate school in philosophy:

- tens of thousands of dollars of debt
- an inability to manage basic practical aspects of life
- a publication that only five people in the world care about
- an annoyingly pedantic demeanor
- a pile of unwanted introductory logic textbooks
- some good friends who are now successful lawyers
- a major drinking problem
- a pessimistic outlook on undergraduate education
- a sense of alienation from family and former friends
- a disease that is its own cure

Anonymous said...

How common is it for a candidate to verbally accept an offer and then take another job? How does this look from a professional standpoint, particularly if it results in a failed search?

Anonymous said...

Regarding "getting your foot in the door" via adjuncting, I can only say that I have tried this at three schools. Each of them was allegedly a "teaching school" and despite getting excellent evaluations, whenever a position opens up, I get passed over for someone with a worse publication record, less teaching experience, from a "Leiteriffic" school.

Admittedly, this is a small sample, but I still have a hard time believing Anon 4:39.

Anonymous said...

I was fortunate enough to land a tenure-track job this year, but I also preemptively applied to, and was offered, a real job. This was a cushy office job as a sort of quantitative analyst for an enormous corporation. So here's my two part advice to anyone considering a plan b. Part one: stress that although you admittedly lack experience with the particulars of whatever it is the company considering hiring you does, you have an extraordinary talent for critical reasoning and clear communication. The PhD plus your teaching experience should provide evidence of those two qualities. Part two: don’t be a pedantic weirdo.

As an aside, I’d recommend that everyone consider a plan b. In a world where Barnard gets over 700 applications for one position, it’s prudent to think about how you might jump to another career if necessary.

Anonymous said...

THE TICK!

Anonymous said...

A piece of advice for those looking to use adjuncting positions as a first step to a TT job in that same department:

While it is possible to successfully land a TT job at a school where you are currently working as an adjunct (I've seen in done before, though not very often), there is a reason why it's so hard to do, even if you have a stellar application. You already work there. That is, the department already has you on staff. They already have the chance to give you courses. If a TT line in your area opens up, sure, they may consider you for the position, but they also now have the chance to hire someone else, and that's *always* tempting. They have a chance to bring someone in who may be more appealing (as a teacher, a scholar, etc.). Even being excellent at your job only reminds them that they already have you on the faculty. Sure, you've proven your worth; that's why they keep you around. But Someone Else is an exciting prospect that allows them to keep you an add something new.

The best way to get a TT job in a department where you already work is to get an offer somewhere else. What you need is leverage. You need a reason for them to, essentially, promote you. And if you aren't going anywhere - if there's no reason to think they might lose you - they know they can keep you around, and even string you along with vague promises of a potential TT line.

It's a shitty situation. I adjuncted at one school while earning my PhD from another, the whole time being told how awesome I was, how lucky they were to have me, and how perfect I was for a TT job they hoped would open up soon. "Soon" never came, and luckily I found a TT job elsewhere. I got lucky.

Anonymous said...

Okay, so I had 7 first-round interviews, 3 flyouts, and no offers. It sucks being so close to a TT job...

As for plan B: some friends with logic PhDs have had success in programming. And FWIW, that Cycorp jobs is looking pretty good right now.

Bobcat said...

Another plan B, although this won't be popular: working for the intelligence community.

Remember, the intelligence community doesn't just mean the CIA. There are 17 different organizations under that umbrella. Some of them sound just as unattractive as the CIA, at least, I assume, to most philosophers: Air Force Intelligence, Army Intelligence, Coast Guard Intelligence, etc. But some, at least to my untutored eye, look more acceptable: Department of Energy, Department of the Treasury, and the National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency.

I feel guilty for having suggested it, but I thought I'd throw it out there.

Anonymous said...

Are philosophers in any respect particularly well qualified to work in the intelligence community?

Anonymous said...

ps: my account with phylo has been suspended? What's up with that? I am still waiting! Ugh.

zombie said...

Last year, in a Plan B thinking mood, I applied for a whole bunch of federal jobs. I was not successful. Many of those jobs involved multiple pay grades, and for each job I applied for, I was sent a separate PFO for every possible pay grade. It's fun to be told to FO five times for a single job application. That is government efficiency in action, y'all. I was left scratching my head, since in every case, I was either told I was underqualified or overqualified for the job. Apparently I was not actually qualified for anything.

Anyhoo, there's a huge database of federal jobs here: http://www.usajobs.gov/

The application process is *very* different from academic applications, so you'll need to create an online CV, and fill out a bunch of forms, in addition to creating an online application. The forms they want you to fill out are part of a covert intelligence test: they do not provide you with a direct link to the form -- just the form number. If you can somehow find the form, and then figure out how to complete it, you pass. Although you may not be qualified for any actual jobs.

zombie said...

SPOOOOOOOOOOON!!!

Anonymous said...

What's up with the wiki today?

Anonymous said...

Anon 9:45,

Being the "Right Kind" of professor is oddly important in some places -- I have a tt at a regional state university and really enjoy it (teach lots of upper-division, work with good smart people). Many of my philosophy friends, however, work at the nearby (well-known and exclusive) SLAC. These people (who I otherwise like) are baffled by me and regularly tell me that someday I will find a "real" job and that it is a shame that I am stuck at this unknown university. I should be humiliated. I just kind of blink at them. What a strange worldview.

Anonymous said...

2:44 AM (!) - that's really hard. I had seven first-round interviews this year, too, but no fly-outs. Four fly-outs last year, on the year before. Somehow all the people on these committees saying "We had 350 applications" and implying that we should feel awesome to've gotten so far in the process miss the point. I mean, it's not a meritocracy, I don't think I'm better than a hundred other philosophers in their pool, and all I want is a job. Not a pat on the back for coming close.

Anonymous said...

What we need is for faculty to stop telling their undergraduate students that they have a "bright future" in the profession. It's just not true. Even top students from top undergraduate programs, who then earn PhDs from top graduate programs, work with top faculty, and publish in top journals, shouldn't expect a job at the end of it all.

The only thing I can say to my undergrads who want to pursue graduate study is this: it has to be for the education. It has to be because there is something out there you want to study, because the study is in itself fulfilling. I tell my undergrads (some of whom have gone off to top programs) that they have to go into it knowing they won't get a job. I tell them they have to ask themselves, "after I sink all this time, money, and energy into a PhD, is the degree enough? Can I walk away from grad school satisfied without an academic job?" If the answer is no, I tell them not to go.

While some of my colleagues think this is harsh, it's simply realistic. In the past 15 years, there has only been 1 graduate from my department (which only offers a BA) who has gone on to a TT job. 1. In 15 years. Telling our best and brightest that there's a professorship out there waiting for them down the road is just plain mean.

Anonymous said...

all I want is a job. Not a pat on the back for coming close.

So fucking true.

Anonymous said...

all I want is a job. Not a pat on the back for coming close.

I want a job too. But that's why I want a pat on the back too - because it's evidence that I might someday get a job.

Anonymous said...

4:39: Our university encourages us to convert our most promising adjuncts into TT lines. It saves them money for the hire and it has been very rewarding as a department to promote some well-deserved philosophers into the TT stream.

Anonymous said...

2:44am: are you sure that you will not get an offer? If you had 3 flyouts, maybe one of them will yet come through for you.

Anonymous said...

Another reason to quit the discipline:

"Dear Job Candidate,

Please see the attached.

Sincerely,

Heather Sanders
Sr. Administrative Assistant
Department of Philosophy
Dickens 201
Manhattan, KS 66506"

The attachment? A generic PFO.

Anonymous said...

I find it baffling how self-deluded most academics are about the nature of their profession. We earn our doctorates at schools that tell us that success is landing a job at a highly ranked R1 institution. Unhappily there are not enough of those jobs to give to even 10% of the most attractively adorned students coming out of the most "elite" programs in a particular year. And of course there are just heaps of brilliantly talented students also arriving at the job market from non-elite schools; not to mention all those from years past who haven't yet landed a job.

The result is that nearly every one of us has been groomed for the type of research position we will never have. Then, when we don't get interviews at SLACs, State Colleges, or Regional Universities, we stand there dumbfounded waving our hands frantically at our 15 publications to the "gatekeeper's" 5. Wow. Doctoral education is doing a huge disservice to every graduate student out there. It is a fucked up culture with a fucked up system of values.

Most ordinary schools need teachers and colleagues. How many graduate programs out there prepare their students for the sort of job they will have if they are among the lucky few who land a TT position? How many give any sort of indication whatsoever that having that sort of job is valuable? Who is suggesting that it'll be a good thing to spend most of the time you previously spent on scholarly pursuits on teaching and committee work instead?

The bean counting that goes on in these threads ("my friend at Princeton has 10 pubs, three in J Phil, and -- holy shit -- no interviews!") fails utterly to map on to the market. And the worst part is the number of tenured professors at schools across the country who have been so thoroughly indoctrinated by their own graduate education, they are still dragging around those fucked up values and that inane self-conception of their own profession. It is cruel and bizarre.

Anonymous said...

2:04 --

Thank you. This may be the most intelligent post I have ever read on this blog.

The sad fact of the matter is that academics in general and philosophers in particular are masters of denial. It's not that we're incapable of recognizing and working to change our utterly absurd and immoral practices--we just don't want to. It's so much easier to pretend that everything is fine or, worse, to blame all of our problems on phantoms like "the economy." [The fact is, academia was supremely fucked up long before the economy took a nosedive and it will remain that way in the supremely unlikely event that the economy improves.]

