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« Neural Correlates of Moral Judgment & Sensitivity | Main | Reader query on applying for postdocs »

02/15/2017

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recent grad

How common is it to be suspicious of and resentful towards your institution's administration? I would love to take a job elsewhere, in part to spite them, but it might not be worth it if it's a problem almost everywhere.

anonymous

I would be curious to know what the resentment is about. I have worked, post-Ph.D., at four universities and colleges, and I thought the administrators were fine. I might have lower expectations, or you might have higher ones (and are thus disappointed more readily). But, in general, the reason to move should never be to spite someone or some entity. Move because the opportunity presented to you is great (or better than what you have).

EBG

A post taking up how applying for Post-Docs importantly differs from applying for jobs would be helpful.

And, a post taking up applying for dissertation fellowships would be helpful or even some pointers to good fellowship lists.

I suggest these posts as a "top 15" 4th year doctoral student who has not published.

recent grad

Anonymous,

You're right--I would never leave just out of spite. But if there are independent reasons to leave, spite seems to be a potentially rewarding extra reason.

I won't get into specifics about my administration, but the resentment is due to a combination of the following: the need to fight for almost everything despite being at a financially healthy university, a general lack of respect for faculty and their role in the institution, and a history of ethically questionable behavior.

Amanda

More often than not administration (meaning the out of department university administration) is usually a huge pain to deal with. I think that is the same most places. I find the inter department administration, like the department managers, are usually wonderful.

Amanda

I wasn't sure whether to post this question under "open job market thread" or this. But anyway I hope someone could help me out.

First, how long is typical to give a candidate to decide whether to accept a position? I was offered a one-year job which I would like to take if I do not get a permanent position. However, I was only given a week to decide. And I have a flyout in two weeks. I am not sure what to do, because if I ask the job for more time to decide I would have to ask for a lot. After all, I doubt the search committee will make a decision immediately after my flyout which is already a week after I am supposed to give the final word on my 1-year position.

Should I just accept the 1-year position and go back on that if I get a permanent job? I don't feel great going that route.

UK grad student

I'm a graduate student now, but I was wondering what I can do to gain relevant teaching experience before I go on the job market in a couple of years.

The problem is that my institution, like, I think, the majority of institutions in the UK, does not allow graduate students to design courses or teach as primary instructors. We can apply for seminar teaching, and for giving one or two guest lectures. But if we never design a course, we won't have any evidence a committee can look at demonstrating that we'd be able to do so. I suspect that this could be a major issue when applying for teaching positions.

The official reason why graduate students are prevented from designing and teaching courses is that the university is concerned with the quality of teaching -- the assumption being that students are worse than more senior researchers and professors. (Of course it is not clear that this is a good reason!). I wonder if students at other institutions with such a policy have been successful in getting their institution to somehow allow students to gain some teaching experience besides seminar leading.

But I'm also interested in advice about how to put together some evidence that one would be able to design and teach an entire course even when one does not have a chance to actually do this during their PhD.

My query may not be relevant to all early career researchers -- especially not to those who have gotten their PhD in the US, where, as far as I know, gaining some teaching experience as a primary instructors is easier.

anonymous

UK grad student,
I would think that this would not be an impediment to getting a job in the UK, given that it is the norm there. The US market is different. But then again so are the Ph.D. programmes. You should only worry if you plan to apply for jobs elsewhere.
I would recommend that you do some seminar teaching and guest lecturing. Then someone will be able to speak to your abilities in reaching such audiences.

Anonymous

Hi Marcus,

The following question will be relevant to people who are soon to decide about which graduate school to attend in the UK (but will also be relevant for US students currently at graduate school):

When one is selecting a supervisor for one's PhD thesis, what's most important: (1) the supervisor's energy, engagement with your project, level of expertise, etc; or (2) the supervisor's seniority and worldwide reputation? Obviously, in a perfect world, one would want one's supervisor to have all these attributes, but this isn't a perfect world. If one has to decide between a supervisor that fits the attributes in (1) but not those in (2), and one who fits the attributes in (2) but not so much those in (1), what should one decide? (Let me pre-empt an obvious reply: get them both on your supervisory team. Sure, but that's not possible if they're at different institutions.)

I've heard it said that one should never be supervised by someone who isn't at the top rung of the career ladder, because it will make it much harder to get a job after one's PhD. Does this sound right? Can relatively inexperienced supervisors place their students?

Marcus Arvan

Anonymous: Great query - I just posted on it!

Amanda

So this post comes in response to a number of conversations I've had with friends on the market, as well as various faculty members, as well as reading Allen Wood's job search advice on the APA blog. So Wood suggests that you should not take a TT job just because you have been on the market for some time and it is all you got. Rather, you should see if the job is a good fit. Now from almost everyone else I've talked with, they would disagree. The job market is horrible, and anyone should be happy with any job. (Maybe those at the top 5 schools are different, but I am not even sure then).

