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06/03/2021

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Rosa

Actually about this blog! I tend to read it in an RSS reader, but sometimes when I click through to the blog to see comments, the post seems to have disappeared. Several of the posts I can't find seem really interesting - any idea how to find them again?

Marcus Arvan

Hi Rosa: I don't normally respond in these comment sections, but can you recall an example or two? On a few rare occasions, I have published a post and then unpublished it for personal reasons (blogging is a fraught enterprise, and on some occasions I have to confess that I get a bit self-conscious!). Anyway, if you can think of an example or two and this is what happened, I can reconsider whether to re-post the thread. :)

Amateur Hour

How often do you all notice small mistakes in your published work? I have recently noticed one or two mistakes that rise above the level of a typo, but don't really ruin the rest of my article. As an example, I mistranslated a word and emphasized the word that was mistranslated. Another example in another article: I mistakenly characterized a potential identity between concepts in a footnote ("Most people think X, DESCRIPTOR Y, is the same thing as Z, DESCRIPTOR W." W and Y should be switched.) Ultimately, neither matters for the broader argument of the articles, but it just makes me feel like an amateur. It's especially annoying because I feel like if I had just put a little more care and attention into my work, I could have avoided this.

Any advice for dealing with such issues? Should I just accept that this is going to happen?

TT newb

Maybe I am just not looking in the right place in the archives, but in general I would love to see more early (TT) career advice featured on the blog. Things like: what projects you shouldn't take on before tenure (e.g. maybe writing a book?); getting to know academics outside your department (is this important? why or why not?); how involved should you get in department politics or the direction of the department (if at all); being on the TT as a (single) parent, etc.

Rosa

Hi Marcus! That's totally fair, and I now feel a bit guilty about having read the posts knowing you'd intended them to not be read. The one I was thinking of just now was on the meaningfulness of teaching - I had also been thinking about the article it referenced and feeling unsatisfied with it, so I really enjoyed reading your reflections on it. But I certainly don't mean to pressure you if you'd prefer to take it down. (I can't specifically remember the other cases, but I do remember the experience being basically the same - I remember looking forward to the discussion that would come out of the topic, and being disappointed when I tried to click through to the blog and couldn't find it.)

Curious Cat

PhD student here. What are reasons for and against having a dissertation committee member who is not part of your department? How do you go about inviting a professor from another department to be on your committee? Should you be working with them first/already, or at least be acquainted with them? What are the odds of their acceptance if you ask them? Are there any drawbacks to asking?

Marcus Arvan

Hi Rosa: Thanks for following up! No need to feel guilty. On the few occasions that I've taken a post down (such as the one on the meaningfulness of teaching), it has been because, after posting it, I realized there were some things about the post that I wasn't happy with (or, at least, a bit uncertain about). Be that as it may, I actually re-posted the post on the meaningful of teaching just now (with a few minor revisions), as that post actually meant something to me! Hope you find it of interest. :)

Insubordinate

I am about to go on the job market, and I did not enjoy working with my supervisor. I am therefore determined to avoid having to interact with them or rely on them for the next steps in my career, however I worry that such independence from one's supervisor, if one lacks a strong academic network beyond that of the supervisor, is impossible. I also worry that maybe some of my misgivings aren't about this person and their team in particular, but about certain power structures in academia altogether, and so perhaps I should just pursue a non-academic career. It would be great to hear from people who might have thoughts on any of this!

New grad student

A number of PhD programmes offer various graduate certificates (many of which involve taking additional modules in other disciplines). I'm wondering, how significant are such certificates for the job market? How do admissions committees view such certificates?

impatient reader

I'm a second-year PhD student, and I often struggle with deciding on what to read at all, how to prioritize the reading assingments I give myself, and how thoroghly I should read a text. As my time and my ability to focus are limited resources, I often find myself doubting whether a paper or a book I began to read is really worth the time, and whether I should rather read something else instead. These doubts occur quite frequently, and I begin to jump back and forth between papers and rarely finish one. Maybe one could describe this as a kind of fear of missing out on the most important readings. I would like to know how other people approach these problems.

Confused MA Student

The standard path towards landing an academic job in philosophy involves getting a doctoral degree in philosophy, and upon its completion, either securing a post-doctoral position in a related field or (if one is lucky) securing a fixed-term or tenure-track position within a philosophy department.