As you rightly suggest, the values of elite academia (where most of us are trained) do not come CLOSE to reflecting the reality of non-elite academia (which is to say, 99.9% of the colleges and universities in the fucking universe). Because we are so deeply enculturated into these bullshit values, it is no surprised that we automatically invoke them in evaluating everything--ourselves, our work, each other, etc. But because these values are so completely and totally irrelevant in all but the most aristocratic contexts, it is pretty much a foregone conclusion what such evaluations will entail:

- Oh, you don't teach at an R1? FAIL
- Oh, your school doesn't have a graduate program? FAIL
- Oh, your school doesn't have a philosophy major? FAIL
- Oh, you have to teach more than 2 courses per semester? FAIL
- Oh, you don't have a tenure-track job in philosophy? FAIL
- Oh, you're not managing to publish in the same journals as Professor R1? FAIL
- Oh, you didn't publish your book with R1 Press? FAIL
- Oh, you're not presenting at the North American Society of R1 Philosophers this year? FAIL

This list goes on and on. The vast majority of us are trained by aristocrats, so we naturally come to share their values and naturally expect a place at the table with them after we graduate. But that's not how it works. If we're lucky enough to get jobs--and most of us aren't--we end up teaching 4/4 loads at regional state universities, and we don't have time to write, or submit, or present. And we interpret all of this as failure, as though it were somehow OUR fault. This is what leads to "impostor syndrome."

The whole thing is fucking bullshit. It's a scam.

Does anyone ever bother to ask why these people keep admitting so many graduate students even though most of them probably won't get jobs? Oh right -- they have to keep doing that, otherwise they might lose their graduate programs, then they're back to teaching undergraduates, doing their own grading, etc., just like the rest of us poor non-elite schmucks.

Anonymous said...

@ 2:04: This.

Anonymous said...

@204

Slow down there judgypants. What exactly is your complaint here?

Are we not humble enough about our expectations for employment? Do you think any of us are failing to apply for any and all academic work because some places are beneath us? I don't know about you but that certainly doesn't describe me.

Your tone suggests that we are making a mistake of some kind by relying on 'bean counting' as you so charitably put it and yet...what would you have us do? When members of search committees visit this site and tell us how and why they make their decisions to interview and them later for fly outs, you know what they mention?

Publications publications publications, and areas of specialty of course. At least at the initial interview stage it very much matters. When jobs are receiving, at a minimum, hundreds of applications, it seems right to place this kind of information at a premium. Is there a mistake in that?

So why the obsession with comparing our publication and research history with others? Because we've been told it matters. I find that to be an epistemically sensible position given our constraints.

Notice that nobody here makes it seem as if that's ALL that matters. We of course know that teaching matters, that the vagueries of the market matter, and that we are looking for jobs in an age where universities are not only caring less and less about the humanities but one in which tenure track jobs are scarce because retired tenure track professors are bring replaced with temporary labor (and even the tenure track system) in jeopardy).

Honestly, what knowledge do you think you are descending from on high here to give us? I applied anywhere I felt I was a reasonable match, including dozens of community colleges. The reason for this thread is that it seems that no matter what we do it seems likely that the best many of us can hope for, in the current climate, is adjunct work which may, in a decade, lead to eventual hiring stability once we are far too old to begin sensibly planning for our adult lives.

It doesn't seem out of place to complain about this or to consider the ethics of departments and universities that would participate in the creation of the current system.

Anonymous said...

@651

Are you suggesting that anyone on this blog is not applying for jobs if they are not at R1 schools? Do you really believe this? Have you been reading this blog?

We're desperate. I would take a 4/4 (or a 5/5) in an instant if it meant job security doing what I love. Spare me the vitriol you and 2:04 seem to be spewing. I think it's misdirected.

Anonymous said...

Anon 8:41

How I got it with so many amazing people on the market, I do not know, but I'm in my second year of a t-t job. Re: negotiating, I was able to get some release time and an extension on travel funding for an additional year. The admin wouldn't budge on salary. My advice: don't hold back at this point. Yes, anyone who gets a t-t job is incredibly lucky and rightly grateful. But you have the offer in hand at this point.

BunnyHugger said...

7:52, I don't see 6:51 suggesting that, but maybe I'm just giving an overly charitable reading. All I see 6:51 saying is that the culture of the discipline has led a lot of us to internalize standards of success that are too high, and to berate ourselves miserably for not meeting them. Or perhaps I'm the only one suffering from that affliction. In any case, I saw myself in it.

2:04 said...

Clearly what began as a frustrated rant about the institutional values of academic philosophy ended up coming across as a little hostile towards depressed "bean-counting" (my words) job seekers. That is my bad and I apologize.

The source of my original frustrations very much began by reflecting on how poorly job seekers and graduate students are treated. The eye-rolling about candidates comparing CVs was gratuitous and unnecessary.

Honestly, I think most SCs (at modest "non-elite" institutions) are a bit schizophrenic about what they expect and want. Many will pass on CVs that make the candidate look like she is primarily a researcher and not a teacher. The reason is obvious and has been discussed many time here: these departments need people who not only have experience teaching but also seem like they are going to be happy in a teaching department. However, they only sometimes make their decisions accordingly and everybody (the candidates mainly) remain entirely confused about what is expected of them to land a job. It is discouraging.

Of course, I am perfectly aware that my knowledge is very limited. I have only served on SCs at my home institution and I have been on the job market only at times when it was possible to get a TT job without having a single publication.

So for what it's worth, I do believe most of what I wrote (that we academics internalize a value system that serves only a small minority), but the jabs at job seekers read even to my own ears now as strange.

Anonymous said...

7:49/7:52 --

6:51 here. I'm not suggesting anything about *where* people apply for jobs. I'm suggesting that many people consider their failure to get jobs, or certain kinds of jobs, to be personal failures, when in fact they are systemic failures. The more people believe this crap, the less is done to fix the system.

2:04 can speak for him/herself, but I don't think the point was to go after people on this blog for playing into the system (i.e., "bean-counting") so much as to criticize the system itself. It is utterly absurd, for example, for certain schools to be judging candidates on the basis of publications when their own faculty have few or none (not necessarily for lack of talent of ambition, but because course loads make publishing difficult and, in any case, research is not a requirement for tenure). The fact that the "publish or perish" values of elite academia are taken into contexts where they make absolutely no sense--and then end up factoring into hiring decisions--is a sick state of affairs indeed. Sure, everybody has to play along because that's the way things are for the time being, but let's stop pretend that's it's somehow the way of the world, "life isn't fair," etc.

Anonymous said...

On "bean-counting": I am a short time out of graduate school at a well-ranked program and now hold a TT position somewhere you've never heard of, and this year I applied selectively for jobs and got several very good APA interviews, all of which turned into campus invites (and one offer). My CV looks okay, but it is certainly not overwhelming for someone who has been finished as long as I have, and has nothing at all in "top-five" journals. Perhaps this was compensated for by very good letters, but my suspicion is that I did well because my overall project *looks* creative and ambitious, and has a kind of forward-looking coherence that goes beyond what would have been suggested by a bunch of disconnected papers. In any event it has long seemed to me that quality matters a great deal more than quantity, and that a really interesting but still-unfinished project is worth more than a whole bunch of narrow publications (especially ones making mostly negative points) at top-flight journals. Of course it can be hard to say what counts as interesting and what does not, and this certainly varies among search committees, but IMO it definitely points to part of what is wrong with the bean-counting approach.

P.S. Let me add that even though my current job is at a small school (and I have a very strong teaching portfolio, and wrote lengthy cover letters), I got *zero* interview requests from the SLACs I applied to: the only schools that gave me a sniff were research schools. So this fits with some of what 2:04 says at 10:28.

Word verification (really): inflection, moreons

Anonymous said...

@752, 204:

I read this blog and I applied selectively this year. Not quite just-to-R1s, but close.

I did this because I want a chance to 'do what I love'. But what I love is reading philosophy, writing philosophy, and talking to philosophers about philosophy. Maybe those values (preferences?) are 'bullshit' or 'aristocratic'; if so, color me an aristocratic bullshitter.

2:04 said...

11:24

Up to this point, the hostile reactions to my original post have made sense to me. In particular, I understood why the posters interpreted my remarks as they did.

But I don't get how you are reading "aristocratic" and "bullshit" into what I wrote. I have no problem with an elite set of academics churning out scholarship. I love philosophy; I love reading, writing and teaching philosophy. And this does not happen (for me) without several of those elite philosophers at elite programs. This was most certainly not the object of my scorn. My concern was rather that many of these institutions don't do a good job of preparing the majority of us for the jobs we will have (and the jobs that many of us value). And R1 institutions are not merely in the business of churning out scholarship; they are also in the business of making professors.

I value my job enormously. I fucking love it. My sole point was that it is a terrible shame that so many of us are completely wedded to a set of values that fails to serve us. How is this inconsistent with thinking it's perfectly fine for you to value working at an R1? I don't see your point.

Anonymous said...

11:23 -- Congratulations! That's seriously awesome and you should really be proud of yourself. Please don't take what I'm about to say as an attempt to shit in your cake.

