Monday, July 28, 2014

Holy crap. New TT jobs posted already.


Missouri's got an early deadline of October 13; San Diego's is November 7.

So, although I've kinda been anxious to see what jobs there will be this year, I'm really not ready to think about submitting applications yet. In July. When I'm grinding through a bunch of papers/chapters, and just starting to think about fall semester syllabi.

But I guess it's time to start thinking about that.

~zombie

43 comments:

Anonymous said...

but i thought you had a TT job zombie? why submit applications?

zombie said...

I do. But I like to torture myself by looking at the other side of the fence, where the grass is greener.

Anonymous said...

I'll remind everyone that there are also really good jobs in the UK. Bristol has an ad out and it's good to look on jobs.ac.uk for departments that don't advertise on PhilJobs. These are particularly good positions for people with a few publications in hand as departments are under serious pressure to hire people who will do good in the REF. If you're worried about pedigree, for example, it's a good idea to apply for UK jobs. They aren't on a regular schedule like jobs in the states, so you have to check throughout the year.

I really don't understand why there aren't more US applicants for UK jobs.

zombie said...

Do you know that there are not many US applicants for UK jobs? Seriously, I would be interested in knowing. Do a lot of UK candidates apply for US jobs?

I (vaguely) have the impression that the application and interview process is quite different in the UK -- perhaps some find that daunting?

Anonymous said...

Hi Zombie,

"Do you know that there are not many US applicants for UK jobs? Seriously, I would be interested in knowing. Do a lot of UK candidates apply for US jobs?"

I'm shocked by how few US applicants we get for jobs in our department (which I think is a very good department in terms of location, quality of students, quality of colleagues, and reputation), particularly because it seems to me that US applicants with a few years experience would be very strong candidates for these jobs. I've spoken to friends at other departments around the UK and the number of applications they get tend to be lower than the applications you'll get for TT jobs in the states.

As for UK students applying for jobs in the US, I think that UK students do apply to jobs in the US, but they might not apply for as many as those positions as their US counterparts do. Many of my students, for example, don't know what to make of liberal arts colleges and schools that want things like teaching portfolios.

The application process isn't that different here. There's usually a call for applications where we try to come up with a short list and at that stage we might ask for additional materials. From a short list, we might then find 5 or so people to bring to campus for an interview. It's usually a job talk, an interview with a few members of staff, and you find out in a day or two if you got it. From what I've gathered, UK interviews and applications are actually less demanding than the interviews and applications you'd have to put together in the states. My personal experience is quite limited, but I didn't particularly enjoy spending a few days doing the on campus interview, teaching demonstration, etc. you have to do in the states. In my three interviews in the UK, I gave a talk, had a quick interview, and that was basically that. In one case, there was a dinner with one member of staff and all the candidates were put up in a hotel together. That was actually a lot of fun. We all got along really well and had a good night of drinking as we waited to hear who got the job. (Alright, so I can imagine that that might not go as well as it did in our case, but we weren't forced to hang out together.)

Anonymous said...

About the University of Missouri St. Louis job postings. Did everyone notice they stipulate that they want applicants who have demonstrated the ability to publish in premier analytic journals? Is it healthy for the profession to have candidacy for junior positions contingent on publishing in top journals? isn't that ratcheting up the bar a bit?

On a related note. I have a solo publication in Philosophical Studies. Would that meet their desideratum? Or do they mean to select only those who've published in JPhil, PPR, Mind, Nous, Phil Review, and the Australasian journal?

zombie said...

5:51: I noticed that too. Although they say they prefer "demonstrated ability to publish in major analytic journals," which, presumably, means having already been published in such journals. It's also an open rank position, so a less unreasonable requirement for more senior candidates.

If you look at their current faculty, they're pedigreed through and through.

Anonymous said...

UMSL seems to use the label "teaching professor" to describe NTT faculty instead of the usual titles.

Anonymous said...

"Is it healthy for the profession to have candidacy for junior positions contingent on publishing in top journals?"

Yes.

"isn't that ratcheting up the bar a bit?"

Yes. Which, by the way is good for the profession.

There is an increasing number of applicants, an increasing number of highly-qualified applicants, and an increasing number of applicants who have secured post-docs, or who are a few years out of grad school adjuncting and have been publishing good work.

