Sunday, December 8, 2013

Sunday Comics

"But in pursuit of those far mysteries we dream of, or in tormented chase of that demon phantom that, some time or other, swims before all human hearts; while chasing such over this round globe, they either lead us on in barren mazes or midway leave us whelmed."



-- Jaded, Ph.D.

127 comments:

Anonymous said...

I'd like the wiki to be more useful, and I suspect I'm not alone. Do you think the good folks there might be persuaded to delete duplicate entries and add the unrepresented ads from PhilJobs? Many jobs we're all waiting on aren't included anywhere in the wiki listings, and I know that several of those departments have already sent interview invitations. Perhaps there's a way to automate the process of harvesting the relevant data from PhilJobs and dumping it into Phylo? Anyway, more complete data would certainly allow folks to plan better (e.g. using funds set aside for a possible flight if the news isn't good) and relieve anxiety (or introduce anxiety of a different sort) sooner.

Anonymous said...

anon 5:41,

There's a way for you to update the wiki. So just add a few of the jobs that aren't listed. It takes mere minutes. And if you truly *know* that several of the depts have sent interview invites, then update that too.

Anonymous said...

You aren't alone. I'm not really annoyed by duplicate entries though. And if a job isn't on the wiki you can just add it. It takes about 30 seconds. http://phylo.info/jobs/wiki/add The real challenge is getting people to update when they receive interviews or send out interview requests. The info is even harder to come by at the on-campus stage since there are fewer folks in the know.

Anonymous said...

5:41,

How about you tell us which unlisted departments have scheduled interviews?

Anonymous said...

This lack of information is stressing me out. I have one APA interview and no real interest in attending the conference for it's own sake. Assuming I don't have any other interviews I'm thinking about flying into Baltimore the morning of, going to the interview and then flying out that night (thereby saving myself a bundle on hotel costs). Is this a terrible idea? Is there any benefit to just attending the whole conference (or some longer portion)? I've double checked the schedule and no one on the search committee is presenting.

Anonymous said...

9:27,
Personally, I get something out of going to talks at the APA meetings. Not enough to go if I have no other reason, but enough to stay and hang around if I have to go anyway.

The APA hotel is sold out. They have an overflow hotel next door. But I believe you could get a much cheaper room, on Priceline, say, if you did want to stay over, more like $60. The Inner Harbor area is quite small, so you could gamble on Priceline and not be in danger of being stuck miles away.

Anonymous said...

Some of the listings I added seemed to have been deleted. And some of the jobs are switching statuses back and forth in a confusing way.

Anonymous said...

I have a reservation about the wiki. On a flyout last year, I was asked whether I had updated the relevant listing when the flyout had been arranged. The chair was annoyed. I'm unsure why. Perhaps they wanted to be the ones to break the news to interviewees who had not been selected for a flyout. Whatever the reason, I'm not running the risk, however small, of pissing of SCs. So, I won't be updating the wiki this year.

Anonymous said...

That sucks, 7:25. I can understand your caution. But I wonder if the concern applies more to flyout updates where the committee can guess that the update came from one of 2-4 people. Committees might also decide to fly out the top two choices and have a back up 3rd should they bomb. In that case, they would want to be discrete about their strategy for the sake of the 3rd candidate.

With respect to Skype or APA updates, the committee would have a hard time guessing who updated the wiki since any of 10-15 people (and their friends and advisors) could have done it. Even if they don't appreciate the info being out there, they'd have a hard time sourcing it. When I update the wiki for first round interviews, I wait a couple days to make sure all the invitations have gone out...

Anonymous said...

Anybody knows what's going on with the Baruch college job? The application deadline is Dec 31, but according to the wiki first-round interviews have already been scheduled.

zombie said...

8:03: if you mean the Aesthetics job, the jfp listing says the deadline was 12/2, so it makes sense that the interviews are being scheduled.

Anonymous said...

"8:03: if you mean the Aesthetics job, the jfp listing says the deadline was 12/2, so it makes sense that the interviews are being scheduled"

But then there's this:

http://philjobs.org/job/show/2867

zombie said...

They do look like the same job, except for the AOS being changed from open to PhilSci/Aesthetics.
It would be nice if corrected ads were just corrected, rather than a new ad being placed on jfp while the old one remained.

Anonymous said...

I have a reservation about the wiki. On a flyout last year, I was asked whether I had updated the relevant listing when the flyout had been arranged. The chair was annoyed. I'm unsure why.

I suspect the chair was annoyed because s/he'd like to keep the other candidates in the dark. It's easier to make a sales pitch to a second-choice candidate under the (misleading) guise of that candidate being their first choice. You did nothing wrong except, perhaps, for telling the truth.

There's reason to exercise caution in updating the wiki.

I also think it's OK to lie in response to inappropriate questions from committee members.

Anonymous said...

I have one APA interview and no real interest in attending the conference for it's own sake. Assuming I don't have any other interviews I'm thinking about flying into Baltimore the morning of, going to the interview and then flying out that night (thereby saving myself a bundle on hotel costs). Is this a terrible idea?

If you 1) think you might get something out of attending sessions and 2) can afford a hotel room somewhere nearby, then give it a shot.

Personally, when I was on the market (within the last 4 years) I focused exclusively on interview prep. There are three APAs every year. I was there to get a job.

My only reservation about your strategy is that, if you encounter difficulties while traveling, it might stress you out unnecessarily just prior to the interview. If at all possible, I'd recommend arriving the evening before the interview so you have a little time to settle-in, focus, and show-up for the interview in your best possible state.

Good luck.

Anonymous said...

I received an email invitation for an APA interview at Baruch yesterday. I have no idea why the status keeps changing. It had already been updated to First-Round Interview Scheduled yesterday, so I didn't touch it.

I applied when it was AOS: Open, AOC: aesthetics or phil sci, and assumed that they were getting too many apps so they changed it to AOS: aesthetics or phil sci (my AOS is in one of these areas). I assume it is the same job, since the materials are supposed to be mailed or emailed, and there is no reference number. When I applied, however, the deadline was 12/2.

Anonymous said...