I don't think this approach is any kind of "magic bullet," and here's why--because, again, whether we're talking about quality or quantity of research, we're still talking about research. This is an elite activity pursued by a tiny group of aristocrats at research universities and upper-level SLACs. The vast majority of colleges and universities don't give a shit about research, are actively hostile to research, or expect research to be pursued on top of 3/3 or 3/4 or 4/4 course loads, advising, service work, etc. (and even then the requirements for tenure are Mickey Mouse compared to the typical R1).

So, I don't believe that "quality" makes much more of a difference than "quantity" in this market, although--as I said--the irony is that even at teaching schools candidates are often still judged on the basis of research portfolios they will never have the opportunity to pursue if they are hired. Why? Because the people on those SCs were once bean-counting graduate students too and don't know any other way to evaluate people, I guess.

2:04 said...

Sigh. I'm re-re-reading my own original post and in fairness to 11:24, I do say "fucked up values" twice. It's not too difficult to glean "bullshit" from that.

Although it did not come through clearly, I did in fact mean that it is "fucked up" as a widely shared set of preferences. In the comment I just submitted (but which has not yet appeared), I try and make the point that R1 preferences and teaching institution preferences are not inconsistent with each other (within a group, that is). I mean, c'mon, these institutions do depend on each other to a large extent. Without lots of teaching institutions, there's very little social support for elite scholarship. And without elite scholarship, the work at teaching institutions isn't nearly as interesting and pressing. (I'm simplifying, but I hope you get the point.)

6:51 said...

2:04 -- my guess is that 11:24 was responding to me, not you, although I could be wrong.

2:04 said...

(6:51: Ah, of course. Those are words you actually use. Thank you for making that clear. Still. You and I seem to be occupying similar positions, so the point is hopefully worth making.

On a completely different note, I've also always wondered what, precisely, 'Leiteriffic' meant. I confess, I usually take it to refer to top-5, give or take a couple slots. However, I occasionally hear/see it used in a way that suggests it means top-15 or so, in certain contexts, out of certain mouths.)

Anonymous said...

2:04 -

11:24 here. For the record my comment was meant to respond to an attitude which your post suggested (as you now admit), but which came out more fully in 6:51 and the other post I cited.

In both cases it was intemperate and uncharitable. My apologies for that. Like everyone here I'm a little touchy about pretty much everything about my job market experience, including where I decided to apply; I overreacted to what I (hastily) took to be a challenge to the philosophical bona fides of anyone who won't do absolutely anything to get any kind of permanent job in philosophy.

6:51 said...

11:24 --

Just so we're absolutely clear, it wasn't my intention to criticize you or any other job-seekers on this blog, and I apologize if my posts came across that way. I understand where you are coming from; I am just as eager as you are to secure gainful employment.

Again, my remarks are directed at the system and, to a lesser extent, those powerful individuals and groups within the system who are perhaps in a position to change it for the better but are either unwilling or unable to do so.

2:04 said...

11:24:

I appreciate your very generous sentiment. You are right that my original post unfortunately suggested something that on reflection I very much did not want to suggest. It was poorly drafted and I apologize.

Job seekers have every right to be touchy and ill-tempered right now. As I said earlier, I was on the market in a much more forgiving era, but it was still extraordinarily stressful.

And on that very civil note (thank you again 11:24), I'm going to try to steer clear of the Smoker for a while.

Anonymous said...

a whole bunch of narrow publications (especially ones making mostly negative points) at top-flight journals

which top journal, besides phil studies, publish *articles* that make mostly negative points? some publish critical notices, replies, and such -- but i don't think people count those as "real" publications.

Anonymous said...

We do need to remember that negative responses are important: e.g., the no ether drift, no justified-true-belief papers. In fact those reports are some of the best markers of progress of knowledge, Kuhn notwithstanding. Most in any case will remember Michelson-Morley and Gettier.

Anonymous said...

Are philosophers in any respect particularly well qualified to work in the intelligence community?

Well, I used to date a member of the intelligence community. Via that relationship I was then able to meet other members of the intelligence community. God help us all! Seriously, if you're good at logic (as any respectable philosophy PhD should be), then you should be able to run rings around a lot of those people.

Anonymous said...

Phil Studies is the main case I was thinking of, 1:09.

Anonymous said...

Looks like Leiter got pwned:

http://leiterreports.typepad.com/blog/2012/02/juvenile-jackass-watch-the-case-of-ip-address-122182042.html

ROTFLMAO! Looks like the perp used a proxy server, which really has old Bri confused. "Fame and glory (or anonymity, if you prefer) to the first person who can identify the jackass via the IP address: 12.218.204.2. We'll post the exciting news here." What a psycho!!!

(Also, did he really have to google 'Dawn Keebals'?)

Anonymous said...

I don't get it. 7:17 says Leiter got "pwned," but then tells this story about how somebody tried, apparently without success, to post a fake submission to the jobs thread. I see why you might think he overreacted, but I don't see where you get pwned from. Or maybe the kids today think it's easier to pwn somebody than it used to be.

Anonymous said...

10:22, don't be a dumbass. Leiter obviously googled "Dawn Kebals" after he got the fake post because he thought "Dawn Kebals" might actually be a Rutgers Ph.D. and was checking it out (in other words, he didn't get the joke right away--google saved his lame ass). In this respect he was most definitely pwned.

Anonymous said...

7:17/10:28,

If it didn't work, you didn't pwn him. Better luck next time.

Anonymous said...

Relatedly, I can't believe Gus Tofwin got a job. That guy's work is a bunch of hot air!

http://leiterreports.typepad.com/blog/2012/02/tenure-track-and-post-doc-hiring-by-philosophy-departments-2011-12.html?cid=6a00d8341c2e6353ef0167629f97ca970b#comment-6a00d8341c2e6353ef0167629f97ca970b

Anonymous said...

Look - the very fact that Leiter was moved to make a (ridiculous) post on his blog about this incident, promising to shower with glory the person who discovers and reveals the identity of the prankster, shows very clearly that Leiter did, in fact, get pwned. His is not the behavior of a rational adult who is emotionally well-adjusted.

Anonymous said...

Leiter clearly got pwned because he obviously got really pissed off. I though that the "Gus Tofwind" thing was absolutely hilarious.

Anonymous said...

You have to be a complete fucking dick to think that a reply is not a "real" publication.

Anonymous said...

Can we stop with the childish pranking? What is the fucking point?

Anonymous said...

1:39: I don't know who ever said that, or even implied it.

Anonymous said...

Question: might there be a connection between being unable to get a job and spending one's time submitting fake posts to the jobs thread?

Anonymous said...

Why prank Leiter? Well, why pie a CEO, or glitterbomb a politician, for that matter?

Anonymous said...

Great, so Leiter sets up a thread for people to post informatino about hires, and now he's like Rupert Murdoch or Newt Gingrich. Really smart.

Anonymous said...

Unrelated question: what looks better on a CV - (1) a chapter in a book (a collection of essays in a decent press), or, (2) an article in a relatively well-known journal (assuming it's the same paper in both cases)? Why? Thanks!

zombie said...

The paper looks better, if it is in a peer-reviewed journal. Peer-reivew matters, in hiring and tenure, that's why.

Anonymous said...

So, Gus Tofwin was another fake post on the Lieter job thread? That name is not on the list anymore...

Anonymous said...

To 7:30: The refereed journal article is definitely preferable. Many book collections are merely friends inviting friends, with little, if any, peer review. There are exceptions, of course, and there are some suspicious journals along the same lines. But the perception generally in the profession is that journal articles undergo more serious review.

Some collections do invite submissions and then make selections based on blind review. So if that's the case, put that in parens after the entry to remove at least some of that "cloud."

Anonymous said...

Question:
"1:39: I don't know who ever said that, or even implied it."


Answer:
"some publish critical notices, replies, and such -- but i don't think people count those as "real" publications."

Book reviews and critical notices are one thing, but replies? really?

Anonymous said...

Question For New Thread: How do you improve your chances for next year on the job market if you're stuck at your PhD granting institution?

This year, I was lucky enough to land a few first-round interviews and a couple on campus ones as well. However, I'm nearly certain I won't get a job.

Since my publication and presentation records, I think, are not at issue (I have around 7 or 8 papers in good journals) and I also have a decent amount of teaching experience, I'm not sure the best way to improve my portfolio for next year. Another pub won't hurt, I imagine, but I'm not sure it will help either.

Pound Foolish said...

In the long run, the place a paper looks best is the place it gets read most.

And let me second a hearty PFO for the pranksters: This ain't about Leiter, its about us. The hiring thread is a service. Screwing with it a disservice.

Anonymous said...

I second 6:05 AM's question. I have about 10 papers in good philosophy journals, and a further 5 or so in good cogsci journals. I have a well-rounded teaching portfolio. This year I had 5 first-round interviews and 1 on campus that did not work out (I was ranked second). I'm European so perhaps there is something I could do to tailor my dossier more specifically to the American market. My only on campus was in Europe as well. American LoRs? Anything else?

Anonymous said...

6:05 - Not to sound like a dick, but maybe you don't interview well. Lots of candidates look great on paper, and then don't live up to the promise in the interview.

Anonymous said...

6:05 & 8:23 - I have 10 pubs in good journals, LORs from Americans, and my record this year was identical to 8:23s.

9:05 - I doubt it. 6:05 may be a great interviewer. We live in a market where 10+ publications in good journals won't guarantee you a job. It's not just the 3 of us. I know others with roughly the same number of pubs, similar records of success and who are who are personable and smart and are good teachers, and probably decent interviewers. 9:05, I don't think you realize how hard it is to get a job right now. There's a new normal.