One could argue that, in the nature of competition, for limited resources, applicants have been raising the bar. The schools are simply taking note, and designing ads accordingly.

For some context, there are some faculty at well-regarded SLACs who got their jobs, and got tenure, without publications in major journals. I know of a current faculty member who got his TT job (and tenure) without ever finishing his PhD (though he did publish after getting hired).

This is the way the world works.

But rest assured, most job ads will not ask for such details.

Derek Bowman said...

@12:20

Actually the things you mention are quite bad for the profession. First, you might wonder what the point of those articles in top journals are if there isn't room in the profession for anyone to read those articles beyond the handful who are writing, editing, and reviewing them.

But more importantly, this part is very, very bad:
"an increasing number of highly-qualified applicants, and an increasing number of applicants who have secured post-docs, or who are a few years out of grad school adjuncting and have been publishing good work."

Because this means you're in a profession where highly qualified people can't find decent work, and good work gets done in precarious jobs often for poverty level wages. What signals do you think that sends - to students, to prospective members of the profession, and to those who pay our wages? It sends the signal that our work isn't that important, or at any rate that it doesn't require professional level wages.

Anonymous said...

"Actually the things you mention are quite bad for the profession. First, you might wonder what the point of those articles in top journals are if there isn't room in the profession for anyone to read those articles beyond the handful who are writing, editing, and reviewing them."

I assume that SC specified "premier" journals because those, presumably, are the journals that a larger number of scholars read. (As opposed to the second- or third-tier journals that have smaller readerships.) Why are you assuming that nobody is reading these articles? Further, if what you say is true (that nobody is reading these articles beyond that handful you mention), then what's the point of publishing at all?

"Because this means you're in a profession where highly qualified people can't find decent work,"

Right. Hate to break it to you, but we're in that profession, and have been for a while. This job ad doesn't create a new situation. It's not just recently that the highly qualified can't find decent work. (That is, I fail to see how job ads like this in any way foster or even encourage the labor practices that are moving away from TT work to adjunct work.) Further, we all know that many SCs in the recent past have unofficially used this is a criterion anyway. I applaud the SC here for listing in the ad what many unofficially use for decisions already.

"and good work gets done in precarious jobs often for poverty level wages."

Yup. But again, I don't see how this ad encourages the labor practices that you are noting. How, in other words, does this ad make jobs more precarious, or more scarce?

"What signals do you think that sends - to students, to prospective members of the profession, and to those who pay our wages?"

1. That research universities want to hire applicants with the best prospects of contributing to the top journals in the field. But we already knew this. This has always been true.
2. That top journals matter. But we already knew this. This has always been true.
3. That students interesting in applying to research programs should want to study with people whose work is featured in top journals. But we already knew this. This has always been true.
4. That those who pay our wages will continue to care about publishing in top journals. But we already knew this. This has always been true.

"It sends the signal that our work isn't that important,"

No, it sends the signal that some work is more important than others. But those signals already exist. For instance, you don't seem to object to the idea that there are "premier" journals. So you accept the idea that some journals are more prominent and important than others, but disagree with the idea that these distinctions should matter when hiring? If we as a field recognize that some journals are better to publish in than others, why shouldn't departments want people who can publish in those journals?

"or at any rate that it doesn't require professional level wages."

Not at all. Again, SCs having stricter criteria for jobs does not change the nature of the market.

Yes, the labor situation is awful. But this job ad is not making it worse. This job ad is not increasing the number of people who won't get the job. Only one person will get this job, regardless of what they advertise for.

Maybe you don't like that research programs are focusing more so on the research aspects of the job. OK. But focusing on research isn't changing the market. It's simply clarifying what SCs want. (Similarly, many small state schools explicitly that they want applicants with teaching experience. Is that also bad for the market?)

-12:20

Derek Bowman said...

@12:20

You clearly haven't thought through the implications of having publication in premier journals as a prerequisite for entry level jobs. If the only people who can get jobs are those who publish in 'prestige' journals, then over time they will be the only people left in the profession.

I have no objection to the job ad - it's a symptom, not a cause. But I do object to the reality that the ad reflects, and I was opposing your claim that such a raising of the bar is good for the profession.

And yes, I have the same objections to requirement for teaching experience insofar as those requirements go beyond what is a reasonable part of graduate training. Entry-level jobs should require entry-level credentials.

