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06/23/2016

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CW

I work at what I believe Marcus would call a teaching school. We are expected to publish, but a lot of emphasis is put on excellence in teaching. When reviewing applications over the past few years, I've looked for some pubs but also evidence of quality teaching and broad teaching experience. As far as pubs go, one or two is plenty for someone recently out of school, and solid refereed journals are fine, even if they are not top-tier.

1. Yes, seems right to me.

2. Yes, seems really right to me.

3. I don't expect a lot of experience with this, but it may help if you're interested in it. This is very minor compared to teaching experience and ideas about teaching.

4-A. If you're still in grad school, or just recently out of it, I want to see a letter from someone on your committee. But I do not need letters from every member. I want to see how someone other than you describes your project. The committee chair is fine. As far as other letters go, I'd really like to hear from someone who has watched you teach a few times.

4-B. External letters from well-respected figures don't mean a lot to me. At least, I've yet to read one that made much of an impression, though I haven't read a lot of them. In the cases I'm familiar with, the figure doesn't seem to know the applicant all that well. On a couple of occasions, letters from figures have been pretty brief. One wrote just 5-6 sentences. In any case, there are a lot of really good people out on the market now, many of whom just lack connections and opportunities.

But if you're teaching outside of your grad department, a letter from someone at the new school who has observed you teach (and more than once is better) means something to me.

5. I don't care much about this. I've never looked to see if any applicants had online presences. That said, it can help some if you have experience with online learning platforms.

Sara L. Uckelman

My experience with 5 is that short-listed candidates are likely to have their google scholar profiles checked. So, if you're applying, I would certainly check to (a) make sure you have one, and (b) that it is up to date.

Marcus Arvan

Hi CW: Thanks for sharing your thoughts and experience! I'm glad to hear you think (1) and (2) are right, and to a lesser extent (3). With regard to (4) and (5), you may be right. However, I think it is always worth keeping in mind that common cognitive biases are notoriously opaque and resistant to reliable introspection. Almost no one thinks they fall prey to confirmation bias, framing effects, familiarity bias, etc.--but empirical results show that many of us fall prey to them anyway. It would not surprise me if most people on search committees don't think they attach much weight to letters from famous people in the field or to dossiers of candidates whose names they tacitly recognize, all the while subconsciously assigning those very things greater weight than they realize. That's just how cognitive biases work--they fool us into thinking we're not biased in ways that we actually are! (This is one of many reasons why research in my wife's field--Industrial Organizational Psychology--consistently shows that algorithmic selection processes have better predictive power in hiring than human decision makers. Turns out a vast variety of job-irrelevant factors--such as candidates' voices, looks, height, gender, etc.--consistently influence interviewing and hiring decisions despite the fact that no one *thinks* they are biased in those ways).

Marcus Arvan

Hi Sara: good point! It often surprises me how few people seem to have a Google Scholar profile (something which, for obvious reasons, can help a search committee determine how much a candidate's work is being engaged with by others).

JR

Thanks for this very useful post and discussion. As someone who will be going on the market again this year (applying from my current post-doc position), I wanted to ask from those who have served on search committees how they feel, with regard to #5, about things like Google Scholar and Academia.edu.

When I first went on the market a few years ago, I took quite a bit of time to create my own website with teaching and research materials, publications, etc., and I have kept it updated over the years. Two years ago I added a simple link to my website from my Academia.edu site but--except for my CV--didn't bother to upload things separately directly to the Academia.edu site. And I've never had a Google Scholar site. I have the impression that, for better or for worse, Academia.edu is becoming a sort of professional standard, and I worry that people may go to my Academia site--where there is basically just a short bio and a single link--and conclude that I have no publications, etc., without bothering to click the link and look at my actual site where all of my materials, papers, etc. are available.

