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I’m currently a grad student and I'm relatively free to choose the topics about which I want to (solo-)teach. Would it be better to start developing my teaching portfolio around introductory courses (Introduction to Philosophy, Introduction to Philosophy of Science, Ethics, and so on)? Or rather with more specialized ones (Philosophy of Economics, Philosophy of Mathematics, etc.)? Should I focus on fields and topics related to my dissertation?


An earlier post discussed explaining why one is going on the market from a tenure-track (or tenured) position, but I'm wondering specifically about application materials and letters: if one has been out of grad school for 5-10 years, and hasn't kept in particularly close contact with advisors, who should one ask for letters of recommendation? In general, how does one go about putting together application materials when applying from a more advanced career stage? (I'm realizing everything I know about going on the job market, I learned as a grad student or post-doc!)


Terminal master's student here. I thoroughly enjoy my program and I especially like interacting with students. But I do not know if I want to commit to a phd. I hear stories about how people with only an MA land a teaching gig at community colleges. What are the prospects for teaching at community colleges (including technical colleges) for those with only an MA?


When are on the market looking for a new tenured job at another place, you should get letters from senior researchers who know your work. Ideally, at that stage, there are such people who you have been in contact with because they like what you have done. If there are none, your chances of moving are close to nil, unless you are pitching yourself as someone with administrative skills - for example, willing to chair a department who cannot find a chair among themselves. But then you must have chairing experience.



My impression is that the broader courses would be a better choice. People will assume you can teach your research (or, at least, in my experience, they make that assumption). Accordingly, your courses are a chance for you to show breadth, valuable especially for smaller, teaching-focused departments.


Tom: I assume you are talking about getting a TT job or at least full-time permanent position? For it is typically very easy for people with only an MA to get contingent part-time work like being an adjunct, and after a few years of that (full time or close to it), you could move up to something like a 3 year renewing lecturer contract. I do know several people who get a TT job at a CC with only an MA. But they were all 5-10 years ago, and I get the impression that each year it is harder to do this with only an MA. That said, the impression I get from many of my TT CC friends is that TT hires come about in two main ways, (1) somebody on the market who has a ton of teaching experience at either CC, or schools with a similar demographic, who also clearly seems to care more about teaching than research, and (2) Persons who are almost a type of inside hire as they have been adjuncts at the institution for years. The MA's I know who got TT jobs were of the second kind, and schools who hired them knew them personally and knew what kind of teacher and colleague they were. I think if one wants more than a "snowball's chance in hell" at getting one of these jobs with an MA, they have to be willing to adjunct full time for a few years. This isn't always so bad, depending on where you live. But it can be absolutely horrible at other places. That said, where I am from adjuncts get full benefits if they teach two or more classes, and teaching a 4-4 will earn you almost double the money of an average grad student. So if you would prefer a high teaching load for a few years rather than a PhD, it might be something to consider (especially if you are young, single, and lack commitments to dependents, debt, etc.) I think it is rare person who could be happy doing this in one of the areas where adjuncting doesn't provide health insurance or other benefits.

Mark Z

I was wondering if you can run a post describing how to run a conference. I want to hold a conference and I am at a new college (just got a TT job) and I know nothing of expenses, financing, logistics, lodging, room reservations, invitations, keynote speakers, timing, reasonable accommodations, etc. Is there anyone out there with good experience doing this that can share?
I realize that some of this is college and location specific, but there must be some general best practices. I am also considering piggy-backing off another conference. That sounds easier, are there serious drawbacks?
Any advice would be appreciated.


Hi Mark
Did you see this?


Hi Tom,
I agree with Amanda on this: some individuals with master's who have an inside track can end up with TT jobs at CCs, but it is getting harder and harder. In many cases, even a long-time adjunct at an institution who lacks a PhD will lose out to an outsider with a PhD (In my current t-t CC job I was an outsider competing with long time inside candidates who lacked PhDs in the final round).

Often it helps to be in an area where there is not easy access to PhDs in the labor pool, so a rural community college not near a PhD granting institution. In such a situation most faculty are likely to not have PhDs so lacking one could be less of a barrier.

It is also helpful to be a dual master's person at a CC. At a small community college, someone with a masters in English AND Philosophy, or Philosophy AND Religion is looked very kindly upon. I have a friend who is tenured at a rural community college who has degrees in English and Philosophy and teaches both. In philosophy alone, there wouldn't be enough sections to create a full time load for him.

