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Trevor Hedberg
Columbus, OH
Postdoctoral Scholar at The Ohio State University
Interests: Philosophy, Reading, Writing, Editing, Teaching, Website Design, Tennis, NBA, Anime, Video Games
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It's definitely been harder to maintain motivation to get work done. I don't just think it's the pandemic: in the US, there's also a ton of political madness taking place and an all-too-real possibility that the election results will be challenged. It amounts to a very large distraction, and many of the things we'd normally do to alleviate stress (i.e., those involving large gatherings of people) are not happening right now. Additionally, I wasn't anticipating that we'd still be neck deep in this pandemic after more than 7 months -- and with no clear end in sight! It's hard to keep one's spirits up under the circumstances.
Two quick thoughts. First, it strikes me as odd that one could get a publication in a good journal -- even on a niche topic -- without developing close to AOC level competence in the subject. This would be especially true if the paper originated from a graduate seminar in a subject area. I wonder if the student in question is underselling their knowledge. Second, although it's rare, I have seen some CVs where people list, in addition to AOSs and AOCs, a third category like "Other Areas of Interest" or "Other Areas of Teaching Interest". I don't have any strong impressions of how that's perceived by hiring committees, but I suppose it's an option if the OP wants to acknowledge their work in these areas without labeling that as an AOC.
I agree with prior comments indicating that interested search committees are likely to dig up the paper in question, which means that leaving it off your CV could hurt far more than it helps. But I'd also add that I think the general concern of the OP is overstated. There are plenty of people who have excellent jobs and are well respected despite having unpopular views. In fact, I suspect most philosophers hold at least one view that isn't held by very many people.
I've done several book reviews, and I'd say they are worth doing in a few specific situations. (1) There's a book you want to read for your own research, but you don't have a personal copy of that book. (2) There's a book you're planning to read because you might assign it as a text in one of your own courses. (3) You've been asked to review a book that you have already read (either partially or fully). This is a rarer occurrence than the other two but can certainly happen if you, for instance, read papers that later become chapters in the book or have someone share a draft with you when it's still a WIP. In each of these cases, it's not going to be much extra work to put together a book review of the content, particularly since book reviews are rather short publications. Also, my own view of book reviews is that they are a service to the profession. Having benefited from reading many book reviews over the years, I think it's appropriate (if not obligatory) for me to contribute an occasional book review of my own so long as I remain a part of the scholarly profession and benefit from the book reviews others have done.
You're not going to compile the index until the very end of the publishing process since you need your page numbers to be final and accurate. Because of that, I think the best time to put the index together is in conjunction with your final proofreading. As you comb through the manuscript for those pesky typos and formatting errors, takes notes regarding index terms and page numbers. That makes for a very busy few days, but it's pretty efficient. I know from experience that Routledge also has their own indexing guidelines, so I suspect every publisher has a document of that sort. Use their guidelines to create a template before you start your work and then just plug in the relevant terms and page numbers. Compared to the herculean effort required to write and revise a book-length manuscript, this process should be pretty easy.
I don't think it's wise, even under idealized conditions, to go into debt to pursue a graduate degree in philosophy. It's just not a favorable wager. Beyond the points already mentioned in the post and subsequent comments, the reader may also be assuming that getting an MA from an elite program will enable them to get into a top PhD program with a better placement record. But even that assumption does not always hold. For example, one of my grad school peers obtained an MA from NYU (the top-ranked program in the world) before starting the PhD program at the University of Tennessee (an unranked program). So he accumulated about $100,000 in debt to live in New York and spend two years in that program, but this did not translate into being competitive for admission at top-ranked programs. (He eventually quit the PhD program to pursue a law degree; I have no idea whether he is out of debt at this point or not.)
I've always been successful with R&Rs and have always included a point-by-point breakdown of each major change I made (and what the requested change was). But it's definitely possible to do this and still be concise. I view the purpose of this document to enable the editor to identify where the changes in your paper are and what reviewer concern they address, so it's mostly just summary and sign-posting. They don't need to be super-long to fulfill this purpose.
I think taking a longer time to obtain the PhD will usually only be a negative if there's no corresponding achievement or professional development that takes place during the "extra" time. If you take 8 years to get a PhD instead of 7 but tack on a couple extra publications and solo teaching semesters as a result, your dossier will probably be stronger overall than if you graduated in only 7 years. If you take an extra year but don't add much to your credentials, then it might be a negative overall. The bottom line is that if you stay in the program another year, make sure you use that time to continue trying to publish and gain valuable teaching experience (as Michel said above). Given the current situation, it would also be a good idea to spend some of the upcoming academic year formulating a Plan B in case academic employment proves unobtainable in the long run.