Of course, there are people who do get jobs. Is it just luck -- someone had to get a job, it turned out to be them -- or is there a set of properties such that the job getters typically have them, 6:05, 8:23, me and some of my friends lack them, and having this set of properties significantly increases the probability that one will get a job? We'd all like to know the answer to this question, but I wonder if anyone does know it.

Well, one thing that helps is having a PhD from Rutgers or NYU. My question has to do with people who get jobs and aren't from such places.

Anonymous said...

Those of you who are cranking out 7-10 publications while doing the PhD, what are the ballpark rankings of your programs? I'm curious to see if we can figure out just how much institutional bias (justified or not) affects the hiring process. My anecdotal impression is that no one in top 20 programs is publishing anywhere near this much, and they're still getting jobs. Point being, it's not just about NYU and Rutgers and the tippy-top. I'm curious about how far down the list institutional considerations go.

Anonymous said...

In response to the questions from people who have a lot of publications and aren't getting jobs. I am an assistant professor at a "Leiteriffic" place, and I can tell you that our view of a candidate's research record isn't well-correlated with sheer number of publications. 1 or 2 publications will help you (provided they are in places like J.Phil or even slightly lower), but beyond that I'm not sure whether additional publications will help you. What we are looking for is someone who has a cohesive and large-scale project that "opens up" the field in some way, and we don't think that number of publications, at the stage when you are applying for an assistant professorship, is super important. (Why? Because if you really have a project like that, it -- or pieces of it -- will get published in really important places in the next few years.)

This isn't to say that more publications will *hurt* you: personally, I don't think it will. But it does lead to some practical advice about how to spend your time, at least if you are applying to a place like us. Spend some time crafting your research project as a whole and thinking about where it makes a new and important contribution to philosophy. Then continue working on your project and craft your research statement accordingly. See if you can convince the "leading lights" in your field that you really are doing something important. Or at least your letter writers. (It would be interesting to know whether this is only true for places like us, or whether all places with grad programs are looking for something similar.)

I hope this is helpful to some people. I will add: I know it is really tough. The pool is *fantastic* this year. So, dumb luck might be the right explanation for why you didn't get a job. Also, I realize how fortunate -- and lucky -- I am to have my job, I realize that things might turn out really differently if I did it all over again, and I really do wish you all the best.

Anonymous said...

Dear Collective Wisdom,

What would you do if you discovered that one the finalists for a position was fucking a member of the SC? And had been for several years. I feel like screaming foul but don't know how.

Anonymous said...

to 1:01: If you were a rejected applicant, I don't think there's much you can do. The real issue is between that SC member and the department and dean (who probably know about the relationship). There is likely a conflict-of-interest policy at the college and that SC member should have recused him/herself from the committee for violation of the spirit (if not the letter) of the policy. But that does not give you, the rejected applicant, clear grounds for a lawsuit.

Indeed, even when there is a clear basis for suing, I've urged applicants not to pursue it. Philosophy is a small, gossipy discipline. You could find yourself "blackballed" for the rest of your application attempts, but could likely never prove a thing.

Anonymous said...

Remember that Dick Cheney was the chair of the search committee to pick someone to be George W. Bush's vice presidential running mate. Look how that turned out!

It just sucks ass. You have to move on because there is nothing you can do about it.

Anonymous said...

"What would you do if you discovered that one the finalists for a position was fucking a member of the SC? And had been for several years."

I'm confused. This finalist has been a member of the search committee for years?

Anonymous said...

I had the same initial misread as many of you. "was fucking a member of the SC" means "was having sex with a member of the SC," not "was, darn it, a member of the search committee."

6:05 said...

6:05 here again.

To 9:05 - You don't sound like a dick. I likewise wondered if I was screwing up interviews. I know I performed really poorly in one. However, I asked two of my "inside" sources at other universities to get me information about my performance in other interviews. In both cases, I was told that I performed very well, but the committee was concerned about "fit" for the position. Improving "fit" for yet to be advertised positions, as far as I can tell, is not something I can do in the next few months. If I'm wrong, let me know. So I was wondering what I can improve *on paper*.

As a side note, I find it strange that our profession takes performance in 45 minute interviews so seriously. Why is it that 6+ years of academic work becomes irrelevant after talking to someone for 45 minutes in a stressful setting? If you think this is reasonable, ask yourself whether you think we should make college admissions decisions in the same way. That is, should high school students' GPAs, extra-curricular activities, etc. be ignored after a 45 minute college interview? If they are valuable at all, interviews provide *additional* information, not all the information you would want to know about a person's philosophical ability.

To 11:13 - My program is ranked, but closer to the bottom than to the top.

To 12:15 - Thanks for your help and best wishes. We obviously don't hate you for getting a great job!

Can you say a bit about what you look for in a research statement that provides evidence that the applicant has a "cohesive and large-scale project that "opens up" the field in some way"? That would help me a lot. It seems that many who work at desirable places refuse to identify evidence of research potential with publications in good journals, but it's not super clear to those of us outsiders how research potential is being evaluated.

Anonymous said...

Except that Dick Cheney was Bush's choice despite his not having been on the list that Cheney's search committee had come up with.

Anonymous said...

3:34 - Ha! In that case, I don't think it's a problem. If it is, we better make sure we end the practice of spousal hires (unless they can prove they aren't fucking each other).

Anonymous said...

You have to be a complete fucking dick to think that a reply is not a "real" publication.

Publication is an imperfect measure for projecting future publications. To get tenure you need original articles, not replies. So, a published reply is worth (and should be worth) quite little.

Anonymous said...

"As a side note, I find it strange that our profession takes performance in 45 minute interviews so seriously. Why is it that 6+ years of academic work becomes irrelevant after talking to someone for 45 minutes in a stressful setting?"

---It doesn't become irrelevant. That's what got you in the door. It was very relevant in getting you the interviews. But at that point, assume that all the other candidates are equally credentialed and qualified.

If you think this is reasonable, ask yourself whether you think we should make college admissions decisions in the same way.

---Bad analogy. Getting a job is not like being accepted to school.

That is, should high school students' GPAs, extra-curricular activities, etc. be ignored after a 45 minute college interview? If they are valuable at all, interviews provide *additional* information, not all the information you would want to know about a person's philosophical ability."

---That's exactly what the interviews are providing: additional information. It's not *all* the information SCs want to know. They already have the entirely of your application, which got you the interview.

Anonymous said...

Having served on search committees, I think people are underestimating the fact that some publications can actually *hurt* you, namely papers published in journals that aren't top tier. IMHO, grad students should not attempt to publish in anything but the very best journals. Which are those?

Phil Review, J Phil, Mind, Nous, PPR, AJP, Phil. Studies, Phil. Quarterly, Analysis, Phil. Imprint, and the top specialist journal(s) in your subfield.

If you have publications in the above journals, you could also probably publish in the following journals without penalty:

Phil. Compass, Analytic Phil., Synthese, Erkenntnis, Dialectica, Monist, and the good-but-not best specialty journal(s) in your subfield.

I'd be careful here though. I know of people who have CVs full of publications only from these journals and can't find jobs. Once you start getting into APQ, PPQ, Southern Journal of Phil., Midwest Studies, etc. you're well into the "keep out" territory. Grad students should go by the following rule: if you can't get it published in one of the top ten journals, then maybe it shouldn't be published.

Mr. Zero said...

Grad students should go by the following rule: if you can't get it published in one of the top ten journals, then maybe it shouldn't be published.

I find it difficult to believe that you believe that.

Anonymous said...

Well, one thing that helps is having a PhD from Rutgers or NYU.

Newsflash: this year, having a PhD from NYU or Rutgers doesn't mean jack shit.

Anonymous said...

1:47 is absolutely right. The issue is quality, not quantity. It is better to not publish than to publish in a venue that signals low quality.

This may not be generally true. But it is true for the top departments (or at least I know of many places where it is true--I am an SC member at a top 20 dept and know many others who are as well).

Anonymous said...

I second (third, whatever) a plan B thread. (Indeed, I'd love to share my story!)

I think it would also be good for the field at large to recognize the scope of the problem. I think a lot of currently employed profs think that those not getting jobs really are the middling-to-low talent philosophers. But hearing about folks with multiple pubs and a book deal and still not getting even a fly out-- that's nuts.

Some concentrated awareness campaign is needed. Even if it's just a web page posted short cvs of everyone who is leaving philosophy. Yes, this would be painful to do, and maybe burn some bridges-- but I think that would be outweighed by the awareness it would bring.

Mr. Zero said...

Hi 7:30,

1:47 is absolutely right.

I don't agree. I think 1:47's remarks are absurd on a variety of levels.

For one thing, graduate students are being trained. They are in training. The idea that it is reasonable to expect people who are in training to place their work in top-ten journals, as a condition of future employment, is absurd.

For another thing, many of those journals have near-infinitesimal acceptance rates. The fact that you got your paper into APQ but not Nous or wherever isn't evidence of anything. It's definitely not evidence that your work is generally of poor quality.

For another thing, 1:47 claims that people who are in training should think that if they can't get their work into a top-ten journal then it isn't worth publishing at all. This claim is absurd for people who aren't in training. It's particularly absurd for people who are.