Hiring at CCs is very bureaucratic, typically. And candidates will often be 'scored' by how many criteria they fulfill by HR. Having more graduate credits/a PhD earns one a higher 'score'. I wrote an article on this you might find useful: https://cdn.ymaws.com/www.apaonline.org/resource/collection/30C25598-2725-4DF4-BFC8-B3CDDB85C47C/TwoyearV16n1.pdf

As a side note, Minnesota is probably the best place to be a full time adjunct that I have heard of. Benefits, high pay.


I have a TT job and I would like to move to continental Europe for a number of reasons (spouse). Ideal location: France.
It would be great if you had a few posts (from guests contributors?) on the European job market. (I mean: places like: Spain, France, Belgium, the Netherlands, Germany, Portugal etc.)


Being currently a TA and having taught one of the course's lectures, I would like to know whether I could ask the professor responsible for the course to write a teaching letter of recommendation on my behalf. I've tried to do it in the past, with another professor, and the answer was cold to say the least.


Someone in my committee told me this week that teaching courses on LGBT issues can be... dangerous when one is in the job market, even though some institutions and selection committees can appreciate it. In any case, I will be teaching a course on the Philosophy of Same-Sex Sexuality this term.
Any thoughts on this?


I would not ask for a teaching letter unless you are on the market or just going on it NOW. If you are still a few years out wait until closer to that time. The prof is probably concentrating on getting those who are on the market jobs. Also, if you work as a TA more for this prof. in the future, she will be able to say more about you, including commenting on how you have developed as a teacher/TA.
Good luck


Charles and M--
I have often written teaching letters for TAs. I think that's considered pretty normal and I'm surprised you didn't get a good reception, Charles. (Unless you weren't a good TA--did you fulfill responsibilities on time, etc.?)

Even if they won't use it for a few years, I like being asked at the time, because it allows me to take notes on their guest lecture and their performance as a TA while the memory is still fresh in my mind. I will however request to sit in on another of their lectures closer to the time the letter is needed. That enables me to see whether they've taken on board the constructive feedback I gave them when they lectured for me!


pphd: my impression is that coming across in one's application materials as any type of "advocate" can potentially hurt a candidate, at least with some search committees (and it might help with others.)That said, I would be *very* surprised if simply teaching a course on an issue like this would hurt a candidate. I would say the odds are small enough that there is no need to worry about this. (There are all sorts of search committee members, and the most random, odd such and such might offend a tiny number of them, but this is not a reason to avoid such and such, as there is no way to be a candidate that offends no one.)


Charles: it honestly surprises me you got a col response. Do you know why it was cold? I think it would be perfectly appropriate to ask for a letter, assuming you have some reason to believe the letter would be positive.

Anon prof

I wrote an ~5000 word review essay to be presented at an author meets critics session. The essays are automatically published in a review journal in my subfield.

How should this appear on my CV? As a presentation? As a presentation and a book review (seems like double-dipping, perhaps)? As merely a book review? As an invited publication (probably not)?

I tried to find out was past people have done, but they are all appear to be post-tenure and don't update their CVs ever. Must be nice.


I would like to know your suggestions about the right way to deal with egocentric reviewers. I have received a few times reviews of my papers that aim to compel me not only to mention specific literature but to engage with these ideas in my own article, even if they are not directly related to it. In two cases, I have the impression that the reviewer mentions his/her own papers, and because the reviewer is probably someone important, it is very difficult to make the case that the reviewer's demand is not necessarily well-founded, and that it is more the product of his/her ego than anything else. Another variant is when the reviewer compels the author to cite his/her academic friends' papers. I have the impression he/she does not really ware about the origin of the idea (reviewers never told me to cite something that has been written more than 5 years old), but only about mentioning his/her academic friends. I find both attitudes shameful.

Editor and referee

Sometimes reviewers do as you suggest. But often the referee is aware of the literature, and sees connections to other recent stuff that you do not, but should address. Indeed, that would explain why you are being asked to cite recent stuff. The idea is if philosophy is anything like a science, then there is a moving research frontier and you must keep up with the latest developments. I occasionally get asked to referee papers that are wholly ignorant that what they are arguing has been discussed at some length in other articles in high profile journals. That just looks like lazy scholarship.

Anotheranon Prof

Anon Prof
Given the humming and hawing you are doing, along with the narrative, you have to realize such a piece will count for very little in ant committee's deliberations. Just list it as a book review.


Amanda, M, and person, thanks for your comments.
I think I was a good TA and the professor in question actually invited me, after this episode, to be TA for them again.
To be sure, they did not refuse to write a letter, but as their answer was short and cold, I hesitated.
I am currently in the job market and did not apply for a certain teaching position because I had no teaching letter...