Ohio State is compiling their information about fall reopening here: https://president.osu.edu/leadership-and-committees/post-pandemic-operations-task-force At this point, we know for certain that there will be no in-person teaching after Thanksgiving. Finals and any other instruction will be done online during that period. In-person instruction will be more limited in the fall, but it appears (on my understanding) that the details are being worked out by individual colleges and will be finalized on July 1st. Faculty in my college had to submit a short form indicating how they intended to teach in the fall. I suspect we'll know a lot more within the next week or two.
Honestly, based on a mere 5 evaluations from one semester, I'd advise doing absolutely nothing. There's no reason to believe that this small sample reflects anything meaningful about your teaching unless they occur again in later semesters. If it persists, then maybe you try to add a reading or two that present more conservative stances on whatever issues you're discussing if you think your choice of course content should be politically balanced.
@Mike -- Just to follow up briefly, the distinction I'm pointing out might seem obvious to us, but the target audience for Brennan's book is prospective graduate students. (It's also not aimed exclusively at philosophy grad students.) And I think it's clear that many first-year graduate students begin their graduate studies without a clear picture of what they really need to do to be competitive for academic jobs. This can vary among programs, but at mine, more than half of those who obtained a PhD in the last 10 years had 0 publications, even though faculty members were generally rather transparent about what's needed to be competitive on the market. Most of the students in your program may have been different, but that might just indicate that they mostly aren't part of Brennan's target audience.
I actually ordered this book and read it all a couple weeks ago. I'm not sure these short snippets in the interview entirely capture the distinction he's really after. At a quick glance through, I couldn't find a quote that mirrored exactly what he said in the interview, although there is an explanation of the Olympics analogy early in chapter 2. I interpreted him as saying that graduate students generally either prioritize professional development throughout their graduate career or they don't. If they don't, then their chances of landing a permanent job are very close to zero; if they do, then they have a legitimate chance of landing a good job (but of course there is no guarantee). The heart of the book is an explanation of what it means to prioritize your professional development during graduate school. (A lot of that revolves around creating and publishing work.) Maybe that broad distinction still doesn't work, but at least in my experience, I thought it was easy to identify graduate students who were serious about building their CVs, going to conferences, developing an online presence in the field, and publishing their work compared to those who pursued these things either halfheartedly or not at all.
Citing yourself in the third person is definitely the way to go. Speaking in part as a reviewer, it's definitely the best way to maintain blind review because your work appears the same as any other citation. In this manner, your self-citation is effectively concealed in plain sight. Redacted references, as others have mentioned, only serve to draw undue attention to what's being omitted and can inadvertently give away one's career status (or at least create assumptions about it).
To echo what others have said, it varies depending on the HR system. At the University of South Florida, I didn't get my first check until mid-September because my August 6th official start date was after the deadline to receive paychecks in August. At Ohio State (which pays monthly rather than every 2 weeks), I officially started on July 1st and received my paycheck on July 31st. So Amanda's estimate of 2-6 weeks past the start date seems right.
I don't have a solution to this quandary, but I do want to clarify one thing about my prior post: I don't think any of the reasons for rejection that I mentioned are incompatible with adopting the "Does this add to the discussion?" standard. I think that all of the concerns I raise point toward ways in which a paper would fail to meaningfully add to the discussion around the issue. Most of my concerns involve presenting one's argument clearly, taking proper account of other people's research on the subject, and not misrepresenting your own conclusions or the views of the authors you're engaging with. Those seem like prerequisites to making a worthwhile contribution to the ongoing discussion (although I can imagine that not everyone will agree with my assessment on that point). It's also possible for a paper to avoid all those problems and still leave me quite unconvinced that its conclusion is true. But in that case, the judgment should be "This is a good paper that I disagree with" -- not "I disagree with this paper so I'm going to reject it." I wouldn't advise rejecting a paper merely for the reason that you disagree with the paper's central conclusions.
