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10/11/2021

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Imposter in your midst

I'm around midway through my PhD, and have been struggling more than I normally do with imposter syndrome. It's put a real damper on my ability to work. What's the point if I'm not going to do work that others would want to read? And why should I risk revealing how little I know?

I've also been pretty convinced by the cognitive scientist Barbara Sarnecka's analysis of imposter syndrome - found in her book, the Writing Workshop - not as the result of something going wrong on the side of the individual, but as the result of something going wrong in the environment. Those struggling with imposter syndrome aren't usually making bad inferences about their own abilities from good data, but good inferences from bad data. We overestimate the success of others, and so underestimate our own, because we're only ever told the success stories.

I'm wondering if anyone has advice on combatting this kind of bad data. I'm especially interested in what I, as a graduate student, can do about it.

Anon

I'm about to go on the job market and my student evaluations are not the best. I mostly have averages from 3.5-4 out of 5 (at my university 4.2 is the overall average). I don't want to lie or obscure this fact, I want to own up to it and discuss how I plan to do better in future. But I don't know if that is a good strategy.

I'd love to hear from anyone who has been in this position, and how they handled it.

Or if you have hiring committee experience, how you would think about someone who has somewhat below average scores discussing that fact.

A couple of notes:
1. I know that student evaluations are not a good indicator of student learning. And student learning is the most important thing.
2. I suspect my student evaluations aren't great mostly for personality reasons and because of my own social anxiety getting in the way of engaging the students well.
3. However, there are plenty of people who are both great teachers and get great student evaluations, and I believe we should all aspire to that. Students can learn from and like you.
4. I believe that given some time and without the direct stress of a thesis I will be able to work on the issues that I think are affecting my student evaluations and do better, while also teaching more effectively. But I'm not there yet.
5. This wouldn't be an issue for someone with an outstanding publishing record. But my publishing record is good (2 paper in top 15 journals) but not outstanding.

D.A.

I wonder whether it is considered permissible to send a revised version of a manuscript after it has already been sent to peer review.

Some background: I recently revised and resubmitted a manuscript to a journal, and the editor already sent it back to the reviewers. Since then, I noticed that I could significantly improve two paragraphs of the paper to elucidate a crucial principle for my argument. The changes I intend to do would not affect the conclusion but only make it clearer how I arrived there. I am worried that my paper might get rejected if the reviewers find these two paragraphs confusing.

Do you think it makes sense to contact the editor and ask I could reupload the paper in this kind of circumstances? If not, what would be my best course of action?

Curious to hear what others in the field think of this or whether someone has done something similar.

perplexed

What are the standards of honest co-authorship in philosophy? I have recently been asking around to fellow grad students, and in one case, one person reported drafting the entire paper by themselves, receiving feedback by their supervisors, and being asked to add their names as co-authors. In another case, the student recounted a similar story, except this time they acknowledged that the more senior person's ideas were what made the paper worth submitting to a journal in the first place, even though the student wrote the draft entirely by themselves. In a third case, the student researched and wrote all but the introductory/'background' sections of the paper, but the paper is still billed as an even co-authorship. Are these students being exploited, or is this normal?

eye-to-the-market

What is more helpful in terms of landing a TT job - teaching experience and having an affiliation or publications?

Here's why I ask: I'm nearing the end of a year long research postdoc. My publication record is pretty decent, as is my teaching record (4 publications in good journals, multiple years of teaching different courses at 4 different institutions). I am, of course, applying to jobs now but I'm operating under the assumption that I'm not going to land anything. Assuming that's the case, I'm going to be faced with a choice. I can adjunct while trying to keep up with research, but if the future is like the past, the amount of teaching I'll need to take on to keep the lights on will almost guarantee that my research progress will come to a halt. Alternatively, I can take a non-academic job that pays reasonably well that would allow me to keep writing and trying to publish. But from the outside, that will look like I left philosophy. How much does being unaffiliated hurt you on the job market?