I just turned down an APA interview with the University of Dayton. I'd like to update the wiki, but I do not see U of D on there. Perhaps I can just shout out here that they are currently sending out invites for interviews. Good luck.

Anonymous said...

6:18 Why did you turn it down?

Anonymous said...

Anyone get an interview invitation from Carnegie Mellon?

Anonymous said...

About 80 listings on the wiki are at the interview or flyout stage. Either the wiki is incomplete, or SCs have yet to contact candidates, or some mix of the two. It's most likely that it is some mix, but the question is whether it is more one or the other. It's hard to imagine that over half the jobs have yet to progress to interviews. Any thoughts?

Also, apart from the ones updated on the wiki so far, anyone have news on the Ancient jobs?

Yeah, I'm fretting. I'd avoided it until this weekend. But it's full-blown anxiety now.

Anonymous said...

Seeing Western Washington show up on the wiki made me tear up.

Anonymous said...

Anyone hear from Notre Dame?

Anonymous said...

I resolved today not to check the wiki until after the holidays are over. At this point checking it can only make me more frustrated and depressed, while nothing can be inferred by the absence of the jobs I have applied for. This is one thing I can control and ever since making this decision, I have felt a little bit better.

Anonymous said...

I'm at Notre Dame. As of Monday the list had been narrowed down to 30.

Anonymous said...

5:03 (6:18 Why did you turn it down?),

Plan B pays better.

Anonymous said...

"Plan B pays better."

Sounds like that has become Plan A.

Anonymous said...

Thanks for the update on the Notre Dame job.

Anonymous said...

A (sort of) new topic of discussion: It seems very common for departments to call candidates as late as December 22 to schedule an APA interview (This has happened to me and many others I know in recent years). This strikes me as really unfair. If a department's schedule does not allow them to schedule interviews a couple of weeks before the APA, then perhaps they should interview by skype or phone. In any case, it seems worth reminding departments of how difficult they can make things for candidates by scheduling APA interviews at the last minute.

zombie said...

10:08, I'm sure the search committees know what a PITA it is that they don't call people until nearly the last minute. Yet, it has always been thus. Being on an SC is time consuming, and I think in many cases, the decisions don't happen until the semester is over. It's another reason (as if there were not enough of them already) why the timing if E-APA is so unfortunate.

I think it's a sign of progress (or is it just budget cuts?) that so many are offering candidates the Skype/phone/remote option. Maybe in another year or two, we will have eliminated the APA interview altogether.

Anonymous said...

Anyone have any information about the UCSD search? Thanks!

Anonymous said...

Though I'm sure I'm in the minority, I gotta admit that I derive mild pleasure from unsaving some of the jobs listed in "My Jobs". It's kind of like crossing items off of a to-do list.

Anonymous said...

I'd be very interested in info about the UCSD search too! Also, anyone have any updates about Davis, Indiana or Santa Cruz?

Anonymous said...

This should go down as a great moment in the history of the PFO: A school I will not name, contacted me last week, about 2 hours after the job had appeared on the Wiki as having scheduled first-round interviews, to ask that I fill out an online HR application that I had forgotten to complete along with my emailed dossier materials. Naturally, I thought they must have gone to notify me of an interview and realized I had not completed the application. So I was really anxious all weekend, waiting on them to be back in touch. They never contacted me. It looks like they had me fill out the application, just so that they could get an address to send the PFO to. Unbelievable.

Anonymous said...

10:38

I dunno. It's kinda hard to be righteous about a PFO if you didn't finish the application. I am sorry though. It sucks to have a weekend ruined by anxiety.

Anonymous said...

@11:05

I don't care about not getting an interview. I did not expect to, I fully expect to fail and leave the profession like most of my peers. What bothers me is that the department in question thought it would be a good Idea to contact AFTER making their notifications and cryptically tell me to provide more info/do more work...solely for the purpose of throwing my application on the "worthless PFO" pile. It really doesn't make sense, given that could have just ignored my application altogether and not bothered me or themselves further.

Anonymous said...

10:38

Were you contacted by a member of the department or HR? HR could have rules about applications, and the department could have no idea they contacted you.

Anonymous said...

@Anon 1:35

Anon !0:38 here. I was contacted by the department, not by HR.

Anonymous said...

1:35 here. Yes, that does seem cruel, then. Or at least thoughtless. If they had an HR requirement themselves, then they should have indicated that their request didn't signify anything.

Anonymous said...

I was just contacted by Boston College to schedule an APA interview for their American Pragmatism position.

Anonymous said...

12:46 PM: Please post to the wiki.

Anonymous said...

The wiki is obviously a mess. Huge numbers of jobs haven't been updated. (I'm sure that a few places still haven't made contact. But it's now the evening of the 18th, and I find it hard to believe that we're this far behind.)

Also, the Swarthmore job(s?) just popped from 'interviews scheduled' to 'position filled'. Either something fishy is going on or someone had one heck of an interview.

Anonymous said...

Yep. The North Central College changed from first-round interview to applications acknowledged, and vice versa, at least half a dozen times. WTF?

Anonymous said...

The Swarthmore job has indeed been filled. First round interviews were a few weeks ago and they hired internally.

Anonymous said...

So, I was obsessing on one particular job at a very good SLAC that I thought I was perfectly (!) suited for. I nailed the AOS and thought I could have done a lot for them. I have been productive and have taught courses that have been interesting and successful. All of the members of that small department had the degrees from the fancy places; and some were relatively productive in terms of research and had interesting classes that they had developed.

But in looking around at other departments at that SLAC, there was a much wider variety of schools from which the people got their degrees. It was very interesting. It made me think that an old boy's network is still in place in philosophy. I am sure that this has been discussed to death in other threads. But I wonder if there is something analogous to Leiter in biology, chemistry, etc. In addition to the philosophy PhD, I have an MS in a science and my friends from that discipline are not hampered by our university's perceived reputation.

Probably just sour grapes on my part.

Anonymous said...

@anon 6:02 here

I just went to some of the other SLAC department pages that have openings and discovered a more heterogeneous picture when it comes to faculty degrees. So, it might be the department I was obsessing about that had the rather homogenous look. Excusez moi.