When we have to prove that we can do the work (teaching or research) under poor working conditions, then we show our employers that high quality academic work doesn't require professional terms of employment. As an expert in "the way the world works" perhaps you'd care to speculate on what we can expect that to do for pay and working conditions, even for those who do manage to publish in elite journals.

Anonymous said...

"You clearly haven't thought through the implications..."

I noted that this is not, and shouldn't be true, for all jobs. There's no reason why this shouldn't be the case for research jobs. Let's not kid ourselves; these jobs are also not entry-level jobs. Many already in the profession will be applying for this job. Multiple members of the current faculty in this department held initial positions elsewhere. In other words, for some members of the department, jobs in that program are not "entry-level." In fact, there's a case to be made that jobs like this should *not* be considered entry-level jobs. Why should we assume that only freshly-minted PhDs, and not those with experience as post-docs, VAPs, or adjuncts, should be applying to jobs like this? If we are assuming that more experienced applicants can/should apply, why can't programs ask for materials that reflect that experience?

"If the only people who can get jobs"

Not all jobs. This would be an idiotic requirement for jobs, say, at community colleges, or teaching-focused undergraduate institutions.

"are those who publish in 'prestige' journals, then over time they will be the only people left in the profession."

Really? Because somehow you think that second- and third-tier journals will fold up and go out of business? That those who publish in "lesser" journals will stop doing so? Not everyone in the field wants a research-focused job, and most jobs are not research-focused. I did not say that *all* jobs should have this requirement (which you seem to be suggesting); rather, research-focused jobs should make that focus clear in their ads. This one does. I don't see why that's a problem.

"I was opposing your claim that such a raising of the bar is good for the profession."

Then we disagree. I think it's great for the profession when programs clearly note the criteria they will judge applicants by, instead of writing more general ads and then judging applicants on unlisted criteria. They want a researcher and advertise for such. If this means that some applicants who likely never had a chance don't waste their time applying, better for everyone. If I knew I had zero chance at a job, I'd rather not apply; let me spend that time on applications that have a better chance of being evaluated on their merits.

"I have the same objections to requirement for teaching experience insofar as those requirements go beyond what is a reasonable part of graduate training."

Again, we disagree. Some programs do a great job of training teachers in their grad programs. If some programs do a better job than others in providing training, why is it bad for the market to reflect that? Should programs that do an outstanding job of such training be asked to dial back their work, so that as a field we can all aspire to merely "reasonable" levels of training? Also, why are you assuming that jobs are entry-level? In other words, why should jobs be designed for those fresh out of grad school? Many post-docs, VAPs, and adjuncts have excellent experience. Should that not matter? It almost sounds like you want a system that encourages the idea that PhDs go stale if they don't get work immediately upon graduation.

"Entry-level jobs should require entry-level credentials."

Agreed. But why should we assume that this is an entry-level position? Better yet, can you give me an example of a non-entry-level position? Sure, senior hires. But what's the position out there for post-docs, VAPs, and adjuncts (not to mention those in TT jobs who wish to move up in the profession) that reflects their experience in the field? Nobody will hire an adjunct for a senior-level position.

"When we have to prove that we can do the work (teaching or research) under poor working conditions..."

We already do that. It's called "graduate school." I'm all for reforming labor conditions for graduate students.

-12:20

zombie said...

Just to reiterate: the UMSL job is OPEN RANK. So, not necessarily an "entry level job," although presumably "open rank" includes the possibility that they will consider suitably qualified junior scholars.
Me personally, when I see "open rank," I generally assume that they are really looking for someone more senior and with more prestige than lil ol' me. So I don't bother.

Anonymous said...

What makes you think the UMSL jobs are open rank? They seem to be entry level insofar as each ad specifies "Assistant Professor." They're open AOS, but I don't see any indication that they're open rank apart from their being put into a broad "Faculty" category at the Phil Jobs site. At the UMSL website, they say they're looking specifically for Assistant Professors.

zombie said...

Under "Job category" it says "Faculty (open rank) / Tenure-track or similar"

Although it also says "Assistant professor" in the job description. So, somewhat lacking in clarity and consistency, it is.

Anonymous said...