I realize the answer to this question likely depends on whether one is trying to land a job at a teaching school or a research school. However, I'm just trying to land any job I can get. I also realize that, ideally, I'd just teach and research. Unfortunately, adjuncting means taking on 6+ courses per semester at different institutions, commuting 400+ miles a week, not to mention while having no benefits. Under those circumstances, I just won't be very productive research-wise.

What's the best route to go with an eye to making myself as marketable as possible?

M

I am also interested in the kind of question eye-to-the-market raises.

I love philosophy, but "taking on 6+ courses per semester at different institutions, commuting 400+ miles a week, not to mention while having no benefits" seems like an outcome to be avoided at pretty much any cost. If it comes to something like that, I will cut my losses and find some other job, even if that means never getting back in to academia.

But there are still less extreme versions of this choice, and I'm less sure what would be best in those cases.

On the one hand, assuming one's teaching evaluations and dossier look good, it would be strange if additional teaching beyond multiple years at 4 institutions would make a big difference. At least as evidence of sufficient teaching abilities, more teaching after that has drastically diminishing returns, right? So unless you expect to make significant and demonstrable improvements to your teaching in your next job, I don't think it should help your chances much. (But who knows how search committees actually would weigh this? Not me.)

On the other hand, it seems to be very rare for someone to go for a couple years without academic employment but come back and get a decent academic job. Jared Warren is the one case I know of, but his body of work (and pedigree, for that matter) was really exceptional. Probably there are others that I don't know about, but I assume they are few. Why is that?

I expect part of it is just that not many people seriously attempt to come back. Those that leave may reasonably want to focus on their new career and leave the horror of the academic job market behind. Others perhaps keep trying, but aren't able to keep publishing in a way that increases their chances. And maybe they only apply to very attractive (and so super competitive) positions. And perhaps their academic network decays in ways that harm their chances.

But I also suspect there is a bias against such candidates. Something along the lines of "Oh, I guess they couldn't get any job that year, they must not be that good" or "I guess they aren't truly dedicated to the profession". In the current environment these assumptions are absurd, so I don't know if anyone thinks them explicitly. But my own worry about taking some other kind of job and trying to publish my way back into academia is that this kind of bias would put me at a significant, perhaps insurmountable disadvantage. (So if people think there actually isn't this bias, please say!)

I think this is a shame. One of the worst things about the academic job market is the rootlessness it all but requires. Want to settle into a community before you're in your mid-30s? Want to live near your aging parents to help? Want to start raising a family and not have to worry about picking up and moving every year or two for who knows how long? Too bad!

Besides making people suffer, this is also a real selection pressure unfairly excluding certain kinds of people. Perhaps one could argue that some degree of this is inevitable and/or beneficial overall. And at any rate it would require major structural changes to really reduce. But a bias against people who go without an academic job for a while so they can stay in a particular region (and not have adjunct 6+ classes a semester to do so) makes this worse for no good reason.

One final, maybe more useful thing: if there is this kind of bias and some of it stems from people assuming one isn't sufficiently dedicated, I wonder if doing some regular public philosophy/outreach would be a good idea to improve one's chances.

teaching portfolio

How does one summarize raw quantitative data from teaching evaluations across different institutions and therefore different evaluative scales? Does one include one summary per institution in the teaching portfolio?

Phil Osopher

I'm interested to know how many unpublished, abandoned papers people have.

I'm 10 years post-PhD. My papers are in top-10, but not top-5 journals (think: Phil Quarterly, Phil Studies, Synthese, etc. not: Mind, Nous or Phil Review). I have two article-length papers that I worked on for a long time, presented in public, etc. but which never got accepted anywhere (probably a few more false starts that I decided I couldn't turn into full papers, but my question isn't about those).

I currently have two more papers I am periodically submitting, but which aren't resonating with referees. One got an R&R from Phil Studies, but I stuffed up the revision and it got rejected. It's been rejected from about 8 other journals too.