Editor and referee,
I think we are not talking about the same case. Maybe you suppose reviewers are always well-intentioned and objective, I do not. My experience tells me that egocentric academics are quite common, and that egocentrism can be more or less easily recognized through reviews, when for example the reviewer forces the author to cite and talk about him/her, engage with her/his ideas, because if not the paper is not considered worth it.
The question about the progress of philosophy is not so simple and many answers can be given. From my humble point of view, philosophy is not science, and thus to make a significant/interesting/innovative claim a philosopher should not limit themselves to simply read the last papers on the subject, but engage more widely with what other thinkers have written and thought in the past. I know this "historical" attitude is not very widespread in philosophy nowadays, specially after the universalization of the anglophone way of doing philosophy. But because of this, it is important more than ever to get out of the box and embrace the different and rich ways in which philosophy can be made.


Charles, okay, I see. So the person agreed to write a letter, but was just a bit short and not enthusiastic in agreeing to do this? If this is what happened, I would still have them write the letter, unless you have another obvious person who can write it for you. The professor for who you currently TA for is just as good, and it is very normal to ask for this.

To back up, though, from what you said, I would strong suspect the professor who sent the "cold" email was either just rushed when sending the email, or they just have bad email habits. It has been hard for me to accept the bad email manners of many professional philosophers, and learn not to take this personally.So I get it. But please know that it is very common for philosophers to send lazy, short, and rude sounding emails out of no reason other than they are, (1) rushed, (2) ignorant of how they come across, or (3) vaguely aware of how they come across, but don't consider this a big deal and are not motivated to change things. The point: it is rarely personal.

In any case, please don't shot yourself in the foot by not getting a teaching letter. Trust me, I hate asking for letters too. But it just has to be done, and teaching letters are very important. Again asking this professor who responded coldly would be fine., so would asking your current TA supervising professor. Alternatively, it would also be fine to ask someone else to write it for you. You can ask any tenured person in your department who is willing to come watch you teach a section. You should then send them all the info you can about your teaching history and training

If you are concerned about the quality of the letter once it is written, just send it to a trusted academic friend and have them read it for you. This is easy to do with interfolio, where you should have the letter uploaded (there is *no* reason not to upload it to interfolio, even if you have to upload it somewhere else in addition.)A

I will end by nothing that the best teaching letters are typically written by people outside your grad institution, i.e. a tenured professor at a school where you serve as an adjunct, or a professor at the school where someone is a VAP. However if you have only taught (or only TA'd) at your graduate institution, then getting an in house letter is still very helpful compared to having no teaching letter at all.


postdoc, to respond to your original question about how to respond to these cases.

In some cases they just ask me to cite someone that I think is irrelevant. I have never argued against such a suggestion because it is pretty easy to just put the citation in, and I wanted to get published.

In some rarer cases they have asked me to engage substantively with someone that I think is irrelevant. In these cases I have quoted their comment, and then argued my case below the comment. (i.e., did what you normally do in an r&r document, but this time explaining a lack of revision rather than a revision.) In these cases the editor seemed to agree with me, and stopped asking for that revision.

(To be honest, I'd be fine with briefly engaging with an irrelevant view, too, but in the cases I have in mind, it would have been a significant argumentative detour for the paper.)


I want to claim philosophy of law as an AOC, but I have never taken a course in the area (because one has never been offered in my MA or PhD programs) and all of my knowledge in this area is self-taught. I have taught a course on the legal applications of logic and plan to publish some on evidential standards with explicit applications to the law (among other relevant topics), but publishing in my AOSs is my priority right now. Would it look strange to claim this as an AOC if my CV doesn't change in this area in the few years before I go on the job market? Would one or two conferences in this area help? I plan to mostly apply to teaching schools, but I want to make sure I'm taken seriously in each AOC without overdoing it.

Saving you

Grad Student H
Do not list Phil of Law unless you have taken a course or published in it. Indeed, it is a few years before you are on the market - you do not even need to worry about AOCs and AOSs. Whenever one sees c.v.s of young people with long lists of AOCs and AOSs, as one reviews files one thinks they are either full of themselves, or getting shitty (or no) advice from their advisors.

anon postdoc

I am working on a paper that relies in a couple of paragraph on an argument from a previous paper, already published. I was wondering how best to do this in a way that complies with blind-review. Some possibilities I am considering:

a. Cite myself as though it were another person.

b. Give a footnote and write '[deleted for blind review]' where the reference would go. (However, I have been told before, when doing this, that it is not sufficiently compliant with blind-review. Wish that my views were that famous!)

c. Appeal to some other argument in the literature that raises a similar concern, and give that prominence instead of my view. Then change this if the article gets accepted. (This could be used in combination of a or b).


