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07/27/2012

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Marcus Arvan

Thanks for posting this, David. Eric's advice is awesome. I heard more or less all the same things from two very well known people earlier this summer. I know many people (myself included) who could have used this sort of helpful advice years ago -- so I really think Eric is to be congratulated for sharing this. Publishing is hard enough when you don't know what you're doing! ;) Anyway, can't wait to check out Lance's piece...

Mark Alfano

Indeed, thanks for the links. I agree with much of what Schliesser and Lance say. A few points of (possible) disagreement:

S says to find a journal in your niche. This is not bad advice, but it might be taken to suggest that you should publish ONLY in your niche. I think that would be a mistake. (presumably S would agree)

L says that, after your first publication, it's probably better to focus on the teaching & service aspects of your CV before doing further research. That seems like pretty bad advice to me, but maybe that's a function of where I earned my doctorate. It seems to me that if you're at a top-5 department, his advice is apt. If you're in a top-15-to-50 department, though, you probably need to publish quite a bit more to be taken seriously. (Certainly CUNY people need to publish a lot to be taken seriously.) For people in top-6-14 departments, I'm not sure what to say. Ditto people from unranked departments, though my guess is that it's easier for them to get teaching jobs than research jobs, so perhaps L's advice is good for them too.

David Morrow

I tend to agree with your second point, Mark, although I think it's hard to draw conclusions about it from the job applicants' side of things. Even if the students who get jobs do publish more than those who don't, their getting jobs might not be caused by their having more than one publication.

In my very limited experience on search committees here at UAB, though, the impact of a handful of publications is non-negligibly greater than the impact of one publication. The usual caveats apply: One publication in Phil. Review counts for more than two in mediocre journals, lots of publications in obscure journals don't do you much good, etc.

But for most of us, publishing more papers probably does generate diminishing returns on the job market, especially when the opportunity cost is adding another AOC, networking with people outside your institution who could write you recommendations, etc. I'd guess that the magic number is somewhere around four publications, but my experience is very limited.

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