So I'm approaching 4 papers that look like they will end up on the scrapheap. How does this compare with others?

anon

Serious proposal: every job should only ever require a CV and Cover Letter.

Only request more documents at the short list stage.

Less work on the candidates and search committees.

aNon

I have a question about deciding between whether to pursue a postdoc or teaching the year after finishing a PhD, with an eye to (hopefully) landing a TT or permanent job within a few years. What would be more competitive on a CV for TT jobs/future jobs in general: A 1-year full-time adjunct position or a 1-year postdoc? I have teaching experience already and fewer publications. My goal would be to get a permanent position at a teaching-focused university, but I know a postdoc will likely help improve my publications. Thanks for any advice!

Word limit

I'm revising a paper(major revisions). The criticisms and comments I received are all incredibly useful. However, I cannot possibly address them all because of a strict word limit of the journal. What are your strategies in cases like this? Can you tell reviewers "your comments x, y, and z are useful, but I could only address x and y because of word limit" ? Should I tell the same thing to the editor?

don't suit up!

Can we have a discussion of the norms for job market fashion etiquette (i.e. for on-campus interviews), for both women and men. I understand the need to dress for the occasion, but it seems that everyone overdresses a little bit and ends up never wearing those outfits ever again (save at a wedding). In the case of men, for example, is one really required to wear a suit and tie? Can one get away with just a button up, slacks, and maybe a blazer (but no tie, non-matching colors, etc.). Do committee members really care about this stuff? I feel that overdressing can kill the philosophical spirit inside! Thanks.

To OnlyFans or Not to OnlyFans

I am an early graduate student with two perhaps controversial questions, one more empirical and one normative. The first is: would it hurt (or even destroy) one’s chances on the job market if they were to pursue a part-time career in sex work while in grad school (specifically, starting an OnlyFans)? The second is: if yes, are such norms justified?

When I think of older academics on a search committee (lets broadly say “baby boomers,” particularly those with anti-porn sentiments), my intuitions tell me if someone were to find out it would likely be disqualifying. When I think of people like Amia Srinivasan and many younger philosophers, I feel like it might not be a big issue at all (but I’m really far from sure).

Finally, part of me is wondering whether I should even make decisions based on how they might affect my chances on the job market. If my chances of succeeding are already so low, part of me feels like I ought to just do what I want to do and hope for the best. Another part of me desperately wants to play the game perfectly and avoid any possible misstep, even though so many people who do this still get screwed over (I am at a top 20 university with decent placement, so getting a TT job is not completely off the table, just unlikely). In 4-5 years when I am on the job market, will I have regretted playing this game (or not)?

Any thoughts at all would be very helpful! Also, Marcus, feel free to link to my throwaway email in case anyone would like to reach out privately :)

anon

I am wondering if people can share tips on how to efficiently manage their inboxes. As a grad student, I was able to get by with a few folders such as work, personal, and receipts. But as my career progresses, the number and the variety of work mails are both increasing. And my fear of deleting emails doesn’t help…Do people categorize emails according to their urgency, nature (e.g. teaching, research, services) or attention required (e.g. serious work to do, reply, ignore for now)? Any advice will be deeply appreciated. Thanks a lot!

postdoc10

I'm working on an application that has the following request in their add:

"In the requested teaching portfolio, we would like to see a statement of teaching philosophy that speaks specifically to a liberal arts context, student evaluations from previous courses taught, sample syllabi, samples of graded student work that demonstrate the sort of feedback that the candidate offers to students, and at least one letter of recommendation from someone who has conducted classroom visits and is familiar with the candidate’s positive impact on students."

I'm particularly concerned about the request for examples of graded work. (We can set aside for the moment how little regard this department has for the time and effort of applicants). Is it even legal to include examples of such graded work? Is it ethical? This strikes me as worrisome. Should I just suck it up and send it along, or would that be violating a legal or ethical requirement?

