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This website is an endless source of valuable information, and I visit it regularly for advice about academe in general, and in particular about the humanities. However, I'm not a philosopher, but in a political scientist department (political theory and history). Does anyone know of similar high quality blogs in other disciplines - especially in political science?

Jonathan Lauret

So this is my first time posting here, I'm not sure what to expect, but I have some questions about my situation that may or may not be able to be answered. For some context, I'm an undergraduate student majoring in philosophy, and I'm entering into the process of looking for what graduate schools to apply to.

I just today have been scanning through the internet for information on graduate school situations involving philosophy, and the tone is almost always very disheartening and depressing due to a number of given reasons. Most posts or blogs wrote about really rough conditions involving the application/hiring process, the amount of experience required for a very punishing and unrewarding job (typically), and the sheer rarity of any resulting enjoyable professorial position.
I don't know what exactly I'm looking for in regards to the particular positions out there for graduates in philosophy. I do know that I love the discipline, that I hold it in value not due to some sort of desire to be famous or great or sage-like, but to get a better grasp or understanding of the world I live in. I feel as though teaching and talking to students/other people who have their own ideas and feelings on these things will bring me what I'm looking for in a profession.

I guess the question that comes from all this may be, where do these sorts of feelings fit into the grand scheme of going into graduate school and later entering the academic job market?

Thanks for everything on this site by the way, it's great.


I have been teaching now for 20 years, and I still get a thrill talking about ideas with students. Indeed, it is exciting to end a class and see a group of students lingering, still engaging with the issues with each other. I will add, some of my closest friends are academics with whom our relationship began by sharing ideas, usually one of us commenting on a paper or book of the other that we had read. There is a place for this, still.

Marcus Arvan

Hi Jonathan: thanks for your query! I will post a new thread for discussing it soon.

Assistant Prof Eugene

Thanks for continuing to solicit queries, Marcus. Here's a new question:

Eventually, I can see myself giving the job market another go. But next time, I want to submit job applications with evaluations of my teaching that contain answers from students that search committee members might actually find illuminating, given all the well-known problems with student evals (e.g. unreliability, biased, etc.). There have to be questions that search committee members would prefer to see answered over those questions found on a typical university-approved teaching eval, such as "How would you rate this teacher's effectiveness overall?" or "Did this teacher arrive to class on time?". So, my question for Cocooners, is what are they? Imagine you're on a search committee. What kind of feedback would you like to see from an applicant's students?

With a job

Not to put too sharp a point on it, but no one gives a SHIT about teaching evals once you are moving around after your first TT job. Especially if you are applying UP, moving to a higher status place, teaching evals will be cast aside.

Marcus Arvan

Eugene: just to follow up on the comment by ‘With a Job’, what type of jobs are you thinking of applying to? If you are thinking of moving from one teaching-focused job to another (perhaps because of location or heaviness of teaching load), then student perceptions may be relevant. However, if you’re looking to move into a research job, then I suspect With a Job is right and no one is likely to care. Anyway, if you can clarify your query, it would help me in setting up a thread to discuss it!

Assistant Prof Eugene

Thanks for replying, With a job and Marcus.

It's encouraging to hear that teaching evals stop mattering. I suppose it would be interesting to hear, then, why people think that matter at _any_ job stage. Why is there is so much emphasis placed on them when we apply for our first jobs? I have some ideas, but it might be interesting to hear what others thing. And to answer your question, Marcus, I wouldn't be opposed to applying to teaching-focused jobs. As you kind of guessed, location would be the motivation for a new potential job hunt.

Instructor Gadget

One of my letter writers unexpectedly passed away. I am still able to send this person's letter. I was hoping to get help with the following questions:

1) Is this something that I should indicate in my application?

2) If so, what is a respectful, appropriate way to do so?



I have two related questions. First, is it possible to apply for a tenured job while once is still tenure-track oneself at a different school? (Suppose that I'm about to go up for tenure at School A, and would almost certainly get it. But School B is hiring a tenured line this year before I would go up for tenure, and I would like to apply for it if I can.)

