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Stephen Bloch-Schulman

I largely agree with your assessment. I would add one other hypothesis/guess: that teaching departments prefer new hires to have some overlap in philosophic interests, but not too much. Which means one needs to have the right balance of new areas covered and also connecting with others. I suspect this for two reasons: first, that even as one might be hired to teach something new, there is often a need to share classes. For example, when the person who primarily teaches Ancient takes a sabbatical, it is useful to have another person to step in (of course, adjuncts can play this role some, but not at schools where it is hard to find adjuncts or where the class is less standard), and second, that it leads to the best chance for conversation during on-campus interviews.
Just a guess.

I do have one question for you: you imply that it is bad that there is a trilemma. I agree that it is hard to put oneself in the best stead to get jobs at both teaching schools (or, more accurately at teaching schools or in teaching positions at research schools) and research schools. But it is not clear to me that this is a problem. Can you clarify?


Marcus Arvan

Hi Stephen: All good points. I think the trilemma is "bad" only in the sense that it requires candidates to put their eggs, as it were, in one basket rather than another. Many of us, I expect, love teaching *and* research and would be happy with a job at any type of school: an R1 institution, liberal arts college, or community college. At the very least, I know this is true of me. So, it's unfortunate that, depending on what they do, candidates plausibly make themselves better candidates for research jobs or teaching jobs, but not both simultaneously.

Stephen Bloch-Schulman

Thanks for explaining.

Now that I reflect on it, I ask because of my experience on search committees at teaching schools... particularly, I see very few applicants that, to my mind, have spent sufficient time and energy on their teaching. I understand the context in which graduate students work (around research-oriented faculty) and the need for graduate students to focus on their own research (dissertation and publications to graduate and be market-ready). In the end, I fear that many don't see that a teaching job is, at most schools, a very different type of job in which time and work would look quite different than at research schools. Many of my colleagues, and even many of the most research-productive of my colleagues, do not do any research during teaching semesters because of the amount of time and effort they put towards teaching, mentoring, and service. And that, it seems to me, would be a life that many would love, and others would never choose for themselves.


Marcus Arvan

Hi Stephen: I totally agree on all counts. I too have the impression that many candidates give short shrift to teaching--at least relative to the amount of thought and innovation that is generally expected at teaching institutions. And yep, I'm just like your colleagues: I hardly do any research during the fall or spring semesters because of the amount of time and effort I devote to teaching and service. Basically, I do about 90% of my research during summer and winter breaks. Still, it's an unfortunate trilemma because, like most candidates, what I wanted above all is a *job* rather than unemployment--and yet, for reasons we've discussed, becoming more competitive for one type of job can make one less competitive for others. I distinctly remember as a job-candidate not knowing what in the world to do--so I just published as much as I could and became the best teacher I could. But, even after all that, I had some search committee members at teaching schools say they worried I would jump ship because I had published so much...yet I hardly got any interviews from research schools. So, the market really places candidates in a bind. You have to put your eggs somewhere, but regardless of what basket you put them in you run the risk of become less competitive for jobs you would otherwise might love!

Recent hire

I think this is all true, but maybe one further consideration is this: it seems to me that unless you are graduating from a top-something PGR program, you will not likely to get a research job at your first try on the market. No matter your publication record or other research output.

Thus, e.g., at my grad school, not that it has never happened at all, but it was not a good bet to focus on research jobs instead of teaching ones. Of course, as was said earlier, publication still does matter, etc., but I would have never applied for an R1 job even though my grad school is undoubtedly one of the best one in my specific AOS.

Overall, I don't think this is a very good thing (especially that the overall rankings seem to matter more than those in your specific field), but I think going through your grad school placement records in the last few years gives a pretty good estimate of what kind of schools (research, teaching) you are most likely going to get a job at. And when you figure that out, you will try to make yourself a "good fit" for such jobs.


Recently Hired is right on. Look at the various colleges and universities at which people in your PhD program have been placed in the last 5 years. That is the sort of place YOU should be applying to. Generally, that is the sort of place you will get a job at. NOTE: sometimes a school really only places people regionally. I think some of the mid-west schools out side the top few are like that.


Yes, it seems that unless you are from a top school, teaching schools really are your only decent bet. There are a few exceptions every few years, but they are incredibly rare. Hence a number of people get themselves into a bad situation because they come from a mid or low ranked school and they have a prestigious publication record. Doing that basically places one out of both the teaching and research markets. I think many people complaining about the arbitrariness of the market are these types of people who have great publications and are from a non-top school. They don't understand why they cannot get a job and others who seem less accomplished can. But the reason is basically explained by the two different markets, and the unfortunate reality that they are largely mutually exclusive.

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