Thanks for the help.

advisor

I have been advising an undergraduate senior thesis for several months now, for a student who expressed early on that they were interested in applying to a philosophy PhD. I'm becoming increasingly certain that they don't yet have the skills or preparation to be accepted into a program this year (ideas can sometimes be good but writing quality not so much, etc.), especially the mostly top-10 programs they seem set on applying to. I'm early-career at a PGR-ranked but not top department, certainly not "famous" enough for my letter to have much clout, which makes me even more pessimistic about the student's chances. I've talked with the student multiple times about how competitive (and random) the PhD process is, to consider some MA programs seriously (which I think would be a really good step for them before a PhD anyway), and have a backup plan if things don't work out this year. But I'm wondering whether I'm still not being straightforward enough and should give a little more tough love. On the other hand, I've never sat on a grad admissions committee, and maybe my pessimism is misplaced and harmful. Should my role be to build up the student's confidence, based on their stated application goals? Or would it be better to let them know very clearly that I think they have a minuscule change of getting in?

strategy

I am newish assistant professor at a school with a medium-level teaching load, where I am fortunate to get a guaranteed pre-tenure research leave (one semester at full salary or two semesters at reduced salary). I would love to hear tips from readers about how to make the best use of this time. Here are some specific questions. Where might I look for funding to support the longer leave? And then, assuming I can swing that financially, what are the advantages and disadvantages of staying put vs. going somewhere else as a visiting scholar? At present I am slowly recovering from burnout related to making a number of demanding life transitions during the pandemic and I am instinctively resistant to any more upheaval. But I fear I might regret not taking the opportunity to travel, especially since I am not an a research-intensive institution and do not have much local accountability for my scholarship.

Anon Job Seeker

I'm currently in the process of filling out job ads. Many places require applicants to fill out online forms. These forms usually ask for reference contact info such as an email address and phone numbers. If you're using a third party document service like interfolio are you supposed to enter the "send.Referee" emails addresses that interfolio provides as the "contact email" for your references? Or should you enter the email addresses of the references? I've been told that it's the former, but in some cases, the job ads suggest that your references will be contacted directly and that makes me wonder if entering the interfolio address will suffice. Of course, emails for references are standardly found on our CV's, too. But I don't want to mess up these forms. Any help would be appreciated.

amma

May/should I list (research) job talks under the 'presentations' section on my CV? Or is that cheating?

UK Grad

I know it's November already but couldn't find a new threat, so hope this is OK.

I have a separate section on my CV for papers under review. I was wondering whether it's a good idea to highlight which of these papers are derived from my PhD thesis, and which ones are not? I can imagine it's helpful if a search committee sees that about half of my papers under reviews aren't thesis chapters, meaning that I am (hopefully) capable of producing further non-thesis research. On the other hand, it also somehow feels as if I define myself by my thesis, especially as I am currently in a postdoc position. I would appreciate some input on this!

Anon

I really don't think this needs it's own thread since I suspect the answer is pretty cut and dry, but I would really appreciate an answer from someone. When I re-submit a revised manuscript to a journal after an R-and-R decision, will they go to the editor first, or will they be sent out directly to the reviewers? I ask because I think I should clear something I've done in the revisions with the editor (a slight compromise of anonymity) before the reviewers see it.

Wondering

I was wondering what people think about contributed chapters to "X and philosophy" books. Are they just considered a 'popular publication' or are they closer to a contributed chapter to an edited volume? Are they peer reviewed in any serious sense?

Anxiously Attached

I don't think I'm alone in this, and I'm looking for advice from those who've gone through it or something like it.

I have an excellent relationship with my advisor. With his guidance, my mediocre ideas become significantly less mediocre, and even, on occasion, quite interesting. I've worked with other professors and, to be honest, we're on the same wavelength in ways that I haven't experienced with others.

While I'm incredibly grateful to be working with them, I'm also a bit anxious about what's to come. At some point, I'll move on, ideally to a job, and it will be less and less appropriate for me to lean on my advisor to lift up my work and make it more intelligible. What can I do to prepare for this? Should I just hold on as long as possible? Will I get more confident in my own work as I become more independent?