I don't think that it's a good idea to require publication in top journals (top ten?) for an entry level job (bracketing the issue about whether UMSL is such a job or not). There are real problems getting papers reviewed in a timely manner in many of the journals regarded as top journals (e.g., Mind, J Phil, Phil Review), there are journals that are pretty good at reviewing things in a timely way but that have moratoriums that cut off submissions (e.g., Nous and PPR). Let me add that some of the prestigious journals appear to give unfair advantages to philosophers who work with the editors of those journals. I don't think that checking to see whether someone at the start of their career has cracked into the top is particularly fair to the people just starting out and isn't a particularly reliable means for identifying talent. At some point in, say, the first ten years I'd hope that someone gets a piece or two into the top, but I don't think it would be good to place too much weight on this sort of thing at the start of a career.

My $.02.

Anonymous said...

The discussion is evaluative when we use terms like “good,” “bad,” “healthy for the profession,” and “raising the bar.” Descriptively, I think we all can agree that the job market in philosophy is dismal, and more generally, that “the way the world works” sucks. But going back to the normative issue of whether requiring publications in “premier” journals in philosophy for Assistant Professor positions is a good thing, my view is that it is not, for the reasons mentioned by Derek Bowman, plus these others:

(1) It assumes that these premier journals, since they are premier, publish the best work in philosophy. But very often they do not. Too often they publish well-composed trivialities by well-connected people in the discipline, junior and senior. Many of these articles contribute nothing but epicycles upon epicycles.

(2) It assumes that quality can be measured accurately in philosophy, and that the premier journals are the best arbiters of quality. I don’t see how the first conjunct can be true, and the second is false in my experience. (Admittedly, that’s just a sample of 1.) In my experience, I’ve gotten very helpful comments from reviewers at “lesser”—even obscure—journals, and conversely, very unhelpful comments from referees at more “elite” venues. Moreover, it should be clear that quality is a property inherent to the work—the venue adds nothing to it. One could publish the very same article in Mind or in the local undergrad journal, and its quality would be exactly the same regardless of where it appears. (As to the likely reply that the feedback from the elite place is liable to be more helpful or make the article better, see the third sentence of this paragraph.)

(3) Because of the assumption mentioned in (2), it is reasonable to suppose that the prestige of the journal would serve as proxy for the quality of the article. But quality and prestige, substance and brand name, are two very different things, and one could reasonably worry that the pernicious trend of conflating the two, already too prevalent in this field, would be reinforced. The proposed requirement also provides an incentive to the SC for not doing the hard work of READING the writing sample; they might reason that since it was published by a premier journal, it has to be good.

(4) Grad school ideally should be a time to acquire a deep and broad knowledge of philosophy—which is 2,500 years old—as well as of one’s eventual specialization. If one is able to publish papers during this time—let alone in premier journals—great; but ads like this one might have the effect of distracting students from what *should* be the main goal of the Ph.D.

Having said this, if you really want that Missouri job, then you’d better have that elite pub. The way the world works and all that.

Anonymous said...

I'd trust the ad...

Anonymous said...

"(1) It assumes that these premier journals, since they are premier, publish the best work in philosophy."

I agree with your reasoning, but let's face it: this is how many in the field think. This SC is not the first - not by a long shot - to make this assumption. Nor, as I have noted, are they the first to make hiring decisions according to this assumption. They are simply the first to publicly admit to this assumption in the job ad. Again, this SC is not *changing* anything about the market, or our assumptions about the field. It's merely *reflecting* those assumptions in the job ad.

"(2) It assumes that quality can be measured accurately in philosophy, and that the premier journals are the best arbiters of quality."

Of course it does. But, again, the field has been making that assumption for years. One thing to consider: this SC is making the same assumptions that, presumably, the tenure review board in the department/at the university will be making. This assumption, as with the above, *already exists.*

"(3) But quality and prestige, substance and brand name, are two very different things, and one could reasonably worry that the pernicious trend of conflating the two, already too prevalent in this field, would be reinforced."

I understand the objection here. That said, I think it's smart of the SC to note in the job ad exactly what kinds of standard they will hold the applicant to. As this person will eventually need to earn tenure, it's nice to know at the start where the bar is set.

"The proposed requirement also provides an incentive to the SC for not doing the hard work of READING the writing sample; they might reason that since it was published by a premier journal, it has to be good."

You may be shocked to learn this, but many SCs don't read writing samples. Many will toss applicants based on any of a number of biases. Including this one. Again, this *already* happens.

