Wednesday, October 16, 2013

Where da jobs?


I kind of miss the landrush, when we'd all line up and start running when JFP came out. The irregular trickle of jobs just feels less exciting. And perhaps it is creating a false impression that there are fewer jobs this year, because there's no specific deadline for posting them.

-- zombie

57 comments:

Anonymous said...

I hope you're right that this is just an impression. It's been a shitty year for me (AOS: meta-ethics/ethics) this year. Possibly my worst year since 2009.

Anonymous said...

I'd like to hear more why 8:09 thinks it's bad for ethics. My impression is that it's a great year for value-based jobs, especially ethics/applied ethics (compared to other AOSs). It's pretty grim for special sciences, for instance, perhaps apart from cogn sci. The only chance is to go for the general phil sci jobs.

Anonymous said...

"Possibly my worst year since 2009."

Knowing that someone has been active on the market since 2009 is seriously depressing news.

Anonymous said...

It's a terrible year for history. very few jobs, whether ancient or modern.

Anonymous said...

What gives you this impression, 3:!3? My boyfriend is kicking himself for not getting ready to go on the market with his Modern/Kant AOS because it's turned out to be such a good year for it, in his estimation.

Anonymous said...

3:13

I count more than 25 modern ones alone. Is that terrible? Or were you being facetious?

Anonymous said...

On the bright side (for some people) it seems to be a strong year for social/political and continental. I'm in the latter camp, and there are already about twice as many jobs as last year.

Anonymous said...

8:09 here.

@9:14

What I mean is that I, at this point in the job market season, have applied to fewer jobs this year (and have a shorter list) than all other years I can (vaguely) recall.

I realize that this year is sui generis in the sense that we no longer have a JFP where jobs are released all at once so it is possible that I am not searching thoroughly enough (though philjobs, insidehighered, the chroncile, and academicjobsonline are the only places I know of to search).

@9:47

Don't cry for me Argentina! I am currently employed as a professor, I have a long term (renewable 3 year non-tenure track) contract. Still, I have publications, a great teaching record, and service up the wazoo. I think I deserve a tt position (as do many many others who will also, like me, probably not be offered one).

Anonymous said...

I am with 9:14am here. I work in ethics and think this is a sweet year. Best since...well, 2009. Bunch of good colleges, several top places targeting moral philosophy, and a bunch of mid-range research stuff.

Anonymous said...

Uh oh, someone said "deserve" about a TT job. No, you don't.

Anonymous said...

5:38/3:13

I must have overlooked something, and there is some new stuff since I posted (Riverside). 25 would be ok - I had the impression it was less.

Anonymous said...

@1114

What's wrong with saying that you deserve a job? A lot of people deserve jobs. That doesn't mean they'll get them. It's almost like you're trying to be controversial but couldn't quite say it.

Whenever there are fewer jobs than applicants many deserving applicants will fail to land jobs. Many of us on this board among them.

Anonymous said...

@5:38: a good year for Kant!! There is ONE job! Yes, there are a fair number of early modern positions but the number of elligible applicants for those far exceeds the number for just Kant positions (and many of the early modern postings this year are at places that already have a Kant scholar on staff, and are unlikely to hire another. They are probably looking to expand in other areas.) this has been the worst year for Kant...ever? Tell your boyfriend to be glad he's not on the market yet.

Anonymous said...

Question: what does "core areas of analytic philosophy" mean? Metaphysics/epistemology? Or does it include ethics, philosophy of science, etc?

Anonymous said...

I'll have a (crap)shot:
Core: Metaphysics, epistemology, mind, ethics.
The grey zone: language, logic, history, general philosophy of science.
Not-core: applied ethics, special sciences, aesthetics, maths

Anonymous said...

October 18, 2013 at 9:47 AM,

I find it depressing to learn that there are people in our field who are surprised that many people been active on the market since 2009.

Anonymous said...