MS

How should people with temporary positions deal with teaching demands that extend beyond a particular course’s contract? Suppose I am contracted to teach PHIL 101 in the Fall term, and there is a student who (for legitimate reasons) needs to defer some of their term work until the following term. My inclination is just mark the stuff, since I’m invested in my students. But I also feel like there is something exploitative in having that even minor burden fall to temp workers.

DA

I am an early-career philosopher who recently got published in a highly ranked journal. Given that I am pretty much unknown in the field, I wonder what would be some good ways to promote my publication?

Sharing on social media and posting a pre-print on PhilPapers are some obvious things I plan to do. I was also considering sending the paper directly to people in my field. However, I am not sure whether this is a good idea or it might backfire. In any case, I would be really glad to hear the thoughts of more experienced philosophers on this matter.

Committed to Applying

I have a question about norms around applying for tenure-track jobs. From talking to professors, I've heard of two basic views (which I'm sure admit of gradation). On the one hand, I've been told that I should not apply to any job if it is not the case that, were they to be the only job offer I received, I would definitely take it. In other words, according to this restrictive view, applying to a job basically commits one to accepting an offer (unless one rejects it to accept another offer).

According to other professors, it's acceptable to apply to jobs even if it's not the case that, were it to be your only job offer, you would accept it. This view takes a much more permissive perspective on applying and learning about jobs along the way.

I'd rather take the permissive view, but I also don't want to seem like a nube. More importantly, if it's a norm violation to interview for a job and then decide that it's not right for me (even if I don't have other offers), then I don't want to do that! I have a good idea of how the non-academic job market work, but I also accept that there may be special considerations in the academic world (such as paying for fly-outs, etc).

Thanks so much!

2nd year TT

Hi and thanks for this sort of threads, Marcus!

I am in a TT position in a R1 university in a city where I know no one (also bc of CoViD). I am not unhappy, but another R1 university in a city where I have very deep roots has recently advertised an associate prof. position. It is unlikely that they will choose me, since I am not yet tenured, but it would be foolish for me not to apply. Should I mention it to the head of my department and my colleagues here? How?

Postdoc

I referee more and more for journals, and there is this question at the back of my head everytime I send a report: How do I know if I do a good job as a referee? Or: What are good signs that you do a good/bad job as a referee?

A bit of context: When I send my reviews to editors, I usually also send them a message saying "if you need more information, or if my report is unclear, please let me know". I never hear back from the editors. When authors get an R&R, they are not dismissive of my comments, but this is hardly good evidence (as an author, being nice is part of the game!). We've all had experiences with bad referees. How am I supposed to know I'm not one of them? Maybe getting new invitations to referee from the same editors is a good sign. But perhaps they don't even keep track of this.

S

How can I get papers to referee? Where to start? I am a junior researcher with a few publications, but not from EU or USA, and without much of a network. Any advices?

And of course lots of thanks to those running the blog.

author

A question about journal etiquette. I have a paper that has been under review at a journal for nine months. For the past two months, I have not been able to get any response from the managing editor about the status of my paper. My question is: is it ok to write to one of the chief editors of the journal about this? Also, the journal is triple-blind, but as far as I understand that applies to the area editor who is handling the submission.

Early career

How different does a paper have to be from its earlier incarnaton for it to be acceptable to submit it to a journal that rejected the earlier incarnation?

More concretely: I have been re-writing a paper that was rejected from a generalist journal but with encouraging comments from two referees and the area editor. The new version has a very similar fundamental point as the old version. But the main claim is formulated differently, the argument is a bit different, the paper is shorter, with a different structure and the writing itself is all completely new, no copy-pasta. Will the journal(s) that rejected its predecessor consider my new version? Might they even send it to the same referees?
Also, is the answer affected by whether or not I change the title?

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