Our books

Become a Fan

« Intercollegiate Ethics Bowl | Main | Too Many Conferences? »



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

Lee Walters

Europe is not a homegenous lump. A book is certainly not required at an early stage in the UK, although some early career people do publish books. When seeking promotion to full professor, the absence of a book may be a hindrance, but it is not insurmountable.

My *impression* is that things are the same in the US. As for continental Europe, or particular countries within it, I don't know but it may well vary.

The kind of book that is required for a German PhD has little value, I think. Of course, if you get your PhD published by CUP/OUP or similar, that is great. but the fact that someone with 'verlag' in their name deemed it publishable counts for little I think. you'd be much better off with some papers in top or middle ranked journals

elisa freschi

During last year's Coffee Break Conference, Robert Leach, discussing the difference between "Analytical" and "Continental" Philosophy said, among other things, that Analytical philosophers prefer articles and Continental ones value more books. Apart from the nice summary, I guess that the opposition has to do with the emphasis on short writings on technical arguments vs. broad syntheses of wide-ranging issues.

Andrew Stephenson

I basically second everything Lee said. Though I would add this.

It is true that the actual publication requirement is merely formal, and since you can publish with (almost) anyone, means very little in itself. And it is probably true that the requirement is an archaic hangover that both ought to die out and is showing signs of dying out. And it is probably even true that the shift even in Germany, *as far as the practice of a philosophy career goes*, is moving slowly towards articles (perhaps inevitable, alongisde the shift towards analytic philosophy and international standards of scholarship and away from nepotism and provincialism).

*But*! I still think as far as the PhD thesis itself goes the expectation and preference is for thoroughly unified projects, especially in Germany but even in the UK to some extent (though less in the US). This is not to say anything about relative worth, nor to say that, in order to actually get a job, you might need a paper or two published in a good journal alongside your (unified) thesis.
(This is only my *impression* too, but although I'm uk based, i've got quite a bit of experience in Germany too)


re: Germany - from what I see there, the situation is really complicated because opinions are divided about this, and they might well be divided among the members of a hiring comittee. The only way to have the best of all possible worlds, is, as Lee points out, to get your thesis published by a good publishing house with a reputation for a strict peer-review process. One professor even said to me that only OUP and certain series in CUP are considered as equivalent to good journal articles, but that seems overly harsh (and he was clearly in the camp of those who favour articles).
I guess the important thing is to *somehow* signal that you are a candidate who has something interesting to say - this can happen by having a book published in a good series (getting good reviews for the book can't hurt either, I guess), or by having a number of articles in serious journals, or by being known in some other way (e.g. having gotten a research grant - but for that you need some publications first, so back to start). Many hiring processes are two-stage, after all - first, you need to be picked out from the vast number of applicants to be among the top five or so candidates whom they invite to send in their writings and to give a lecture. Once you are at this stage, there are good chances that what you actually do in your research (rather then where it has been published) plays a role ;)
PS: I think planning a book as a series of articles might lead to issues of coherence, as you say. But it's almost impossible to write a book and *not* to generate *some* stuff that can be published previously - either a chapter, or some issue that you decide to leave out of the book, or some reply to some issues in the secondary literature, etc. If this happens, present the stuff at a conference, get some feedback, and then try to get it published…

Mark Alfano

The previous comments ring true to me. My impression is that more historically-oriented departments in the USA tend to look a bit more like departments in Germany: a book with a good press is, if not a sine qua non, then at least a default requirement for tenure. One important difference seems to be that in the USA this requirement is not for hiring but for tenure, whereas in Germany it seems to be for hiring/tenure, which are more or less the same thing. More contemporary-oriented departments in the USA will be pleased as punch if you have a book published when you go up for tenure, but high-quality articles in top journals look just as good (or roughly as good).

Andreas Wolkenstein

Thank you all for your comments so far. These are interesting insights into how academia works. And I appreciate that the tenor seems to be in favor of articles. Maybe this has to do with the analytic-vs-continental divide. However, my impression is that you see the focus on books also among analytically minded philosophers (although I don't have any direct prove for that). And in view of the assumption that analytical philosophers are more interested in technical question, thereby preferring articles, one could say that a book provides ample space for developing technical issues also and especially for analytical philosophers. So it remains still a bit surprising why it is that the analytic tradition moves into the article direction. Maybe it is the "traditional" connection with the sciences that plays a role here.
Moreover, I think the situation in Germany is more difficult as often thought: It is not that you are free to publish your dissertation or not, as if the answer to this question is merely one of gaining a good reputation through a honorable publishing house. Rather, it is the case that you are required to publish it in order to gain the full right to have the academic title of "Dr.". (Of course, an online open access publication also meets this requirement. So for instance the University of Tübingen provides an online platform for publishing one's dissertation.) Now, in that a PhD is a requirement for further hirings and tenures, a published book remains a requirement for getting hired. (NB: The same is not true for the "Habilitation" where is is more and more common to replace this second book by a series of articles, although again more in the sciences than in philosophy.)
All in all your comments encouraged me to follow the path I already have taken, that is, to focus on trying to get articles published and submitting them as my dissertation.

elisa freschi

I see your point, but I hope you do not mind if I add a further comment:
Once you will be working as a faculty member you will have a lot of administrative work, not to speak about your teaching duty, so that writing a book will become far more difficult and you will automatically adjust to the pattern of only writing articles. Why not using these early career years to work on a broader project, i.e., on a book?
It might be the case that you will not have the chance again to work with continuity on a single project, with relatively less pression to produce and produce.

Verify your Comment

Previewing your Comment

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

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.


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.)

Subscribe to the Cocoon

Job-market reporting thread

Current Job-Market Discussion Thread

Philosophers in Industry Directory


Subscribe to the Cocoon