@:5:38
Yes, that was my impression (I'm 3:13). I found one Kant job, and that is the Toronto one which is out of most people's league (including myself). For Kant this looks like a dreadful year so far. I have the same impression for Ancient.

Anonymous said...

11:48

...because saying that one "deserves" a job makes it seem like one did all that one had to in order to be offered a job, and that if one isn't, then someone has committed an injustice against oneself. That's not true.

If mom says that if I clean my room, then I'll get a cookie, and I clean my room, then I deserve a cookie. No one's promised us jobs after completing a PhD (if they did, then *that's* an injustice, but not getting a job isn't). There's no meritocracy in the job market; no one "deserves" a job.

Many people are worthy of jobs, but no one deserves one. No one is entitled to a TT job.

Anonymous said...

Of course it's not the absolute number of jobs that matters, but the number of jobs relative to the applicant pool. There may be fewer history jobs, but how many untenured real specialists are there specializing in non-normative aspects of Kant? I'd be willing to to bet less than 25.

Anonymous said...

@11:48

Learn to use a dictionary, buddy.

Deserve: "do something or have or show qualities worthy of (a reaction which rewards or punishes as appropriate)."

Anonymous said...

I hate fake Kant specialists.

Anonymous said...

I don't think it's that bad. I'm being a bit picky this year since I've got a pretty good non TT position. (The prospect of earning a bit and having a bit more job security isn't enough to justify moving to a lousier town and having students that aren't nearly as good as the ones I have now.) Anyway, I've still found about 20 jobs to apply for, none of which are that much of a stretch for me. That's comparatively pretty good. Even when I was applying to anything and everything that I had even the vaguest chance at I never found more than something in the high 20s in the October JFP. I think we're forgetting that the original JFP usually tended to be pretty underwhelming, but a lot more jobs popped up in the next two editions.

Anonymous said...

Well listen, 1122 and 849, if you're on the market and you're offered a job, please turn it down. Since you don't think you deserve one, make way for those that do.

If a doctorate followed by years of successful teaching, publications and service is not "doing something" that demonstrates possession of qualities that make one deserving of a tenure track job then I don't know what is.

Have you never served on a committee (deciding an award, say) and found that you had far more deserving candidates than you did awards? Is it really that hard for you to wrap your mind around the idea that there could be deserving people who do not get things they deserve? Is this some sort of self-defense mechanism on your part? I'm happy to believe that you too are likely deserving of things you are unlikely to actually receive. Such is life.

8:49 said...

@10:15

"Well listen, 1122 and 849, if you're on the market and you're offered a job, please turn it down. Since you don't think you deserve one, make way for those that do."

This is 8:49. I agree with you. My comment was meant to be directed at 11:22 not 11:48 (typed the wrong number -- sorry!). My point was that 11:22 is confused about the common usage of "deserve," as indicated by a typical dictionary.

While 11:22 writes that "many people are worthy of jobs, but no one deserves one," the typical dictionary entry suggests that to be worthy of something is to deserve it.

Anonymous said...

This is somewhat of a change in subject, but since when does Interfolio charge $4 per letter it uploads to a school's website?! $6 for the first and $1 for each subsequent letter to the same school was bad enough last year, but $4 each is horrible! I think it is time for the APA to endorse academicjobsonline (free for applicants) instead of price-gouging Interfolio!

Anonymous said...

It's obvious that 11:14 read the word "deserve" as "entitled." No one is entitled to a TT job, but there are many more that deserve a TT job than will get one.

Anonymous said...

Yay! This is my favorite time of year. We have people arguing about whether or not PhD deserve jobs. We have recourse to dictionaries to make points. And we have people asking each other to turn down jobs.

I can't wait until we get to the point where we question each other's abilities as philosophers, make wild assumptions about one another in order to make an argument, and eventually come to the conclusion that this is why nobody likes philosophers.

Keep up the good work. I'm going to get my popcorn.

Anonymous said...