Second, does the answer to the first question change at all if one is applying for an American job from a country with different academic ranks? For example, if one is applying from Australia as a Lecturer (which I understand is roughly equivalent to Assistant Professor in the United States), is one in basically the same boat as if one were an Assistant Professor in the United States, or is this harder if one is coming from a different country?


So I was wondering if you could have a thread on revising papers that were submitted and rejected. I have a hard time with this, because lots of people give the advice to just turn in the paper again with no changes. And lots of people give the opposite advice. I think we all know that when a reviewer points out a serious problem, we should change it. But what about the majority of cases when we ourselves are skeptical about the reviewer's complaints? And for me, it is rarely the case that two reviewers mention the same problem. If they did, then it would be an easy case to go ahead and change it.

I struggle with making changes because I simply am not confident that the changes would help increase the odds of acceptance. And if they don't, then basically I wasted a lot of time that I could have been using to edit different work.

Basically, I am curious about two things. First, have people noticed a correlation between making changes to their paper and having it accepted at a decent journal? And second, do most of you cocoon readers recommend making changes to a paper, or simply just resending it unless there are obvious problems?

Marcus Arvan

Great questions, Amanda - ones I struggle with too. I'll post a thread on them soon!


Thanks Marcus!

Curious Individual

I have my first fly-out! The visit will include a meeting with a dean. But what gets discussed in such a meeting? What should I expect? How should I prepare? Any insight would be very much appreciated.


The meeting with the dean is the easiest part of the interview. It is basically just for show. When I've had these meetings I was asked easy questions about my research, teaching, what I think of the area etc. Most schools choose who they want to hire and the dean signs off on it. (Curious if anyone has a different perspective from me. I think in Europe and the UK things might be different?)


Okay so I have noticed it has become more and more common for students to not even to expect to do the reading. I had several students ask me if they "really needed" to buy the required reading books. When I asked who had purchased the book for next week's reading, I had like 4 out of 80 students raise their hand. Does anyone have any tricks to get students excited about the reading? I have had several student tell me they have never read an entire book :(

Marcus Arvan

Hi Amanda: meetings with the dean can be *very* different and have very different stakes at different type of schools.

For instance, I had an interview at a very small SLAC, and learned that the interview with the dean was the most important part of the on-campus. In effect, the dean played a very hands-on role in his college, and was for all intents and purposes not only on the search committee, but the largest single voice in voting. Basically, if the dean wanted you, you got the job; and if he didn't, you didn't!

So I think it would be very useful to have a thread on this!


Oh wow that is interesting Marcus, I had no idea! I meet with a dean many times, and it was never like that.

Marcus Arvan

Hey Troy and Amanda: I just want to let you know I haven't forgotten your queries. I plan on posting on them in the next day or so!


Could we have a thread where people anonymously post the accomplishments that they think should have landed them a job? At the very least, I think this would provide valuable commiseration for those of us on the job market who feel completely helpless about improving our job prospects. At the most, perhaps it could help call attention to the horrible market inefficiency in philosophy, and spur a conversation about how more efficient hiring practices could benefit both junior philosophers *and* academic institutions.

For me, a post would look like this:

5 publications
14 citations
14 classes taught as instructor of record

0 job offers

Having followed this blog for a few years, I know that there are several readers whose accomplishments far outshine my own but who *still* haven’t been able to find permanent employment. I find it particularly upsetting that your readers with 6-10 publications can’t find a job, while a quick browse of PhilJobs reveals that peoiple with 0 or 1 publication get tenure lines at Ivy League institutions.

Number Three

Could we have a thread where people discuss whether they have any knowledge of someone who left academia and returned, and how they would look upon such candidates? I am considering taking a non-academic job. I have good teaching experience and excellent publications. I would be open to applying selectively to academic jobs in the future, while working a non-academic job. I am just curious whether that is realistic.


Number three
I know someone who left academia and then came back after a few years - three to five. You will not be competitive for a research job but you may get a teaching one.


Hey Marcus,

You've mentioned a few times you show a Karate kid clip to show your students the importance of making them work hard. Would you be willing to share a link to that clip? Thanks.

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