"(4) Grad school ideally should be a time to acquire a deep and broad knowledge of philosophy—which is 2,500 years old—as well as of one’s eventual specialization."

Agreed. But let's face it, it's also a professional training degree. Every year here, we talk about Plan B options. Why? Because programs don't have Plan B options. There is only Plan A, which is "get a TT job in philosophy." PhD programs (many, though certainly not all) have long since given up the notion that the PhD is anything other than training for one very specific job. I agree with you on this point, but this is not how most PhD programs operate.

"If one is able to publish papers during this time—let alone in premier journals—great;"

Again, I don't think this ad is targeting newly-minted PhDs, though there are certainly those who fit the requirements.

"but ads like this one might have the effect of distracting students from what *should* be the main goal of the Ph.D."

See above. PhD programs see getting a job - and in particular, getting a job *like this one* - as the main goal. And it's students who see it this way too. I'm sure there are some people who earn a PhD in philosophy just for the education. But for everyone I have met, the only goal was the eventual job. Maybe grad programs should be different. But they are not.

"Having said this, if you really want that Missouri job, then you’d better have that elite pub. The way the world works and all that."

Yes, it does. And has for a while. Again, this ad doesn't *change* anything. This ad merely *reflects* the assumptions, biases, and labor issues that *already exist in the field.* I applaud this SC for making this clear in their ad. And I feel bad for all those who will be applying to other jobs that will have this same set of criteria, but not place it in the ads. But hey, if it makes everyone feel better to pretend SCs haven't been thinking this way for years already, so be it. Enjoy your bubble.

-12:20

Anonymous said...

"Let me add that some of the prestigious journals appear to give unfair advantages to philosophers who work with the editors of those journals."

Which ones?

Anonymous said...

Maybe someone above has already noted this (seemingly obvious) point, but much of this dispute is a little idle, since the wording of UMSL does not say that they prefer applicants that have *in fact* published in major analytic journals. Rather, the wording expresses a preference towards those who demonstrate an *ability* to do so.

Zombie seems to assume that one can demonstrate this ability only by successfully performing it to completion. But this isn't true of abilities in general, nor of this one in particular. One can demonstrate an ability to publish in major analytic journals in all sorts of ways short of landing a publication in such a venue, for instance by crafting a writing sample that is of equal or greater quality and originality compared to publications in major analytic journals.

Correctly read, the UMSL ad doesn't seem to indicate any kind of dire shift in focus away from what the Ph.D. ought to be focused on (or whatever). Rather, it seems like a rather natural preference that any research-oriented department would share.

One more nit-picky comment: I think it's a false dichotomy to assume (as 10:39am does) that the "main goal of the Ph.D." must be EITHER to "acquire a deep and broad knowledge of philosophy" OR to develop an ability to publish, with pursuing the latter a mere "distraction" to pursuing the former. But clearly, pursuing BOTH would be two main goals of any Ph.D.-granting program worth its salt, with a third being learning how to balance them.

John Turri said...

Hi Anon 10:39,

Your wrote, "It assumes that quality can be measured accurately in philosophy, and that the premier journals are the best arbiters of quality. I don’t see how the first conjunct can be true, and the second is false in my experience."

The second conjunct is false in my experience too. However, I do disagree with you on the first conjunct. Quality can be, and routinely is, measured in philosophy. Here are some criteria by which we can measure the quality of philosophical work:

(1) Relevance/importance of topic (best if this is not limited to what other philosophers have recently been arguing about)
(2) Effective literature review
(3) Clarity and novelty of thesis
(4) Consideration of relevant evidence
(5) Responsible and compelling interpretation of said evidence
(6) Identification of and response to presumptive objections or alternative interpretations
(7) Effective explanation of the consequences of the conclusions drawn (best if this is not limited to what other philosophers have recently been arguing about)

In formulating this list, I intentionally left out issues of writing mechanics and rhetoric, which are of course vitally important too.

I'm really not trying to pick on you or anything. But, not infrequently, I hear people say that quality can't be measured in philosophy, or that the only measure of quality is what other philosophers (of a certain stature or sort) think of the work. When I ask why this claim about assessment is true, the answer is usually something about the "non-empirical" character of philosophical theses.