9:16, everything would be fine if only all of the old people would just kill themselves -- I mean, resign.

zombie said...

8:14, if I had to guess, I'd say that Interfolio's revenues are probably down some because of academicjobsonline. I do like very much that some schools are paying the freight for jobs applied through Interfolio. I think I've only paid once this year to have letters sent out.

That said, boo on those schools that are still using their own online application system, and not interfolio or ajo.

Anonymous said...

Re Interfolio: I'm reading job apps right now. (Well, I'm procrastinating from reading job apps right now.) Every single one of them is an utter mess. Materials are in what seems to be random order. Cover letters are buried who knows where. Sometimes the file comes with letters of recommendation at the beginning, sometimes they're at the end, mostly they're split up. I hate to be the bearer of bad news. At least every single app is a relevantly similar mess. I really don't have time to pursue a solution to the problem, but some of you might want to.

Anonymous said...

I'm trying not to use Interfolio for the letters that I have to write for students going on the market. I don't trust that they have adequate measures in place to ensure confidentiality. If they are also generating messes out of the documents (5:14) that's a further mark against them.

Not using Interfolio means a lot more work on my part (sending off letters to individual programs, in most cases), but something I'm willing to do for now.

Anonymous said...

@634

Do you have any reason to think Interfolio has weak confidentiality requirements? I've explicitly asked them about this and they told me that every electronically delivered letter is manually verified to ensure that it is:

1. Going to a university-affiliated email address

2. Not going to the sender's e-mail

So if I were one of your grad students, I shouldn't be able to send them to myself. While I suppose it's possible that I could have them sent to someone at another institution and have them send the letters to me...this kind of mischief seems beyond Interfolio's control.

I, at least, don't know of any reason to be worried about Interfolio for that reason.

Anonymous said...

@12:21AM: It's way more than 25. The North American Kant Society actually keeps data on this. Given the most recent data (on average 70 dissertations on Kant a year, less than 10 Kant positions available a year. To keep the number from artificial inflation, let's assume that only one quarter of those dissertations aren't on Kant's moral philosophy and that all of the Kant jobs are going to non-moral Kantians and that after 5 years without a job people stop applying) there are, At minimum, 40 non-tenured, job seeking Kant scholars who don't work on Kant's ethics. The actual number is likely to be much, much higher. My best guess: somewhere in the 150-200 range.

Hylas said...

6:34 certainly is worried that the candidates s/he's recommending might get a look at his/her letters.
That strikes me as possibly not the best sort of person to have recommending you.

It wouldn't hardly bother me at all if one of my students saw what I wrote. I would just show them, but I think that would be somewhat dishonest, since readers of the letter reasonably expect that its subjects haven't seen it.

Anonymous said...

"While I suppose it's possible that I could have them sent to someone at another institution and have them send the letters to me...this kind of mischief seems beyond Interfolio's control."

I have been in a tenure track job for a few years now, and on a number of occasions I have had people I know (grad students, friends on the market, etc.), send me their letters through Interfolio so that I can read them, and then advise my friends accordingly. I never tell them the details of the letters, nor do I send them copies of the letters, but I do let them know the following:

1. Which, if any, letters should be dumped (because bad letters can sink an applicant)
2. Which, if any, speak directly to teaching
3. What order, in my opinion, they should be ranked for effectiveness (so that if you have 6 total letters, which are the top 3, top 4, etc.).

In my grad program, the placement director did this for us, but not all programs have someone checking. Plus, some of the friends have letters from people outside their programs.

I know that this is not exactly the kind of mischief you were thinking about, but from what I can tell it's becoming more common. And I agree with the poster above, that someone worried about the content of the letters may not be the best person to recommend an applicant for a job. (I cannot think of anything I would write in a letter that I would not share with the applicant, good or bad. Presumably, nothing in the letter of recommendation should be new information for the applicant. If it is, then the person writing the letter has failed as an advisor/mentor/colleague.)