So what happens if you are offered a TT job and the location is awful, the department members appear disagreeable, and the general environment is not one of your liking? (FYI I am NOT in this position myself. I currently have no TT offers...) If this is your only offer, should you take it? Basically everyone I've talked to says yes. (perhaps assuming you would choose this rather than leave academia). Does anybody disagree? Does anyone think it would ever make sense to turn down a TT offer in the hopes that you find a better fit in a year or two. (Or would the rule be take the job and then apply out?)

anonymous

Amanda,
It really depends on your values. If one loves philosophy so much - and some people report they do - then one may be prepared to endure all sorts of adverse conditions in order to teach philosophy for life. But people need to be realistic. I cannot imagine visiting such a lousy place as you describe. I am sure they exist. I think people, though, are unrealistic about many things. For example, many are unrealistic about living in a very small relatively isolated college town. If you have only had large urban experiences in your life, I am sure this is going to be a surprise!

Lucy

What are the do's and don'ts for negotiating a TT job offer/ contract at a teaching college/university?

Amanda

Thanks anonymous. You are probably right, but I think a part of the problem is that many on the market are unsure of their values. (And yes, as someone who experienced small town life after living mostly an urban one, it indeed takes some adjustment!)

anonymous

Amanda,
To be frank with you, I do not think many of us (maybe any of us) know ourselves that well. These are truly decisions under conditions of uncertainty. I think when you take a job, any job, you need to try to make the most of it. Get involved in the campus life, and the community you live in. That is not a guaranteed recipe for success and happiness, but I have seen many miserable people whose misery seems partly due to their lack of engagement.

someone

I have a very naive question about research environments in different parts of the world. As far as I can tell, in the UK and Europe the main way of getting time off of teaching in order to focus on research is to win a competitive grant. Is this universally the case, or do some institutions also have generic research leave, and if so how much is normal? More generally, how do things work in the US/Canada, where research grants play a smaller role? Are any countries known for being particularly good for research leave?

anonymous

Someone,
In the USA, typically, if you have a tenure track job, you are eligible for a sabbatical every 7 years. That does not mean that you will necessarily get one. It means you can apply. Also, there are no norms about compensation during that period. At some places you get (only) 50 % of your salary while on sabbatical. At other places you get more (80 %, for example). Also, if you do bring in external money (grants, large grants), then people often "buy out" their teaching time, or some part of it. So you can get a reduced teaching load.

KC

Quick question: Say I am (somewhat) in a (the?) closet and decide to publish something scholarly anonymously or pseudonymously. I don't mind my colleagues knowing, but I'd rather my mom didn't google me and find this. I need to put it on my CV. Do you know of any issues that can arise with not having one's name or institution on a paper?

F.

Someone,

in Italy and France (at least) there are positions which are research-only.
In Italy, if you have a tenured position, you could usually get two non-consecutive sabbatical years every ten, with full pay and benefits.

Amanda

So I think it would be helpful/fun to have an "Interviews gone wrong" post where people share their stories of, well, interviews gone wrong. This might not only help people learn what to avoid, but serve empathetic purposes for those on the market.

Amanda

Okay,so I want to begin by apologizing for what is going to be a very negative post. Marcus I know that in the past you have written about falling out of love with philosophy, and I believe managing to re fall in love at some point. In any case, I have been feeling pretty down about philosophy lately, and find it hard to motivate myself to do my research, and other things that I should be doing to make myself a better philosopher. Here are some of the reasons I feel that way. (And,yeah, I realize these problems are problems for a lot of people, def. not just me, which is why I'm posting).

1. Being on the job market is a full-time job, and it has become even more so with the extended market. It seems like I am constantly either completing applications or preparing for interviews. Why this is frustrating, is it leaves little time to do anything else, and to improve my CV so I am more likely to get a job in the future.

2.Blind review is a joke. I know many people, both professors and students, who send their papers around to buddies before publication, or present them at conferences, and hence the person reviewing the paper knows who they are reviewing. What bothers me most about this is the guise of blind review and how people pretend that publishing is a fair assessment of philosophical ability. I do think there is some correlation between publishing and merit, maybe even a strong correlation, but it is absolutely not a fair game of blind review. I know a better person than me would just push on and write and submit the best work they can, but the insincerity of it all really saps my motivation.

3. I know that even when I do write great work and publish it, like less than 10 people will ever read my work. Once again, some people are better than me and can appreciate the intrinsic value of philosophy writing. I, however, love philosophy in so far as it is a conversation with others. I could do any old job and write my own philosophical musings in a journal. What makes the philosophy profession worthwhile is interactions with other philosophers. My writing however, seems to rarely result in such interaction.