YCTMN -- As I mentioned in my response to Amanda, I wouldn't generally take any of these particular items to be grounds for rejection in isolation unless they were severe mistakes. If the problem is easily corrected like in your example, that wouldn't be a big deal. But I have seen cases where authors are misrepresenting the significance of their paper and its conclusions so severely that it isn't that simple of a fix. In some instances, their views are very similar to someone else's, and they present their position like it's new or revolutionary when it's more akin to reinventing the wheel: when you strip away their rhetorical fluff, they aren't actually making a meaningful contribution to the discussion. In this respect, misstating the significance of their argument often dovetails into the concerns about papers being uninteresting that others have raised in prior comments.
Amanda, you raise a good concern. I should have clarified that I don't think most of these issues in isolation are automatically grounds for rejection unless they particularly egregious. I think it's normal for even worthwhile papers to have flaws, and nothing that's correctable at the proof stage (like grammatical errors) would even register with me unless it hindered by understanding of the content. That said, on the particular issue of engaging with existing scholarship, I think there's a tendency for people to cite too little and to overlook relevant publications in specialty journals. (Marcus wrote a post about this called "On Citation Practices in Philosophy" way back in 2014.) The result of not citing this material is that a lot of valuable scholarship remains unnoticed and is not engaged with. That's part of why so many papers in the humanities have 0 citations. This was more understandable in the era before online library databases and PhilPapers, but the time costs of doing this research is much lower now than they were 20 years ago. So I would be reluctant to change my standards on that particular metric.
LM -- Good question. No papers I have published were direct adaptations of dissertation material. I do have two published papers that intersected with my dissertation topic a bit -- both were connected to the issue of whether individuals have an obligation to reduce their individual carbon footprints. The ideas in these papers come up in one of the chapters in my book, but the papers themselves were not reused -- just cited and referenced like any other work in the manuscript. Had I wanted to reprint a paper as a chapter, I would have definitely needed to acquire permissions, and there was a formal process for doing that. I imagine every publisher has their own set of forms to complete for those requests, and if I had needed to pursue that, it would have needed to be initiated months before the final deadline for manuscript submission.
The CHE piece mainly consists of a bulleted list of things TT faculty could do to help adjuncts. I'm not going to copy/paste each paragraph-length explanation, but here is a short description of each item on the list -- mostly done using the exact language of the author. As a faculty body, (1) if you have graduate programs, track the year-by-year employment of every single graduate for the first 10 years, (2) if you work at an undergraduate- or master’s-focused school, don’t even consider hiring a tenure-track faculty member from an R1 university, (3) Don’t ask for new equipment that isn’t absolutely essential; instead, negotiate to have that money reallocated to adjunct pay, (4) reduce your institution’s travel budget and the number of its institutional memberships, and put that money toward adjunct resources, and (5) stand behind a simple principle: one faculty, one union. As a department, (1) allocate introductory courses to permanent faculty, and give adjuncts upper-division “special topics” courses with smaller course sizes and (2) hire from within -- conduct internally focused searches and bring your best adjuncts on board whenever you have an open tenure-track line, instead of searching for the distant star. As an individual faculty member, (1) stop bringing graduate students into your lab or research group if you know they’ll likely be doomed, (2) counsel your best undergraduates not to pursue graduate school if they imagine themselves in faculty life, (3) if you’re an interdisciplinary scholar, don’t advocate for starting an interdisciplinary degree (or worse yet, graduate) program, and (4) retire before you want to.
I actually just finished writing a book loosely based on my dissertation, but my remarks would be way too lengthy for a short comment. Instead, I'll plan to write up a post on the subject in January after the holidays have concluded. For now, I'll just say that I think the two points Marcus mentions in this post are accurate.
I mentioned some of my interview experiences in my recent post titled "118." But here are the two broad formulas for the 20 or so interviews I've had. Model 1 You'll be asked 4-6 scripted questions followed by 5 minutes for you to ask questions of your own. 1-2 questions will be about your research. 1-2 questions will focus on your teaching and often specifically about courses mentioned in the job ad. 1 question will ask about something department specific: the most common one I've been asked is what I'd do to help recruit majors in a small program, but a close second is what I do to promote diversity in the classroom and/or on campus. Finally, 1 question will be completely random -- probably something you've never been asked before and/or something that is not obviously relevant to the job. These interviews are usually 25-30 minutes and more common at teaching schools. Model 2 You'll be asked 3-4 scripted questions and a number of unscripted followups. Usually, a set portion of these interviews will be devoted to teaching, then a separate portion to research, and then a few minutes left for you to ask questions at the end. So a 45-minute interview might have 20 minutes devoted to teaching, 20 minutes devoted to research, and 5 minutes left for you to ask the committee questions. Followup questions will usually pertain to your particular research program or your teaching experience. Because of this dynamic, these interviews have much more variability in their structure and can feel a lot more like a real conversation. Interviews with this format are usually 40-45 minutes and seem more common at research-focused schools.
