Saturday, December 28, 2013

As you wish...

Anonymous has requested a new thread. Sure, why not?

Play along, if it please you.

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):
Publications (n):
**Zombie thinks it might also be useful to know how many applications you've filed this year.

And two Anon replies have been registered:

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


Indeed, this is no job market for old men.


p.s. Now that APA is over, how about some reports? Did the unemployed philosophers swarm seem smaller? Was the Smoker less crowded/desperate? Was the beer still lousy and overpriced?

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.

Thursday, December 5, 2013

The annual interview prep post

The interview skeds seem to be gradually filling up. My impression this season is that a lot of departments are offering alternatives to APA in the form of Skype/phone/remote interviews. Some are offering both, which, I guess, should raise concerns about the Skype interviewees being disadvantaged when compared to real live desperate philosophers. (See here, here, and here for Skype tips, and here for a defense of Skype). But, weighing the costs of going to Baltimore vs. staying home for the holidays, many will opt to stay home and try to become a Skype-master. If you ask me, a significant advantage of remote interviews (aside from cost) for candidates is that they allow you to be a little more relaxed, since you can do the interview in a familiar environment. APA interviews, whether you're in the ballroom or a suite, have added tension built in, since the setting is foreign, uncomfortable, noisy (in the ballroom), and smells of flop sweat. There's all that awkward time waiting outside the door (should I knock? are they running late? are my palms sweaty?). I'll be interested to hear how many of you are being offered Skype type interviews in lieu of APA interviews.

And increasingly, it seems some departments are forgoing first round interviews altogether and skipping straight to the campus fly-out. So, if nothing's happening for you yet, there's still time.

For those of you visiting scenic Baltimore, or chillaxing by the warm glow of your internet tubes, it's pre-game time.

Last year's post linked to previous years' advice and question preps, so start here.

When I was last on the market, I was surprised at how often I was asked about my dissertation, even though I had moved on to a different research project, and had a few publications under my belt. I guess that's a search committee asking everybody the same questions, but I didn't really prepare myself to talk about the diss 2 years after it was finished. So, even if you're a few years out... probably should prepare to talk about the diss. Or be prepared to gracefully duck the question by quickly segueing into how X relates/led you to your current research on Y.

Good luck to all of you!


Tuesday, December 3, 2013

How productive is productive enough?

Per the discussion here, how much does scholarly productivity (number of publications, prestige of journals, etc.) matter when it comes to landing a TT job? The answer is not obvious. Or at least, there is not obviously a simple answer.
Carolyn Dicey Jennings' research here is helpful (this is for 2011-2012 data):
Although some hirees have as many as 14 total publications and 7 top-15 publications, the median number of publications is 1 for both tenure-track and postdocs (0 for top-15 publications)
The data for 2012-2013 is here.
2012-2013 tenure-track hirees had a mean 2.22 peer-reviewed publications and 0.49 peer-reviewed publications in a top-15 journal (according to the same top-15 journal list used in 2011-2012: Postdoctoral hirees had a mean 1.48 peer-reviewed publications and 0.3 peer-reviewed publications in a top-15 journal. The medians for both tenure-track and postdoctoral hirees were 1 peer-reviewed publication and 0 peer-reviewed publications in a top-15 journal. (here)
The data shows the unsurprising fact that the top departments place a lot of their grads. What it shows in terms of publications is that the numbers are all over the place. People were hired with 0 pubs and  with 14 pubs. Pubs in top journals were rare.

Putting on my speculator's hat: the further out you are from your PhD, the worse it will look if you are not publishing. One explanation for this is that you might look like a bad bet for earning tenure if you've been fallow, research-wise, for a few years--worse than a fresh PhD with no pubs. Bottom line: you should be publishing. (Anecdotally, I know of two resignations this year in a single department at my university--both people were in year 5, coming up for tenure, with 0 publications. No books, no papers. You can't get tenure with no publications, unless you're at a school where they absolutely don't care about publishing. [If there are such places.]) This gets me wondering about the issue of PhD "staleness." Is staleness really just a function of your years post-degree, or your level of post-degree productivity, or both? That is, do you still go stale if you publish regularly?

Philosophy departments have their own standards for how much/often you have to be publishing to earn tenure. But you don't have to already be qualified for tenure to get a tenure track job. If there are standards for getting a TT job, the Jennings data shows that the number of publications is not a deciding factor (thus people with 0 pubs get hired, all things considered). The Chronicle has this interesting story (here and here) on two hires (in English), and what it takes to stand out in a crowded field. (Spoiler alert: there are lots of applicants with lots of pubs.)

So, how much will it help you in the job search if you are publishing a lot? And how much is enough?