Anonymous said...

@3:29, do you know of any that haven't been updated? I kid myself that maybe some of them are doing skype interviews and they are not as beholden to a date. There are a couple of jobs that have not scheduled an interview for which I had a little hope.

I do wonder if people are using the wiki as much this year. I had to add about 10 jobs only a week or two ago. I was really surprised they weren't added already. That said, I saw one job go to 1st round interviews literally the minute I got on interview with the place. So some people are on top of it!

Anonymous said...

"It made me think that an old boy's network is still in place in philosophy."

Yup.

And no, this doesn't happen nearly as much in other fields. Yes, there is a general sense of which programs are stronger than others, but no official ranking that the field slavishly follows.

Anonymous said...

FWIW, I'm on a search committee, and I could give a rat's ass where your Ph.D. is from as long as it is a respectable school. I care much more about the quality of your teaching and whether you are a productive researcher.

Anonymous said...

"I'm on a search committee, and I could give a rat's ass where your Ph.D. is from as long as it is a respectable school. I care much more about the quality of your teaching and whether you are a productive researcher."

OK then, what programs are being represented on your short list?

Anonymous said...

FWIW, I'm on a search committee and I could give a rat's ass what your publications are as long as you have 10 of them in journals like Phil Review and Nous.

Anonymous said...

Whether and to what degree there is an old boys' network depends on the school and department. For instance, it is fairly clear that CU Boulder's Phil Dept recruits heavily from Princeton. No harm, no foul there. Who wouldn't want a whole bunch of Princeton Ph.D.s around?

boris said...

And no, this doesn't happen nearly as much in other fields. Yes, there is a general sense of which programs are stronger than others, but no official ranking that the field slavishly follows.

Philosophy doesn't slavishly follow official rankings.

I happen to know that economics does. This makes me pretty confident that you don't actually know anything about other fields.

Anonymous said...

Have APA interview invites really gone out for the Boston College pragmatism position?

Anonymous said...

@5:59, yes, I know for a fact that at least two have. Both are fairly advanced assistant/visiting professor types. So it looks like BC want a more seasoned candidate with a fairly long list of pubs and 5+ years of teaching experience, not a greenhorn straight out of grad school. Good luck.

Anonymous said...

This has already been noted, but it merits reiteration.

What many of us take to be *the* professional culture of philosophy is actually a reflection of the values and norms of elite philosophers at elite institutions. Because all of us train as graduate students at such institutions, we often assume that these values and norms are universal. They are not.

The vast majority of philosophy departments/programs in the United States are outside of this elite professional culture. They are a part of "teaching" institutions which place a high premium on offering general education or core curriculum courses. Many are indifferent to pedigree, research productivity, and other things that are taken very seriously within the elite professional culture.

I can only assume that even the most accomplished ABDs with the most elite pedigree will end up applying mostly to non-elite institutions. If this is true, then many of the discussions we've been having are irrelevant because they do not reflect the genuine interests of most search committees.

As a member of an SC at a non-elite institution--and as someone who is personally acquainted with MANY OTHER philosophers at non-elite institutions--I can tell you with absolute certainty that many if not most of us (and remember, we are the majority!) do not care about Leiter rankings, journal rankings, publisher rankings, etc. All of us care about teaching and are often shocked and dismayed by how poorly trained students from Leiterrific institutions are in this regard. Some of us care more than others about research productivity, but we do not generally evaluate the quality and quantity of research in the same way that elite philosophers do.

Here's my advice for getting a philosophy job in the U.S. -- concentrate on offering as much evidence as possible that you are an excellent teacher. Do not obsess over the ranking of your program, the number of publications you have, the "prestige" of the journals that have published your work, etc. All of this is important, but it is FAR less important than you have been led to believe.

At a school like ours, the candidate from an unranked school who has put together an amazing teaching portfolio will almost always beat out the Leiterrific candidate who has published in elite journals, studied under superstar philosophers, etc. but has not given us any reason to believe that s/he can teach OUR students 9 to 12 credit hours per semester in a satisfactory manner.

This is intended to be encouraging. If you are not getting interviews, maybe it is because your dossier reflects a professional culture which is foreign to the world of regional universities that have 3/3 or 4/4 course loads with no graduate program.

Anonymous said...

"Philosophy doesn't slavishly follow official rankings."

This makes me pretty confident that you don't know anything about THIS field.

Anonymous said...

Has anyone heard anything about the Nazareth College job?

Anonymous said...

I reiterate what 7:31 says, but I would add that even the best planned teaching dossiers cannot make sub-par or even par teaching shine to the top of the applicant pool.

Thus, one really has to work on improving one's teaching if one hopes to be competitive for the vast majority of higher education institutions. If you settle for your own mediocre teaching, you are probably damning yourself.

Jared Armes said...

Interesting. I really like your drawings.

Anonymous said...

If it's true that people are not updating the wiki, I would love to know if anyone has heard about the following jobs:

Ball State
University Illinois Urbana-Champaign
UCSC
Cleveland Clinic fellowship
Dickinson College

boris said...

This makes me pretty confident that you don't know anything about THIS field.

Can you say why?
It would be nice to see *some* evidence for this claim. I've been involved in four US philosophy departments, and none of them slavishly followed official rankings.

Anonymous said...

Swarthmore actually named their hire (a VAP) in their PFO, which is a little unusual. I only remember seeing that once before. I think it was Fordham, and I don't know if they sent that email to everyone, or just those who had a first-round interview.

It's a shame departments have to jump through the hoops of a sham search when they already have someone they want to hire. (And for the record, it would be awesome if, in such cases, they didn't ask for letters of reference right off the bat, to save everyone else the cost of sending them.)

Anonymous said...

"It's a shame departments have to jump through the hoops of a sham search when they already have someone they want to hire. (And for the record, it would be awesome if, in such cases, they didn't ask for letters of reference right off the bat, to save everyone else the cost of sending them.)"

