Sunday, November 24, 2013

Sunday Comics

"In tempestuous times like these, after everything above and aloft has been secured, nothing more can be done but to await the issue of the gale."

--Jaded, Ph.D


Anonymous said...

Curious to hear what others think (if I may):

Suppose you hear back positively from a fairly prestigious journal within a month after you've submitted applications. (Let's stipulate that "fairly prestigious" = "in the top 25 according to this recent poll from Leiter".)

Which, if any, departments should you contact in order to update your C.V.?

Anonymous said...

All of them.

Jaded, Ph.D. said...


Anonymous said...

8:29 PM here,

Thanks. I ask because I've received varied advice about this (which surprised me).

The main counterargument seems to be that directly contacting the search committee before the interview stage, even if done politely and professionally, runs the risk of coming across as intrusive and/or annoying -- a risk that isn't compensated by the chance this bit of information will bolster your candidacy.

I don't necessarily endorse this counterargument, but it does strike me as a legitimate worry.

Anonymous said...

I don't know. I've had one publication in an elite journal (top 10 on Leiter's ranking and everyone else's) since my first time on the market. This is just anecdotal, but it has so far not changed anything for me at all in terms of this year's search. Maybe it is too early draw a conclusion, but I think in your case if the journal was not an elite journal, or if you suspect the article snuck by the goalkeeper and just is not really that impressive, it might be counterproductive to possibly irritate a committee by sending new information so late. I'm not saying you shouldn't, just that I am not certain in makes a huge difference. Publications are great, but nowadays most job applicants have, and many have more of them, and in better journals. Pedigree, rec letters, and writing sample, as best I can tell still seem to outweigh all other considerations. So I would worry that you'd be taking quite a risk for little reward. Although if you decide to do it I would think you should be sure to send the word to every committee and thus multiply the odds of a positive outcome.

Anonymous said...

First, congratulations! Second, the answer partly depends on what exactly the positive news is. If it's 'revise and resubmit' (already an achievement with some journals), I wouldn't contact the committees because in the end the paper may still be rejected. If it's an unconditional acceptance, then I would contact all the committees, but only with a one- or two-liner. But you may have to be prepared that the information is not passed on (e.g. depending on workload of admin staff and email traffic) and, if it is, that it isn't a game-changer. Nonetheless, I don't think you'll have anything to loose.

Anonymous said...

"Which, if any, departments should you contact in order to update your C.V.?"

The ones you want to hire you.

Anonymous said...

Academia is a drug gang. Your futile attempt to become an insider with the publication of a single article in a highly ranked journal is just that: futile. Go back to selling meth, street dealer!

Anonymous said...

1:10 PM,

8:29 PM here. Nothing I said implies that I have just a single article in a highly ranked journal. In fact I have several. (Reading is hard.) The question is whether it is worth contacting a search committee regarding one *additional* article in a highly ranked journal.

To everyone else,

Many thanks for the useful, thoughtful advice.

zombie said...

Depends on what the journal decision was, to some extent. If it was me, I'd update it on my website, but probably wouldn't send out a bunch of notifications. Presumably, the article was already on your CV as an "in submission."

Anonymous said...


But aren't you assuming that this single article will be decisive in persuading the committee members to hire you? Otherwise, there would be no point in going to such lengths to inform them. I think that was 1:10s point. It takes just one additional article to join the insiders. Sorry I had to explain the obvious. (Reading is obviously hard for you. Good thing that you're a better writer.)

sorites said...

But nobody could think that no single article can ever be decisive. Or at least, if any number could be decisive, then one could. (I know some people think no number of articles can overcome the elitist bias of every search committee in academia, but I'm assuming we can ignore those people.)

Anonymous said...

For the love of god, can't you all just be decent people when engaging others?

Anonymous said...


8:29 PM again. It's often best to ignore childish attention-seekers, which shall be what I do with you henceforth. Very best of luck to you -- you'll obviously need it.


Thanks. The article wasn't on my C.V., as it turns out. I'm not a supporter of this recent trend to add 'works-in-progress' or 'submitted articles' -- sometimes folks name the journal they've submitted to! -- to one's C.V. But I'm aware that I'm in the minority about this matter, so I'd be happy to have a friendly debate about it. :-)

To anyone who cares,

It's worth adding -- I'm speaking in general terms now, not about my specific case -- that there are a number of messages a single additional article on a C.V. could potentially signal beyond than that you're capable of getting your research published.