I disagree with 'Saving you' (though I teach at a research-focused institution, so take this with a grain of salt). If you've presented at a few conferences, have a shareable (with a search committee! so, very polished) paper in philosophy of law, produce a polished syllabus that you can competently discuss without floundering in an interview, and also (especially at places with grad programs) can discuss competently how you would teach a more advanced course/seminar, then I think you are fine claiming this as an AOC. You might even be fine without the shareable paper draft.

Marcus Arvan

Anonymous: Those are all good points. I would add that I think the person should include those materials on their website and the syllabus in their teaching portfolio, particularly if they are applying to jobs listing it as an AOC. I think that (in addition to the candidate's facility in discussing them) could very well convince a committee that the AOC is legit.


I agree with anonymous and Marcus: as long as you design your CV in a way that shows your law expertise, and also briefly mention something about this in a cover letter, then it is fine to put law as an AOC.

on the cusp

How can someone who is an assistant professor but at the stage of being tenurable apply for an associate professor position? Should one's readiness for the tenure process be mentioned in the cover letter or will the CV and years from PhD speak for themselves?

early careerist

What publications count as "peer reviewed"?

Until recently, I had assumed that all and only papers submitted to a journal/volume and were (a) reviewed by a scholar, (b) whose identity the author didn't know, and (c) had a genuine possibility of being rejected at that stage were peer reviewed and eligible to be labeled as such on one's CV. It could also be double- or triple-blinded, but that wasn't necessary to peer-review.

However, a colleague's CV labels as peer-reviewed the following:
- invited papers to edited books, where someone read the paper and requested revisions.
- invited entries into books where the editor read the individual entries and the entire volume was sent out for review.
- the introduction to a volume they edited, which was sent out to a reviewer (and blinded), but where the volume was already under contract.

Is there a norm here? I was surprised, and now think I'm under-crediting my publications.

Anon human

I’m very interested in the answer to early careerist’s question! Those all strike me as bad cases, but I think there are some cases that are particularly hard to figure out. (E.g.: if you were invited to submit a paper to a journal, it was peer reviewed by anonymous people, but the standard is to accept 98 percent of invited submissions, should someone list that as peer reviewed? Etc.

Anon human

P.s. maybe the most clear thing to do is have more than two categories on your cv (e.g. invited and peer reviewed, invited, non-invited peer reviewed, etc. at any rate your colleague is, I think, definitely violating norms. But I’d appreciate a post on how to navigate this issue generally.


How many articles are usually required for getting tenure (at R1s, SLACs, etc.)?
Does the journal's impact factor matter?


Which journal submission word counts are, in reality, flexible?

I recently published a paper in a journal that, on its website, says the word limit is 7500 words. But when I sent the paper in, it was over 10k. I only did this because I knew that other papers in this journal exceeded the 7500 count.

Anyone know of any journals worth submitting to with practices like this? Top 20, top specialist journals (BJPS, PhilSci, Ethics, PPA, etc.).


curious: there is too much variation in the answer to your question for there to be a meaningful answer; and also, at almost nowhere is a certain magical number of publications either necessary or sufficient for tenure.

Anon prof

Anotheranon Prof:
I know it's not a big deal. It doesn't keep me up at night, just thought it might be nice to know the professional norms, since I have a couple of these presentations/reviews coming up.

Anon prof

Your tenure file will be evaluated by people in your subfield, typically, who will write letters for you. The letters will (likely) take into account the publication venue as well as the importance of your work for the subfield and its quality. If you are genuinely unsure, talk to people who might be called upon to write letters for you and ask them how they would rate your work relative to the position that you hold. Or, look at the publication records of people who recently got tenure at various institutions.

Marcus Arvan

Anon prof: not all universities use letters in tenure and promotion. R1’s do, but I know of SLACs that do not. My university doesn’t use them, for instance.


I have a TT position and a department near my own is hiring. I am a good fit for the position and plan on applying. But I'm a bit worried that my current department will find out if I apply. Are SCs generally good about keeping things confidential in these cases? Or do you know of exceptions? What should I include in my cover letter, other than a request for confidentiality? I won't say anything negative about anyone or anything, but I'd wondering if I need to actually say something that I wouldn't say if I were applying from across the country.