"on the jyerb market" mentions departments that give you info about the questions they will ask in advance. I do think that makes things easier in some respects, but I will mention one case in which this worked against me: I was told by the search committee chair that the focus of the interview would be on my teaching and in particular how I could teach the courses specified in the job ad. So naturally I prepped for that. When the actual interview came, I was asked 6 questions. Only 1 of these questions was about teaching specifically, and none of the questions pertained to how I would teach the courses mentioned in the job ad. Needless to say, the interview did not go well. So, if committees are going to do this, be truthful about what you're actually going to ask the candidates. I'd also highlight the need for transparency with the process. Keep us in the loop regarding your search -- don't make us send you awkward followups 1-2 months after an interview or wait 4-6 months for a form letter email rejection. Also, don't just flake out and not notify candidates at all, which has happened to me with roughly 40% of my job applications. In the age of mass email, it's unacceptably lazy. It's also disrespectful to candidates (because of the time it takes them to apply), and it causes job candidates unnecessary stress since they often don't have a clear picture of their situation.
Anon -- First, many of the jobs I screened out were jobs exactly like you described: Open jobs at distinguished schools or jobs with a wide assortment of AOSs and little evidence that they were really looking for someone with my credentials. Second, I never applied to a single job that was nearly the stretch you are talking about -- that is, applying to a political philosophy job with an AOS in logic. I agree that would be a waste of time. My biggest stretch was applying for some philosophy of technology jobs, and two of my interviews were for positions like that, so it clearly wasn't a waste of time. I don't think you're disagreeing with me or Michel on these matters. Perhaps you're underestimating how many jobs there are in ethics and applied ethics compared to some other areas of philosophy, though I'm not really sure. Third, the marginal costs of applying to additional jobs dramatically decrease once you hit a certain threshold because you'll have drafted cover letters for so many different job types that making additional revisions takes very little time. You mention a job app taking an entire afternoon of work, but very few apps should take that long once you've got a dozen or so under your belt. (The cover letter is often the only thing that's different across applications, after all.) I agree that there are some psychological benefits to scaling down one's number of job market applications, but the odds are stacked against you so much that cutting your application total beyond a certain point just makes it that much more difficult.
Toggle Commented Oct 24, 2019 on 118 at The Philosophers' Cocoon
Anon -- My Google Spreadsheet actually contained 196 jobs that I had flagged. That means that I reviewed and screened out 77 jobs as being too far outside my research and teaching areas. (The Tulane job that I mentioned in the post was just a missed deadline.) I'm not sure how many of these jobs had an "Open" AOS, but most of them were ethics and applied ethics jobs and those are my specialty areas. (There tend to be more jobs in ethics, applied ethics, and political philosophy than elsewhere; I'm pretty confident you couldn't plausibly apply for 118 jobs with a metaphysics or epistemology AOS.) I should also add that it's hard to know whether you're a "good fit" for a position in the abstract because job ads are vague, and it's impossible to know a search committees particular desires. Here's something to think about: of the three positions that I was offered, two were focused on bioethics (Lawrence University and OSU) and one was focused on teaching a unique introduction to philosophy course to lots of undergrads (Stonehill). My core AOS is environmental ethics, and yet I only interviewed for 3 positions where that was an explicit focus (Hamilton, Minnesota-Duluth, and Colgate). So I'd say it was a very good thing that I cast a wide net: if I hadn't, I'm not sure I'd be in academia right now. Also, as a gut reaction, I think 30 applications would be way to low to have a reasonable chance of success. I do know some people who did well filling out "only" 60-80 applications, though.
Toggle Commented Oct 24, 2019 on 118 at The Philosophers' Cocoon
KF -- Yes, I recall one of my old grad student colleagues who hypothesized that I would have been more relaxed at the event than usual and thought that may have helped me. Regarding the hotel lobby, it would have been too noisy to conduct an interview there, and as you imagine, there would have been a million distractions in the background. My second choice (if I hadn't gotten decent internet in the room) would have been a downtown coffee shop.
Toggle Commented Oct 24, 2019 on 118 at The Philosophers' Cocoon