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I wonder what folks think about the following publishing issue.

I just received a second R&R from journal x regarding a particular paper.

This second set of referee comments is mixed. One referee’s comments are on the mark and helpful. But, the second referee’s comments are a bit off the mark, by my lights, and she or he recommends that the editor not publish the paper.

Now, the editor’s communication regarding this second R&R seems fairly positive because he or she uses language like “before we can publish your paper you must respond to these referee comments.”

My question is how much should I countenance or revise in light of the negative referee comments? I ask because seemingly the editor is not taking the second referee’s recommendation to not publish the paper.


A few years ago, before I secured a permanent position, I applied for a tenure-track position at the institution where I was on a year-to-year fixed-term contract. Department members seemed favorably disposed to my teaching, service, and research. When a tenure-track position in my AOS was advertised at the institution, I jumped at the opportunity to apply.

One member of the department sent an email to other members of the department indicating he was against my candidacy for the tenure-track position. According to the email, which one member of the department forwarded to me, his reasons were that people who obtain fixed-term contracts shouldn't be hired at those institutions permanently and that people on fixed-term contracts were less talented than those who get a tenure-track position directly out of graduate school.

You've discussed the precarious relationship between permanent department members and fixed-term contractors on this blog, but what should we make of this professor's behavior? Is it prejudice? Or is it mere preference?

Tenured SLAC Chair


This is a fine line to walk. I would say that in the event you do not make changes as per referee #2, that it would be wise to explicitly state why you do not feel they are necessary. This too requires a delicate hand. By the sounds of it, something like what I describe would satisfy the editor.

Sorry for being so vague.


Here's a question I hope can be answered. How short is too short for a book? To make it more concrete, I have a book idea, and am thinking it'd end up being around 50,000 words. I know that's quite short for a philosophy book, but short books are always better! Moreover, I can say what I want to say in that many words. (Why not do journal articles? I have. I'd like to do an elaborated defense of some things I've written on, as well as bring in new, related material.) Should I consider adding more material to make it longer, or should I try to swing it as a short book?


Some publishers want book manuscripts of very specific lengths, say 90,000 to 110,000 words. So such publishers will generally not be interested in a short book. But there are now series devoted to short books, like Springerbriefs, published by Springer, of course. Some of the books in the collection are quite good. If you were already an accomplished author, then many publishers would publish whatever Bullshit you have (I hope this joke is not lost everyone).


Anon: you can email editors at publishing houses directly and ask this question. They'll normally get back to you quickly. There's really no reason not to do this.


Routledge has a series for short books. Some other publishers too. So you can make it work. You just have to find the right spot. And yeah, established people could probably publish a 10k word book!


(Part of the reason I haven't been super alarmed by this issue is that the paper in question is a short side project sort of thing rather than my main research project, which has been doing better than this paper.)

But anyways: say a paper of yours has been under review for about a year, and that you started checking in on its status after the four month mark, and you haven't gotten a reply to your 3-4 short, polite inquiries that you've sent since then.

Is it fine to just send an email saying "I am withdrawing this MS", and then to proceed as if the MS has been withdrawn? I get the impression I shouldn't expect a reply (or for anyone to read my email), which makes me a bit worried about effectively double-submitting when I resubmit the paper elsewhere. But on the other hand, this paper has probably just been "lost" this whole time.


Is there a meaningful difference between going on the job market as a lecturer and a visiting assistant professor or are both viewed equally?

Obviously, the institution where you're employed and other details have to be considered, but all things being equal, will the title alone confer or convey any meaningful difference or are both viewed as what they are: temporary, contingent appointments?


I don't know about how they appear, but many lecturer positions are permanent. Our schools has 5 permanent lecturers and while technically their contract must be renewed every few years, their positions are almost as secure as tenured persons, especially those who get promoted to "distinguished lecturer" (And yeah I'm in the US).



I just saw your comment, and while I don't have any insight, I want to express sympathy. That seems like a gross prejudice, and it also seems like the sort of thing one should keep to oneself. Sorry you are facing that!


Interesting, I guess I was taking my own current status as a lecturer with contingent status as indicative of other trends when perhaps that is not the case elsewhere.


I have a practical question about interviews. It seems like there are two kinds of interviews--(a) those where the committee asks follow up questions, and (b) those where they don't. I assume (b) happens because of HR regulations, but I am really bad at these interviews. My answers tend to run short even when I have a lot to say. And that's bad, since a lot of fixed term lecturer jobs have (b) type interviews, and that's mostly what I'm competitive for right now. Should candidates plan responses to certain typical questions to fit a target time-length, so they don't run short? Or is it expected that this stuff happens? Is there some way to turn it into a conversation that I'm missing? There's often not even any nodding or eye contact during my answers, let alone follow-ups. Sometimes these interviewers skip important questions too, like "How would you teach Intro?" I'm pretty good at (a) type interviews, but utterly bewildered by (b).


re: anonymoose

I am unsure if we interviewed for the same position but I just had an interview with an eerily similar experience regarding the "b" type of interview you mention.

It lasted around 15 minutes; 6 interviewers with one question each and no follow ups; I tried to be cognizant of keeping my answers short because I think I have tended to ramble in the past but after I finished, there was nothing really. Just nodding of head and onto the next question. It was an impersonal and awkward experience which left me second guessing myself.

I'd like to hear more about this others.


I've also had both. (b) type invariably sucks. I got no solutions.

Recent Grad

I don't think I've had the pleasure of this kind of interview, but has anyone in this situation tried inviting the interviewers to follow up on various answers? I.e., mentioning during your answer that you'd be happy to elaborate more on a topic if they'd like you to? Even if the interviewers don't take you up on it, it might make things feel more conversational; it would also indicate that your brief elevator speech style reply doesn't exhaust what you have to say.

Opportunity hires?

How do "opportunity hires" usually work? I encountered this phenomenon a few times at my PhD institution: the department wasn't hiring, but through word of mouth it became known that some philosopher was looking for a way to live in the area (usually for family reasons), and then this person ended up giving an unofficial job talk. Nothing came of it on the occasions it occured at my former department, but the idea that it was possible always intrigued me. How does one go about trying to arrange this sort of thing? Is it rare? Any stories of it actually working out?

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