For another thing, according to this, APQ and PPQ are the #13 and #14 general journals. And according to this, Utilitas (#4) and Journal of Ethics (#5) are among the best journals in the subfield of ethics. The Journal of Value Inquiry (#8) would, I suppose, be a "good but not best" journal in ethics. 1:47's remarks imply that it would be better to publish in those specialty journals than APQ or PPQ. That a paper in Utilitas or JoE, or even JVI will help you, but a paper in PPQ or APQ will hurt you. That's ridiculous.

The inclusion of Midwest Studies as a paradigm "keep out" journal is interesting, since publication in Midwest Studies is by invitation only and they don't accept submissions at all. Now, I think peer-reviewed publications look better than invited publications, and if a lot of your publications are invited, then it sort of looks like you can't get your stuff past the referees. And it's been a while since MS has been as good as it was. But the idea that you'd put somebody in the "no" pile because of a paper in Midwest Studies is crazy.

I agree with you when you say that "It is better to not publish than to publish in a venue that signals low quality." But that's not what 1:47 said. 1:47 made several specific and amazingly implausible proposals about which venues are acceptable and which ones aren't. Those proposals are what I object to, not the general and sensible advice you advocate.

Anonymous said...

I've had 4 interviews, one on campus, no offer this year. I feel horrible, but people keep on telling me "don't despair - you didn't do bad at all - most people have NO interviews". But is that true? It would be useful to see if the median no of interviews is indeed close to zero, and also how interviews, on campuses etc. are spread. Anecdotally, I know people who got lots of interviews (6 or 7), several on campuses and an offer, people who had a sprinkling of interviews and no offer, and people with no interviews whatsoever. An editable table or wiki could pool such information from anonymous submitters.

Anonymous said...

I'm 1:47.

I didn't mean to suggest that: it's true that (if you can't publish it in a top ten journal, then it shouldn't be published at all). That's clearly false -- there are tons of excellent papers in non-top ten journals that definitely deserve to be published. I just meant to suggest that: it would be wise for grad students to operate by the corresponding rule.

The inclusion of Midwest Studies was a mistake -- I was forgetting that it's invitation only. And there's no good general rule about speciality journals vs general journals. These things will vary by speciality, and sometimes publishing a paper, say, in a non-top logic journal is really the only option for a very strong, very deserving paper in logic.

The main thing is this: not just any publication is going to count in your favour. In fact, the only way to be sure the publication will count in your favour is to only publish in the very best places. Where's the cut off? Well, that might vary depending on the kind of job you want. But if you want an R1 job, then I'd highly recommend following the advice I gave.

Anonymous said...

Zero is right at 8:27. Speaking as the one who originally started talking about bean-counting and quality vs. quantity, I would put the advice differently: not Don't publish unless it's in top journals but Produce stuff that's really interesting, and hangs together and makes a big overall contribution, as opposed to stuff that just fills out a CV. That's the real upshot of the comment from 12:15 on 2/20, and it certainly resonates with my own experience.

Anonymous said...

1:47 again.

I also meant to say that you might take issue with the distinction between second-tier and third-tier journals that I gave. Fine. The distinction between second-tier (maybe publish there) and third-tier (stay away) is blurry; as is the distinction between first- and second-tier journals. It's not that there are hard and fast lines -- but because there aren't hard and fast lines, one would be wise to err on the side of caution when submitting.

***Note: I am not endorsing this as a measure of a candidate's CV in a job search. I'm just reporting the fact that a lot of people *do* use something like this as a measure, and so grad students ought to be aware.

Anonymous said...

On 1:47's comment:

As a grad student at a highly ranked dept., I can report that 1:47's advice is quite similar to what we're told.

As a quick response to Mr. Zero, I suspect that if I asked my advisors, I'd be advised to publish neither in Utilitas nor in the Journal of Ethics. I suspect by "top journals in your subfield" 1:47 meant top 1 or 2. At least given the advice we get, ethicists would probably be advised to only try for Ethics and PPA, in addition to the top generalist journals.

Is this crazy? I don't know. But if it's the advice that people get at top programs (and I've heard from folks at other top programs that this is what they're told too), it likely reflects the way a lot of search committees think--even search committees not at top programs are often composed of people who went to such programs.

So one may have some reason to follow the advice even if one thinks it's stupid. Of course, following it is a high risk strategy, since it's likely to leave you with no publications.

Mr. Zero said...

Hi 1:47,

Maybe you didn't mean to suggest that "it's true that (if you can't publish it in a top ten journal, then it shouldn't be published at all)." But what you said was, here's a rule for grad students: "if you can't get it published in one of the top ten journals, then maybe it shouldn't be published." I mean, maybe that P is a rule for grad students doesn't imply that P is true. I feel like we're parsing things pretty hard here, but I guess that's something you could have meant.

But I would have thought that the standards for established professionals would have to be higher than the standards for trainees; I don't see how it makes any sense to hold grad students to higher standards than established professionals. So it seems to me that if you accept the view that this is a good rule for grad students, then you are committed to the view that it's a good rule in general. That is, I don't see how it makes any sense to say that this is a good rule for grad students but isn't generally true.

But I don't even think it's a good rule just for grad students. Especially not when you fill it out with your examples. APQ and PPQ are A-level journals. They're just outside the top ten. They're not "third tier." They beat the Monist on Leiter's poll (#15), which you specifically mention as a journal you can probably publish in without penalty. Your hierarchy makes no sense.

Hi 9:44,

As a quick response to Mr. Zero, I suspect that if I asked my advisors, I'd be advised to publish neither in Utilitas nor in the Journal of Ethics. I suspect by "top journals in your subfield" 1:47 meant top 1 or 2.

That might be true. But on that interpretation, looking at the PEA Soup data I linked to earlier, Utilitas (#4, with a score of 5.8; the #3 journal, Social Philosophy and Policy, earns a score of 6.0) would have to fall into 1:47's "good-but-not best specialty journal(s)"--or else there aren't any such journals in ethics. And if Utilitas is a GBNB specialty journal, then 1:47 is telling us that a publication there is better than a publication in PPQ or APQ. Maybe you should stay away from Utilitas--I don't know. But the idea that PPQ or APQ will hurt you while Utilitas will not is crazy.

And I just think that entire attitude is nuts. Lots of good work has appeared in Utilitas and JoE, not to mention APQ and . I guess grad students should know that there are super snobby people who will hold it against you if your work shows up in places like that, but I think that (a) these people need to be discouraged whenever possible, and (b) you can't plan your life around what the snobbiest jerks are going to say about you.

Anonymous said...

Anon 12:15 here.

> Produce stuff that's really interesting, and hangs together and makes a big overall contribution, as opposed to stuff that just fills out a CV. That's the real upshot of the comment from 12:15 on 2/20, and it certainly resonates with my own experience.

> To 12:15 - Can you say a bit about what you look for in a research statement that provides evidence that the applicant has a "cohesive and large-scale project that "opens up" the field in some way"?

I guess here's the best concrete advice I can give. Look at the CV's of people in the kinds of departments you want to be in, 6 years after they start their job. Then think about what it would take for you to have made that kind of contribution in 6 years. Most of the work that you do as an assistant professor (that gets you tenure) is work that comes directly from your dissertation or from ideas that you began working on in grad school. We hire people that we can expect will be like those people in 6 years. And while I think there is some noise -- and, as I said, there are a lot of great people out there -- I also think that in general we can tell from a candidate's application if she has a good chance of being that person. So, the advice is: shape your career, your projects, your publishing, etc., towards being that person, and your research statement, writing samples, and letters of recommendation will naturally reflect that.

(N.B. Don't look at assistant professors 2-4 years into their jobs, because you can't tell from their current publication record what their application looked like. Once you have your job you have 5-6 years to publish your work, and sometimes the best strategies for doing so involve not having a lot of payoff in the first few years.)

Again, this isn't to say anything against people who didn't get jobs this year. I am also not trying to *defend* our hiring practices here, although I do think they are defensible. I'm just trying to help you for the future!

Also, about publications in non-'top' journals: I think the reason that SCs often ignore them (meaning, they don't help or hurt) is this. The role they play in one's life as a professor is that you publish in them when you "merely" have a point to contribute to an existing debate. That is professionally very important, but not evidence that you will be "that person" discussed above -- it is not evidence of a rich and deep individual research program. (Except, of course, when it is: but that should be obvious from how everything hangs together.)

Also, again, I am only speaking from the perspective of an assistant professor at a top 20 place. Others will have to decide whether my advice applies to other types of institutions as well.

Anonymous said...

Mr. Zero,

You say:
But I would have thought that the standards for established professionals would have to be higher than the standards for trainees; I don't see how it makes any sense to hold grad students to higher standards than established professionals.

What one is looking for is potential. One expects that a grad student will have done quite a bit of work writing a dissertation. Typically, early publications are the fruit of that work. If years of work produce only articles that can be published in mid-level journals that says something about your potential. I don't think that this is unreasonable. No one is saying that publishing in such journals is objectively bad for either grad students or established professors. But you are just mistaken to think that what is being evaluated when one evaluates a grad student for a job is the same as what is being evaluated when one evaluates an established professor.

Also, you say:
I guess grad students should know that there are super snobby people who will hold it against you if your work shows up in places like that, but I think that (a) these people need to be discouraged whenever possible, and (b) you can't plan your life around what the snobbiest jerks are going to say about you.