4.Most work (or a lot of work) that gets published in top journals is 3/4 literature review and then makes a tiny point at the end. I find this kind of philosophy boring, both to read and write. Now it is fine that others like it, but I wish it was at least even and there was more space for new ideas that made major points rather than small adjustments to what has been said before. I do think a few journals are trying to expand their purview, which is a great development.

5. When I go to philosophy conferences, it seems that there is clear hierarchy for those who are big shots and those who are not. People have consistently been incredibly rude to me at conferences, as if their whole point is to tell me my paper is horrible and why the hell did I bother to present it? This happens all the time, and not just to me. Why does philosophy have to always be about showing someone how wrong they are? Why? In addition, it is common that I will raise my hand at a conference and am never called on, while all the big shots are called on.

6.The profession does not take teaching seriously. I was given absolutely no training as a teacher in grad school, and this is common. I wish we just cared a little more.

Okay, that's it for now. If anybody has any insights on how to get out of my super negative rut it would be much appreciated. And yes, I know my rant came off as whiny and unappreciative and I am sorry for that. It is because , however, that complaining in other forums is seen as socially unacceptable that I come here.

Thanks to all.

anon

Amanda,
I cannot tell you how your career will go. But I can share my experiences, which may be some grounds for hope. I had a rocky start. It took a while to get a TT job. I publish in very good specialty journals. I referee for journals on a regular basis, including some of the most selective journals. Though it was slow at first, my work is read (and cited - even frequently). I even get invited to talk at places despite the fact that I work at a state school that really is concerned with teaching undergraduates. I have a rewarding career. But it did not come to me over night. Push the bad thoughts aside, and do the parts of the profession that you enjoy.

Amanda

Thanks Anon, that is encouraging:) And I should probably add that there are many parts of the profession that still do make me happy. Mostly hanging out and talking philosophy whenever I get the chance. So hopefully that will get me through the other nonsense.

Marcus Arvan

Amanda: I'm going to open a thread on this for discussion in a couple of days, as I think it might be good to hear many different perspectives. I shared your frustrations for many years while on the market, and still struggle with similar frustrations even today. But I also think anon largely has it right. The more I've been able to focus on the things I enjoy, rather than the things in the profession that bug me, the happier I've been. I love reading and writing philosophy as much as I ever have, find teaching meaningful, and feel blessed to be able to make a living doing this.

However, I would just add a few things. First, one has to be able to adjust. For instance, I love hanging out and talking philosophy like you do. However, because I work in a *very* small department, that is something I rarely get to do. I've probably had something like 10 philosophical conversations with colleagues outside of the classroom in the seven years I've been here. As such, I've had to learn how to do philosophy mostly by myself. Surprisingly--although there are some downsides (I still itch to "tall shop" and don't get much feedback on my work before publishing it)--I've learned to enjoy doing philosophy alone. But that, again, is the thing: you have to learn to appreciate what you have, and make the best of it. I would love to chat philosophy all day with colleagues, and when I go to conferences I can't shut up, as I feel like a fish finally thrown back into the water. But that's not my daily reality, and so I've had to adjust. Finally, although I agree with anon that it is best to put the bad thoughts aside, I also think it is important not to simply accept the status quo and do nothing. If our profession has problems (as all professions do), as professionals we should all seek to do our small part to press, kindly but consistently, for positive change--so that hopefully, at some point in the future, there will be fewer of these kinds of frustrations for people to face.

Amanda

Thanks Marcus. I agree that those in the profession have a moral duty to make some effort to change it for the better. Maybe with the internet these changes can come about a bit faster than before.

Nate

Amanda,

I'm wondering about number 3 in your list. I've heard lots of people say this sort of thing (i.e. no one - or a nearly no one - reads your published work), but is it really true? I imagine it's probably true that relatively few people will *cite* your work, so maybe that's contributing to the lack of a conversation that you're frustrated by. However, that people don't cite it doesn't imply that it's not being read. For example, I've had four articles published in the last year and a half or so (one in a "top 30" journal and the others in specialty journals), and, according to the info that the journals' websites provide, those four articles have been downloaded a combined 1600 times (with about 750 of those coming from the "top 30" journal). So, even if we estimate conservatively and say that 25% of people read the articles that they download, then my work has been read by 400 people in the past year.

So, fear not! Your work is being read, even if it's not being engaged with in the way that you'd like.

Amanda

That's an interesting point Nate. Maybe I'm a cynic, but I remain a bit skeptical. Who are these random people reading my (an others) work? I find it hard to believe that ordinary people are reading philosophy journals. And from talking to other philosophers, they usually only read work they cite. So I'm not sure who is downloading or why, but I often download things just to briefly skim them. You bring up a good point though, perhaps more people are at least looking at my work, and the work of others, than I had originally supposed.

Michel X.

They're not random. They're (probably) mostly students (UG and grad alike) on the hunt for secondary sources, with at least a smattering of professionals. That's usually the target audience, though, so...

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