I'm a recent PhD and have agreed to review a book that is directly in my AOS. I've never done one of these before, so I'd appreciate any how-to advice the Cocoon community can offer. The recent(ish) posts this year about writing referee reports were super helpful, both for understanding what a good report should look like, as well as explaining how to actually write one, so something along those lines would be ideal.) Thanks!

Benedict Eastaugh

Thom Brooks, in "Publishing Advice for Graduate Students", discusses how to write a book review in section I, "Publishing 101: Book reviews as an introduction to publishing".



Apologies if this has been asked before; I couldn't find anything on it.

I claim two AOS, A and B. I plan on applying to jobs in AOS A, but all of my current work on A is co-authored. (Just one other co-author, and it's fully jointly authored.) My ordinary writing sample is in in AOS B, but it's single-authored.

For those jobs that are looking for AOS A, should I (1) send my regular writing sample from AOS B, which is single-authored but on a different AOS; (2) send my co-authored paper on AOS A; (3) do some combination, or (4) something else entirely?


I know it will sound like an unreasonable or ridiculous request and that those things should happen "naturally." But it has been very difficult for me to find people who can write letters of recommendation in support of my applications – in my home country, professors either refuse (for many reasons…) or don’t know how to write letters for the Anglo-American market, I am shy and, alas, have no money for international conferences and corresponding networking.
Could we have a post in which professors – who have time and interest, naturally – could volunteer to become familiar with other scholars’ work, scholars who need (external) letters in the job market? Unusual, I know. But it would help me more today than having a tutor. Without letters, I can apply for nothing... And all my efforts have resulted in quid pro quos, including sexual harassment.


I was recently invited to write a book review. I am a young scholar, and having the book review on my CV would be useful for job applications. The question is, when can I list the book review on my CV? Since it isn't refereed, it (barring doing a terrible job) won't be rejected. Can I list it as forthcoming already? Can I list it as expected? What the the norms on this?

An editor of a journal

I certainly would not list it before you submit it to the journal. It does not exist yet, and it may not. Once submitted it is a different matter.

Marcus Arvan

ostdoc: editor is right. Never list something as forthcoming unless it has been officially accepted. You may list it at this point as “commissioned.”

can't remember my dissertation anymore

This is perhaps more of a gripe than a plea for help, but what is with the trend of requests for dissertation abstracts? (At least I'm seeing it more than I recall before.) How is this in any way informative for those of us who have been out of grad school for two or more years? And presumably grad students are going to include this in their research statement!

If any search committees are reading this, please make such a document optional.


I’d love a post for both those editing books, special issues of journals, etc. and for those who get asked to contribute about what kind of information should be communicated to contributors and/or what questions contributors should get answered before they commit. I’ve seen wildly different levels of information communicated. Some initial thoughts of things that should be communicated before commitment: word count, what kind of review process will happen (I.e. will it be peer reviewed? Will the editor just look at it? Does it need to be blinded? If it is for a journal special issue, is the review process the same as the standard review process?), how much editorial advice one should expect to get, what the expected publication date is (though of course take this with a major grain of salt), an abstract or infgormation about the theme (as opposed to e.g. just a title for the collection), what kinds of subfields contributors will be drawn from, etc.

job applicant

Should applicants submit materials that are "optional"? Will it hurt our chances if we don't? This is a general question, but the ad I'm thinking of gives very specific instructions about the documents the applicant must submit and does not mention any optional documents. It's only while working on the application through the university's website that one sees one may upload additional optional documents (research statement, cover letter, etc.). If submitting optional materials increases one's chances, I'll do it, but if it doesn't, I'd rather not spend the additional precious time it takes to do it. And if it will or even just may make a difference, I wonder why these documents aren't just listed as required.


Hello and thanks for the great work you have been doing so far! I was wondering if you would consider dedicating a post or thread to plagiarism in academia. I would be interested in hearing from people whose work has been plagiarized in some way or another by their advisors, colleagues, or students. Sometimes plagiarism is very difficult to detect (people can steal your working arguments, ideas, and project plans not simply your unpublished drafts) but it hurts deeply. As an early career scholar I have seen my project being taken and used by a more senior colleague I was collaborating with. I presented my project in multiple occasions, so my drafts were very well-known, and I only published a paper that drew on some parts of the project I presented. It's difficult to broach the subject with the colleague who was so interested in my project to the point of appropriating my own ideas and arguments (even the bibliography!). I would appreciate some help and advice by people who have been in a similar situation, if possible. Thank you!


I do not think this is the place to resolve such issues. You need to talk to someone on a research ethics board at the institution or institutions where you work. Begin with a consultation. Then they may advise you to raise a complaint formally, but within the institution's framework.

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