I think it is quite uncharitable to attribute these views to super-snobbery. Perhaps one can't plan one's life around such individuals. But one can and should listen to the advice of those sitting on the SCs of top departments. We can be unimpressed with publications in certain journals (given that there are many others who publish in the top journals) without being snobs.

Anonymous said...

As a graduate of a Leiter-riffic department who's now an assistant prof at a Leiter-ranked institution, I can say that the advice on publishing only in the top journals seems on target. This is how many people at highly ranked programs think. The idea is something like this:

We're looking for someone who can publish in the very top journals.

The best evidence of this is actually publishing in those journals. That's why it's good to have a publication in those journals as a grad student.

However, publishing in a mid-level journal is often interpreted as evidence that you cannot (currently) publish in the best journals. After all, you probably tried the best journals first.

And then, to complete the argument, there’s a somewhat irrational assumption: lack of evidence that you can publish in the best journals (i.e., no publications) is taken as superior to actual evidence that you cannot publish in the best journals (i.e., publications in mid-range journals). I suppose it’s easier to imagine that someone’s capable of X when you have no evidence than when you have even the slightest evidence that they’re not capable of X.

Not defending this. Just saying that in my experience it’s true.

Anonymous said...

But I would have thought that the standards for established professionals would have to be higher than the standards for trainees; I don't see how it makes any sense to hold grad students to higher standards than established professionals.

Tim Williamson can publish in East Timorian Journal of Obscure Philosophy and his piece will still get read. That doesn't mean the rest of us should try to publish in ETJOP. Tim Williamson also already has a job. We don't.

Anonymous said...

Mr Zero keeps harping on 1:45's journal rankings as not including PPQ and APQ but potential including some random specialty journals. I think Mr Zero is missing the point.

Pick whatever journal rankings you like. The farther down the list you go, the more likely the publication won't count in your favor. The advice being given is just that one ought to avoid publishing in places that aren't universally regarded as high quality. I don't see how that's controversial advice at all.

Anonymous said...

As someone who was on a search committee this season (for a leiter-certified top 20 university), let me try to defend the reserve we felt about people with many publications in midling journals.

There are some philosophers who will take good but not fully mature ideas, and publish them - typically in midling journals, because top tier journals won't accept such papers.

Then there are philosophers who have the patience and judgment to let good (but not fully mature) ideas gestate for a while, and hopefully turn into great ideas. These philosophers are even willing to abandon lines of thought that don't meet this higher standard.

I want to hire philosophers in the second group, and not the first group. But having a bunch of papers in midling journals makes me think that a candidate is in the first group, and not the second.

Of course, one always has to read the papers, but hopefully the general idea is clear.

Mr. Zero said...

Hi 11:44,

If years of work produce only articles that can be published in mid-level journals that says something about your potential. I don't think that this is unreasonable.

I think it's unreasonable. It would be one thing if you'd gathered some empirical data, and if this empirical data established that there is a connection between placing work one produced while in training in, say, APQ, and being unable to ever do better. But I would be very surprised if you, or 1:47, or anyone else had done that work. And I think the suggestion that APQ is a mid-level journal is unreasonable.

I understand that top programs want someone who has published in Nous, so if you want a top program to hire you, you should probably be someone who has published in Nous. That seems totally reasonable, and I can't imagine anyone
disputing it. But that's not what 1:47 says. 1:47 says that if you can't get it into a top-ten journal--if the best you can do is a top-13 journal--it will hurt you and you shouldn't publish it.

No one is saying that publishing in such journals is objectively bad for either grad students or established professors.

1:47 says, "some publications can actually *hurt* you, namely papers published in journals that aren't top tier. IMHO, grad students should not attempt to publish in anything but the very best journals. ... Grad students should go by the following rule: if you can't get it published in one of the top ten journals, then maybe it shouldn't be published."

Maybe I'm fuzzy on the whole "good/bad" thing, but 1:47 is saying that it can hurt you, as in keep you from getting a job, and that you shouldn't do it. To my ear, that doesn't have the ring of a positive, or even neutral, evaluation. To me, it sounds bad.

We can be unimpressed with publications in certain journals (given that there are many others who publish in the top journals) without being snobs.

Ok. But I don't see how you can think that "keep-out territory" starts in the top-15 of general journals without being a snob, and I don't see how you can think that APQ is in "keep-out territory" while the Monist is fine without being an ill-informed snob.

Hi 1:19,

I think Mr Zero is missing the point. ...The farther down the list you go, the more likely the publication won't count in your favor.

I agree with that point. But again, that's not what 1:47 said. 1:47 said that going outside of the top ten will look bad. That it would be better not to have them at all than to have publications outside the top ten. 1:47 buttressed this claim with specific examples. How is it missing the point to asses the examples?

I mean, look. It would be one thing if 1:47 had said, try to publish in top-ten journals. Publications in the top ten are golden, and the farther away from the top ten you get, the less valuable they are. That's fine. But 1:47 didn't say that. 1:47 said, publish only in the top ten. Publications outside the top ≈ten are harmful, not valuable. And then, here are some examples: Southern Journal (which I agree with--publishing there won't help), Midwest Studies (which is invitation-only), and then APQ and PPQ (both of which are right in the neighborhood of some other journals that he/she says are okay, such as The Monist).

So, I totally agree with you that if you ignore what 1:47 actually said and pretend like he/she said this other, less specific, much more reasonable thing, 1:47 is pretty reasonable. But I don't see why it's missing the point to attend to the actual details of 1:47's actual claims.

Mr. Zero said...

Hi 4:36,

I like your way of approaching the issue. Allow me to take a little license with your comment here, and interpret it in light of what 1:47 has said. But I just want to be clear that I'm not trying to mangle your views or put words in your mouth.

You say, There are some philosophers who will take good but not fully mature ideas, and publish them - typically in midling journals... Then there are philosophers who have the patience and judgment to let good ... ideas gestate for a while, and hopefully turn into great ideas. These philosophers are even willing to abandon lines of thought that don't meet this higher standard.

I would quibble in the following ways. 1. I don't think that the "middling" journals start at APQ or PPQ, or even JoE. I think that JoE is clearly second-tier, but not mediocre. 2. I don't think that these categories are mutually exclusive. It's not as though there are two kinds of philosopher: the kind who would allow their work to appear in Utilitas, and the good kind. There are lots of good philosophers whose work has appeared in Utilitas and places like it, even if their best work appeared elsewhere. 3. There are lots of really good, important papers that appeared in second-tier journals such as JoE, Utilitas and others.

But I don't disagree with you at all when you say, "having a bunch of papers in midling journals makes me think that a candidate is in the first group, and not the second."

And I very much like that you say "Of course, one always has to read the papers".

Anonymous said...

For what it's worth, I have come across more than one CV by big name people who published mainly in second and third rate journals their first few years out of graduate school (before they worked their way to top journals). I have also read a lot of real trash in top journals lately. So while a lot is made of what is published where, I don't think placing articles in top journals is all that indicative of quality OR promise.

Anonymous said...

I think someone here got a paper published in APQ and is getting a little bit too defensive.

Anonymous said...

To Mr. Zero:

If you don't see second-tier as synonymous with mediocre, then I think you're just talking past the original commentator. Phil Studies is mediocre. That's the standard in this kind of market.

To Top 20 committee member:

I can see why you think that, but I think there's a mistake in assuming that good philosophy comes only one way. I think letting good ideas gestate into a great one is one way. But another one is publishing and experimenting and gradually refining. For somewhat of a comparison, see http://www.amazon.com/Old-Masters-Young-Geniuses-Creativity/dp/0691133808

Mr. Zero said...

If you don't see second-tier as synonymous with mediocre, then I think you're just talking past the original commentator. Phil Studies is mediocre. That's the standard in this kind of market.

I don't know. I assume you're referring to 1:47, but 1:47 specifically mentioned Phil Studies as a first-tier, top-flight, doesn't-hurt-to-publish-there journal. It's not mediocre by that standard. Nor is it the kind of middling journal 4:36 is talking about: too many papers in Phil Studies isn't evidence that you're the kind of person who takes good but half-baked ideas and publishes them before they're ready.

I mean, you're not going to get a job in a top Ph.D. program on the strength of a paper in Phil Studies, but neither would it be sensible to advise someone that if Phil Studies is the best they can do, then they're better off not publishing the paper.

Anonymous said...

1:47 here again.

Let me reiterate my intended advice for the sake of grad students who might get sidetracked by Mr. Zero's quibbling and pettifogging objections.

Make a list of the ideal 10-15 journals you want to publish in. Then *don't submit anywhere else* until you get a job.

Your list doesn't have to be my list. But it should roughly correspond to typical journal rankings. (For example, I included the Monist, since it regularly publishes focuses issues on specific topics -- I think if you're working on that topic, it would be good to publish in them. But if you think it's mediocre, leave it off!) Mr Zero can continue to hold his one-sided conversation about my actual ranking, and can call me an "ignorant snob" or whatever. But I'm just informing you that if you have lots of publications in second-tier journals, you *will* get passed over for someone who has somewhat less publications only in top tier journals

Anonymous said...

Here's an interesting possibility: What if (a) search committees at leiteriffic depts throw you out of the pile if you publish in second-tier journals (because they assume you're not good enough for them), but (b) search committees at sub-leiteriffic depts throw you out of the pile if you publish in top-tier journals (because they assume they assume you're too good for them).

