Our books






Become a Fan

« What to do if the hypothesis is true? - part 1: job candidates | Main | Impact and Engagement for Early Career Philosophers: Part I »

02/09/2018

Comments

Feed You can follow this conversation by subscribing to the comment feed for this post.

Round two

6 peer-reviewed pubs (3 top-20, 2 top-10, one high-impact non-philosophy)
10 citations
6 courses as primary instructor
Lower Leiter-rank (but well-ranked in sub-discipline)
New PhD (second time on market)
0 interviews

Endless Apps

-2 non-peer reviewed, unimportant pubs.
-0 peer-reviewed pubs.
-29 courses as instructor of record, evaluations very good but not perfect.
-Leiter top 15 school (but not well-ranked for my work)
-Still ABD.
-110 applications
-2 first-round interviews, still waiting to hear on both.

Anon

4 peer-reviewed pubs (3 in top- 10)
7 citations
7 different courses as primary instructor (21 sections total)
Relatively Leiterific PhD (solidly Leiterific but dropped some since I left)
2nd year post PhD
2 interviews, 0 flyouts

TT

Would folks be interested in outcomes from last year?

- 1 publication in mid-tier journal
- Low-ranked Leiter program
- lots of solo teaching
- excellent course evals in recent years
- abundant service to department and profession
- 3rd year on market
- PhD in hand
- 3 first round interviews, 1 offer

anon

1 publication in a specialist journal
Top 15 school, PhD completed in the past year
Around ten courses as primary instructor, good evals
1 tt first-round interview, 1 post-doc first-round interview (both of which were long enough ago that I don't think they'll turn into flyouts.)

Random job market person

- 9 peer-reviewed pubs (roughly equal division of top 10 and top 20, one top 5)
- 0 courses as primary instructor (this will change soon, thankfully), reasonable amount of TAing.
- Leiter top 30 school.
- Over 100 applications (lost count a while ago).
- Reasonably trendy AOS.
- A degree of 'networking' (only in the last year though).
- 2 interviews in about 2.5 years (one postdoc, one tt).

Guess I fit Marcus's hypothesis pretty closely (although lack of teaching probably explains a lot too, and maybe word has got out that I am an arsehole...).

Tom

Lots of you will know who I am, but meh.

- 7 pubs. Two top twenty, two top specialist, two invited, 1 coauthored textbook completed. Two more textbooks under contract.
- Over 30 courses as primary instructor. Great reviews.
- Leiter ranked, but barely.
- 30-40 applications this year.
- 0 interviews.

Last year was pretty much the same. The year before was almost the same too, except there was 1 interview that turned into a postdoc.

K

From last year, in case it's helpful:
- was ABD
- 3 peer-reviewed journal articles at the time of application (one co-authored)
- 2 courses taught with exceptional evaluations
- non-ranked Ph.D. program
- 8 first-round interviews, 3 fly-outs, 2 TT offers and one post-doc offer (I declined the post-doc and accepted a TT offer)

Job Candidate #56291

- Top 20 Leiter-ranked PhD program.

- AOS in a couple LEMM-ing fields and an AOC too disjunctive to either usefully summarize or lay out in detail without revealing myself (although I kind of don't care at this point).

- 8 peer-reviewed publications (1 at the Noûs level, the rest in the PQ-to-Synthese range), two chapters in anthologies with big names from good publishing houses.

- At least 120 citations (one of my articles has over 80 citations).

- Around 10 sections as primary instructor (undergraduate and graduate), and examiner of PhD and MA theses.

- Sole author of several successful grant applications for postdoc positions, and co-author of several more (half of which I had to decline).

- Lots of conference organization, invited presentations at very good departments, etc.

- PhD awarded five years ago, strong research postdocs since then (the last one was at a Leiterrific department).

- This job cycle: 8 first-round interviews, 0 fly-outs.

- A white male. (I only mention this because I am *constantly* told, both by members of search committees and by more senior people in the field, that this has at the very least been an obstacle in my case.)

Anon Applicant

- 1 publication in a very good specialty journal
- 10+ professional conference presentations
- 5 different classes taught as instructor of record (8 sections), all with excellent evals
- new PhD from program ranked in lower half (although strong in my AOS)
- 2nd year on job market (last year, I had 4 TT interviews with 2 flyouts, 0 TT offers, but got a VAP)
- 6 TT interviews, 2 flyouts (possibly 1 more), waiting to see about offers

But looking at our profiles in this quantitative way ignores our qualitative profile, and (in my case, at least) I think is the key to what success I've had. I think the quantitative CV elements got me past the first bar, but they weren't the key to differentiating me from other people with similar profiles. Though I applied widely, my interviews have almost all been at a very specific type of school that takes a certain kind of teaching very seriously but also wants faculty who enjoy research. It also happens this is my ideal sort of job, and I think that shows. In other words, I don't think it's all about the numbers or ranking (although ranking is definitely more important at research-heavy schools, where it might be more weighty).

Number Three

-2 publications in very good to excellent specialist journals. Invited to write chapters for a couple of other things.
-Second job market cycle post-PhD from Top 25 Phil Gourmet department (higher in specialty)
-12 courses as instructor (evals seem good, but I don't know what the average scores are across the department and university)
-2 first round interviews, 1 flyout, no offers yet.

Only applied for TT positions this year. Last year I applied *very* widely and had 10+ first round interviews, but I didn't get any TT flyouts or offers. Ended up taking the best non-TT job I was offered. I had one TT flyout the year before last.

This is probably my last year. Goodbye, philosophy!

Pendaran Roberts

11 peer reviewed, first author publications and none with advisor or more senior people (6 top 20).
2 courses as primary instructor; TAed for many more.
PhD University of Nottingham UK.
2 interviews over 3 years both for 1 year gigs.
unemployed.

Pendaran Roberts

Correction: 1 of my papers was with a more senior person at a different university. Not my advisor. Sorry forgot about that one.

first timer

-2 solo peer-reviewed pubs (1 top-10 generalist, 1 specialist)
-2 co-authored pubs (1 peer-reviewed specialist, 1 for edited volume)
-No Leiter rank
-7 sections as primary instructor
-Still ABD (first time on market)
-13 applications
-0 interviews

Happily employed overseas TT

This is from a year ago, I hope it's helpful.

