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05/25/2012

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Kyle Whyte

I think one of the worst circumstances in which one can find themselves is having an adviser, mentor or peer group which pushes an extremely narrow career trajectory as the only one worth achieving. I have seen this circumstance drive people into unhappiness and even have the ripple effect of getting people into mindsets that make it impossible for them to do what it takes to get tenure in otherwise very supportive workplace situations. I agree with Marcus and would add some points. For me, enjoying one's career in philosophy is a matter of striving to build for oneself the most exciting intellectual community that one can, which may actually include anyone, from philosophers to non-philosophers to students to non-academics. In this way, it's a social endeavor. And having a good intellectual community is not about whether you're in an R1 or teaching job, or whether your publications are in this or that journal. One's intellectual community could be entirely structured around pedagogy. It depends on what one really wants out of being a professor, ultimately. I think for a lot of folks, it's actually tremendously unambitious to focus one's efforts on publishing in top-20 journals. Someone could enjoy what they're doing so much more, and have greater impact, academically and socially, by thinking about their job/career more broadly as involving many different worthwhile goals and meaningful relationships.

Tuomas

I agree with you there Marcus, you make some very relevant points. As someone who has published several papers in mid-tier journals, yet having had success in securing major research grants, I can confirm that a career can be made in philosophy without publishing in Phil Review. Having said that, I of course value the top journals and aim to publish in them as well. The truth is though that they are completely clogged with submissions -- PPR and Nous have their yearly moratoriums and that makes it even more difficult to get into the other top journals.

It should also be mentioned that some of us work in areas that are not ideal for the style of many of the top journals. It seems to me that it's vastly easier to get through with a paper commenting on someone than putting forward a novel, controversial view. So, it's probably best to approach (some of) the top journals with discussion pieces rather than, say, with the 20,000 word ground-breaking paper developed from your thesis.

Anyway, well put Marcus!

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