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I agree with Marcus - it's super hard to move after tenure. If I were in your shoes, and did want to move, I would make one more push to go out on the market the year I went up for tenure, and then if I didn't move, I'd take a step back and figure out which things I really wanted from my life, which things make me happy, and focus on those. I would *not* keep pushing myself to publish in fancy places for the sake of trying to move, because chances are just very much against that happening.


I just wanted to chime in to say that it's OK to feel like settling. Honestly, I suspect lots of people feel that way, at a whole range of career situations. People who do get tenure in R1s still stress over the idea that they're not writing enough, and/or not being cited as much as the *really* big shots, and worry if being OK with that amounts to some objectionable form of "settling." Just my two cents: it doesn't.

you got it

There are two issues here. First, moving after tenure. It is very difficult to move - and move up - after tenure. Everyone - try to name four people who have done it. I know people who have done it, and it is a great challenge. You need to super out-perform your colleagues at your current job. And there are many prejudices against hiring from places that are regarded as less than peer institutions.
Second, how to beat the tenure blues. It sounds like the person raising the concern has got it good. They are near family, etc. Well celebrate that. I never had a permanent academic job closer than a 9 hour drive from my parents. And there are many good things you can now get involved in. You can take on leadership roles at your university/college. You can acquire administrative experience, which opens possibilities for moving later. But you won ... that is, you got what many who visit this blog are striving for.

Moving before Tenure

'you got it' mentions that moving after tenure involves doing better than one's colleagues. Is this also a factor regarding moving before tenure?

Felt Similarly

I felt similarly but never applied out pre-tenure. Did afterwards but no luck. It took some settling in post-tenure to appreciate that if I want to put more time into research and less into service or new courses and teaching prep, I can do that with little cost. So, I've done that - pulled back on my service and taught the same syllabus for my service courses. Having more space in my schedule for research has allowed me to keep an active research profile and keep up on the literature I'm invested in. I don't have an R1 job by any means, but my research no longer feels like a hobby I try to squeeze in during the summer months.

Tim O'Keefe

About moving before tenure: it's still challenging, but way, way easier than after tenure. I'm assuming here that, once you've got tenure, you'll only move for a position that comes with tenure, not an assistant prof TT position. Very few places hire at the senior level, and when an R1 place does so, they're looking to hire somebody who has already established themselves as a prominent scholar in their field.

On the other hand, there are way more (thought still way too few!) assistant professor TT positions. Some search committee members will have prejudices against applicants coming from non-prestigious TT positions, preferring shiny ABDs or fancypants post-docs with PhDs from tippy-tops places. But other people--I include myself among this group--think it's nice to have applicants who have already demonstrated the ability to publish well while teaching, and while teaching well.

At the junior level, this sort of move 'up'--in terms of prestige, not necessarily in terms of quality of the position--is pretty common. At my own institution, off of the top of my head I can think of at least 4 people here who fit this profile, including myself. (I moved in my 5th TT year from a small public liberal arts college to a large public R1 with a terminal MA program.)

You got it

Moving before ...
This is You Got it here. I moved after tenure. It was very hard. First, you should not waste your time and just apply very selectively. Second, unless you sell your self as a very capable administrator (which will usually just involve a lateral move ... but into administration), you really have to have a string research profile. But having moved, I will tell it was worth it (for me!). I have been extremely productive, and there is a lot of support for research where I am. It is a life-style choice. Some people want to be near family, some want a house, some want a place in the country, some want to able to spend time on research. Just get clear to yourself what you want.

Tim O'Keefe

I'll add, on the question, of 'settling,' that when deciding whether to attempt a move 'up,' you really should focus on the question of whether taking a new position will really make you happier. This might sound like simplistic and obvious advice, but I do think that quite often people's judgement gets caught up in considerations of merely positional goods like prestige, thinking of whether you'll be more of a 'success' in your own eyes and in the eyes of others if you go to a fancier place and are able to publish more.

To the extent that you can, I think you should try to set aside those considerations. Instead, ask yourself whether you like your current colleagues, how much you enjoy the teaching you're currently doing, how you like living where we're currently living, etc. If you move to a new job, how will it stack up to your current situation in those ways? If your new job does allow you more time to do research, and it expects more of you from research, how much of a difference will that make to how satisfying you find your job?

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