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Kyle Whyte
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There's a difference too depending on whether you're (1) on the market for a tenure system job and (2) in a tenure system job trying to get tenure. In (1), Marcus, didn't you have some interesting data you compiled last year about what journals people generally were publishing in who got tenure system jobs? I can't remember the conclusions that were drawn from that. In (2), I think there is a still dilemma. One answer is that one should publish in journals that are deemed acceptable for tenure in the department. However, if one's career goals are to move on to somewhere else, then one might have to consider publishing in better journals. But then maybe publishing in those better journals will take too long while the tenure clock winds down.
Toggle Commented Oct 23, 2013 on The Submission Dilemma at The Philosophers' Cocoon
I'd be curious if people had good stories about the "hide your view" approach. When you do that, the students seem to wonder what kind of person you are because you either get excited about everything or about nothing. The students don't really see anything distinctive about you as an individual or regarding your connection to the materials. My view is that showing your personality, for some, can definitely be an important way of getting through to students. In your case, Marcus, this involves even writing in the syllabus that you'll push hard for your views. For other people, their personalities may manifest differently. But unless it's natural for someone to always hide their views... I think it's a good thing to show, as much as possible, your personality via the views you actually support, especially why you are excited about those views and the tensions those views have with competing views.
I agree that this trend in dissertations is occurring. It also feeds into previous conversations we've been having on this blog about how people with little experience land TT jobs. So I imagine that are people with no publications, little to no teaching experience, and 100 page dissertations, who land great jobs. Anyways, my point is not to enter into this discussion here, but to mention that this shortening of and lessening of ambitions for dissertations will likely be a trend. (1) Some administrators at some schools are calling for this, see http://www.insidehighered.com/views/2012/12/14/problems-and-potential-solutions-humanities-doctoral-education-essay (2) The increasing difficulty of the job market means dissertation committees are thinking differently about when it is appropriate to sign off on a dissertation project. That is, people are prioritizing getting on the market quickly with Ph.D. in hand as the best strategy for landing a TT, or good VAP or post-doc, instead of the tribulations of going through the market ABD.
It may not always be about whether one is taking too much time to teach and not being productive enough. I'm not sure it's about productivity, but about whether one's CV demonstrates a coherent research stream. I think someone who puts in lots of dedicated hours to teaching, and who has a coherent research stream (that is, it is clear what one works on philosophically and that such area has a future), is not in some obviously bad position, even if that person does not have, say, a lot of articles or articles in top 20 journals. A lot of folks in my experience do not have clear research streams, or for some reason cannot show it on their CVs, and so the time they spent teaching doesn't help their case insofar as it is unclear what that person works on, and whether it has a future, whether one is in a SLACS or R1, etc.
Marcus, I like this post. I'm not sure whether this has been discussed elsewhere (and it probably has), but, like teaching, mentorship can be something that faculty get thrown into with almost no preparation in their graduate school training or if their earlier jobs were in places where there were no graduate students (or the faculty never worked with graduate students). I think that the reason why poor mentorship, both individually and more in terms of mentoring "a community" of graduate students, is not felt to be morally blameworthy is because in philosophy we expect that no faculty as any training to do this, so expectations are extremely low. People assume that access to emotional and social support is not inherently part of graduate school. I really believe such support should be a major topic faculties discuss regarding how they approach mentorship. I bet some do, and I bet some departments are really on top of this. Then there are many others...
When I read Mark's post I just saw "beer" as the particular example, not a norm that should be some standard, given the obvious exclusions it brings with it. In general, I affirm, and put in practice myself, that I cover dinner or refreshment expenses with graduate students. I know some faculty who don't do this, and when I see it in practice, it's always really bizarre to me. One time I was at a place where I was giving a paper and there was a dinner to follow. I think my meal was covered but then some of the graduate students who came to dinner didn't have their meals covered. It wasn't the cheapest place either. I can't remember the details of what happened, or how I handled it, but something got worked out, I believe. Anyways, in situations where graduate students don't get covered, it strikes me as a matter of unfairness, because it is about access to professional support and development. So if some faculty wants to do conversation or host somebody over appetizers or coffee, etc., the graduate students should not have to bear a financial burden to participate.