If that were true--and I think it might actually be roughly true--then you should definitely avoid having publications in both top-tier and second-tier journals. You risk getting thrown out of everyone's pile! And probably the vast majority of us should be shooting for publishing in second-tier journals, because the vast majority of us cannot get a job in a leiteriffic dept.

Anonymous said...

I wouldn't go so far as to say that it is positively harmful, but (having published in it recently myself) Phil. Studies strikes me as a very good example of a journal where publishing in it is not necessarily going to do much to help distinguish you as an applicant. If it's journals of this sort that people have in mind when they say "I have N publications in top-tier journals but only got one fly-out", then I am not surprised by this at all. Of course Phil. Studies publishes some things that are very good, but then it's the quality of the publication that matters, not the outlet itself: and one thing certainly worth noting is that if you have LOTS of publications in journals like this, that certainly pegs you as more of a quantity person than a quality one. Much better for your career prospects (and also for the health of the discipline!) to have one substantial, ambitious paper in the Phil Review/J-Phil/Mind/Nous/PPR/excellent specialist journal nexus than seven or eight narrow ones in journals like Phil Studies.

Anonymous said...

There are some philosophers who will take good but not fully mature ideas, and publish them - typically in midling journals, because top tier journals won't accept such papers.

Then there are philosophers who have the patience and judgment to let good (but not fully mature) ideas gestate for a while, and hopefully turn into great ideas. These philosophers are even willing to abandon lines of thought that don't meet this higher standard.

I want to hire philosophers in the second group, and not the first group. But having a bunch of papers in midling journals makes me think that a candidate is in the first group, and not the second.


I understand this reasoning, but the philosophers who seem to lack the desired patience and judgment might actually have these virtues yet really want a job in philosophy, and know that for most jobs it's more important to publish than to publish in top ten journals. By all means favor candidates who have published in better places, and ignore publications in middling (or worse) journals, but to hold some publications against people seems cruel.

Anonymous said...

new jfp is up. and it sucks.

Anonymous said...

My god.

Our discipline is pretty messed up.

On the bright side, threads like this make me very thankful to have my ever-so-mediocre non-Leiterific job.

Anonymous said...

Given the importance of publication the the top journals, I have a request: Please recuse yourself if you have already refereed and rejected a paper and you happen to get asked to review it again. You don't need to give a reason. In fact, please don't. Give the paper a chance. Don't be a tyrant.

Anonymous said...

new jfp is up. and it sucks.

This is a serious understatement. Bring on the Plan B thread please! I'd love to hear from philosophers with non-academic jobs or who know people (of any humanities discipline) who managed to get jobs outside of academia.

I'm feeling entirely shittastic as I head to my adjunct gig. Today's lecture: Prinz's Genealogy of Morals and Cultural Relativism. Normally a fun talk (incest and cannibalism, how can you go wrong?) but today...today I feel like shit.

Mr. Zero said...

Mr. Zero's quibbling and pettifogging objections. ... Mr Zero can continue to hold his one-sided conversation about my actual ranking, and can call me an "ignorant snob" or whatever.

Here's what happened. 1:47 posted a comment containing a bunch of advice about where to publish and where not to publish. It contained detailed and specific information about which journals would help your career if you publish there, and which journals will hurt you, and advises grad students that if the paper can't get into a top-ten journal, then they shouldn't bother to publish it.

I pointed out that, on a variety of levels, this advice made no sense. I argue that 1:47 draws the line in the wrong place; that his (I'm going to dispense with the "he/she" stuff) way of relating specialty journals to general ones yields absurd comparisons; that his list contains prestigious, invitation-only journals that you can't submit to anyway; that it doesn't make sense for SCs to regard publications outside the top-ten as reflecting negatively on work completed while the person was being trained; that you wouldn't think any less of an established professional who submitted to Philosophical Topics, for example, so it doesn't make sense to think less of a grad student who does the same thing.

Then a number of other people, including 1:47 himself, took issue with a number of these objections. Many of these people proposed interpretations of 1:47's remarks that they thought were more sensible than the way I was interpreting him. I thought that a lot of these interpretations were highly reasonable; in several cases, I explicitly agreed with the reformulated views; my only quibble was with whether it was reasonable to attribute the reformulations to 1:47.

I realize, of course, that top programs want the best people, and that they have every right to do that. And in the market we're in, the best people coming out of grad school have already published in the top journals, and so the top programs can afford to focus their attention on people who have done this. And so, in this market, if APQ or Phil Studies is the best you've done, you're not going to get their attention. I think you can believe all that without being a snob; I believe all that, and I don't think I'm a snob.

But if you think that a paper in Phil Studies or APQ or someplace literally looks bad on the CV; that it reflects poorly on the candidate; that it conveys negative information about the person's talent or potential for future scholarship; that if that's the best you can do, then the idea wasn't worth publishing; if you think that, then you are a snob. And if you think that The Monist is fine but APQ is unacceptable; or that you can submit papers to Midwest Studies; or that something like Utilitas is better than something like PPQ; or that a grad student would be well-advised to decline an invitation from Midwest Studies; if you think that, then, at the very least, your views are at variance with those of the discipline at large. I am comfortable calling you "ill-informed."

Anonymous said...

>I realize, of course, that top programs want the best people, and that they have every right to do that


Phew. I wasn't sure I was allowed to want the best candidates. But now I have every right to do so! Thanks Mr. Zero!

Sincerely,
A top 20 snob.

Mr. Zero said...

And I'm the quibbling pettifogger.

Anonymous said...

I think someone here got a paper published in APQ and is getting a little bit too defensive.

Ziiiiiiing.

Anonymous said...

I have a related question. Suppose one has had a submission under review at a fairly well-ranked journal in the paper's area for just about 6 months. And suppose the advertised turnaround time on reviews is >6 months (with the possibility of rejection without comments in the first 2-3). When, if ever, is it appropriate to contact the journal and ask after the status of the paper? And, assuming the paper will be rejected, does the fact it has been under review for basically the maximum amount of time in any way entitle me to relatively helpful comments? This is my first submission to any journal and I appreciate any advice you might have.

Anonymous said...

"I mean, you're not going to get a job in a top Ph.D. program on the strength of a paper in Phil Studies..."

Yeah, this is an understatement. You may not even get an interview, even with additional pubs.

"Much better for your career prospects (and also for the health of the discipline!) to have one substantial, ambitious paper in the Phil Review/J-Phil/Mind/Nous/PPR/excellent specialist journal nexus than seven or eight narrow ones in journals like Phil Studies."

Yeah, that's super. J-Phil is non-blind and can take over a year to reach a verdict. Mind is infamous for sometimes taking well over a year to reach a verdict. PPR and Nous have both reached, by their own admission, "miniscule" acceptance rates, and they regularly have 6-month moratoriums on new submissions. Finally, some of the sharpest and most distinguished full professors I know have never published anything in Phil Review.

So all I have to do is write an outstanding dissertation while teaching 20-80 students every semester, and manage to get an article accepted at one of the aforementioned places while I'm still in training (thank you, Mr. Zero), and have them actually make a decision by the time I'm on the market.

I have to agree with Zero about the snobbery evidenced in some of the standards that are being touted here. But thankfully, I am not aiming for a job at a Leiterrific university, and would be happy working at a state school or SLAC with a 3/3. In fact, that might be welcoming, since many professors at those places actually care more about their students and teaching than about their narrow and selfish research agendas.

Anonymous said...

I had a similar thought as 2/23 8:19. In particular, I was a bit scared by the reportedly common assumption that one's non-top-five pubs must have been rejected by the top-fives. 2/21 12:21 puts the assumption as follows (without necessarily endorsing it): "After all, you probably tried the best journals first."

One reason this is a poor assumption is that the top five have the drawbacks that 8:19 mentions. I have first hand evidence of a positive, original phil. studies pub that was never submitted to any other journal, largely for the reasons 8:19 notes. And I imagine the same goes for many positive pubs at AJP, PQ, Imprint, etc. that have appeared post-2009 (though perhaps not APQ, PPQ, etc.--I don't know).

Anonymous said...

@819

The problem is that standards for SLACS or ...LACS(?) or even state schools without any reputation whatsoever in philosophy are not really that much lower. Take my anecdotal evidence for what it's worth:

I'm adjuncting at a large state school without any graduate programs in philosophy. They offer a BA only but the university itself is not a Liberal Arts College.

This department had a tenure stream job advertised in the JFP. They received many applications of course but here's the kicker:

ALL of the finalists had at least a half dozen publications (most in very good journals and in some cases far more than a half dozen), book manuscripts, and were several years removed from their PhD.

THESE are the people you're competing against for almost every job you apply for. Of course this is just one datapoint but the pool of applicants is years deep at this point.

Anonymous said...

A common claim being made here is this:

Everyone has publications in super awesome journals. So to get a job you need to have publications in the very very best journals.

I do ethics. When I look at the hiring thread on Leiter Reports and when I google the ethicists who have been hired, it seems that many of them have publications in so so journals and some have a publication in a super awesome journal and none/or few have any publications in the very very best journals. It seems to me that this casts doubt on the claim that to get a job you have to publish in the very very best journals.

Anonymous said...

8:19 here.

@12:34

You are correct. In the past two years, I know of at least two people from my university who landed good TT ethics jobs their first years on the market, without having pubs in top or even second-tier journals.

