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Sara L. Uckelman

One thing to consider about the "taking a year out to prepare things for publication" is that, given how long publication processes can take, at the end of the year the candidate may, on paper, not look any better than he did at the start. It might not be until the year after that he can start putting forthcoming and/or published articles on the CV.

Dale Miller

It's unclear to me if the student has defended at this point or not. If not, and if he hasn't had any other visiting positions, then I'm not sure that this year would count as a year away from philosophy just because he wasn't a GTA. If he has finished, and so isn't really a grad. student any more, then I wonder if it would be possible for his former school to give him a visiting research position or something similar, with no support, just to fill the gap on his CV. If not, then it's hard to give advice without knowing more.

Derek Bowman

I agree with Dale Miller that the best thing would be to provide some sort of nominal visiting research associate status so that there is no gap.

Given what's presented above, it seems likely that the best bet for this person is to stay put. Even if there is a marginal job market advantage to being academically affiliated - and it's not clear there is - that seems so obviously to be swamped by the costs of the instability of moving for a year. This is especially true for someone with a stably employed spouse. That is part of the reason I decided early in my first year on the market to stop applying for 1-year visiting spots altogether and to be very selective about postdocs and VAPs more generally.

I know candidates who have been successful getting interviews as "independent scholars," though I can't of course speak to whether their chances were decreased by this status. It also seems like presenting at conferences, etc should make it clear that the candidate is not really "taking a year off" from academic scholarship in any relevant sense.

I Wish I Knew How to Quit You, Philosophy

I'm in a similar situation having just defended but with no academic job prospects at the moment. Publications aren't an issue for me. I already have more than most junior faculty, with several due out this year and next. I was advised to apply later this year since it supposedly wouldn't be held against me due to the terrible job market (after all, I've accomplished 'so much'). But I doubt I'll take this advice, since what has been a long shot the last few years (landing a TT job while I'm still affiliated with my graduate program) now seems to be virtually impossible due to the completely arbitrary (and elitist) nature of the philosophy job market, with plenty of folks apparently all too happy to dismiss a candidate without a current affiliation (or with the 'wrong' one) regardless of accomplishments (one more way to make assessing candidates easier, I suppose), since there's a new batch of fresh candidates more than sufficient for the number of TT jobs every year without such a blemish on their records. It was hard enough applying to a couple hundred jobs and only receiving a few interviews over the last couple cycles. Why would I waste more effort for what will presumably lead to even worse results (such as no interviews at all)? I stubbornly adhered to the sunken cost fallacy for about a year but just dug myself into a deeper hole. The best advice someone could have given me a couple of years ago was to get out before wasting too much of my own time and money trying to improve my CV in the hopes that it actually mattered. One is not likely to receive such advice from university professors-cum-brand ambassadors these days, for obvious and self-serving reasons. To return to the OP's original question: Consider a third option. The student in question should be advised to find the very best job he or she can, whether within or outside of philosophy. In other words, it's time for a plan B to counteract the absolutely disgraceful lack of job security and decent working conditions most humanities PhDs are facing. Better to be a day-laborer with job security and a decent wage than a visiting assistant professor in this contingent academic underworld. Just my two cents as I head out the door.


Hi Marcus,

This post reminds me of something. Earlier in the year, you said you wanted to talk about your exprience on a search committee. However, because the search was in process, you thought that had to wait. Now that your search is over, will we see that post from you? I would love to her your thoughts!


Like others, my thought is that this is a toss-up. However, this is only assuming the grad student already has plenty of solo-taught teaching exprience under his/her belt. If not, a 4/4 teaching expreience could really help one land a TT job, perhaps help more than publicaitons. (For teaching schools, of course.)


If the student is working on papers etc. then they are not 'outside' of philosophy. There's something wrong with the gatekeepers if that's their attitude.

Martin Shuster

IMO, this person should not under any circumstances move across the country, with a family, for a 4/4 1 year position. Do. Not. Do. It. Stay put, adjunct if you don't have a lot of teaching experience and work on publishing and preparing your job materials. I am aghast that anyone would even think of recommending to the contrary--moving and uprooting a family is costly, financially and psychologically, and a 1 year gig like this will have only the most minimal impact on someone's job prospects (taking them, say, from lottery bad to getting struck by lightning bad).

Marcus Arvan

Hi Martin: As I noted in my post, I restricted my comments to the question I was asked [viz. "Will not accepting the job hurt the person's prospects on the market?"]. Still, going beyond that question, I think your points are well worth bearing in mind. The job-market being what it is, the chances of getting a TT job after uprooting one's family for a one-year gig are presumably very small--whereas the costs, to oneself and one's family may be very large indeed.

Helen De Cruz

I agree with Martin Shuster. The teaching load is such that it will be difficult to do any research at all. There is also the impact of moving. As someone who moved frequently, I know moving is psychologically difficult and can stall your research. It has taken me anywhere between 4 and 6 months to get settled in a new place. And the 4 months was when I returned to a city I lived in before. So 6 months is probably realistic. By then the position is half-gone. Low pay also takes its psychological toll especially if the partner loses their job too.
The only mitigating circumstances I see for taking it up are (1) if there is no chance at all to get teaching experience locally and the candidate has zero or very little teaching experience, (2) if the position can be renewed.
But even under these conditions, I think it is best to stay put, find some local teaching jobs (as others say), do some local conferences in driving distance to put one's work out there, and submit papers.

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