Toggle Commented Apr 10, 2013 on On buying beer at The Philosophers' Cocoon
In response to Roman's comment, I wonder what committees actually hold as the features that reveal "star potential."
One question I have in all this - and maybe there's another post that has some information I've lost track of (so sorry in advance), or maybe the answer is obvious - is what are some of the reasons why certain committees find substantially less experienced candidates more suitable than their more experienced competitors. I've always just assumed (and the market proves this assumption wrong year after year) that a more experienced candidate would have more experience working with colleagues professionally, and hence come across better as a good colleague, could speak better of her or his research because it might be more developed, and could certainly say many many better things about pedagogy, especially things that reflect experience. Now barring people who have serious flaws in their applications (like I know people who have cover letters so bad, and that they won't change, that regardless of their other qualities they will never get an APA interview), it seems that there are many cases where less experienced candidates look more suitable than candidates who can do the things I just mentioned. I'm not sure answers like pedigree alone or AOS/AOC alone really explain it.
Marcus: No I wasn't at all saying you're like that. I thought in the post you mentioned folks who you perceived as coming across like I mentioned. Does that make sense? I was getting at what you were talking about by suggesting that it can be frustrating when experience doesn't matter and there may be folks who did not have to jump through the same hoops, and might not even be sensitive to that difference given their "success."
Marcus, you raise some points that are real sticking points for me in terms of reflecting on experiences like you just had. On the one hand, everyone knows how hard it is to get a TT job in philosophy. But on the other hand, it's very easy for some folks, after getting some interviews, to take on that bias that maybe they somehow figured out the magic trick for succeeding. And they can come across in ways that are divisive, whether intentionally or not. I wish most folks expressed the views I generally see on this blog, which involves sharing experiences and respecting that peoples advancement in the field is contingent on a number of factors, not all of which are in everyone's control or are even things they can be aware of. In some ways, and this is a bit extreme perhaps on my part, I feel it's a kind of betrayal to the community of early career philosophers to be someone who forgets the difficulties and the contingent aspects of being on the job market.
I would really like to get in on this, as a commentator and eventually author. I'm mad I missed the last paper. I'll be better the next time around.
Marcus: Good points. In the case of people coming off as arrogant, are you saying that they really weren't being arrogant, but how they came across plus their pedigree created that impression? Or are you saying having an elite pedigree makes it possible for one to be really arrogant and shoot themselves in the foot for some jobs? Or are you saying something else?
Toggle Commented Oct 15, 2012 on Pedigree and the Market at The Philosophers' Cocoon
I just have a couple of comments. First, I agree, and have heard, people privilege pedigree in ways that are ridiculous and would make one wonder how people in a field that prides itself on argumentative rigor would do so. But I am not sure what the impact of pedigree really is on the job market. Where exactly does pedigree matter? Is it in the bulk sorting phase of applications, so that the "lower" pedigrees are the ones that get sifted out so that they don't even get APA interviews? And it's pretty much solely based on that criterion that many do get sifted out? (Wasn't there a Leiter Report discussion on this some time ago, where someone conceded that at her or his campus this regrettably happens because there are too many applications?). Or how does pedigree come into play after one gets an APA interview and perhaps through to an on-campus? I can imagine cases where someone's not coming from a super elite institution can affect one's interviews in more subtle ways than just judgments about the prestige of one's degree. For example, coming from an elite program means that you probably know more well known faculty members. This can be the source of many good conversations during an interview. "Oh did you know or work with so and so?" And all positive conversations that would speak to one's being part of a "known" philosophical community with perceived high standards. Whereas, if one comes from a less elite program, one might get questions like "Now who is it that works on topic x at your university?" "I'm surprised you work on topic x coming from your university." All of these conversations put one on the defensive. They can change how one comes across in an interview and can lead hiring committee members to see them in a less charitable light. While there are many other variables hanging in the balance here, this can be one. This is could be compared, in some respects, to what can happen to some white males who get hired into departments and immediately become part of the informal culture of that department, whereas women and people of color can sometimes remain left out because they either do not share (for multiple possible reasons) in that informal culture or are not implicitly perceived as being welcomed to participate by their colleagues. This raises issues for being able to establish a rapport with colleagues at a level beyond formal collegiality, which matters. So, in the case of a job interview, one could be a very strong candidate from a less elite institution, who is part of an extremely competitive interview process for some job, and have to have more of an uphill battle than one's competitors. But perhaps someone from an elite Ph.D. program would say there are things missing in this analysis, like that they may be perceived as not living up to their program's reputation. I think I have seen that sort of consideration work against candidates for whom expectations about their abilities or job talk were perhaps far too high. It's all very complicated. Second, I'm surprised no one has mentioned in our many discussions about the social aspects of the job market the HUGE importance that one's dissertation committee members can or cannot play behind the scenes. There are some dissertation chairs that really hustle for their candidates in ways that their candidates may never know about. There are other dissertation chairs who don't care about this and put forth little effort at placing their students. And, there are, possibly a rare few, who actually ruin their candidates chances for some jobs. Is this a pedigree issue? Not really in the sense being discussed in this conversation. But it does explain - in part and in some cases - why some candidates can be very successful on the market even when their CVs and writing samples do not stand out from their competitors.
