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Given that the way the system works in the US is not the norm in the rest of the world, I think the question should be split: a research job at an R1 pre- or post- tenure; a real, permanent research (i.e. without teaching obligations) job, which is possible in some parts of Europe (I don't know elsewhere) and in industrial research labs; a real but temporary research (i.e. without teaching obligations) job, which you are basically subjected to for 10–15 years (but in chunks!) in some parts of Europe.


I am on the tenure track at an R1. I really like my job. It is stressful in various ways, particularly with respect to worrying about tenure, but the positives about it I would not trade for (at least my impression of) the average teaching-focused job (which is not to knock teaching-focused jobs, I think a lot of this is just personal preference).

Positives include: never having to grade, except grad students and in small seminars of (typically extremely strong) majors; a limited teaching schedule/lots of time for research; a large, philosophically diverse faculty who are for the most part committed to helping one another with research, talking philosophy (sometimes--not in an overwhelming way); good leave policies; a relatively high salary and travel/research budget; traveling to conferences/colloquia/etc. during the semester is encouraged, not frowned upon; working with some fantastic graduate students (though see negatives below).

Negatives include: not all the graduate students are fantastic, and either way they can be a huge time suck (I do not think the amount of time that graduate students take up can be overestimated--because of this I suspect the jobs where you actually get the most research time are very cushy small liberal arts college jobs, like e.g. Dartmouth, and not R1s); pressure to publish and to churn stuff out (though for what it's worth, not every R1 is focused on quantity of publications--some will tenure people who are making an impact on a field without many publications, which might help a little for people (like me) who aren't fantastic at churning stuff out for the sake of churning stuff out); teaching not being as valued as it should (and so we are disincentivized from trying to spend a lot of time on our students and teaching); and, for me at least, the biggest one is that (though people from teaching schools should correct me if I am wrong about this) a small percentage of the faculty seem to be doing the vast majority of the service work in the department/university, which I suspect is different in smaller departments at teaching-focused schools. But maybe that is just a grass is greener complex.

Also, for what it's worth: my overall impression is that tenure denial, while much more common at R1s than at small teaching-focused schools, is not actually all that common anywhere but the most elite schools. My sense is that if you are at a decent, not hyper-elite R1 (as I am), there is a lot of incentive for the department and university to tenure you--they want to tenure you (this is different from places which can poach pretty much any senior faculty member they want, and which have the financial resources to do so). So my impression--and again I could be wrong--is that at most R1s, all but the most elite, there are a lot of support mechanisms built in to try to help you get to where you need to be, tenure-wise.


Well I guess a lot of it would depend on whether one has a strong feeling they will get tenure. If they do, and if they are right, then the first 5-6 might not be so stressful. Of course sadly one could be like Ash and think they will get it and then don't. But at least in that case the first 5-6 were not super stressful.

I also think it depends on how much one likes teaching. From my experience this varies A LOT from philosopher to philosopher. If one is doing a 4/4 load and they really don't like teaching I doubt they will be happy. But if the favorite part of one's job is teaching (as it is for some) then sure they could be very happy. I know people from top programs who feel under pressure to get a research job when they really want a teaching job as the prefer teaching to research. There are of course people from lower-ranked programs who desire a research job but have all the odds against them.

One reason to prefer a research job (not a good reason, but likely a common one) is one wants to feel admired by their dissertation committee. I know one person on mine didn't even consider teaching jobs "a real job". Another one said he thought there was no point in letting in . a grad student if they didn't aim to get a research job.

Another important factor is the pay. Research jobs usually (but not always) pay significantly more than teaching schools. If one has a family and a stay at home spouse, pay might be very important to happiness.

Lastly I will say that a huge factor in one's happiness with a job is what kind of colleagues one has. I think one can have great (or not great) colleagues at either a teaching or research school.

TT lady

Not all research jobs are jobs at R1s that have a track record of not granting tenure. There are R2s, and R3s, with 2/2 teaching loads and reasonable research expectations, and predictable tenure processes.

I don't want a job at a prestigious R1. But I'm very happy doing my research at my own pace at a non-Leiter-ranked, but still research-active institution. I don't worry about tenure, because I know I'm going well beyond their standards. I enjoy my research, and I like that my institution is supportive of my research.

Marcus Arvan

"Research jobs usually (but not always) pay significantly more than teaching schools. If one has a family and a stay at home spouse, pay might be very important to happiness."

Hi Amanda, I don't know whether this is true--but regardless, there are plenty of counterexamples candidates should be aware of. Example: I know one person who was offered a TT job at a very good R1 with a (hard) salary offer of just over $40K per year and no annual raise, and I know junior people at teaching schools who make nearly double that along with significant annual raises.


For various reasons I think my statement generalize is but I would be happy to hear it's other people think differently. I would be very surprised if there were a lot of our ones pain 40K but again I would like to hear other thoughts on this because I don't know for sure. And I do know that son teaching schools pay really well but I get the impression it's not a lot again I could be wrong.


I love my R1 job - that said, I do have tenure now, and it was stressful when I was coming up for it. I also would've preferred a teaching job, but you take what you get in this job market. I can't complain. I also make 100K, but live in an expensive city. On the plus side, I have great colleagues to talk to. On the minus, the graduate students are a mixed bag: the best ones are easy and a delight; the worst can be a huge time suck (but not always) and you feel bad about having a graduate program at all given how bad the job market is.


I am tenured at what's considered an R2. I teach 2/3 and have done this for several years at a research university but not like the very high up R1s or anything. I have to publish regularly but can go at my own pace, and as long as the journals are decent-to-strong that's fine. No one here publishes in Jphil but several have stong book publications and respectable journal venues. We don't have a graduate program and students are only decent, but overall it's a good job and we have a good number of majors. I thought less of it when I started but have found it to be decent in the end.

anonymous canadian

in which city do you live, Chris?

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