- Leiter top-20 PhD, one year out
- AOS in LEMMING area
- 4 pubs (3 top-10, 1 top-20)
- 6 sections as solo instructor, strong but not outstanding evals
- 2 first-round interviews, 3 additional direct fly-outs (none of the latter in North America), 1 TT offer

Happily employed overseas TT

PS: Also, some citations but not a lot - maybe 15-20 in total?

J

- 2 peer-reviewed pubs in a top, but a narrow specialist journal
- 3 citations
- few times served as a journal referee when requested

No Ph.D., several applications for funded Ph.D. positions in my country. No offers. Just recently got an offer for funded Ph.D. position from a different country.

Joel

- White male
- Leiter mid-rank Ph.D., one year out, in VAP at comparable school
- 5 publications in top-10 journals, 1 publication in an edited collection
- ~20 citations
- 5 courses taught
- ~100 applications
- 7 first-round interviews, 4 fly-outs

Relevant to The Hypothesis: only 2 of my interviews were for research schools. The rest were all for teaching-oriented schools with high teaching loads. I do get the impression that I'm getting passed over for R1 positions especially based on my Ph.D. granting institution and demographics. But I was able to get interviews with several teaching schools despite a strong research output. I did not hide my research accomplishments in my CV, and I always mention them in my cover letter. But I do try to tailor my cover letters and explain why I'm a good fit to teach at that school, and I think I have a very good teaching portfolio.

Chris

Hi, as a brief aside, I was wondering—how does one calculate or find their number of citations?

I have seen myself cited once or twice, but is there some sort of program or source that would list this?

Daniel

Chris,

Look up your papers on google scholar. And/or create a google scholar profile, and make sure your papers are listed on it.

Amanda

I am also curious by all the people listing number of citations. I have a lot of publications, some in top general places and more in top speciality journals, but I have never thought to look at my citations. Do search committees look at this? And if not, why is everyone mentioning it? Genuinely curious.

Happily employed overseas TT

I just mentioned it because Marcus asked for it - I doubt it plays a major role in junior hiring. (Though networking does, of which number of citations can be indicative.) I also started keeping track of it because it can sometimes make a difference in grant applications.

Job Candidate #56291

Amanda, only speaking for myself:

Citation numbers were mentioned by the OP, and everyone else in the thread before me listed theirs, so I thought that was the format. Otherwise, I wouldn't have. I'm virtually certain that U.S. search committees pay zero attention to them.

That said, I have mentioned citation numbers when filling out U.K./Australian questionnaires for lectureships/grants that ask for evidence of research impact. So at least in that context, they're good to know.

Marcus Arvan

Here's why I asked about citation numbers.

I have noticed a lot of 'CV vetting' online, or the comparing job-candidates and hires on the basis of their CVs. For instance, it is often suggested that one candidate is less deserving or meriting a job than other candidates purely on the basis of how many publications they have, and where those publications are.

While of course there may be many reasons why a given person is hired over another (including pedigree, demographics, etc.), one thing this kind of CV vetting totally glosses over is the impact of a person's work in the discipline. I'm not sure how often hiring committees look at Google scholar records of citations. But do saavy job-candidates with good citation records note them in their cover letters? And do hiring committees care about impact? Absolutely.

Compare two hypothetical scenarios:

SCENARIO 1
Candidate 1: 10 publications in highly-ranked journals, few citations.
Candidate 2: 2 publications in highly-ranked journals, dozens of citations and discussion in the literature.

SCENARIO 2
Candidate 1: 3 publications in highly-ranked journals, few citations.
Candidate 2: 14 publications in low-ranked journals, dozens of citations and discussion in the literature.

Online CV-vetters would presumably count Candidate 1 in both cases as 'better accomplished', 'more deserving', or 'meriting' a job than Candidate 2.

But is this how search committees think? This is not obvious to me at all.

First, I've heard that tenure-committees at R1's care a great deal about impact in one's field--that they make tenure decisions specifically in large on the basis of whether a person has become a Big Name in their field. Indeed, I've heard that many tenure denials of people at R1s with good CVs are the result of the person not making much of an impact in their field--and that the awarding of tenure can depend on whether outside reviewers (i.e. other Big Names) recognize them as a Big Name in the field. Wittgenstein was hired by Cambridge not because of his CV but because of his impact on the field, which (obviously) was tremendous.

Consequently, I would not be at all surprised if R1 search committees were to interview or hire someone like Candidate 2 over Candidate 1 in SCENARIO 1. People sometimes forget that Wittgenstein only had one publication (the Tractatus), and that it was with no-name press (it was rejected by every press Wittgenstein submitted it to until Russell wrote an introduction, and even then all of the top-presses balked at it).

Similarly, consider SCENARIO 2. While R1's may prefer Candidate 1 over Candidate 2, it seems clear to me that many teaching-oriented schools would prefer candidate 2. For while teaching schools care primarily about teaching, they also very much like their faculty to make an impact in their field.

Nick

There's just too much noise and the time frame is way too small for impact to be meaningful for early career scholars. Just think how long it takes for a paper to be published, then for that paper to be cited, then for the citing paper to be published... Throw in some random factors affecting citation numbers positively (coauthored papers in a field with different citation practices; luck; your paper is impactful but so wrong...) or negatively (Google Scholar's bots sometimes fail to detect a sizeable fraction of your citations or takes a while to do so). When we're speaking a couple dozen citations, whether you have 5, 10, 15, or 20 really doesn't mean much. Especially if you've completed your PhD recently, the odds citations do not reflect anything meaningful about your work as astronomical.

Amanda

Very interesting ,Marcus. Thanks makes sense. I guess I should look up my citations today. This, I think, is kind of shame, because I had been enjoying being blissfully ignorant of this sort of thing!

bc

-PhD PGR US Top 20, group 2 in specialty
-8 publications, 5 in last year (1 top 10, 3 more in top 20, 3 in good specialty journals, 1 invited w/ phd supervisor)
-19 conference talks, 13 invited talks
-18 courses taught, mostly in specialty
-2 years postdoc-ing at PGR UK Top 5 university
-4 years on job market
-53 applications for TT jobs (only 8 in last two years though), 1 first round interview in yr. 2
-44 applications for postdocs/teaching, invited for 4 interviews, 1 job

Amanda

An additional something we can learn from this thread is how tough the competition is, and hence how hard it is to stand out. I really do think there has been a huge change insofar as many of these publication records would stand out 10 years ago, maybe even 5. But today that record just makes you one of many. One thing one of my academic advisers said to me (one person, keep in mind) is that sometimes people with a long list of impressive publications just show him that someone has "learned how to work the system." This again, might point to the difference of someone who has a long list of top publications versus someone who has in some senses a less impressive record but is "known" for this or that. I know I am not the only one who thinks many publications in top places are formulaic and boring. Now this is just me musing on possibilities. As to how a search committee "should" rank these things, that is too much for me to go into there.