I've served on a search committee that hired an internal candidate. I can't speak to all such instances, but I can tell you flat out that while we did want to hire the current VAP, the search gave us the chance to see what else was on the market. We wanted to see if we could improve our department (considering that we had to run a search anyway). It wasn't a sham; had we identified a better applicant, that's the person we would have hired.

Of course, it worked out well for the VAP, as he was able to stay employed and achieve a degree of job security. On the flip side, I'm pretty sure every applicant felt we wasted their time. However, I can assure you we did not.

Anonymous said...

Someone I know very well came away from the Swarthmore interview convinced that everyone was just going through the motions. I won't get into specifics. My sense is that it was pretty clear that this wasn't a legit search.

Also, at least Swarthmore didn't put anyone through a sham flyout. That counts for something.

That being said, it would be nice if we (as a profession) figured out a way to avoid the fake searches altogether.

zombie said...

11:12: I've no doubt that you and the SC were sincere in reviewing all candidates, but this is telling: "while we did want to hire the current VAP, the search gave us the chance to see what [sic] else was on the market. We wanted to see if we could improve our department (considering that we had to run a search anyway)."
Considering that you "had to run the search anyway," suggests, to me at least, that if you had not been required to "run the search anyway" you would have simply hired the VAP and been satisfied. That's a win-win. The VAP doesn't have to apply for his/her own position, the department doesn't have to go through the time and expense of the search, and applicants don't have to spend their time and money applying for a job that's already spoken for. I see nothing wrong with a department hiring a person from within. If you have a qualified VAP who has a proven record, that sounds to me like someone ripe for promotion to TT. Hire that person. It's the "having to run the search anyway" that is objectionable.

Anonymous said...

"Considering that you "had to run the search anyway," suggests, to me at least, that if you had not been required to "run the search anyway" you would have simply hired the VAP and been satisfied."

Yes. Looking back, especially given the outcome, we would have rather saved all the time and money (our and that of others) by not running a search at all.

"That's a win-win. The VAP doesn't have to apply for his/her own position,"

Yup. It was pretty fucking absurd for the person to apply the job. And, because we had first-round conference interviews, this person had to fly to the conference. I have no idea if this person had other interviews, so I don't know how much of a waste it was.

"the department doesn't have to go through the time and expense of the search, and applicants don't have to spend their time and money applying for a job that's already spoken for."

Yup.

"I see nothing wrong with a department hiring a person from within. If you have a qualified VAP who has a proven record, that sounds to me like someone ripe for promotion to TT. Hire that person. It's the "having to run the search anyway" that is objectionable."

Yup. Feel free to raise that objection to the field at large. We certainly didn't do it because it's in our department by-laws.

Anonymous said...

"Also, at least Swarthmore didn't put anyone through a sham flyout. That counts for something."

But check out the post by Eldridge on an earlier Leiter thread. I'm not sure this was by design.

http://leiterreports.typepad.com/blog/2013/12/has-the-time-frame-for-scheduling-interviews-shifted-in-the-skype-era.html#comments

Anonymous said...

@10:05

7:31 here. Yes, you are absolutely right--thank you! The last time we did a search (which, admittedly, happened before I was hired, so I am relating this second-hand), there was one candidate who had an unbelievably good teaching portfolio but subsequently bombed the teaching demo during her on-campus. If candidates want to be competitive for typical philosophy jobs at non-elite institutions, they have to put a lot of time and effort into honing their teaching skills--at least as much time, if not more, as they put into research.

Only a select few will be interviewed by elite institutions, and of these, even fewer will be hired. The vast majority of you will be interviewing with schools like mine. This is not to say that you should give up your dream of teaching at an R1--just that in putting together a dossier and preparing for interviews you need to be able to convince us that you have what it takes to teach at a non-R1 (specifically, at OUR non-R1). If you send us a cover letter which includes several dense paragraphs about your research and pubs but says next to nothing about teaching--including your ability to teach the courses we specify in the ad-- this is a huge red flag. We don't care if you went to a Leiterrific school, or published in Nous, or had Famous Philosopher X as your dissertation chair. None of this impresses us except, perhaps, in the abstract. Your pedigree and publications give us next to no indication of whether you will succeed at our institution.

Also, don't tell us that you have an AOC in X unless you are prepared to provide evidence to that effect.

Anonymous said...

10:33 asks:

"Can you say why? It would be nice to see *some* evidence for this claim. I've been involved in four US philosophy departments, and none of them slavishly followed official rankings."

I'm not the original poster, but I can respond with several stories.

1. I know a number of graduate students who have served on search committees at a Leiter top 10 department. They throw away applications that do not come from Leiter top 15 departments.

2. Two years ago, I was interviewed by two departments in which I was the only candidate with a PhD from a department outside Leiter's top 10. In both cases, there were multiple candidates from the same university who were interviewed.

3. I spoke with someone who knew the mechanics of a search for post-doc positions at a world top 10 university. Applications were discarded if the panel had not heard of one or more letter writers.

4. I was short-listed for a job, and when my rejection email came, the search committee member told me they had several other candidates from "decent programmes" with publications in "decent journals". I can only infer that the word "good" would have been used to describe my PhD program, had I graduated from a top-ranked Leiter department.

I could keep going, but if you think that there is not a good number of philosophers who "slavishly" follow rankings, then you haven't been paying attention.

Anonymous said...

LOL to all the people who are posting about good teaching. I'd love to see y'all articulate what exactly that's meant, and how that's demonstrated via a teaching portfolio. My bet would be that there would be very little agreement. (The literature on peer evaluations backs me up on this, btw.)

I work on research for getting hired because -- even though there are still some intramural disagreements -- the criteria there is relatively clear. Sure, I care about teaching for myself and my students, but trying to get hired on that basis seems like a losing game.

Anonymous said...

6:20--let us know whether you get a job or not, scholar.

zombie said...

1:18 -- as noted above, it's a shame that departments HAVE to run sham searches. I don't think (and I don't suppose anyone else does either) that very many departments actually desire to do it. But whether the department wants to do it, or is required for some reason to do it, it still stinks for the internal and external applicants.

Anonymous said...