Anonymous said...

@3:34
Perhaps Interfolio has improved, but the assurances they gave you don't address the primary way I've heard the system can be gamed. From what I've been led to understand, folks can have friends at other universities (with academic email addresses) request letters for each other. Unless Interfolio is checking to see whether the folks requesting letters are actually administrating a search then that's not much of a check on the system.

@5:06
Before I agree to write any letter I require students to have a sit down meeting with me were I am very forthright and clear about just what their letter will look like (this holds for grads and undergrads). In some cases I will share it with them, though generally do not. If they ask to see it, I suppose I would share it, though would think that an odd request. I never put anything in a letter that I wouldn't say to their face.

So it's not fear of my students seeing my letters that makes me hesitant to use Interfolio. It's that the letter I'm writing is intended to be confidential, and Interfolio cannot guarantee that. It makes me trust letters I'm getting from Interfolio less, and I want my letters to be trusted and more effective. We, as letter writers, develop reputations as more or less reliable, which can have a direct impact on how effective our letters are for our students. I think Interfolio undermines that reputation for all letter writers, and so won't use it.

Anonymous said...

5:06

I think your second paragraph can be applied to your first. In other words, 6:34 might be worried for reasons having nothing to do with the content of the letter.

hylas said...

I'm not quite getting the response from 8:01 and 6:56.

You mean, the reason you don't want to use interfolio is that search committees are expecting your letter to be confidential, and interfolio can't provide a strong enough guarantee that it will be?

But really, can't you just leave that to the search committee? To refuse to use interfolio to protect *their* interests seems excessively paternalistic.

I fully agree with Anon 6:08, too. It's better if a department has the placement director take care of letter-vetting, but if they don't it seems okay for someone else to do it. (Okay, I stress -- not ideal.)

Anonymous said...

I have know people who send their Interfolio letters to a friend with a university email to review the letters. I have heard of this process uncovering genuine problems with the letters, such as revealing information that is seriously out of date (I recall one letter writer who was asked to update her letter years after originally submitting it failing to amend the section where she referred to the student's projected completion date, so that the letter continued to refer to the future completing date after the student had her PhD). In another case, a student had two letter writers who did not put their letter on university letterhead, which the student in question thought looked bad.

I am a bit hazy on the details, but I recall one of the students in question somehow taking steps to get their referee to fix her letter. Given this outcome, students who do not send their Interfolio letters to anyone to review will potentially be at a disadvantage compared to other job market candidates.

In my view, students from PhD program without a placement director looking at their letters would be justified in asking someone else to do so in order to overcome this disadvantage. Admittedly it is not an ideal outcome. But it does not seem fair that some candidates should have the benefit of letter review while others do not.

Anonymous said...

"It makes me trust letters I'm getting from Interfolio less, and I want my letters to be trusted and more effective."

Can you explain this?

Why do you trust confidential letters more than letters that are not confidential? I guess what I'm asking here, what is confidentiality protecting?

Are we worried that grad students, with all their power an influence, will be influencing such letters? Are we worried that faculty will suddenly lose the ability to be objective when they share these letters with students?

I've always believed that confidentiality exists in order to protect the letters writers, and allow them to sink applicants they are too cowardly to deal with in person. I fail to see how confidentiality serves either search committees or applicants.

philonous said...

I've always believed that confidentiality exists in order to protect the letters writers, and allow them to sink applicants they are too cowardly to deal with in person. I fail to see how confidentiality serves either search committees or applicants.

Confidentiality is to increase the chance of getting an honest assessment from a letter-writer. Many people feel uncomfortable saying anything even mildly negative about a student who is going to read the remark.

The biggest problem with the current system is that *every* candidate has glowing letters, so it's hard to get reliable information out of them. If the letters weren't confidential, this problem would be aggravated.

Anonymous said...

3:14 - If every candidate has glowing letters already, how much worse *can* it get?