Pendaran Roberts

One thing one of my academic advisers said to me (one person, keep in mind) is that sometimes people with a long list of impressive publications just show him that someone has "learned how to work the system."

I think this is a dangerous mentality. Every one of my papers was a ton of work. There was no gaming or whatever you want to call it. Just lots of sleepless nights.

N/A

The main thing I'm learning from this thread, and which I find comforting, is that I'm not alone in being more qualified, CV-wise at least, than the average tenure-track hire.

As far as learning how tough the competition is (as Amanda suggested), I don't really think that can be inferred from a blog meant for people with early career struggles--especially not from comments in response to a post about poor job prospects despite strong CVs. That kind of inference can only be drawn from a much larger and more representative dataset. And while the only such dataset I'm aware of is five years old, it does not suggest that the competition is tough enough to warrant some of the outcomes I've seen posted above.

"The medians for both tenure-track and postdoctoral hirees were 1 peer-reviewed publication and 0 peer-reviewed publications in a top-15 journal."

http://www.newappsblog.com/2013/06/placement-data-and-trends-2011-2013.html

RJ

--PhD PGR World Top 30, UK Top 5
--13 peer-reviewed publications (2 top 10, 6 top 20, 1 very highly regarded specialist, 1 highly regarded specialist). Also 1 forthcoming edited volume with an ok publisher, and 1 article in an edited volume with the same publisher.
--77 citations (on google scholar).
--Success applying for funding.
--5 courses taught, all in different areas.
--Don't know how they compare to others, but I do know (from being told) that my evaluations are impressive in comparison to my colleagues.
--4 1/2 years post-PhD. Since then I've had 2 postdocs (hence the low number of courses taught).
--113 applications from 3 years on the market (this is my 3rd go).
--7 skype interviews that didn't lead to anything (plus 1 turned down), 8 flyouts for permanent positions that didn't work out (plus 1 turned down), and 4 interviews for postdocs that didn't lead to anything. Currently in a postdoc position (so I did have 1 success!).
--This was over 3 years. This year I've had 3 skype interviews that didn't lead to anything and 1 flyout I'm still waiting on (but not hopeful about).

Not sure what to conclude from this. On the one hand, I get interviews, and I know that at least some of them went well. Also, in some cases even I can see that the candidate who got the job was objectively better qualified. On the other, it does of course get to you when none of the interviews lead to a permanent job! One thing I find interesting is that I don't seem to get more interviews now than in my 1st year on the market, when my CV was clearly a lot weaker (and I had even less teaching experience than I do now).

RJ

One thing I meant to add: It is fair to say I've had far more success in Europe (including the UK) and the rest of the world than in North America. My impression is that it is very hard (though of course not impossible) for someone to break into the North American market, and this goes as much for more teaching-focused schools as for top research schools.

A

In my experience as both a job market candidate last year (who landed a TT job) and search committee member this year, one cannot underestimate the importance of being professional and nice.

About the last point: personality matters. You will likely not land a job (or second round interview) if you come across as arrogant, too good for the people interviewing you, unprofessional, angsty about the philosophy profession, or inappropriate. This absolutely does and should make a difference to who gets hired. Search committee members have to trust that their future colleagues can work well with others, and they have to trust that their future colleagues are appropriate role models for students. Someone might look amazing on paper and turn out to be unsuitable for a TT position for legitimate reasons related to issues with professional judgment and character.

Amanda

N/A there is newer data than that. And it indeed shows the average publication is 4 or 5. Marcus I am sure you know what I'm talking about right? It was posted on Daily Nous but I don't remember where. It was actually the difference in the data you cite above N/A and the new data that really surprised me. If someone else doesn't point to it I will go dig later.

Pendaran I don't think my adviser was suggesting that writing papers in good journals was easy. I think he meant somebody might just have gotten down to a T a certain type of formulaic paper that journals tend to like. Now, admittedly, this is a lot of speculating on his part and I argued intensely with him at the time. But if nothing else it does show how the arbitrary whims of search committee members make a difference.

Marcus Arvan

A is right.

Also, I would suggest that one thing to learn from this thread is not just how tough the competition is (which it clearly it), but how it is a mistake to equate merit, qualifications, and competitiveness for jobs with publication records.

Here is what TT reported about themselves last year:

- 1 publication in mid-tier journal
- Low-ranked Leiter program
- lots of solo teaching
- excellent course evals in recent years
- abundant service to department and profession
- 3rd year on market
- PhD in hand
- 3 first round interviews, 1 offer

This person was competitive for jobs at teaching schools, and I've seen plenty like them. Why were they competitive? Because they realized what teaching schools are actually looking for. Hint: it's not one's publication record. It's teaching, commitment to service and the profession, etc. Those are the things that merit being hired at a teaching school.

Pendaran Roberts

‘Pendaran I don't think my adviser was suggesting that writing papers in good journals was easy. I think he meant somebody might just have gotten down to a T a certain type of formulaic paper that journals tend to like.’

What an odd thing to say. The implication is that what journals like isn’t good or good enough philosophy or isn’t what we should care about. If thats true, then we really should stop having students read journals and write in that style.

Sometimes the things that get said around here just blow my mind.

Pendaran Roberts

‘About the last point: personality matters. You will likely not land a job (or second round interview) if you come across as arrogant, too good for the people interviewing you, unprofessional, angsty about the philosophy profession, or inappropriate.’

If you aren’t upset with the philosophy profession there is something wrong with you. As far as the rest, I doubt many come off as too unprofessional/whatever in interviews. Decisions are made based on way more subtle considerations. Some people may be more introverted, shy, or nervous than others. I suspect most don’t go into interviews insulting the panel or yelling at people. Haha!