"(specifically, at OUR non-R1). If you send us a cover letter which includes several dense paragraphs about your research and pubs but says next to nothing about teaching--including your ability to teach the courses we specify in the ad-- this is a huge red flag."

Haha. I'm sitting back and waiting for the responses I am certain will now be coming:

1. "How dare you expect applicants to tailor their cover letters to your institution! We put lots of effort into our letter, and a good letter is a good letter, so you should shut up and read it."

2. "Everyone knows that publications should matter most, so you should sit back and listen to me talk about my dissertation. Stop pretending you care about teaching."

Anonymous said...

6:20,

Call it what you may, but in the end, search committees at teaching schools (e.g., my present search committee) will try to perceive whether you are a good, committed teacher by what is in your teaching dossier.

So rant all you want about the vagueness of "good teaching" or what counts as good "evidence of teaching effectiveness," but you're just fooling yourself. You're not playing the right game.

If you are on the job market, it doesn't sound like you are serious about a teaching school anyway.

boris said...

2:07,
I don't think any of those is an example of slavishly following rankings. Maybe the first is -- depends on more details.

My S. O. is interviewing, this year, at a top-ten program, and has a degree from a non-top-fifteen program. So there may be evidence that *some* philosophers slavishly follow rankings, but I think it's pretty clear that much of the profession does not, at all.

Anonymous said...

9:03: What is it in a teaching dossier that makes you decide? I think I am a good teacher, but I now I'm worried that that is conveyed in my dossier.

Anonymous said...

@9:03

I don't doubt that search committees are looking for teaching effectiveness. I just doubt that they are, in fact, looking for the same markers. It's not that I don't want to play that game. I think the game literally cannot be played (at least not without many different versions of a teaching dossier.)

The proof is in the pudding. Maybe I'm wrong. But can you articulate a bit what you'd consider good signs in a teaching dossier that shows one to be a good, committed teacher?

I'll start. I consider how one grades much more important than how one appears in front of a classroom. So, for me, things like samples of feedback given to students would be much more important than student feedbacks. I bet lots of people disagree with me. Moreover, I bet many people don't even include such things in their teaching dossiers.

Anonymous said...

@ 9:03

So what exactly does your committee view as evidence justifying a perception of "good, committed teaching" in a dossier? Specifics would be far more helpful than uninformative generalities.

Anonymous said...

Boris,

This is 2:07.

Neither of us can provide statistics about what percentage of philosophers who "slavishly follow" rankings, especially because it's not clear what "slavishly follow(ing)" means. I provide some anecdotes that I think show that some people do care greatly about the rankings. Nonetheless, I admit that I can't provide a knockdown argument that *most* philosophers care about rankings to an unhealthy degree.

However, you conclude that "it's pretty clear that *much* of the profession does not, at all" (my emphasis). I hope you agree with me that you have provided no evidence to substantiate this claim at all.

It's great that your S.O. landed a interview, although coming from a non top 15 program does not make him or her an outsider. Does your S.O. have a PhD from a top 20 university? Top 30?

Let me try to explain why I think you underestimate the importance of rankings in our profession. The evidence is not completely conclusive, but it would be hard to produce conclusive evidence.

Here's a preliminary definition of what I think constitutes "slavishly following" rankings: say a department "slavishly follows rankings in their hiring practices" if they have conducted two or more searches in the last twenty years, and they interviewed two or fewer candidates from outside the Leiter top 20.

This is a reasonable criterion for the following reason. Departments typically interview at least six or seven people. If a department interviewed fewer than two candidates from outside the top 20, and they interviewed at least 14 people, then their practices indicate that they believe fewer than 15% of the best candidates come from departments outside Leiter's to 20. Even if you believe the top programs consistently produce better applicants, these practices would suggest the less than half of the PhD granting institutions in the US plus Oxford and ANU produce more than 85% of the best candidates in the world. Given that admission to PhD programs is noisy, that some very good students may choose to stay at local universities for family reasons, etc., I would estimate the number of highly-qualified candidates from lower-ranked departments is much higher.


It's hard to get records of who was interviewed where. Anecdotally, I would guess that almost all of the departments in the Leiter top 20 follow rankings in the sense I define (and many outside the Leiter top 20). There are a number of job candidates (myself included) who have published in great journals and who do not even land first round interviews at these institutions, whereas there are ABDs or recent PhDs with absolutely no publications or teaching records that do. As a PhD student and currently as a temporary faculty member, I have been on several search committees for temporary jobs, and I have interviewed candidates who have struggled to find anything but a VAP and yet who have publication records better than those of tenured faculty at certain Leiter top 20 universities. What was the weakness in these candidates' files? Only their institutional pedigree.

However, we can also look at hiring records. So here's a question:
other than Rusty Jones (the champion of the philosophical proletariat), can you name a single person who has been hired by a Leiter top 20 department in the last 5 years that did not come from a top 20 department? Can you name a single philosopher in the last two decades who (i) was hired by a department in Leiter's top 20 and (ii) not published at the time of hiring?

Even more evidence for philosophers' preoccupation with rankings is made explicit in advertising at MA programs. For example:

http://www.umsl.edu/academics/degree-pages/Philosophy.html

Individually, none of the pieces of evidence I have given shows that most individuals in the discipline care about rankings, but taken together, I think it shows that the practice is at least somewhat widespread.

9:03 said...

I'm 9:03. If you are looking for a hyper-articulated rubric for "evidence of good teaching," you're not going to find it from me, for such a thing does not exist. Each search committee *member* will have different standards and criteria.

With that said, I can give you what I look for as evidence of *good* teaching, and if one wants to generalize it, so be it.

1) No matter what, evidence of good teaching cannot be reduced to one element in a dossier. It's a web. Weaker elements can be offset significantly by other elements.

2) I give primacy to *complete* sets of student evaluations where the quantitative scores are high. There are the well-noted problems with student evaluations, but in my eyes, it is the best, fallible measure. College students have been exposed to MANY teachers in their high school and/or college careers so far. Thus, their scores have some merit in lieu of the fact that I have not actually been in the classroom with the candidate. They have for at least months. If the set has only about half of the enrollment responding, my eyebrows raise. I do like seeing multiple complete sets.