It might signal that one does serious work on a topic that would otherwise merely be mentioned on your research statement as just an interest. It might assuage doubts that you can only publish certain kinds of articles in certain kinds of venues. It might showcase your 'chops' (formal or otherwise) in a manner that your writing sample and other published work don't. And so on.

Assuming any of this holds in a given case, it would be valuable information to get across to a search committee. I know of no one whose candidacy was floundered simply because their C.V. featured n publications rather than n+1. But I know of a lot of cases in which a perceived lack of demonstrated research breadth, say, made a crucial difference.

Anonymous said...

Slightly OT here but related. Speaking of contacting SCs. At one point, if ever, is it acceptable to contact a department and ask where your application stands? I am really beginning to worry about making travel plans for the Eastern completely in the dark.

Anonymous said...

I recall this guy at APA Eastern gave a paper, during the Q/A period an audience member proposed an interpretation and the guy responded "No. Wrong." And then he whispered under his breath "Listening is hard, numb nuts." The audience member asked him to speak up, to which the speaker responded, "Oh nothing." But another audience member in the front row heard it and repeated, "He said that listening is hard numb nuts." Everyone laughed and then walked out of the room in disgust. So I don't think it's this forum. It's the state of discourse in most philosophical forums nowadays.

8:29 PM said...

3:27 PM,


I'll also add that it's not unheard of for search committees, when deciding whom to interview, to use differences in the number of articles published to break ties between otherwise equally strong candidates. (I say this because I've heard of search committees contacting candidates to inform them of this policy.) A single article could make that difference.

4:58 PM,


7:53 PM,

It's entirely appropriate to ask a department about your application status if the stated reason is that you have an offer from another department, say. But it seems rather risky if the stated reason is that you need to make travel plans for the Eastern APA -- partly because any other applicant is entitled to that information as well, for the same reason. The chance that you'll receive an aggravated "What if every other applicant contacted us about this?" reply seems high.

It's likely best to just hold tight and set up your travel arrangements so that they can be cancelled easily and with minimal cost. (I feel your pain, by the way, and raise you one -- I'm attempting to arrange travel from another continent...)

9:08 PM,

That's hilarious. Although note the key role that assumed anonymity seems to play: the speaker only had the guts to say this under his breadth, not in a way that his words could be pinned to him (or so he thought).

Anonymous said...

Dear 7:53 PM,

Sorry to say, but you will likely remain in the dark for a while....a non-negligible number of schools contact people the week before the APA (or even the *day before* the conference in one case of which I know).

I don't think you should ever contact people to ask "where you stand", but who knows..if you do call or email the department you might just be annoying the department admin. and they might take pity on you and tell you whether first round interviews have been scheduled. That would be the question to ask, I think, by the way.

Anonymous said...

Can we assume at this point that the wiki is not a reliable gauge of first and second round interviews? I expect that more that 10 places are scheduling/conducting interviews but that's not what the wiki reports..

I wish I was one of those healthy folks that doesn't check the wiki or care about the wiki but I'm not. I'd like to begin the mourning process for all the jobs I didn't get. It's frustrating that it's not working as effectively this year...

Anonymous said...


I'd like to hear what others think. Last year was my first spin on the market. My impression was the SCs contacted candidates they wished to interview immediately after making a decision. So I don't see how asking them where your application stands will help: if they want to interview you, they'll let you know quickly enough. I agree that makes travel plans frustrating. To make thing worse, some SCs made their decisions really close to the APA. If you need a flight, I'd book a refundable one. Hotels often let you cancel within a couple of days of the booking. So I'd do that too.

Best of luck!

Anonymous said...

8:42 AM,

I can't speak to the reliability of the wiki, but it's still really early. Thanksgiving is quite late this year and my impression is that most departments don't decide on who to interview until after the break. Next week and the week after will be the big ones. Maybe take a vacation from the wiki until then.

zombie said...

The job listings are still trickling in to philjobs. In years past, the calls about APA interviews would start after Thanksgiving, but with more schools staying away from APA, and the ongoing non-deadline, all bets are off.

As for APA, a few years back, I got a call on December 23. Totally threw off my holiday plans, since I had to make quick travel arrangements. But it would not surprise me if those last minute calls still happen this year. The APA conference hotel is already booked, but there might still be some rooms at nearby hotels. There are several within a few blocks of the Marriott. You can cancel hotel reservations, typically, within 24 hours. Just watch out for the discount deals that don't allow you to cancel.