I can imagine that rumors though may influence panels. That’s not interview performance but gossip. And we should differentiate between them. How reliable is gossip? Is that a fair or just way to narrow down candidates?

N/A

Hi Amanda, would you mind digging up that link showing that 4 or 5 pubs is average for TT hiring? I recall a DN thread where people were saying that 4 or 5 pubs was standard for tenure at their institutions, but not a study on TT hiring. Thanks!

Marcus Arvan

Hi Pendaran: There are parts of your last comment that I am sympathetic to, and parts I am not.

You are absolutely right to bemoan the fact that hiring decisions may be made on the basis of job-irrelevant factors, such as shyness or introversion. There is a wealth of empirical evidence indicating that people hold these traits against candidates, preferring extraverted candidates in interviews, despite the fact that introversion is more positively related to actual job-performance.

As someone who is profoundly shy and introverted myself, I had these things held against me on the job-market (I was told I came off 'disengaged' in a couple of interviews, where it was really just me trying to remain calm and not appear nervous--something else I struggle with in interviews as a shy person).

Because these are pernicious biases, I always try to go out of my way to draw attention to them, both on the Cocoon and to my own colleagues.

However, there are other parts of your comment I strongly disagree with. First, whether someone is arrogant, or meanspirited, or whatever, can very much be job-relevant. Indeed, once again there is a great deal of research here--on how toxic employees and (especially) managers can destroy a work environment, bringing down the productivity of others. Second, a person's personal priorities--as reflected in their behavior (i.e. whether they are actually passionate about teaching, or just trying to fake it)--can also be very job-relevant. I know a teaching school that hired a candidate who claimed to be a passionate teacher, but who then showed up for the job from Day 1 focusing only on research so he could jump ship for a research job.

Finally, these job-relevant things may not simply come across in interviews or through gossip. Arrogance can very much come across in application materials (cover letters, research statements, teaching statements, etc). So too, obviously, can one's professional priorities. Finally, these things can also come across in behavior at conferences, online (on blogs), etc. So it is important to be aware of how one comes across in these types of contexts (I say this, in full disclosure, as someone who is by no means perfect in these areas, and who very much learned the hard way--and am still learning--about some of my faults).

Round two

I also find the comments about personality puzzling, especially when it comes to the question of why people aren't getting interviews. Is there something in particular that people write in their application materials that seems to convey that one is a jerk? If so, what?
My own guess is that beliefs about whether a candidate "comes off as a jerk" in application materials probably reflects more on the person reading the application than the candidate him/herself.

jdkbrown

"What an odd thing to say. The implication is that what journals like isn’t good or good enough philosophy or isn’t what we should care about. If thats true, then we really should stop having students read journals and write in that style."

Well, David Velleman, for one, has argued exactly this. And it's an undercurrent in a lot of the discussion about pressure to publish early and often overwhelming the journals with unambitious and often formulaic papers. (I tend to think this concern--at least in the very strong form that Velleman pushes it--is overblown, but the sentiment isn't uncommon.)

"I doubt many come off as too unprofessional/whatever in interviews."

Not many, but a fair few.

Nick

Pendaran, it's not the first time that you jeer at the thought that being a nice colleague and teacher is a relevant hiring factor (last time I remember was when we discussed the famous NYU guy who can't find a TT job — people who know the case know there are personality red flags, which you dismissed them as irrelevant. It blows my mind that you still can't come to terms with the importance of other things than your paper record for decisions that will have a huge impact on whole departments and potentially hundreds of students.

As for your reply to Amanda, I don't think she said that what the person had figured out was a fool-proof sufficient condition for publishing. They just appeared to have figured out a way to increase the odds that their good papers will be published.

Pendaran Roberts

Marcus, we don’t disagree about much. We’ve had these discussions before. Perhaps one point we disagree on is how likely people are to come across as unprofessional in job application materials and at interviews. Most serious candidates have had their materials heavily vetted. Even the most outrageous people can fake it for a few hours at interviews. I suspect to whatever degree unprofessional personality characteristics are relevant, rather than just other characteristics like being introverted, is due to gossip and rumors. Is using rumors when hiring just or fair or even epistemically justifiable?


Another concern I have, which might be a point of disagreement, is what gets classified as unprofessional and why. What one person considers arrogance another considers confidence. So to some degree what might be classified as unprofessional is rather subjective. We have to be careful that we are not simply discriminating based on class or culture, or this is what I believe. For example in Russia people are very direct and in England they are not. So, Russians may come across as rude and ‘unprofessional’ in England. But really this is just cultural. Is it just or fair or even best for the department to discriminate based on culture or class?

jdkbrown

Here's something that's missed in this focus on CVs, and especially on publication counts: when it comes to choosing whom to interview--and especially when choosing whom to hire--committees actually read the work and make their own judgments about it.

Sure it's published in Phil Studies, but is it *actually* good? And interesting? [We all can give examples of published work that we think really isn't very good, or interesting, or..., right?] Sure, they've got seven publications, but are all the pubs really pretty much about the same thing? Or do they demonstrate some range? [Seven papers, each on Malbranche's philosophy sport, but each considering a different sport? Range matters, *especially* for small departments.] Do they have so many publications because each is the least publishable unit? Are all the pubs straight from the dissertation? [Once this vein of material has run out, will they have something else to run with?]

Nick Z

Last year on the market:
1 peer-reviewed publication, 1 book review
Very low-ranked Leiter department
Dozens of courses taught as lead instructor (several years adjuncting at different kinds of institutions)
PhD in hand (although applied to about 30 jobs over the previous three years while ABD, so materials were pretty solid)
43 applications
9 first round interviews (3 universities, 6 community colleges)
4 fly outs
2 offers

Marcus Arvan

Those interested in The Hypothesis I ventured should pay attention to TT and Nick Z. They both got interviews and jobs without many publications, and without *any* high-ranking ones. Nick got 9 interviews!

Why? If the Hypothesis is right, it's because they both had a good job-market strategy given their PhD program's Leiter-rank.

Tom

I'm also interested in hearing more about how arrogance comes across in job documents. I feel (perhaps wrongly) absolutely certain that I wouldn't be able to pick up on arrogance in a cover letter. (Full confession: I feel that way at least in pat because I suspect I wouldn't find *anything* of value in a cover letter. But that's a discussion for a different day.)