Now, I get the sense that there is some apprehension towards offering someone who has already obtained a doctoral degree (in a different subject) a place within the philosophy department to complete another doctoral degree, perhaps for reasons of fairness -- that given the competitive nature, it is only fair that someone who does not have a doctoral degree be offered a chance to obtain that degree than someone who already has a doctoral degree.

However, without a doctorate in philosophy, it appears difficult (much harder than it usually would be for people with a philosophy doctorate) to secure a post-doctoral position in philosophy, especially if the area of their original doctorate is pretty far from their primary(ish) research interests in philosophy. Even if one were to chance upon a rare instance where they do secure a post-doc position, it appears to be an uphill battle to convince a hiring committee that one indeed has sufficient philosophical background to teach philosophy at an undergraduate level (I have a suspicion that many would not consider having a master's degree to be sufficient). It therefore seems that, at best, one no more competitive within the job market after the end of that post-doc tenure even if they were to be lucky enough to land a post-doctoral position in philosophy without a doctoral degree in the subject (again, I suspect that one would, in fact, be less competitive on the job market because of the unconventional academic path).

So, more specifically, I have the following questions:

(i) is there an alternative path towards landing an academic job in philosophy that is just as effective/efficient as the standard path?

(ii) if the standard path is all that is available, what could someone who has already obtained a doctorate in a different subject (and is currently pursuing a master's degree in philosophy) do to make themselves reasonably competitive when applying for their second PhD so that their application is not dismissed on the account that they have already received a doctoral degree?

inexperienced scholar

Standard advice for paper writing is not to let reading keep you from writing. However, I often choose to write about topics that involve extensive research, partly because I don't have any time constraints on my writing and I write out of a love of the craft. Right now, I have my outline and some of the paper written, but being still new to the process, I wonder how much reading is too much and how much is too little. Do professional philosophers take extensive notes on the literature they read? I tend to engage with lesser known scholars in the field as well as the big names, but I must admit that I have a compulsion to memorize and extensively document what I read, some of it primary lit and much of it secondary. Any advice as to how to manage reading in a way that is conducive to proper research, while not drowning oneself in papers?

artur

This is a bit dramatic and personal not to mention not specific to philosophy or even academia so feel free not to post it! really.

Over this year and the last I have had a few interviews for amazing jobs and a few great long lists where I had to choose to send in this or that writing sample. I have a really hard time not regretting my decisions—if only I'd done this instead of that in the interview, if only I'd sent in that paper...I know regretting is a pointless enterprise, not to mention a pretty draining one, but I can't seem not to fixate on things that I might have done differently. I spose this is more a question for a psychologist, but maybe someone here has some strategies for becoming more forward-looking on the market. The stakes are so high that just hard not to think: that one thing would have really changed my life...

Incoming PhD Student

I am an incoming first-year PhD student (thank you everyone for all of the wonderful advice on applications last year!), and my department only offers travel funding for presenting or commenting at a professional conference (i.e., no graduate student conferences). Is investing time in trying to comment on papers worth it? If so, how does one go about doing this? Are early PhD students unlikely to receive these opportunities without publications? Any advice about how this process works is greatly appreciated (especially as some conferences appear to be planning on being in-person starting in the fall).

Scaredy Cat

I am terrified of talking about philosophy on the fly. I like reading it, writing, and presenting on what I have written and researched, and I don't even mind answering questions about what I have presented on. But talking about philosophy in a casual way makes me so anxious that I struggle to even follow what the other person is saying. This is such a foundational skill in academic philosophy, and I'm wondering if anyone with anxiety around "talking shop" has found a way to move past it.

Tom

Any advice for a PhD student teaching his first course? What to do, what not to do, things you wish you had known, etc. It's a 200-level course in metaphysics. Thanks!

tired

Marcus mentioned this briefly in a different thread, but how do you get your students to do the reading on a semi-regular basis? I've tried quizzes, and while they had an effect, they also made me the bad guy and often ruined rapport. In upper-level courses I require weekly reading questions/posts. But I'm more concerned with lower-level mandatory classes.

Confused

I just received a verdict from a journal. One referee suggested minor revisions and the other referee suggested major revisions. However, the editor rejected my paper. I wonder if that is common nowadays? Could I argue with the editor? Or is the idea crazy?

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