So I wanted to write and ask why you, or others reading along, think it's true, in case you had reasons I've not heard yet, but which I should be considering. :)

Thanks!

zombie said...

I don't think the only way to demonstrate that one has the ability to get published in a top journal is to already be published in a top journal. But it is one way, and it might be the way meant by the SC. I claim no capacity to peer into their souls.
10:05 makes an important point re: tenure. It's pretty much a career killer to be denied tenure, and so, it's good to go in knowing what the standard is. UMSL would appear to have a standard that includes being published in a top journal, so it makes sense for them to look for a candidate who will be able to do that (or has already done so). Your candidacy will definitely be judged as to whether or not you have the required ability because, as has been said before here, no department really wants to have to fire someone and hire a replacement.

Anonymous said...

10:39 here. Thank you, 12:20, for your detailed response. I don’t think we disagree: you’re describing how things are; I’m saying how things should be (in my opinion). Again, I don’t think anybody is debating the realities of professional philosophy; the interesting normative question, I take it, is whether job ads should include a requirement to have published (or to “demonstrate an ability to publish”—whatever that means) in premier journals. In my view this is regrettable, for the reasons I mentioned earlier. I don’t think I’m living in a bubble (whatever this is, I do my best to enjoy it). I work at an American regional public institution—in many ways, a pretty typical institution, I would think. I am recently tenured. I am the second-most-published member of my department, and the one with the most publications in mainstream and so-called elite journals. Trust me, I am under no illusions as to what one needs to do to get a job and then tenure. Our professional reality is brutal, and my considered opinion is that we should not “ratchet up” this brutality. We should lessen it. Also, I must say I’m a bit surprised by your assertion that many SCs don’t read writing samples; during my time here I participated in one search, and we did read the writing samples and in general examined very carefully the materials of those candidates who made the first cut—i.e. those who weren’t rejected because they didn’t have a Ph.D. in hand, had the wrong AOS, or otherwise didn’t meet the formal requirements of the ad. At a place like this, philosophy hires are almost as rare as unicorns, so we have to make sure—as sure as we possibly can, obviously—that the person we do hire is solid all around and in it for the long haul. But then that’s just one search, at one department, in a somewhat weird part of the country. As to your point about the need to have clear guidelines from the start, I couldn’t agree more.

John Turri, thank you for your thoughtful response. My skepticism about measuring quality in philosophy is due to old school reasons concerning testability. This is a big topic, and I can’t possibly do it justice here. But even if it’s true that philosophical quality can’t be accurately and objectively measured, as I believe, then that of course doesn’t mean that philosophical quality doesn’t exist. Of course it does. But it exists in many places beyond articles in premier journals.

Anonymous said...

Thanks for the reply, and for giving me a chance to clarify.

"Our professional reality is brutal, and my considered opinion is that we should not “ratchet up” this brutality. We should lessen it."

I have no problem with this ad, in part, because it's clearly asking for a specific type of research-oriented applicant. Some people will want this job, and be qualified for this job. If there are qualified applicants for jobs, I see no reason for SCs not to target them. Does this potentially box out many other applicants? Yes. But these are applicants that the SC isn't interested in. I fail to see the problem. Note that I have stated that this would be a terrible idea for *all* jobs. It would be awful is this were an example of "racheting up" the job market. But, from what I can tell, it isn't. (I would be first in line to complain were this an ad from my department, where we teach a 4/4 load and most of the tenure faculty have never published in a premier journal.)

"Also, I must say I’m a bit surprised by your assertion that many SCs don’t read writing samples; during my time here I participated in one search, and we did read the writing samples and in general examined very carefully the materials of those candidates who made the first cut"

As do we at my institution, a small regional state university. But I have been told by several people (faculty at universities I earned graduate degrees from, and colleagues who work at elite SLACs and research universities) that many SCs don't read the full applications for all applicants. That is, while I hope that this is not universally true, I know of at least a dozen institutions where members of SCs have admitted to not reading writing samples, or otherwise dumping applications without reading them in full. I can't believe I have somehow discovered all such SCs. The DGS in my program ran workshops on how to construct applications that gave us the best chance of getting a full read, as many would be tossed right from the start.

-12:20

Anonymous said...