What does said arrogance actually look like? What are other bad things that come across in cover letters, and what do these things *actually look like*? I'm asking because the fact that I was surprised they *could* come across suggests I'm not in a good position to vet my own materials to see whether that *does* come across. (Yes: I do ask others to look at them too. But I suspect I'm not alone in not knowing to/how to look for this, so perhaps my readers could also benefit from this information.)

Pendaran Roberts

“Pendaran, it's not the first time that you jeer at the thought that being a nice colleague and teacher is a relevant hiring factor (last time I remember was when we discussed the famous NYU guy who can't find a TT job — people who know the case know there are personality red flags, which you dismissed them as irrelevant. It blows my mind that you still can't come to terms with the importance of other things than your paper record for decisions that will have a huge impact on whole departments and potentially hundreds of students.“

Read what I’ve actually written and said and respond to that. But don’t straw man my position. Also, I’m not going to gossip about others in this thread. So I’m not going to talk about the NYU guy you mention or address that issue.

anonymous european

-white male, English second language

- +20 peer-reviewed articles (4 of them in top-specialty journals)

- narrow AOS

- PhD 2016 from respected school in continental Europe


- job market year 2018: 10 application, 0 interviews.

Marcus Arvan

Tom: Having mentored a number of candidates and read a great many materials, my experience is that coming across poorly in cover letters, etc., is one of *the single most common* problems candidates have.

Karen Kelsky makes this point (at the Professor Is In) all the time, and my experience is that she is absolutely right. Far too many candidates try to "talk themselves up" in their materials. While candidates might think they need to talk themselves up (mentioning in their cover letter or research statement, for instance, how they've published in All the Best Journals or how they wrote the Best Dissertation Ever), this kind of stuff can look arrogant or insecure (or both). No one needs to be told that Mind is a top-ranked journal. Everyone knows that and can tell by your CV whether you've published there. These things may also rub people the wrong way who are not obsessed with journal rankings. Good job-market materials are understated, letting your CV and actual content of your research, teaching pedagogy, syllabi, etc., do the talking.

For more, see: http://philosopherscocoon.typepad.com/blog/2015/05/job-market-boot-camp-part-8-the-cover-letter.html

http://philosopherscocoon.typepad.com/blog/2015/05/job-market-boot-camp-part-9-the-teaching-statement.html

jdkbrown

What Marcus said. I've also seen a number of variations on "My work definitively proves that position X is just silly," where X is fairly nuanced and complex, and has a lot of literature discussing it. I mean, *maybe* this is true, and all the philosophers who have taken X seriously are fools; but...

Nick

Pendaran, you can review your reactions over there: http://philosopherscocoon.typepad.com/blog/2017/04/reader-query-on-staving-off-bitterness.html?cid=6a014e89cbe0fd970d01bb098d19dc970d#comment-6a014e89cbe0fd970d01bb098d19dc970d

Let me know if you think I mischaracterized your view and attitude. I may have overplayed it, in which case I'm sorry. But you sound really suspicious of taking personality-related factors into account (here and there). Is that not true? Am I really strawmaning?

As for the NYU person, you've been outraged about their case on this very blog, that's the only reason I bring them up.

A

In my experience, candidates can definitely display a lack of professionalism, arrogance, and other character red flags (or red flags about preparedness for a TT position) in application materials and in interviews. It is not as easy as one might think to "fake it"; maybe some people can pull this off, but doing so requires social awareness - and candidates with character red flags tend to lack social awareness, which is the problem to begin with.

Yes, you should be angsty about the philosophy job market, but it is unprofessional to display a negative attitude toward the philosophy profession in certain contexts if you want a job in the philosophy profession!

Pendaran Roberts

Nick,

I am very hesitant to place much emphasis on personality in hiring. I think it largely amounts to an excuse to hire your friends or people of the same class or culture as you over the best qualified people. My position is that personality is relevant to a degree. Some people really are nuts and impossible. But I think they are few and far between. Most of the time, in my view, personality differences are not very relevant.

However, you characterized my position above to be that being nice is irrelevant, suggesting that my position is that whether people are mean is irrelevant. That’s not my position. But some effort has to be made to distinguish between someone who is legitimately mean and someone who is just direct or passionate when arguing. We need to understand that just being someone who might make us uncomfortable sometimes doesn’t mean they are bad or mean or toxic or whatever.

Jared can speak for himself if he wants.

Assistant Prof

"Perhaps one point we disagree on is how likely people are to come across as unprofessional in job application materials and at interviews. Most serious candidates have had their materials heavily vetted. Even the most outrageous people can fake it for a few hours at interviews."

In my (limited, anecdotal) experience, this is false. Many applicants come across as graduate students (not as colleagues), many applicants' materials are not tailored to particular jobs in a way that conveys earnest interest (or, perhaps, are not tailored in a way that suggests a lack of earnest interest), and many applicants' materials are either blithe or condescending. Obviously, my sample size is limited, etc., etc. But having worked in two other (non-academic) fields, philosophers are significantly less prepared and sophisticated at this, and many philosophers seem to have a hard time grasping the tone their materials convey.

Hence, the advice from Marcus, from this blog generally, from The Professor Is In are invaluable, imho.

Anon

"No one needs to be told that Mind is a top-ranked journal."

This is something I've thought about a bit. Would it be good to change one's letters up when applying to interdisciplinary humanities jobs, and to add some detail? Or is this sort of detail always going to come off badly?

e.g., some schools have programs where there's a special program for first year students and where post-doctoral fellows from various disciplines participate in the teaching, or where there's an Honors College with post-doctoral teaching fellows, and sometimes it seems like there are no philosophers on the hiring committee.

Instructor Gadget

"No one needs to be told that Mind is a top-ranked journal. Everyone knows that and can tell by your CV whether you've published there. These things may also rub people the wrong way who are not obsessed with journal rankings. Good job-market materials are understated, letting your CV and actual content of your research, teaching pedagogy, syllabi, etc., do the talking."

Marcus,

Do you advise not mentioning where your papers are published in the cover letter? So don't even say something like "In my paper X (published in Mind) I argue...." Or are you only advising not saying "I published in Mind which is awesome!!!"