3) I like viewing complete sets of typed up qualitative student comments. Any cherry-picked comments are worthless. But complete sets show definite trends of commenting, and they are noteworthy.

4) Do not do what someone above says in providing your own feedback to students. There is no trustworthiness there.

5) A sample syllabus is nice to see. I like to feel the tone of the syllabus, rigor, and attention to detail. If you are not welcoming in your syllabus, that says something to me. If you have significant spelling or grammar errors in your syllabus, you might as well hang up your coat for two reasons: (a) how can you teach good writing if you aren't attentive enough to root out your own errors? (b) it shows how much you care about your job application.

6) Your cover letter is VERY important. As someone else said above, if you spend most of your time delineating your research in a letter for a teaching institution, you obviously don't care enough about your teaching - at least that is the perception.

7) Regarding peer evaluations and recommendation letters, I read them but I look mainly for negative marks. Most peer evals and rec letters are strategic documents used to trump up the candidate, so I don't give much stock in positive ones; they are almost all positive. Rip me for that if you want. But if someone says something negative, that is noteworthy.

8) My ranges of perception and expectations change depending on how long the candidate has been teaching. If someone has been teaching full-time for a few years, I want to see stellar markers. If someone is a newbie, I give much more leeway and look for a desire to grow in their teaching.

To be continued…

9:03 said...

9) Teaching statements may or may not be helpful. Teaching statements all look the same nowadays, but if someone spends significant writing space talking about how one can connect their research to their teaching or how insanely rigorous one is in the classroom, that is a turn off. I want to know how much you care about your students. Yep, I said the "care" word. It's remarkable how much a caring attitude towards one's students raises the bar of education. It is by no means that only thing, but is a damn important one.

10) The presentation of your documents. Sloppy or shoddy presentations reveal something negative. Those who pay attention to their documents' presentation reveal something positive.

11) To reiterate, I do not take any one element above in isolation from the rest. It is a web and I treat it as such, though some markers do weigh heavier than others.

12) And let me add, that I have seen many candidates shine on paper, only to be quite lackluster in the classroom. I make room for nerves and an off-day, but there is the occasional disparity. Thus, my final judgment on anyone's teaching is after I have read their dossier and seen their teaching first-hand. Unfortunately, I have to nix many many candidates before we get to the campus visit stage, and some would have done much much better in the classroom than their teaching dossier would suggest. For that, I apologize. We do the best we can.

I don't know if I covered everything, but this is already longer than I intended.

Anonymous said...

Here is another anecdote which suggests our field follows rankings for hiring. Lou Marinoff in Inside Higher Ed writes about the lucky year City College got 637 apps for an open position (it was written in 2008, I suppose before that became the norm). The first criterion he lists for creating a short list is pedigree. From the article:

"How did we prune our field from 637 to 27? An important selection criterion was holding a Ph.D. from a good university. Members of our department earned their Ph.D.s at Columbia, Harvard, Oxford, and University of London. Additionally, City College is known as the 'Harvard of the Proletariat,' with distinguished alumni that include nine Nobel Laureates, more than any other public institution in America. Our faculty members are expected to live up to this legacy."

boris said...


2:07,

I do agree that I haven’t provided evidence for what I claimed was clear (that much of the profession isn’t slavishly devoted to rankings). I have the evidence of my own experience; you have the evidence of yours. I think we agree that solid, public evidence for either side will be hard to provide.

Yes, my S.O. has a degree from a top 30 program.

I don't agree that interviewing two or fewer non-top-20 candidates in the last two searches is evidence of slavish ranking devotion. The top twenty programs (plus Oxford and ANU) produce a whole lot of candidates. It wouldn't surprise me if together they had more than 85% of the very top candidates in most years.

Certainly graduate admissions is noisy, but it might be pretty rare for an exceptionally promising student to fail to get into a top twenty program. (Admittedly this is just speculation.) And, one hopes that top PhD programs manage to educate their students and prepare them better than lower-ranked programs, although surely not in every case.

... I would estimate the number of highly-qualified candidates from lower-ranked departments is much higher.

Well, ‘highly-qualified’, yes, for sure. But better qualified than the ones from those top programs? I mean, you *may* be right, but it’s not clear to me.

I looked at Notre Dame, because that way I could get a big sample from just one site. They've hired someone from Cambridge, someone from Toronto, someone from Duke, all fairly recently; maybe not in the past five years, though. Honestly, I'm not going to search the top twenty for another Rusty, but it wouldn't surprise me at all if there were some.

UMSL, which you mentioned as an allegedly slavish department, has a professor with a degree from U Mass, one with a degree from SUNY Buffalo, one with a degree from Wash. U., one from Penn, one from Irvine.

So, I'm not at all sure your evidence shows what you claim it shows. (Or supports, maybe, rather than 'shows'.)



Anonymous said...

Let me add something to 10:44's post. Congruency in a job application is very important. If a candidate is applying for a position at a research institution, then they are going to publish quite a bit. Publishing obviously requires having referees judging your work interesting, worthy of publication. So if a student had difficulty getting accepted to a highly regarded PhD program, then that raises the question as to whether their work will be regarded well by the people who, by and large, work and teach at those institutions. I'm not saying candidates from un-ranked programs don't produce great work. But if one sells themselves as a candidate for a good research program, they need to do more work to prove that their work will be well regarded by the very same people who likely didn't accept them into that highly regarded program.

Anonymous said...

One thing I find especially helpful, as a SC member, is when candidates give me some sense of what they are like, or what they do, in the classroom.

Too many teaching statements are just abstract boilerplate that tells me nothing about HOW they teach. I know you are passionate about teaching, that you care about your students and want them to learn to 'think critically' and to 'DO philosophy.' But tell me HOW you convey this passion and get them there. What's an example of a type of assignment you tend to give, why did you design the assignment that way, and how did it succeed? What are some changes you have made to your teaching in response to feedback from students, peers and self-evaluations?

If I see that kind of concrete detail and reflection on teaching, then I am more convinced that you actually care about teaching.