I don't have a problem with this language. It's August: GO OUTSIDE

For those who do have a problem with the language, I do have some solace to offer. It turns out that basically no job ad ever advertises for what they actually want or end up hiring. To nitpick about what counts as "major journals" or whether they were talking about "ability" or "demonstrated ability" is incredibly naive. This ad was probably written in haste by someone without too much thought, and is going to be largely irrelevant to however their committee hiring process ends up working. There's no predicting any of this.

Anonymous said...

To 3:02,

""Let me add that some of the prestigious journals appear to give unfair advantages to philosophers who work with the editors of those journals."

Which ones?"

I don't think the handlers of this blog would be thrilled if I attached names to my suspicions (even philosophers anonymous seems to frown on that kind of thing these days), but I'm not the only one who worries about this. I managed to get one of my old profs tipsy at an APA a few years ago and when I shared my suspicions, he was like, 'Wait, you just _suspect_ that there's something unfair going on?' He thought it was common knowledge.

I won't tell you what my area is, but if you look at people in my area that worked with this editor, you'll see that they have shockingly high percentage of publications with this editor's journals. Once you notice it, you'll probably start to get suspicious, too. I've also been told by people that they'll get a favorable review if they submit to certain journals, although they say that they've been asked not to abuse this and only use the relevant journals it if they have trouble landing their pieces elsewhere. They could have been full of shit, I could be full of shit, but that's what I've heard and it fits the evidence that I've seen.

It's really a shame how often people use their connections in this business to get ahead, but it happens quite a bit. You'll also see this with edited volumes, although the negative impact this has on the field is somewhat less.

Anonymous said...

Regarding the UMSL ad, one consideration in favor of UMSL: if an actual track record of publication in good journals isn't heavily weighted during the hiring process, what often seems to happen instead (at research-intensive institutions) is that 'promise' becomes a key factor. And in practice, 'promise' equals coming from a prestigious institution and having letters from 'top' people in the field attesting to your brilliance, even if you're ABD with no track record.

Anonymous said...

I don't think the handlers of this blog would be thrilled if I attached names to my suspicions (even philosophers anonymous seems to frown on that kind of thing these days), but I'm not the only one who worries about this.

Okay, I thought you meant you had evidence. You just suspect it and worry about it; that’s understandable.

I managed to get one of my old profs tipsy at an APA a few years ago and when I shared my suspicions, he was like, 'Wait, you just _suspect_ that there's something unfair going on?' He thought it was common knowledge.

It’s not common knowledge, and I’m skeptical that it’s true at all. I think there’s a lot of sour grapes involved. I work for a prestigious journal that plays no favorites at all, and certainly doesn’t give any unfair advantages to philosophers who work with its editors. If other journals are different, I'd like to know.


It's really a shame how often people use their connections in this business to get ahead, but it happens quite a bit.

Maybe, but it also happens quite a bit that philosophers cast jealous aspersions. Shocking, but true!

Anonymous said...

One of my grad school profs edited a journal, and told my class that he gives preferential treatment to anyone up for tenure that year, to help them secure their job.

Anonymous said...

7:58,

It can also mean using an unpublished writing sample as evidence of such promise.

I mean, provided it gets read, of course. I have no doubt that, if some hiring committees are tossing applications without reading writing samples, they are likely doing so after having assessed the applicant's institution and letters of rec.

Anonymous said...

"If other journals are different, I'd like to know."

7:28 didn't provide evidence but describe how you'd find some evidence if you looked and 11:40 seems to think that something like this has happened somewhere.

Anonymous said...

2:47,
No, 7:28 didn't give enough information to enable me to get the evidence.

11:40, preferential treatment meaning trying to speed up the process, or meaning publishing the paper despite mediocre (or worse) reports? The former is understandable; the latter is just dishonest.

Anonymous said...

@5:34:

"No, 7:28 didn't give enough information to enable me to get the evidence."

Let's fight about 'enable'. You could just take the top twenty or so journals, look at the editors, and start looking to see if their former students are publishing at surprising rates in their journals. It's an arduous task, but it could be done.

I agree with part of what you're saying about preferential treatment, but my view is that any form of preferential treatment is bad as any such treatment (a) raises the bar on the rest of us wrt to promotion, hiring, etc. and (b) helps insiders enjoy the use of a scarce resource (i.e., pages in journals and edited volumes). There are other ways in which it's bad, but I'm tired and that's surely sufficient.