Marcus Arvan

“Some people really are nuts and impossible. But I think they are few and far between.” I am going to go out on a limb here and suggest that quite a lot of people will disagree with you here and say truly impossible people are disturbingly common (and moreover, that one problem with impossible people is that they rarely recognize how impossible they are). In any case, having known a number people who have actually had to work with truly impossible people—and having seen how just one such person can utterly destroy an entire workplace—it is should not be surprising if people on the hiring side might take precautions.

Again, I'm largely in agreement that it can be problematic to discriminate against people on the basis of personality. Still, I think it's important to be aware of reality, and I suspect the reality here is that many people consider impossible people to be quite common.

Nick

Thanks Marcus.

Pendaran Roberts

‘Again, I'm largely in agreement that it can be problematic to discriminate against people on the basis of personality. Still, I think it's important to be aware of reality, and I suspect the reality here is that many people consider impossible people to be quite common.‘

I think many people struggle with tolerance and accepting people who are not like them culturally, socially, and politically. They use personality as a way to discriminate against people who are different in favor of hiring friends.

Marcus Arvan

Instructor Gadget: Generally speaking, it's totally fine to mention journal names in a cover letter (I did in mine).

The one big error, I think, is to talk about how highly they are ranked. Another potential error (again, I think) would be to front-load a letter to a *teaching* school with a discussion of your research and how you've published in Mind, Nous, etc. My worry here is that it might make you look like a person who sees themselves at a research school, pitching you the wrong way as it were.

Marcus Arvan

Anon: I'm not sure. Maybe if it's an interdisciplinary humanities job at an R1. But are there many of those jobs? I definitely wouldn't go about mentioning journal rankings in a letter applying for an interdisciplinary job at a teaching school. That, to me, would just show a lack of understanding of the culture at teaching schools.

Amanda

N/A I know the tenure thread you were talking about and it was not that. It was earlier maybe 8 months ago. However I cannot seem to find it so maybe I was just imagining it? I swear I remember seeing it and being surprised. Does any one else remember the data that showed the recent mean or median of publications was 4 for TT hires? Sorry if this was something I dreamed.

Sam Duncan

Re Pendaran's comment: "But some effort has to be made to distinguish between someone who is legitimately mean and someone who is just direct or passionate when arguing. We need to understand that just being someone who might make us uncomfortable sometimes doesn’t mean they are bad or mean or toxic or whatever."

I hate to say this, but I think this is simply false. The issue isn't just how people will interact with the other faculty members, but also how they will do with students. This is a huge issue as far as teaching schools go, and it's especially important for teaching schools that serve more diverse or less traditional student bodies. One huge issue that many students face is feeling that they don't belong in college or in the discipline of philosophy. That it's not in some sense for people like them. Making students comfortable is a huge deal. Now I'm now saying that we should never challenge them but if you demolish a student's argument, whatever your intentions might be, they are probably going to disengage with the subject. Look I get it. I used to be incredibly shy and I'm still pretty darn awkward. But the fact is that being a good teacher requires certain personality traits, and to a large extent they're not the personality traits that academic philosophy encourages. You have to have a soft touch with students; you have to help them develop confidence, feel welcome, and feel valued. Good interviewers at teaching schools screen for people who they think can do that. That's no more immoral or wrongheaded than are basketball teams hiring lots of tall people.

Ron Sandler

- 4 publications in peer-reviewed journals
- Top-ten Leiter program (currently have PhD)
- 6 courses taught as primary instructor
- 41 job applications for postdocs/fellowships, 5
interviews, 1 offer.
- 56 applications for TT positions, 2 interviews,
no offers.

Pendaran Roberts

‘But the fact is that being a good teacher requires certain personality traits, and to a large extent they're not the personality traits that academic philosophy encourages. You have to have a soft touch with students; you have to help them develop confidence, feel welcome, and feel valued.’

One day we’ll come to regret coddling students so much. Treat people like adults, they become adults. Treat them like children, they stay children.

In the real world, students will be exposed to a whole host of personalities. Sheltering them in college is forsaking our duty to them.

A university education isn’t what it used to be. How long before people realize the inflated tuition fees are too high for what has basically become day care?

Marcus Arvan

Pendaran: I am currently re-reading a Wittgenstein biography. Wittgenstein not only ruined many of his students’ careers, he ruined some of their *lives*... by using his cult of personality to bully them into career and life-choices that were no good for them. Wittgenstein may have been a genius (I’m not convinced), but he was a terrible mentor...and mentorship is a central job-responsibility of a Professor. Is he an outlier? No. I have known plenty of grad students with supervisors who were utterly derilict in their duties—either by being deliberately cruel, or neglectful, etc. And the consequences of this on students’ choices and careers are real. Good mentors tend to have successful students, bad mentors unsuccessful ones. And again, mentoring students is a central part of the job. It is not coddling students. It is doing one’s job as an educator. And you had better believe that how someone behaves can give one some idea of how they might be as a faculty mentor.

Pendaran Roberts

Marcus, I’d prefer to stay away from particular examples. We can debate those forever. My position is that we need to be tolerant of different kinds of people, but that doesn’t mean we have to hire nut cases who are cruel etc.

Marcus Arvan

Pendaran: examples are perfectly relevant. They illustrate, in human terms, the real and pervasive costs that hiring the wrong person can have on students and departments. If they happen a lot (and they do), they illustrate why departments have reasons to care about these things.

Pendaran Roberts

Marcus, I can’t help but feel you’re not taking the effort to understand my position. My position isn’t that personality is irrelevant or cannot be considered or whatever. My position is that we place too much weight on it. I think we should be more tolerant of different types of people than we are. Now, we can debate where to draw the line but here is an example. On one hand you have someone who is cruel to students, on the other hand you have someone who is direct with students and doesn’t sugar coat criticism. The first person we would be right to avoid. The second we would be wrong to avoid. Russians for example are more direct and to the point. This doesn’t make them bad people or bad educators. Different students respond differently to different people. We also need to expose students to a range of personality types to prepare them for the world. Putting these more pragmatic concerns aside, we have a moral duty to be just and fair to all. Just because we might have to make a little effort to appreciate someone’s personality doesn’t mean they are cruel, mean, or bad educators. That’s myopic and lazy and intolerant.