Toggle Commented Oct 14, 2012 on Pedigree and the Market at The Philosophers' Cocoon
The issue, I think, has a lot to do with what one's expectations should be for how one will be treated with respect to a new/developing AOS. If one has one paper, a few recent conferences say, and one puts in the cover letter something about how one's plans in this AOS are unfolding, then I think that it's fair to say it's an AOS. But I don't think, in terms of the job market, that one would be considered as squarely in the AOS as other candidates. There may be some jobs where that would matter, perhaps. Though, there are other jobs, that having such an AOS would make one more competitive because one has other AOSs and AOCs that are attractive too. So, I think one can legitimately declare such an AOS, but one should be careful to expect too much.
Toggle Commented Oct 11, 2012 on AOS Question at The Philosophers' Cocoon
I know some folks who did something like this. After graduation, they did 3-4 years of post docs. During that time, they published some articles, but then also tidied up the dissertation and published it as a book. I can't really say how this affected them in terms of their career or how difficult it was, given that it is not the norm for someone to have a book going up for tenure. I just mentioned this because in some of the comments above, the issue is about writing a book while you're in a system job. Whereas the folks I know did the bulk of their book writing in postdocs. Another thing that I want to mention is that, it seems, focusing on converting your dissertation into a book during a tenure clock can, in some cases, make it appear like you haven't done anything new while at that job. I'd say most jobs want to see what new research you've done, or what new directions you're going in, since being in that job. It's a given that part of what counts for tenure are published versions of work you did before, however, there should also be the published work of research you did while being in that job. Focusing on turning your book into a dissertation can make it seem like you've really not done any new research while in that job, and that you're making your dissertation serve too many roles. That is, you got a Ph.D. with your dissertation, you got a job, in part, based on what your dissertation is on, and now you're going to get tenure, with a dissertation converted into a book. I have seen some folks at various types of schools who have done just this, though maybe even more extreme. Their dissertations got them a Ph.D., then a book contract made them an attractive candidate for the job they got, then the actual book, fully derived from their dissertation, was the major part of their research bid for tenure. So one dissertation moved them all the way through to tenure. Maybe the second edition will help them get full professor!!!!
I do exactly that. I just treat myself as "some" author and move on. What is sometimes weird is that if you presented the paper at a conference before, it might have the personal language in it. So it becomes awkward to switch it for peer review. But I think it just has to be done.
Good to see you on here, Chike.
So they gave you the paper, told you it was round two, but did not show you the original reviews nor do you have access to them through the online system? If that's the case, then I think you have to go with the situation the editor set up: the editor wants the article to get a fresh review from someone who has no idea what the first round was like. So the editor expects the full range of decisions.
If you have interviews, make sure you have a roommate or have a good friend on call. You'll need to decompress. Also, any thoughts on the "Smoker"? Should you or should you not go to it?
Perhaps there is a problem that reviewers are so entangled in their own interests that it would actually be hard from them to think outside of them. They might genuinely put in a good faith effort to evaluate an article going against their views according to its contribution to advancing the discussion in that area. But wouldn't their prejudices about the topic even frame what they would feel were worthwhile debates to have? They might think, for example, that their work on a topic ended the importance of debate on some matter, etc.