I will then, at a later stage in the hiring process, look more carefully at your teaching letters and student evaluation written comments, to see if what they say matches, reflects or otherwise complements what you said in your teaching statement. If I find that kind of reinforcement, I am likely to be hooked.

Anonymous said...

Can you name a single philosopher in the last two decades who (i) was hired by a department in Leiter's top 20 and (ii) not published at the time of hiring?

Yep: take away the most salient signs of merit and it's really hard to decide which of the 400 candidates to interview.

If (i) then you'd better make sure not (ii), if you want to get hired at a Leiter top 20. Wasn't that obvious?

Anonymous said...

When I was on the market, every SC made note of my teaching portfolio as something that made my application stand out. For what it's worth, here's what I included:

1. I included copies of a full set of student evaluations (including negative ones), as well as a note as to how I addressed those criticisms in the next iteration of the course. (For instance, many students noted that I moved through material too quickly; others that I didn't provide detailed comments on writing assignments.)
2. I included 2 copies of the syllabus for the above course, so the SC could see the changes I implemented to the scheduling of readings and assignments.
3. In my Teaching Statement, I discussed one assignment that failed, and how I changed it, and explained how those changes led to more successful work from students.

From what I can tell, SCs are not looking for evidence of "good teaching," because that's something you can't provide evidence for in the documents we have available to us. Rather, they are looking for evidence of "thoughtful teaching," and there certainly are ways that you can demonstrate the ways that you have given serious thought to your pedagogical practices.

Show SCs that you have put some thought into your teaching, and explain why you do what you do. SCs are not expecting you to be expert teachers, but they are expecting you to have given thought to your pedagogy.

Anonymous said...

First year on the market, ABD, applied to 60+ schools and counting. No interviews. I am now giving up hope for an APA interview.

Anonymous said...

"When I was on the market, every SC made note of my teaching portfolio as something that made my application stand out."

Does the "every" scope over all the schools you applied to or over ones that interviewed you or expressed further interest?

If former, super impressive!!! We should definitely follow suit.

If latter, well, that's a bit of a selection bias isn't it... in which case I guess it matters what percentage of those schools are out of ones you applied to, so we can determine whether that's a successful strategy.

Anonymous said...

9:03: "Each search committee *member* will have different standards and criteria."

Exactly. That's why it's amorphous!

Anonymous said...

"Does the "every" scope over all the schools you applied to or over ones that interviewed you or expressed further interest?"

You're right; I meant every SC I interviewed with.

"If latter, well, that's a bit of a selection bias isn't it..."

True, but I did get a job, so if my experience can help, I offer it.

"in which case I guess it matters what percentage of those schools are out of ones you applied to, so we can determine whether that's a successful strategy."

I interviewed at roughly 15% of the schools I had applied to (including post-docs). Not a great percentage, I guess, but multiple interviews (and a job) my first year on the market qualifies as a successful market run.

Honestly, I think any successful strategy includes some version of the following:

1. Clear evidence that you are good at what you do (which comes from writing samples and well-tailored teaching portfolios).
2. A cover letter that explains why you are a good fit for that specific job (rather than merely qualified, given that there will be hundreds of qualified applicants that you need to separate yourself from).
3. Luck.

As you can't prepare for the last one, you need to focus on the first two. I'm positive there are multiple ways to achieve the first two. But this I'm pretty sure of: sending the exact same letter to every school kills your chance at #2, and vague cliches and lack of specifics (esp. in the teaching portfolio) kill your chances at #1.

Anonymous said...

I am waiting with bated breath for the call from Harvard. Go Rusty Jones!

Anonymous said...

"Congruency in a job application is very important. If a candidate is applying for a position at a research institution, then they are going to publish quite a bit. Publishing obviously requires having referees judging your work interesting, worthy of publication. So if a student had difficulty getting accepted to a highly regarded PhD program, then that raises the question as to whether their work will be regarded well by the people who, by and large, work and teach at those institutions."

This is really one of the most dimwitted justifications I have ever read for pedigree-based hiring. So we are fated to become whatever we were prior to even going to grad school? People can't improve, change, learn how to write interesting papers in grad school? It's this kind of horribly crazy thinking that makes really worry about the way some people do look at pedigree? Sheesh.

Anonymous said...

Is it possible to crash the Eastern, that is, to attend without registering, in order to have an interview? I have one interview scheduled and intend to show up, interview, and leave. I know there is some kind of paperwork component to interviewing but can't remember what it is and thus don't know whether it would complicate a non-registered attendance.

Anonymous said...

"People can't improve, change, learn how to write interesting papers in grad school?"

Of course they can. That's why they need to publish.

zombie said...

12:58: if you know the room number for your interview, you should be able to crash. But you can't get it from APA without registering, so you'll have to get it from the SC. The gatekeepers are primarily seen at the smokers. I don't remember if anyone was guarding the doors for the ballroom interviews.

Anonymous said...

I don't like getting a PFO on a Sunday. (Not that I like them on any other day, either, but especially not on Sunday.) Sunday is a day I'd prefer be a day of rest from the cavalcade of rejection.

And I don't like this: "While we are not prepared to move forward with your application…"

I think that's a PFO, but it's kind of vague and noncommittal, no? Maybe they just need more preparation? I'm willing to give them more time, if that's what it takes.

Anonymous said...

@2:09, where is the PFO from?

Anonymous said...

You could just not check your e-mail on Sunday. Assuming you and I just lost the same lottery, I was just as happy to hear sooner rather than later.

Anonymous said...

2:09,

In the future, include in your letter of application the days you do prefer to be rejected.

Anonymous said...

@2:09, where is the PFO from?
Seconded. A day late, but seconded.

Anonymous said...

Receiving a PFO any day from a school that has interviewed me but found me wanting is miles better than the silent treatment. It's one thing for the girl to reject you after the first date. It's another for them to pretend that it never happened.

Anonymous said...

2:09 sez: Binghamton.

Anonymous said...

Arkansas' was awesome, primarily because they thought they went through "a very long and difficult process". The length of the "long process": 8 days. They started looking at applications 8 days ago, and have already made an interview list. Yikes.

Anonymous said...