Marcus Arvan

Pendaran: I agree with you on those things. I have made that very clear.

Pendaran Roberts

Right. Well in the past I think we concluded we agree on a lot. To be clear when I talk of coddling I am talking of for example not hiring the Russian who is too direct for fear of someone’s feelings getting hurt. I’m not talking about hiring someone who is outright mean and cruel. I think there is an important difference. As a society we need to recognize a range of acceptable personalities, especially ones dominant in entire ethnic groups. And students need to learn to get along with these people. We don’t have to accept mean and cruel people but we do need to accept that there are different ways of being a good person and learn to tolerate these different ways.

Marcus Arvan

I’m inclined to agree there is a difference, but think it is a difference in degree, not a difference in kind. There is a fine line between directness and cruelty. We’ve all seen people who think they are “just being direct” but who routinely lapse into cruelty. All personality and character traits exist along spectra—and as Aristotle pointed out, there are many ways to have harmful excesses or deficiencies. We should be tolerant (indeed welcoming) of personality differences. We should not be tolerant of cruelty—and unfortunately what one person thinks is “direct” others may reasonably regard as cruel. I’ve seen many cases of this in academic contexts.

Pendaran Roberts

Marcus, I suspect cruelty requires intention. But anyway this is going to move us too far afield. We could debate all night what it takes to be cruel vs direct vs whatever. As long as a difference is recognized we’ve gotten somewhere important.

Fun discussion! Thanks for it. Looking forward to some more posts regarding how people are doing in the job market.

Marcus Arvan

I don’t think cruelty requires intent, but fair enough! I too hope to hear how more people are doing on the market.

Fivefive

MThough it may be too identifying, I would be curious to hear about AOSs too. I’d wager that certain specialties also make it difficult to achieve a job at certain kinds of institutions. For example, philosophy of language was, by my count, listed as an AOS in only three searches and two were R1s. Philosophy of physics was in a similar position. Few AOS specific postings and most were at R1s. And this situation makes sense to me. R1s presumably have their basic teaching and research needs met in core areas and so have the freedom to hire in niche areas.

So it looks like if one specializes in an R1 preferred area, you’re going to struggle to compete at non-R1 schools because they won’t advertise in that area or take it too seriously during an open search. Supplemented with Marcus’s hypothesis, it follows that folks specializing in such areas who are from lower ranked schools will suffer the most finding employment.

UK reader

Philosophy of language is a niche area now?

Non-UK reader

UK Reader,
Many Philosophy Departments in the US may only have 5 or 6 full time faculty members. You certainly do not need someone who specializes in philosophy of physics, or aesthetics, or ... possibly not even language. One person may be hired to cover language, mind, and metaphysics, for example. And if they say they can do early modern, for example, all the better.

Anon

- 4 peer reviewed publications (2 top specialty, 2 good specialty)
- 45 citations
- Top-15 program (top speciality)
- 12 courses (over 30 sections)
- Good evaluations, some great (but sometimes my school just gave me a table of numbers, without the questions, *or even the scale*! So some of my materials look extremely unprofessional, but if I don't include them it looks like I'm hiding something).

Two times on the market.

First time:
- 3 first round interviews (two TT, one research, one teaching, one teaching VAP)
- 2 second round interviews (TT).
- Offered the TT research job (but I would have vastly preferred the teaching one).
- Approx 70 applications.

Second Time (this year, so far - a couple of places might, I hope, still be going through applications):
- Applied only to TT jobs and fixed-term positions of three years or more, about 30 applications.
- 1 first round interview (TT at a teaching school, waiting to hear if I made the second round).

Philosophy Adjunct

"Philosophy of language is a niche area now?"

I think the point is that language is not a niche area, and so R1 schools already have it well covered, and hence are now looking for more niche specializations.

The problem Fivefive is getting at, if I understand it correctly, is that if your AOS is in a core area then there are not many, or any, R1 jobs for you. If your AOS is in a niche area there may be more R1 jobs available, but if you are from a Leiterunworthy program on the one hand you exclude yourself from non-R1 jobs by looking too "R1-researchy", while on the other hand you are from too lower a caste to be acceptable at an R1.

merely a lecturer

12 peer reviewed pubs, 1 in top 10 journal, but mostly in good area journals. Plus some book reviews and some public philosophy pubs (no, not blog posts).

Not a Leiter-ranked school.

18 type courses, 4-4-2 load last three years. Teaching Awards at University Level, Stellar Course Evals, Teaching Philosophy in Public Schools with undergrads.

Single-highhandedly increased phil minors from 10 to 30 in 2 years. Created philosophy major.

4 rounds on the market. 1 skype interview for TT. 3 skype interviews for visiting. 1 on campus for visiting (which was later made permanent non-TT).


Amanda

Okay so as mentioned in an earlier comment, I've never given any thought to citations. But Marcus made a case for why they matter, which I at least found somewhat compelling. Anyway I decided to take a look at some young philosophers and their citations by checking google scholar, especially those with very impressive publications. I was pretty surprised to find some people with the most "on paper impressive" publications had very few citations. I am talking like 2 citations when their paper was published in the likes of ppr and journal of philosophy.

One thing (among others) that this really made me think about is what are we doing, as philosophers? I (unlike Marcus) am not one who argues we should work hard to cite more or as much as other disciplines. I actually think the opposite. However I do think citations are some reflection on how much a paper is read. So if papers in the very top journals are getting less than 3 citations (granted these papers I saw were published in 2012-2016) I could only think that means few people are reading it. But if few people are reading papers published in the very best journals, well, that says something quite odd at the least.

Sometimes cited

Amanda,
citations are highly skewed. Few papers get lots, and many papers get few ... and some none.
But papers do get read and cited, even papers outside the highest rank of journals. I have a paper in International Studies in Philosophy of Science (2015), and it has been cited 10 times; I have another in Synthese (2013), cited 19 times.

Amanda

Sometimes cited that is sort of my point. It is interesting some papers in lower ranked journals get cited far more than papers in top 5 journals.

Really?

The first of the tenure-track appointments is up on PhilJobs.

No peer-reviewed philosophy publications, no publications in top journals in any field, appointed at program ranked in the top 15 of the PGR.

Anonymous

No peer-reviewed philosophy publications, no publications in top journals in any field, appointed at program ranked in the top 15 of the PGR.

