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I think trajectory matters, but the way it matters for research schools is changing. While I think it used to be somewhat uncommon to move from a teaching to research school, this is becoming more and more common. I did it, and I know at least six other people (yes 6) off the top of my head who have done it in the last few years. Everyone knows the job market is tough (to put it mildly) and even promising researcher often are happy to have teaching jobs. So as long as you have other research qualifications and are moving up that way, I don't think either a permanent or temporary position at a teaching school hurts that much for going to R1s. I would tend to say permanent is better than a VAP teaching post, though. All of that is to say I don't think an R1 would have any preference one way or the other.

I think teaching schools would prefer the Junior faculty, because they already have experience working in the relevant type of environment.


It's perhaps worth mentioning that if a PhD student and a junior faculty member have "roughly equal qualifications" one might think the PhD student is more impressive for having achieved more in a smaller amount of time. (Given that we usually measure age relative to the date the PhD is awarded, the student would have to be at least a year "younger".) I'm not sure whether and to what extent this figures into search committees' thinking, but it's perhaps one more factor at play here.


The last three hires in my department have been people who had another job previously. Almost all of our finalists had previous jobs. There were a ton of very impressive new PhDs and in some ways they can be especially impressive in light of how much they’ve done so early on. But a very big factor for my reasearch oreinted school is getting someone who will hit the ground running. Ready to handle college/university level admin duties, ready to not just teach but be innovative as a teacher, and to really be a peer with current faculty. Certainly many new PhDs could do all of this but it’s harder to tell. Having been on committees and having lead changes in department are hard to mimic when not on faculty. I was told as a student that the best way to get a job is have a job. I now think that’s true and maybe even a justified practice.


R - I think the situation is often more complex than the grad student having had less time to be successful. Grad school experience varies widely. I know some people who, in 5-7 years of graduate school, taught maybe one course, TA-d 2-4 others, and always had summer funding. Then there are people who never had summer funding and had to either teach or work some other job to make money. They also are the type that have taught 5-8 courses on their own, and also TA'd 10, by the time they graduate. While you might be right that some people assume that the grad student has accomplished more, without further information I think this is a rash assumption.

Mike Titelbaum

All my anecdotal evidence suggests that committees at different institutions make their decisions in very different ways. So I'll speak only for the hiring committees I've been on here at UW. We tend to look very skeptically at this "air of mystery" thing. We want to hire someone who will be an excellent researcher, teacher, and colleague, and we want to make our decisions based on strong evidence from a variety of sources. Given these desiderata, a candidate who has been in a professional position and has already demonstrated the ability to do the kind of teaching and research in that environment that will get them tenure has a serious advantage. Not that that's the only kind of person we ever hire, but when a candidate has less of a track record we're going to look very hard at the work they've done and the other kinds of evidence we can glean, and not simply rely on recommendations from fancy people saying they're a star.

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