Is it wrong to go on the market when you already have a TT job, without any intention of even interviewing, just to see which institutions express interest in you?

zombie said...

It seems that some of the PFOs are coming a little earlier this year, no? I don't remember in past years getting them before the first rounds.

Anonymous said...

4:11,

Not wrong, but a waste of time putting together applications.

Anonymous said...

Dear 3:56 PM et al.:

It's unwarranted -- and most often incorrect -- to assume that the *deadline* for applications is the date that a search committee will start *evaluating* applications. I guarantee you that U. Arkansas and others with seemingly quick turnaround times have been looking at applications as they came in and forming a provisional list well before the stragglers arrived on the due date.

Anonymous said...

6:31,

What if I just want to see where I stand after a few years of teaching and pumping out pubs? I can't be bothered to stand in line with a bunch of smelly grad students for APA interviews. Still, I wonder if I'd be competitive in this market. Some say that those hired just 10 years ago would not stand a chance of getting a job in this tough job market.

Anonymous said...

Clearly the person with a job asking about whether he or she (probably he) should send out applications just to see what kind of response he/she would get is trolling. Given the kind of attitudes being expressed, is this person really interested in learning whether a bunch of "smelly grad students" think it would be wrong to send out applications? Best to ignore.

Regarding the application deadline/time to review point, this is why I think it's better to apply sooner rather than later. You might make it provisionally into the "yes" pile and it might be harder to dislodge you from that position than it would be to reject your application had it come in later. The comparison class is smaller early on and once people form their judgments there can be psychological costs to revising them.

Anonymous said...

"What if I just want to see where I stand after a few years of teaching and pumping out pubs?"

That's fine. I just don't see the point in putting together applications for nothing more than puffing up one's ego. But if you have the spare time, and find yourself bored, then do it.

Anonymous said...

Anyone heard anything from UCSD or Santa Cruz?

Anonymous said...

Has anyone heard from Lingnan?

Anonymous said...

Anyone in the know, please help: I'm interviewing at the APA. I was planning on not registering for the conference (too pricey), but it looks as though I must register for the placement service, and to do that, I must register for the conference. Is this correct? (I also let my membership lapse for financial reasons.) Is it possible to register with placement services once there, but not the conference?

Anonymous said...

If you do the early bird and you're a grad student, it's only $25. That's feasible. Otherwise, I'm not sure how expensive it is. Good luck though.

zombie said...

2:51: unless things have changed (and I see no evidence they have), you have to register for the meeting to register for placement services.

If you're still a student, you can register for $25 (today is the last day for reduced advanced registration), but you have to be a member (another $35 for a student). Or you'll have to pay the nonmember rate ($120). All in all, registering as a member is a better deal.

If the SC will tell you the suite number, you could probably get away with not registering, since placement services is basically just the gatekeeper for the interview room numbers. Placement services won't give you diddly unless you're registered.

Anonymous said...

Zombie, can we start a new thread?

Smokers, give us your vitals ...

Number of APA/Skype interviews:
Universities (n):
SLAC (n):
Other (n):
PhD in hand (Y/N):
PhD program (top 10/25/50/below or unranked):
AOS:
Publications (n):
Comments:

Anonymous said...

Just a friendly reminder to those on the market and at the APA for interviews...be careful who you are impolite to on public transportation. A kind member of a search committee interviewing you may be the one who gives you the directions you need to get to the Hilton from the light rail. Make sure to say, "Thank you" like your nanny taught you.

Anonymous said...

2
2
0
0
Y
50
Political Phil/Ethics
40 (inc. 3 books)
No job market for old men

Anonymous said...

6:51--

Absolutism is crap, but Kant's second CI certainly isn't, as my students over the years, including at least two divorces attributed to Kant attest--never just use people, but respect everyone you can. When the checker asks perfunctorily how are you, you say, fine--how are you? Not only will you surprise many, but you will cement some fibers of your own self-respect too. I get the consequentialist angle on manners as maximizing your own utilty, but Kant actually approaches an aspect of character-building virtue ethics in the second CI.

Anonymous said...

1
0
1
0
N
Unranked
1
Indeed, this is no job market for old men.

Anonymous said...

6:51,

Nanny didn't tell me what to do if some schmuck tries to undermine my interview chances by sending me to the fucking Hilton.

Anonymous said...

Number of APA/Skype interviews: 2
Universities (n): 1
SLAC (n): 1
Other (n): 0
PhD in hand (Y/N): Y
PhD program (top 10/25/50/below or unranked): top 5
AOS: metaphysics
Publications (n): 12
Comments: already in TT job

Anonymous said...

Universities: 0
SLAC: 1
Other: 0
PhD in hand: Y
PhD program: Top 50
AOS: Nope.
Publications: 1 book in press, 1 forthcoming, 1 in development; 8 articles; lots of reviews and conference papers.
Comments: I was invited to apply to this job, but I don't think I am their top choice. Likely, I was only invited to round out a dummy search for the person they targeted. But I was certainly honored to be nominated.

Anonymous said...

Number of APA/Skype interviews: 1
Universities (n): 1
SLAC (n): 0
Other (n): 0
PhD in hand (Y/N): Y
PhD program (top 10/25/50/below or unranked): Top 25
AOS: M&E
Publications (n): 2 top 10
Gender: Male

Anonymous said...

" Anonymous said...
Let me add something to 10:44's post. Congruency in a job application is very important. If a candidate is applying for a position at a research institution, then they are going to publish quite a bit. Publishing obviously requires having referees judging your work interesting, worthy of publication. So if a student had difficulty getting accepted to a highly regarded PhD program, then that raises the question as to whether their work will be regarded well by the people who, by and large, work and teach at those institutions. I'm not saying candidates from un-ranked programs don't produce great work. But if one sells themselves as a candidate for a good research program, they need to do more work to prove that their work will be well regarded by the very same people who likely didn't accept them into that highly regarded program.

December 20, 2013 at 1:49 PM"

BAD REASONING ALERT!!

Way to assume that such candidates even *applied* to any such programs, let alone applied and were rejected.

Anonymous said...

6:51, wow, major paranoia....