Yes, we've all seen this before, many times. If somehow the public could be informed of how these universities are run, that would be the end to them.

A

I do not have much special insight into this, but I think that candidates from top programs without impressive publications and/or teaching who do well on the market have letter writers with strong connections at the institutions which hire them. If this happens, it is entirely unfair and infuriating. I did not look at the candidate who was hired and don't want to make claims about any particular hire. But as a general point, I think the unfairness of prestige bias runs deep.

Really?

I agree with A 100%.

I published four articles during a 2-year postdoc at a no-name institution without a philosophy department. My prospects would undoubtedly have been better if I'd published 0 articles during a 2-year postdoc at Harvard or Princeton.

This seems to me precisely backwards, since it's probably easier to publish when you have a superstar-stocked philosophy department to support you, rather than a humanities department with just 2 or 3 unknown philosophers.

RealityCheck

Anonymous and others,
Keep in mind that 8 of the top 15 are private schools. What the public thinks matters little. They are hardly going to be concerned with who and how the philosophy department hires. The public will be more concerned with whether their own kid might get in to such a place (long shot) or whether they will be able to buy a College T-shirt when they visit the campus.

ABD

It's worth noting that some top programs don't care as much about publications from junior scholars (esp. when ABD) as the quality of the work they're currently doing. They place much more emphasis on the job talk and research proposal than what you've already managed to publish while still in graduate school. (Source: I have been told this in informal settings by several people on hiring committees at such a place.) I don't deny prestige bias, but I do deny that it's doing all the work some of you think it's doing.

Also, FWIW, the TT hire on PhilJobs you're referencing is from last year's hiring season, not this year's.

Brittle Spirits

There are other places for job market whinging decaying into attacks on actual people who got jobs. I thought this blog had a different mission or something.

Marcus Arvan

I am with Brittle Spirits on this. It’s fair to raise general concerns about hiring practices—but I think singling out individuals pushes the boundaries of the blog’s mission.

Amanda

I agree we should not mention individual people. And I hope it is not done again. However, what is done is done. Given that, I think it is worth mentioning that this hire under discussion (funny others didn't mention it) is...gasp...a white male.

Anonymous

Amanda,

I don't think anyone has claimed that a preference for the female gender is the only injustice in the job market. There is also prestige bias and cronyism. Certainly a lot of white males get employed based on these two injustices. However, that's perfectly compatible with there being a gender bias.

Also, just to note, it's perfectly compatible with there being a gender bias that there was no injustice in your case.

Brittle Spirits

Amanda I'm a supporter of equality in hiring practices. But piling on in this local case is weak sauce. I say this as someone who does not know the person in question, or anything about the job in question. Let it go or take it to whatever metablog currently exists to stoke our baser reactions.

A Non-Mouse

Mightn't it be that many of those who are appointed at R1s despite having no peer-reviewed pubs have a *groundbreaking* research project that is being vetted? Mightn't they be better candidates for those jobs than many (perhaps most) who have multiple pubs in top journals but no groundbreaking research project? It seems to me that the answer is obviously "yes." For this reason alone, I hesitate to make accusations of cronyism, prestige bias, gender bias, or other biases. This, of course, is not to deny that some such accusations may be warranted.

Amanda

Let me say for the 900th time I believe there is gender bias in hiring. I have seen departments hire women, in large part because they are women. I have never denied this.

Chris

Let me add to what 'A Non-Mouse" says. I am also talking about the general issue here - I know nothing about this particular case. Further, I don't want to deny gender bias or cronyism, or luck, etc. play large roles on the job market in philosophy.

BUT: people applying for jobs should know this: MANY faculty who are at R1s think that much published work is mediocre. They are looking for someone with a groundbreaking research project. You can publish a bunch of say, mostly secondary or critical work, even in great journals. That won't impress such faculty. Or you can even publish, primary, original work - but work that many faculty might think is part of a degenerating research program. That won't impress such faculty, either.

Are faculty who search for promising, ground-breaking proposals subject to bias, etc. Of course. But it is also just possible - just maybe, that some of the time they're in a good position to make judgments about quality and originality, and that they are more concerned with these things than number of publications. In fact, it is arguable that faculty at more prestigious institutions are more likely to do this - they're more trusted by their admins, often (for better or worse). Larger R1s are also more likely to have people who are already specialists in the hiring area and don't have to simply rely on the fact that "well, it's published in superstar journal X - it must be good".

What "Really?" says about it being easier to publish when you have a superstar department to support you is undoubtedly true. But also - arguably - it just might be easier to come up with a promising, ground breaking research proposal (regardless of whether you've yet published in it), when you're at such schools.

Pendaran Roberts

I find the proposal presented by Chris et al to be rather implausible. The best indicator (certainly not perfect but still the best) of groundbreaking research is a strong publishing record. If top people want to deny this, then they should stop participating in the publishing process, or they should create new journals just for them. The blind review of ideas is the best we have at the moment to determine good research, not hiring committees. All that’s going on, in addition to the obvious, is individual preferences for certain agendas over others.

A Non-Mouse

Pendaran Roberts says that the best indicator of groundbreaking research is a strong publication record. That seems plainly false, and it is easy to understand why if you consider that most papers published in top journals are not accurately described as *groundbreaking* research. Groundbreaking research is to be understood as research that breaks ground, and ground is broken mainly when important problems are understood in new, innovative, and promising ways, or when those problems are approached in new, innovative, and promising ways.

Anyway, the proposal was about groundbreaking research *projects*. Groundbreaking research projects are harder to come by because they involve multiple interrelated components that promise to *break ground*.

Verify your Comment

Previewing your Comment

This is only a preview. Your comment has not yet been posted.

Working...
Your comment could not be posted. Error type:
Your comment has been saved. Comments are moderated and will not appear until approved by the author. Post another comment

The letters and numbers you entered did not match the image. Please try again.

As a final step before posting your comment, enter the letters and numbers you see in the image below. This prevents automated programs from posting comments.

Having trouble reading this image? View an alternate.

Working...

Post a comment

Comments are moderated, and will not appear until the author has approved them.

Your Information

(Name and email address are required. Email address will not be displayed with the comment.)

Current Job-Market Discussion Thread

Job-market reporting thread

Categories