If the current system is broken, then preserving it isn't doing anyone any favours.

philonous said...

5:44, is that a serious question?

Candidates do not have identical letters. There are still distinctions. Letters do convey some information. We don't want to change the system so as to reduce the amount of information conveyed.

Since this seems very obvious, I assume I am missing something. Maybe irony.

Anonymous said...

2:21 here again:

"Confidentiality is to increase the chance of getting an honest assessment from a letter-writer."

I know that people say that, but I fail to see how it is true. Why does honesty *have* to be blind? Doesn't it say something rather awful about academia when we assume that the only way to honestly assess people is if they are never allowed to read those assessments? And given the large number of people who claim that they would never write anything in a letter they would not say to the student - or admit that they share their letters with students - why do we persist with the practice of confidentiality?

"Many people feel uncomfortable saying anything even mildly negative about a student who is going to read the remark."

Exactly my point. Confidentiality here is protecting the letter writer, not the student or the search committee. It allows the letter writer to offer comments he/she won't offer the student directly. At best, it's cowardly. At worst, it's a sign of terrible advising. Allowing faculty to write negative evaluations without ever having to confront the student about those issues doesn't serve the student in any way.

"The biggest problem with the current system is that *every* candidate has glowing letters, so it's hard to get reliable information out of them. If the letters weren't confidential, this problem would be aggravated."

I don't follow you here. Are you really suggesting that confidential letters allow advisors to write negative comments, and still we have a situation where every candidate has glowing letters? It sounds very much like the rhetoric behind the voter ID laws: we are trying to solve a problem that we admit doesn't exist. If letters are already excessively filled with praise, then I fail to see how we'd be making things worse by removing confidentiality. *At best* we end up making a change in degree, not kind.

philonous said...

Why does honesty *have* to be blind? Doesn't it say something rather awful about academia when we assume that the only way to honestly assess people is if they are never allowed to read those assessments?

It probably doesn’t *have* to be blind, but as a matter of psychological fact you have a better chance of getting an honest report if you don’t make the writer share her view with the subject of the letter. This isn’t peculiar to academia at all.

And given the large number of people who claim that they would never write anything in a letter they would not say to the student - or admit that they share their letters with students - why do we persist with the practice of confidentiality?

Because there is also a large number of people who would not write honestly if the letters were not confidential. I know one (well known) philosopher who will not write a tenure letter if the institution can’t give robust guarantees of confidentiality.

Confidentiality here is protecting the letter writer, not the student or the search committee. It allows the letter writer to offer comments he/she won't offer the student directly.

I think the second sentence is true, but the first is not true. If the letter were not confidential, the writer would either (a) be much less candid, or (b) decline to write the letter. In neither case would the writer be worse off.

Are you really suggesting that confidential letters allow advisors to write negative comments, and still we have a situation where every candidate has glowing letters?

Yes. (You agree with both, right?)

It sounds very much like the rhetoric behind the voter ID laws: we are trying to solve a problem that we admit doesn't exist.

No, I think you meant almost exactly the opposite of what you said, didn’t you? The problem does exist. You think that since it exists already, and the point of confidentiality is to prevent it, that shows that confidentiality is fruitless.

If letters are already excessively filled with praise, then I fail to see how we'd be making things worse by removing confidentiality. *At best* we end up making a change in degree, not kind.

Of course. So your position sounds like the rhetoric behind the push to dismantle the welfare state. “Look, we have poverty anyway! The welfare state has failed! Removing the safety net would *at best* make a difference in degree, not kind.”

Look, as I perhaps haven’t made clear, on general fairness and transparency grounds, I have a lot of sympathy with what you’re saying. But, I don’t agree with you that the actual purpose of confidentiality is to protect the writer of the letter. Its function, intended and actual, is to serve the interest of the *reader* of the letter. Just think: any search committee could announce, say in their ad, that no recommendation letters received will be treated as confidential. Whom would that hurt? Why don’t they do it?

Anonymous said...

