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06/13/2018

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Amanda

I will say that the facebook age doesn't help with any of this. I can't tell how many times I see an academic post something about an award they got, or how much their students love them, etc. that makes me cringe. Truly confident people do not need to brag, as bragging is a means of feeling better about yourself through the external validation of others.

As for the other extreme. I have never understood the grad student attitude to treat professors as you would your high school teacher. We are all adults. Don't treat them much different than you would treat anyone else. Be yourself (of course, if "yourself" is an arrogant doofus then maybe you should work on changing yourself first.)

Marcus Arvan

Hi Amanda: great comment. I am mostly in agreement, especially with this: “As for the other extreme. I have never understood the grad student attitude to treat professors as you would your high school teacher. We are all adults. Don't treat them much different than you would treat anyone else.”

I’m not sure this is entirely right for students relating to their own faculty mentors. I’ve known faculty who (rightly or wrongly) expect some amount of deference in the mentoring relationship, and might consider it arrogant for their students to treat them no differently than anyone else. But regardless, I think your comment is right on the mark for the job market. People on the hiring side of things are not looking to hire a “student”. They are looking to hire an equal, at least in my experience - so one is well-advised to relate to them that way: as someone who, if hired, will be a full faculty member just like they are. Of course, it is also a good idea to not be presumptuous (to act as though you know everything, given your early career stage)—but the general sense one wants to convey is that of “being an equal.”

Amanda

I agree that most search committees want to hire an equal for all sorts of reasons, like trust to do the job (number one), but also because it is just awkward otherwise.

I was thinking about your no self-deprecating advice. And I think you are right that one should not be self-deprecating in the following sense: "Oh I am just a recent grad I don't know as much as those who are faculty." That will not come off well. But I do think you can be self-deprecating in other senses. For example, if during a talk you make a comment about your tendency to lose your car keys, or your need to drink coffee, etc. I think that is okay, and can be charming. But if you are not a natural, it is probably best to just go on the safe side and avoid self-deprecating comments all together.

As for the students and faculty - you need to be a good judge of character. It is true that some faculty might want a certain degree of deference from grad students. But in my experience most grads air way too far as treating their professors as if they were still undergrads, rather than a junior colleague. (which grad students really are.)

ichikawa

I agree with Marcus's advice here.

I disagree with Amanda's remarks on 'bragging' on social media. I welcome good news from the colleagues and friends I follow on facebook. I am interested to know about their publications and grants and awards, and I'm glad that they choose to share their moving positive student feedback with me. I hope they keep it coming.

(Don't talk about your favourite student comments at your job visit. But please do talk about them on facebook.)

Recent grad

I agree with Amanda. I'm on academia.edu and philpapers/philpeople, so I can know about the successes of friends and colleagues pretty easily without having to read about it on Facebook.

Amanda

I don't know what "selected" comments mean in any circumstance. Everyone has good student eval comments. If someone feels the need to share their student evals on facebook (which, I really think you shouldn't) then share all of them.

E

Insufficient engagement with published literature is a serious problem in philosophy. Promoting a publication on Facebook is one (tiny) way to help combat the problem, it's not (merely) "bragging."

Amanda

I didn't mention publications. I think that is different, because there is a clear end of sharing and engaging work. I don't feel the same about awards, grants, teaching evaluations etc. There is no other end there other than bragging.

Amanda

That said, I could care less about citations. I am big advocate of we should all cite less. I have never once looked at who cited me. I don't think it means anything. Engaging with work means something, but a citation is neither necessary nor sufficient to engage with someone's work. Most often it is just checking a box off. Controversial. I know.

Marcus Arvan

E: I agree.

Amanda: As you're probably aware, I've argued philosophers should read and cite more. This isn't because citations are valuable in and by themselves. The problem (in my view) is that many absences of citations in philosophy reflect a deeper problem: lack of sound scholarship.

An example: I have recently read a number of papers in a particular debate that make a big deal out of X being a problem, either claiming to show that it is a problem or deferring to previous research claiming it is a problem--in turn claiming (either explicitly or implicitly) either that no one has addressed the problem, or that X has no solution. The papers then base their own research program on X being a problem.

Alas, I know of papers published years ago (by less well-known authors, naturally) that have offered solutions to X, and which show up on the very first page of a philpapers search result on the topic. This is bad scholarship bordering on professional malfeasance. It's philosophically bad, as it misrepresents the state of the literature and furthers philosophical misconceptions (e.g. that no one has even so much as addressed X). It's also professionally bad, as citation and engagement patterns tend to track professional hierarchies, marginalizing authors lower on the totem pole and their contributions to the literature without even engaging clearly relevant works they produced, let alone showing that it is mistaken.

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