These are really interesting points. Having been in the field (post graduation) for three years, I've really begun to appreciate what it takes for a philosopher to start with whatever the job market threw at him or her, and, from that starting point, work toward finding the best situation for what he or she truly enjoys doing in philosophy. I respect people who have been able to gravitate toward jobs where the teaching situation was more to their liking because that's why they got into philosophy. It's unfortunate that this route is often times disparaged in some settings where research-research-research is the only thing that appears to be valued. I also respect people who have navigated toward jobs that support their research better, even if those jobs don't have doctoral programs, but are excellent, research oriented jobs with undergraduate or masters programs. These are only examples, and location and family are also factors that I respect people for figuring out how to juggle given how difficult the job market is. I wish we had more discussions about how different people have navigated and negotiated their starting positions and found jobs that are truly enjoyable for what they really want to do. Given how hard it is to find jobs in the field, there should be more emphasis and respect granted to what I'm describing. In my case, I would like to add one goal about a successful career in philosophy that I hold very dear but I don't think is discussed very much. I think that a successful career in philosophy involves the impact one has on one's own non-philosophical community (defined as whatever one sees one's community as being). This would be no different from how we define success in other areas, where we look at what impact someone in a profession had on the stakeholders of one's work, teaching or other efforts. Then we might find out later that that person is also considered a success or failure in the narrower discipline to which his or her profession belongs. I think there are plenty of philosophers out there who see one criterion of success as having this kind of impact. Finally, in terms of the discussion above, I think that any measure of success really and soberly has to take into consideration how hard it is to actually plan one's career around having certain kind of successes. That is, it's very hard to figure out how to plan a research program that will make one immediately famous. After the fact, people might explain why they were immensely successful, but these explanations are completely unsatisfactory, in some cases, for younger philosophers planning their careers. That's why you get examples of young philosophers, say, who start publishing lots of extreme criticisms of dominant positions in their area, because they perceive that "going against the grain" to be what made some people great. But that strategy sometimes is a terrible way to get one's career going, and often, when one does that, one loses the goal of striving for "truth" and quality research.
I agree with Marcus' remarks. I would also add something else. Given a philosopher can always find problems, issues and concerns in any paper, I feel that it's never enough to just have a criticism of a paper. Anyone can do that. Instead, you need to have, right at the beginning of the discussion piece, or in some appropriate place, a extremely brief narrative of why your criticism is one that actually matters in some important sense, whether to the literature on that topic or to the internal coherence of the author's entire project, among other possibilities. I think that is key to getting in to a journal but also for holding out a good possibility that you'll have some impact.
International jet lag is a crazy thing.
I've gotten that one too. I also got one, perhaps the same general, that started off saying something to the effect of, "Based on your excellent paper at APA central, we'd like to invite you..." My other colleagues who presented at that conference got the same email. Some of these are illegitimate; some of these are really trying to do something new, using technology. If the latter, I've always just looked at them as something that's not for me as my goal right now is to get tenure. This sort of turns on this issue about the difference between venue and impact of publications. I'm pretty sure that all of us hope that whatever we come up with may benefit someone else in some respect. Perhaps the best way for our work to achieve this aim is to publish more rapidly and in venues that give access to everyone (but that don't make us pay two grand to do so). But these venues get no respect in our field, regardless of how rigorous their review process is. Interestingly, though, I've found that some people who have tenure, instead of turning to open access, "volume 1" type venues, instead upped the anti and started submitting to more top 10 journals since they don't have the pressure of getting stuff published before the deadline of a tenure review.
I think the good-but-not-good-enough discussion is a great one. I am also recalling another person I know who has an extremely novel idea on a major topic in philosophy - it's also a topic that resonates with a lot of public issues. She presents her views at conferences and gets initial push back in the Q/A, but is able to convince people of the importance of her work. So people walk away from the conference presentation thinking this is amazing work. But the peer review process does not play out that way for her. It's like the anonymity, coupled with the lack of opportunity for exchange, and whatever other ingredients make some reviewers review they way they do, makes them shoot down her work, despite the success she has at conferences. In some ways, it seems like there are changes that reviewers demand that will make the paper have less impact after publication, but more likely to be published. If that makes any sense. That's a tough position to negotiate.