Here's some things that you might want to keep confidential for good reason even if you're only saying good things about the candidate: some letters, in order to give more context to recommendations, rank candidates against each other, or against other recent grads from the grad school in question. I'm not claiming that this is necessarily a good way to write a letter, just that people do this, and that even if the candidate in question is ranked favorably, there is good reason to keep this confidential. Also, if I am writing a recommendation for someone I think is really a rising star and completely amazing, I might not want them to know how highly I think of them. I might want them to know *that* I think very highly of them, but not exactly *how* highly.

Anonymous said...

"some letters, in order to give more context to recommendations, rank candidates against each other, or against other recent grads from the grad school in question. I'm not claiming that this is necessarily a good way to write a letter,"

-Actually, it's a terrible way to write a letter. If I, as a reader of such a letter, am not familiar with the work of those people to whom the applicant is being compared, then the comparison is pointless. Being better or worse than other people whose files I don't have in front of me is a meaningless way to assess an applicant for a job. It might seem like context, but it's not.

"Also, if I am writing a recommendation for someone I think is really a rising star and completely amazing, I might not want them to know how highly I think of them."

-Good point. We need to keep egos in check. Given how inflated egos are in our field anyway, this is pretty smart.

"I might want them to know *that* I think very highly of them, but not exactly *how* highly."

-True. Details in advising and mentoring are a waste of time. Best to keep things nice and vague. More professional that way.

karma said...

Being better or worse than other people whose files I don't have in front of me is a meaningless way to assess an applicant for a job. It might seem like context, but it's not.

That doesn't disqualify it from being context. It just means it's context that you, personally, don't benefit from. It's true of all context that a sufficiently ignorant reader won't benefit from it.

Anonymous said...

And is it really meaningless context just because you don't know the individuals in the comparison class?

Compare:

"She's the tallest woman in Cameroon in the last 10 years."

"That's not helpful! I don't know anyone from Cameroon!"

Anonymous said...

Academics generally are weird mix of high-ego and insecurity. Some of us have more of one characteristic than the other. We oscillate between the two, although often more on the side of insecurity, because often we don't get the right kind of feedback. So, some general feedback should be given - how are we doing overall? Some encouragement can go a long way. But I don't think it's always a good idea to give the kind of information that you might want to give in a recommendation letter.

Anonymous said...

My list of complaints today:

CUNY Lehman job ad tells the applicant to apply online AND send all materials via email to department.

Online application system does not allow for the uploading of certain required elements of the dossier such as teaching portfolio. It also doesn't allow anything to be uploaded that is not on the dropdown menu.

AFTER complete dossier is sent to department via email, department informs applicant that there is a mistake in the job ad, and everything has to be submitted online. Which is clearly a more efficient and convenient way of imparting that information than changing the goram ad.

Email notification is ambiguous as to where reference letters should be sent, forcing applicant to cancel Interfolio request.

Online application cannot be amended AT ALL. But you can apply AGAIN. And, apparently, somehow upload materials that could not be uploaded before.

Fortunately, I just happened to have a lot of time to squander today.

Color me impressed.

Anonymous said...

"She's the tallest woman in Cameroon in the last 10 years."

So how tall is she, then?

protagoras said...

"So how tall is she, then?"

Well, you know, that's so subjective. And, there are so many different scales -- choosing one would be so arbitrary. And, sometimes she lies down, sometimes she stands up, so it's highly contextual.

Anonymous said...

The are two CUNY Lehman ads on the JFP site. Neither appears to request that you both upload and email materials.

Anonymous said...

11:47 — The listing on the CUNY Lehman website said to do both. (At least as of 11am today.)

Anonymous said...

Hey people -- if you're so inclined, please make sure to update info on the phylo wiki! It looks pretty dead right now, but I'm dying to see if a school with an early application has started requesting interviews yet.

Anonymous said...

I know for a fact that Pacific Lutheran scheduled interviews.