Fwiw, I don't want to share the evidence that I have (some of which is anecdotal, some of which is statistical, and some of which consists of a damning email or two) because I don't see a good outcome of whistle-blowing. It would either blow up in my face, seriously harm the careers of others in ways that wouldn't be proportional, or both. What I'd like is for the relevant parties to know that there are people who know that there's something untoward going on and that it would be best for everyone to cut this shit out.

At a minimum, press editors should be very suspicious of volumes in which editors are inviting a bunch of pals from grad school and we should all press to distribute editorial responsibilities so that individuals don't have too much power over the way things work in our profession. When we're on hiring committees and the like, maybe we should all take note when a significant number of some candidate's publications come in the form of invited pieces edited by people they're connected with or in journals run by their supervisors. Fwiw, I've been on a number of hiring committees and that's just what I encourage my colleagues to do.

Anonymous said...

Places that use non-blind desk rejection should be suspect for bias. There is a top tier journal that uses it.

Derek Bowman said...

Is it really surprising that those who have worked with journal editors would have a better rate of success publishing in those journals?

Navigating the journal submission process is a different skill, and particular journals have different styles and sensibilities that match those of the editors.

Students trained in those skills and habituated to those styles as part of their graduate education are likely to be better placed to craft successful submissions.

Anonymous said...

This is 5:34.

I'm not sure what you think I'm saying about preferential treatment. I hope I didn't say anything that suggests I'd be tolerant of it. Oh, maybe you mean my point about rushing a paper through the process if the editor knows the author is up for tenure? I guess I'm not against that, it seems okay.

Of course, you're right that I could do my own research on the top twenty journals, although I would have to know which authors worked with some editor of the journal in which she was published. Since I'm somewhat skeptical that any real evidence would emerge, I'm not inclined to do that work.

I understand why you might not want to blow the whistle, as you put it, but you can't even name the journals in question? I can't think of any reason you couldn't do that... but I admit there might be a reason I can't think of, and that even saying what it is might expose you.

7:37, I agree that places that use non-blind desk rejection are suspect. And, I can't think of any good reason to do it. Will you please say which journals do that?

Anonymous said...

7:37 Here.

Analysis uses desk rejection. I was under the impression that it was not blind. Correct me if I'm wrong!

Anonymous said...

I think all journals use desk rejection.
ANALYSIS says:
We practise triple anonymity: the Editor receives the submissions in anonymous form, as do referees, and authors are not informed of the identity of referees.


That's not decisive, but it certainly suggests that the editor does not know the identity of the author when making a 'desk' decision.

-5:34 again

Anonymous said...

"I agree that places that use non-blind desk rejection are suspect. And, I can't think of any good reason to do it. Will you please say which journals do that?"

I'm not 7:37, but Phil Studies does non-blind desk rejection.* I don't know how often, but I've been on the receiving end. (I hope I haven't outed myself!) In past threads there was discussion of this. I'm sure there are other journals, too.

The general issue seems important enough that I'd think that the APA ought to get involved and set some standards for good practice. I think it's a bit embarrassing that we don't have proper blind review for all papers. I don't think that the APA has said anything about this. It's a shame if they haven't.

* If you want to know how I know, it's because I received emails outside the review system from the editor about submitted papers.

Anonymous said...

You all might be amazed to learn how often some journals reject pieces because they are poorly written or would require a great deal of attention to the writing.

Many people think that a brilliant idea poorly written might result in a revise and resubmit. However, many editors know that there are many pieces that are just as intellectually compelling, but much more print-ready. The market for quality papers is such that editors don't need to help writers shepherd bad writing. Editors know they can fill their pages with quality material.

Similarly, if an editor knows that one author (whose piece needs work) is good about revisions and able to complete work in a timely manner, that author may get an R&R while another author - someone the editor does not know - might get a rejection for writing that is just as problematic. Having a reputation for producing good work goes a long way.

Anonymous said...

I work at UMSL, and I just stumbled upon this thread. I'm sorry about any confusion generated by the wording of the ad. The word "ability" in the ad matters. Long ago, one of our assistant professors was let go after the three year review because he hadn't published a thing. Letting him go was emotionally difficult for many. We thought, and now think, it's important to signal up front what our expectations are. We do have significant research expectations for tenure. So, we want to hire someone able to publish in top analytic journals. I'm happy to answer any questions!