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Firstly, I can't help myself from pointing out that you mean "could NOT care less"! Pet peeve of mine.
Secondly, are "major" publications only counted as top generalist journals? Or do top specialist journals (i.e. the top tier journals for a subject) count too?


I think the answer to your question is yes. I work at a SLAC where I am the only philosopher. Even for jobs at our school we see well over 100 applications. Thus we are looking for reasons to cut folks. Having no peer-reviewed publications is a reason to cut someone. However, we don't care about seeing you in 'top 20' publications. In fact, I have been hired at two institutions where no one on the SC was a philosopher, and as such did not know what the top journal were.


Anon: I think that would depend on one's sub-discipline. It seems to me--though I don't follow these areas closely--that areas such as philosophy of physics, biology, perhaps law or environmental ethics, and certainly non-Western traditions are very difficult to get placed in the top generalist journals, and if search committees are looking for those specialties then surely they know the barriers to publishing. However, if you work in Metaphysics, epistemology, logic, or theoretical ethics, then yes I think a major publication is in a top 20 generalist journal. Now, if you work outside of those four areas and are applying for an open position, the burden is on you to explain in your cover letter why your publications are in the top journals in your area.

Grad student (ethicist)

I worry a little that Paul's comment might be too quick: wouldn't a journal like Ethics or Phil and Public Affairs would count as a top tier journal for a theoretical ethicist too? Similarly, Bulletin of Symbolic Logic (I'm not a logician but I vaguely recall a logician mentioning that it's a good journal) for logic?


A note on people with 0 publications from top programs. In my experience those files often come with letters from big names who say that this person is about to be a big deal and has 2-3 papers that will land at the Phil review and change the landscape. Looking back, these promises aren’t usually met.

Marcus Arvan

“Looking back, these promises aren’t usually met.” Yep, it’s a terrible practice that does a disservice to everyone. It does a disservice to well published people who are passed over for the job, and it does a disservice to the person hired—who in these cases ends up not getting tenure.


Sorry, but let's not overgeneralize here. How could you possibly know whether "these promises aren't usually met"? I can think of a large number of people who got jobs with zero publications and DID meet this promise. I can also think of only a small handful of people who actually ended up not getting tenured who started off in this position. And I can think of a lot of people who maybe didn't FULLY meet the promise, but still ended up with a publication record and career that rivaled that of the people they were competing for for the job (that is, maybe they didn't become superstars or game-changers, but they have solid careers). You can think there is a problem here without making claims that you can't support. Surely it's good enough if these promises are SOMETIMES not met.

Marcus Arvan

Anonymous: that’s a fair point. I understand why programs gamble on candidates, and there certainly are some who go on to fulfill the promise. But there are also a good number who don’t - and (at least in my view) its a shame that this happens fairly often, both because there are well-accomplished people who are passed over but also because those who don’t get tenure end up in a bad spot. But I appreciate your point about not overgeneralizing.


Grad student (ethicist): First, that's why I made a distinction between theoretical and applied ethics, and even then, said *maybe* certain applied areas and law would be difficult to get in major journals. Second, yes, we should distinguish which journals are major, and that, unfortunately, is highly contentious. If by major we only mean Leiter top 20 generalist journals, then my point still stands. If we expand to include top, highly ranked specialist journals, then you are right. And I would rather you be right...

Mike Titelbaum

Just to comment on the generalist/specialist journals issue: Right now I'm spending all day every day reading dozens and dozens of applications for our philosophy of science search. The members of our committee recognize that it's a big deal to get published in a journal like BJPS, just like it's a big deal to get published in Phil Review. Also, I've been educating myself on what are the best journals for various sub-sub-disciplines, like philosophy of biology or philosophy of physics. So no, I don't think it's a requirement that your publications be in a generalist journal, as long as you're publishing in well-respected specialist journals. (This coming from the perspective of an R1 tenure-track search.)

p.s. Hello out there to any candidates for our job who might be reading this! We are working hard and hope to get word to you soon.…


Mike: that is good to hear! Seems like the reasonable way to go about it.

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