Anonymous said...

def don't contact them to ask where you stand, unless it's because you have an offer or some other thing that makes you attractive. you don't want to communicate that you have nothing else going on.

Anonymous said...


"Reading is hard" ... "Listening is hard" ....same demeaning treatment, it's past the point of saying, can't we all just get along? Instead, we should say, can't we all just be human?

Anonymous said...

I don't think the Marriott is sold out. I think they're out of the student rate rooms.

The Hilton Garden Inn next door has an APA rate. Cheaper than the Marriott.

Anonymous said...

Does anybody know anything about the postdocs in political philosophy at the Normative Orders Centre in Frankfurt? Have there been any interviews? When will they make a decision?

Anonymous said...

The University of Virginia (History of Philosophy) job jumped straight to "On Campus Interviews Scheduled."

The same thing happened with Avila, St. Mary's (MN), and Hamilton --- but skipping a step seems more surprising in UVA's case.

Any thought as to why? Perhaps because the job is open rank. Do tenured applicants typically skip the skype/conference interview??

And the anxious background question is, of course, does this mean that I (and every other applicant not invited to campus) should give up hope?

Anonymous said...

If it's anything like years past, it's likely that someone is screwing around with the wiki.

Anonymous said...

No money spent on APA interviews = more money spent on more fly-out candidates.

Anonymous said...


Yes, tenured applications do not do first round interviews.

Anonymous said...

People constantly screw around with the wiki. I don't know why, but it happens--a lot!

Don't be surprised if you get an invitation to interview weeks after a position was listed as having scheduled interviews. This has happened to me, and it's one reason I don't trust the wiki very much,

Anonymous said...

Don't be surprised if you get an invitation to interview weeks after a position was listed as having scheduled interviews. This has happened to me, and it's one reason I don't trust the wiki very much.

I am not sure that this constitutes evidence of anyone "screwing around" with the Wiki. Afterall, SCs arelikely to have a list of candidates they'd prefer to interview first, and supplemental candidates in case their initial selection don't wish to interview. There is a high likelihood that many of the top candidates for a given job are also to be busy interviewing at other schools, and may take time to decide whether or not they want to interview with the school in question. Thus one or more persons at the top of the list might report the first-round scheduling to the Wiki, while the SC is still finalizing interviews of the supplemental candidates (of which you presumably are/were one). So it can both be true they scheduled first round interviews, and true that they are not going to contact until later if you were ranked a little lower than the top choices.

zombie said...

7:10 - possible someone is screwing around with the wiki.
Possible those schools are skipping first round interviews. While not the dominant strategy, it is not unheard of. I've had a few flyouts where there was no first round interview,
Also possible that they already had first round phone/skype interviews, but no one updated the wiki to reflect that. (Given the timing, probably the least likely)

Anonymous said...

9:56--you're probably right, but that's not what happened in my case. There is other evidence of people screwing around with the wiki as well, but whatever. If people want to believe that the wiki is reliable, that's fine.

cjs said...

I'm not sure I understand why people would mess with the wiki in the first place. Can anyone provide insight into this?

Anonymous said...

One possible benign (yet paternalistic) motive: people want to 'poison the well' so that you're less likely to check the wiki all the time and thus more likely to do something useful with yourself instead.

One possible malignant motive: people just plain suck when they're underneath the cloak of anonymity (cf. Republic II and all that).

Anonymous said...

I have a question. I have finished my Phd 2 1/2 years ago and I still have not been able to publish anything. I have sent a few articles but so far I have always gotten rejections. Does this mean that my career is over? Is it possible to recover from this? (by the way, I have stable Letureship job).

Anonymous said...

"I have a question. I have finished my Phd 2 1/2 years ago and I still have not been able to publish anything. I have sent a few articles but so far I have always gotten rejections. Does this mean that my career is over? Is it possible to recover from this? (by the way, I have stable Letureship job)."

Yes, your career is over.

You might be able to continue with a stable lectureship, but that's it. 2 1/2 years out of a PhD, you should be publishing your work.

To put this in perspective, if you were in a tenure track job, you'd be looking at your 3-year review this year. And very likely, you would be told that you are not on track for tenure. You would be facing the very real prospect of losing your job.

The only way to recover is to publish. Not knowing your work, I cannot say why it's not getting published. But it sounds like you might want to consider getting advice from more senior scholars on your scholarship, and devoting the necessary time and energy to developing it so that it's publishable.

12:57 AM (i.e. 8:29 PM) said...

Hi 7:40 PM,

I suppose it depends on what you consider an acceptable career in philosophy to be.