@10:46

This is helpful info. Believe me, I am under no delusions that will have an easy time getting any kind of job. But at least the state universities and SLACs are probably less likely to demand that interviewees have a top 5 publication. I think I would have a much easier time getting half a dozen pubs in middling to second-tier journals than one pub in a top 5...I'm partway there already.

@10:06

I completely agree. I have a Phil Studies that was not submitted anywhere else first. Why didn't I submit it elsewhere first? Because I didn't feel like waiting around for a year to get a rejection from a journal with a miniscule acceptance rate.

Anonymous said...

About the importance of pedigree and publications for getting a job at regional state schools and SLACS (or otherwise non-R1 schools):

This is my second year on the market. Ph.D. near the bottom of the PGR. I have no pubs, just some papers under review, and I have several prestigious conference presentations.

Last year I got 3 APA interviews, no on-campus. No offer.

This year I got 3 APA interviews, one on-campus, but no offer.

Now, I didn't get a job, But I am competing with moderate pedigree and no pubs. ALL of my interviews were with regional state schools (4) and SLACs (2). My one on-campus was with a SLAC. At the first round interviews with these places, with the exception of one of the SLACs (it was a top tier one), nearly ALL of the interview was about teaching.

In any case, this gives me reason to believe that it is possible to compete for non-R1 jobs without top pubs and without Ph.D. granting institution pedigree. My hope is that next year I'll have two or three pubs and be in a better position, but I am under no delusions about this. It's a crap shoot, of course, no matter what.

In any case I thought people might find my own case interesting.

Anonymous said...

12:34: The claim isn't that one *needs* a publication in a top-tier journal to get an excellent job. Rather, the claim is that publications in lesser journals are not likely to do much to help, and that quality (plus a whole that is more than the sum of its parts).

8:19: I am one of the "snobs" you are complaining about. I teach a 4-3 load at a no-name SLAC, and care a great deal about my students, even when this comes at the expense of my narrow research program.

Mr. Zero said...

Hi 4:22,

The claim isn't that one *needs* a publication in a top-tier journal to get an excellent job.

I agree with you there.

Rather, the claim is that publications in lesser journals are not likely to do much to help...

I don't agree, at least if 12:34 is talking about 1:47 et al. If 1:47 et al. had made the claim you describe, we wouldn't be having this discussion, because nobody would have disagreed. I wouldn't have, anyway.

As I understand things, 12:34 is talking about people who were saying something much stronger: publications in journals outside the top 10 or so will hurt you. Not merely that they are unlikely to be helpful, but that they are harmful. 1:47's claim, then, is that you must, indeed, be published in a top-tier journal to get a job. And not only that, but you also must not have any harmful publications outside the top tier.

I am one of the "snobs" you are complaining about. I teach a 4-3 load at a no-name SLAC, and care a great deal about my students, even when this comes at the expense of my narrow research program.

I could be missing something, but I'm not sure you've understood what kind of snob 8:19 is complaining about. As I read the comment, if you are a snob at all, you are the kind of snob 8:19 would like to be. And since 8:19 was voicing agreement with my own complaints about snobs, I'll say that you don't seem to be the kind of snob I was complaining about, either. I wasn't complaining about people who say, You don't need a top-ten publication to get a good job, but it helps; but publishing in lesser places is less likely to help.

I was complaining about the kind of snob who says that publishing outside the top ten is bad; that will hurt you with potential employers; that doing so while ABD will be seen as evidence that you lack talent and are unlikely to develop talent; that if you can't get your idea into a top-ten journal then it's not worth publishing.

That is, what I object to is the unrealistic and harmful suggestion that jobs in the very best research departments are the only jobs worth having, and that if something won't get you a job in one of those departments, then it's not worth doing.

Although the people who espouse this view are undoubtedly snobs, you don't seem to be espousing anything close to this. Frankly, I remain unconvinced of your snobbery.

4:22 again said...

Zero, thanks for your clarification. I agree with everything you say -- *especially* the penultimate paragraph!

To clarify, though, to the extent that this discussion has been a response to questions of the form "I have 7 publications in good journals but ...", it really is important for people to know that if you are seeking R1 jobs, then the quality of your publications often matters a great deal more than the number of them.

Anonymous said...

Sorry for double-posting if this has been posted and filed away before. But I had to post it somewhere on this blog. After getting rejected once in December for not being included in their APA interview list, University of Tennessee decided to reject me AGAIN, this time with a vengeance, perhaps to give me closure? I understand that they felt like this might help, but really? Rejecting people twice and rubbing in their faces who got the position that they didn't even get an interview for? A new kind of sadism, perhaps. Thank god I had a tenure-track job, so I am half-tempted to write back and say, "Thanks guys, let me tell you about the awesome job I got..." See below my SECOND rejection letter with inappropriate details. File under: Best PFO ever?

Email from University of Tennessee
Subject: University of Tennessee

[sic] (no salutation)

I write first to thank you for applying for the recently advertised position in the history of modern philosophy with the Department of Philosophy at the University of Tennessee. The search committee was overwhelmed with the number of extremely high quality applications received, yours among them. After careful review of applications, screening and on-campus interviews, we extended an offer to Markus Kohl. Markus has accepted our offer. We are very pleased to be bringing Markus to the Department next fall. But we also feel the cost of hiring Markus – namely that we will not be hiring many other extremely talented philosophers who would bring a great deal to our Department. At least we can take pleasure in the good fortune of the other Departments that will hire the talented philosophers we could not and we can look forward to watching you and the other exceptional applicants flourish in the years to come.



You may be interested to know a bit about the applicant we’ve hired in the history of modern search. Markus Kohl is finishing his Ph.D. at the University of California-Berkeley. He works in the history of philosophy (both ancient and early modern, especially Kant) and in action theory and moral psychology. Markus also has significant interests and expertise in European, especially German, literature and in philosophy and literature. He did undergraduate work at the University of Trier and the University of Munich. He did two masters degrees at Oxford, one in philosophy (the B.Phil.) and one in European Literature (a Master of Studies). He then did doctoral work at Stanford in German Studies before moving to Berkeley to do his Ph.D. in Philosophy. He’s published an essay on Aristotle in Phronesis and an essay on Kafka in Modern Language Review. His dissertation is “Kant on Freedom, Nature and Normativity.” Markus will be joining the Department with Nora Berenstain, who is finishing her Ph.D. at the University of Texas and who we have hired in our philosophy of science search.



Again, on behalf of the search committee and the Department more generally, I want to thank you for your application. We wish you all the best in your job search this year and in your career in the years to come. We hope that we can count you a friend of the UT Department of Philosophy and look forward to our paths crossing again in the future.

Sincerely,



David A. Reidy, J.D., Ph.D.

Professor and Department Head, Philosophy

Adjunct Professor, Political Science

Distinguished Humanities Professor, College of Arts and Sciences

Anonymous said...

After getting rejected once in December for not being included in their APA interview list, University of Tennessee decided to reject me AGAIN, this time with a vengeance, perhaps to give me closure?

I think you're making a big deal out of nothing. I actually appreciated the second letter, even if it was slightly redundant after the "no first-round interview" letter. And, as a tool for gauging my competitiveness on the market, I appreciated the tastefully presented information about the hire.

Perhaps this is your first year on the market. In my view, so many search committees are so bad at notifying candidates (including finalists whom they've invited on campus) that I appreciate the efforts of Prof. Reidy (and occasionally others) to politely notify me of the search's outcome.

Anonymous said...

I'm with 819. This is a case of oversharing and frankly unnecessary second rejection.

If you've already been rejected it gives you nothing to be rejected again. The info is in.

This though:

At least we can take pleasure in the good fortune of the other Departments that will hire the talented philosophers we could not and we can look forward to watching you and the other exceptional applicants flourish in the years to come.

This doesn't make me feel better because it is obviously false. So obviously false they can't possibly mean it.

Anonymous said...

I got the same U of T rejection, and although I was generally very impressed by the way the handled things (they immediately let me know I wasn't selected for on campus shortly after the 1st round interview, instead of letting me hang to dry like some other departments), the following quote (also mentioned earlier here on the thread particularly stung "At least we can take pleasure in the good fortune of the other Departments that will hire the talented philosophers we could not and we can look forward to watching you and the other exceptional applicants flourish in the years to come."
The number of times I've heard from my colleagues and departments that didn't think I was good enough to be a finalist that they are "convinced I will land a TT job soon", "you're close to a permanent position", "you're so talented and have such an impressive CV, I've no doubt you'll get hired soon" etc, etc. God, I'm sick of it. And this is not my first year on the market. They mean well, I'm sure but in a market like this these remarks do come off as condescending and as totally not in touch with the current job situation.

Anonymous said...

I'm on the market for the second time, and my hopes for a job are dwindling. I didn't receive the U of T letter (I didn't apply for that job since it's not my area). So I can't know how I would have reacted to the letter if I had received it. But I don't see anything wrong with the letter as it is reproduced above. More generally, I don't see anything wrong with search committees attempting to offer encouragement to the people that they are rejecting.

If you're on a search committee, you've got one job to offer, but hundreds of people want it and are qualified for it. You can either pretend that only one person was good enough for the job, or you can try to find some way to acknowledge that you're forced to reject a lot of people who are good enough for the job. I think the U of T letter goes the latter route, and I think that's commendable.

Anonymous said...

it seems likely that the second rejection letter was prompted by false comments on the Phylo website, which claimed that the search was 'wired' and designed to pick out an inside candidate.