So for someone like me who doesn't really do my own blogging or tweeting, I am wondering if it would it be best to just get rid of my separate website and put everything up exclusively on Academia or Google Scholar (which? both? does it matter?), which seems simpler for me since I'll only have to upload things once and more intuitive for potential search committee members since these sites provide a more standardized and familiar platform. Is there any point in maintaining a separate website these days if I don't intend to blog or add a twitter feed, etc., and if most people will only look at the Academia page (or Google Scholar site) anyway? Thoughts?

Marcus Arvan

Hi JR: I suggest keeping your website. I visit people's websites a lot (just in my ordinary life in the profession)--a whole lot more than I visit academia.edu. In part this is because I just don't like the academia interface. On academia, the onus is on the visitor to search out the person's papers, research interests, teaching, etc. On a person's own website, they get to direct you directly to their papers, description of their research, etc. Plus, you don't need to login to view someone's website. You do to visit academia.edu. Further, personal websites just strike me as more personal and more attractive, and I'm more likely to spend time navigating them. I don't think merely having an academia.edu page is "the standard" at all today. On the contrary, I tend to expect people to have their own website. (Can you tell I don't like academia much? :) I would also make sure you have a Google Scholar profile, and make sure that all of your stuff (papers, CV, statements, etc) is on your webpage and academia.edu. The easier it is for people to find your stuff, including your publications, the better.

Tom

Here's a question I (and probably many others) have had about Ye olde cv: people sometimes talk about *presenting themselves as* a researcher or as a teacher, and talk about it as if it's something one does starting with one's cv. This confuses me. My cv lists all my teaching experience and all my research experience. Is presenting myself as a researcher a matter of the order teaching/research occur on the cv? Is there something else I do on my cv that committee members read as me presenting myself this way or that way?

Joshua Mugg

On #2: I have three AOS (Phil Psych, Mind, Metaphysics), and then claim several AOC (Epistemology, Phil Religion, Logic, Ethics).

Am I right in thinking that attempting to teach beyond these areas would spread myself too thin (for the teaching-centered jobs)? It seems like there is a diminishing return here.

I'm at a midsized regional state school right now, which only has a phil minor, and right now I am the only person teaching upper-level courses. Next Spring, we are offering three upper-level courses, (Phil Religion, a 'topics course' that I choose, and 'Problems in Social & Political Philosophy). My plan was not to teach the last course because it is so far out of my AOC/AOS. Thoughts?

Marcus Arvan

Hi Joshua: No, I don't think you're right. From my perspective working at a teaching school, with one exception (which I will note momentarily) there is no such thing as "spreading yourself too thin" in terms of the kinds of courses you have experience teaching. Generally speaking, the more courses you have experience teaching, the better--as you never know what a given department's teaching needs will be. Teaching schools can have lower division major, minor, and/or general education courses that they need a tenure stream person to teach. For instance, I need to teach Ancient Philosophy regularly, and there are other specific courses in our curricula that other tenure stream faculty must teach. If you do not have experience teaching the specific course(s) a department needs taught, then you may be at a distinct disadvantage compared to candidates who have taught that course. More generally, it is a mistake to identify AOC with "courses you can teach." I've always been told that one should understand AOC as areas one has sufficient background in to step in and immediately teach an upper-division course. For instance, I list metaphysics as an AOC because I had a very strong graduate education in the area, as well as some publications. In contrast, I do not list Ancient Philosophy as an AOC because, although I teach it every year (and have sufficient graduate education for teaching it at a lower level), I do not have sufficient background to teach a more advanced class in the area. In short, if you want to maximize the probability that you can teach courses the jobs you are applying to need taught, you should teach as many different types of courses as you reasonably can (and are broadly qualified to teach). The only caveat here, as noted in the OP, is that you should not let your teaching crowd out research. Publishing is critical--so, while it's important to have a broad teaching background, one should not teach so much that it gets in the way of publishing.

Marcus Arvan

Hi Tom: Very good question. I'm going to write a post on it momentarily--but my own experience with the job-market broadly suggests that one should simply list all of one's qualifications and accomplishments, and let the reader determine whether one fits what they are looking for, rather than consciously trying to "frame" oneself one way or the other.

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