If you have a stable lectureship (as you claim), and it's one that suffices as an acceptable career in philosophy to you, then obviously your career isn't over. Although of course, in determining whether that's the case, the details -- whether the average yearly income is sustainable over time, whether there's a research criterion for renewal, etc. -- will matter. But I suspect that many occupy such positions for a long period of time and find them fulfilling (philosophically and financially).

However, it will be extremely difficult -- but not impossible -- to get hired into a tenure-track position 2.5 years out from the PhD with no publications. The reason is that so many applicants have solid publications, even right out of graduate school, that it's becoming a de facto minimum threshold for serious consideration. (I've heard this from multiple search committee members this year I happen to know. This seems even more pronounced in 'speciality' areas in ethics and philosophy of science, which for various reasons are easier to publish in. One friend at a department near the bottom of the Leiter ranking, one that that's searching in these fields this year, says that some applicants have *15 or more* less than a year after earning the PhD.)

Moreover, a search committee will worry about whether you have a sustainable research program and/or have what it takes to gain tenure if you've had that long of a drought, publication-wise.

There might be other aspects of your application packet that compensate for and/or justify this situation, but even then I expect it would be very, very difficult to make a strong case overall.

Anonymous said...

i get that some people have a ton of publications. that's great and all. presently i'm trying to average one paper per year. if i may, i'd like to vent a bit.

i've been out three years (and bouncing around between temporary gigs), and here i am with a single forthcoming paper in a very respected journal that, everything considered--i'm talking first journal submission and rejection, voluntary revisions, second journal submission, r&r notice, revisions, and final acceptance--took about 1.5 years to reach forthcoming status. i'm not including the time it took to develop the project from scratch, revise it in light of conference feedback, and further revise it in light of comments from peers and senior members of the subdiscipline.

i've got two other papers that have been out under review for about a year (one at its third journal and the other at its second). both papers have been reasonably vetted--conferences as well as comments on drafts from peers and senior members of the subdiscipline. one of these papers received two conflicting referee reports (to wrap up what was, overall, a dreadful experience with a respected journal). the positive report was short and sweet: a brief explanation and a vote for immediate acceptance. the negative report, though virtually every single criticism was either trivial or irrelevant (i'm not making this up), was lengthy. final verdict was rejection and the explanation, in lieu of the editor's actually adjudicating between the referee reports or seeking a third report, was something like: "with competition as high as it is, we are just going to reject the paper." ugh!

i've got multiple projects currently in development. getting feedback from relevant parties and presenting at conferences. i plan to get at least two of these papers under review by this summer. i'm doing my level best to maintain what is expected of a productive junior scholar (and i can keep this up, but probably cannot increase my present rate of productivity), but, fuck, the journal submission part of this process can be incredibly dispiriting.

anyway, thanks for listening. good luck to those of you on the job market!

Anonymous said...

7:40: if you want to leave the lectureship, i would reach out to mentor for advice. perhaps a senior colleague, a friend in the field, or your dissertation supervisor. show them your writing and whatever reader reports you've received. get some frank, honest advice about how to get different results.

although i think the previous comments are accurate accounts of your chances on the market, i'd dissuade from taking career advice from a comment thread. it's too important of an issue/decision not to talk to someone that knows you and your work...

Anonymous said...

Let me say that publishing a lot does not always make a successful career. I have three books and 30+ articles, but landed a low-paying job that barely supports me and my family. I am now fairly far along in a plan B to earn a professional degree and a job in said profession that pays three times a professor's salary.

The journal referee process is supremely corrupt. Editorial discretion poisons the well. Editors google you, decide whether they like you, choose referees accordingly and break ties or resolve split decisions accordingly. If you want to verify this, find the author who publishes the most frequently in said journal and then see how many professional connections s/he has with the editorial board. You'll be amazed.

Anonymous said...

Question: I have applied for at least two jobs at schools that only have one philosopher on staff. I assume that the search committee for these jobs will mostly consist of non-philosophers. In the event that I am invited to interview, how should I approach the interview process? I assume I should proceed differently than I would if speaking to other philosophers, but I'd like your thoughts on this.

Anonymous said...


you say:
"One possible malignant motive: people just plain suck when they're underneath the cloak of anonymity (cf. Republic II and all that)."

Agreed. The trolls come out at night. And we don't even need to consult the Republic to learn this unfortunate truth- just browsing though comments on this site is enough!

Anonymous said...

Out of curiosity, what is your Plan B professional degree and profession?