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I would suggest that the person above try to publish the paper. It has already made it further than many papers - it has been recommended by a professor, who, I assume is an expert in the field. Further, one might find that they have a knack for this area, even if they did not come to graduate school to study it. Hence, they may shift their interests a bit (or a lot). Sometimes the areas about which one is passionate, one cannot think straight. I do not mean this to sound demeaning, but I am of the old (Platonic) school that our passions do often impede our thinking.

Assistant Professor

I think Marcus hit it on the head: if you publish on the topic then the topic (or the broader area in which the topic is categorized) could reasonably be an AOC and therefore it would make sense to publish it and it wouldn't be outside your AOC even if outside your AOS. Agreed with Plato above that it might end up being an area of further research and with Marcus that this could be advantageous to diversify the areas in which you are competent to teach in ways that make you a more - not less - attractive job candidate. Also it always helps to have a story ready to go. If you think future interviewers will ask about this one paper that seems out of left field, be prepared to talk about it. Maybe it is a one-off for you, but taught you important things about academic publishing, even if didn't become an area for further work, etc.


Hi, I originally asked that question posted. One thing to add is that I didn't want to publish and list the area as an AOC because (a) I have no interest in the teaching/researching on the topic, (b) I am not generally competent in the area at all (I only have knowledge on an extremely niche area related to the paper). I will not be prepared talk about (e.g. when interviewed) the area unless it relates to the paper I worked on.

Jonathan Ichikawa

The question isn't well-formed.

If you're publishing in it as a grad student, it's an AOS or AOC.


er then wait until you have a publication record in the AOS and AOC you want so that this doesn't overshadow it. Because if it is your only publication when you hit the market then you're not listing as either AOS or AOC will confuse anyone looking at your CV.


I think on balance it is worth it. But there are costs. I have published a reasonable amount outside of my AOS, and my central research program already straddles a couple of different areas. The effect of this has been that I have pretty much only ever been shortlisted for open job searches. I have hardly ever been shortlisted for subject-specific job listings. I imagine this is at least in part because there are always doubts about the extent to which I *really* count as a philosopher of X when that is what they are looking for. This is a problem since it limits the range of jobs I am a viable candidate for, and the positions I am viable for are far more competitive because everyone applies for them. So I’d say do publish outside of your AOS, but don’t dilute your CV too much.

re: original

"One thing to add is that I didn't want to publish and list the area as an AOC because (a) I have no interest in the teaching/researching on the topic, (b) I am not generally competent in the area at all (I only have knowledge on an extremely niche area related to the paper). I will not be prepared talk about (e.g. when interviewed) the area unless it relates to the paper I worked on."

Just to follow up on original poster's pushback to the general line, since I think no one else has yet.

Basically, even if you don't have interest in doing further research or teaching here, it does seem worth it on balance to list it as an AOC. At most, all you need to do is be ready to say a few things about your paper, and to speak in relative generalities about how you'd teach a course or two in the area. Even if you're not ready to do the second thing right now, all it really takes is reading around for a couple of hours.*

I'll also add that over the years barely anyone has asked me about my AOCs in interviews, unless it was a job that was all about getting someone with that AOC. So if you want to avoid tons of questions, just don't apply to those jobs, which I assume you wouldn't want to do in any case given what you've said above about your relationship to this AOC.

(*This blog has gotten into big arguments about what one should really expect to follow from an AOC claim, but I think this is reasonable if you're an ABD/new PhD claiming an AOC.)

Charles Pigden

For two success stories about how publishing outside your AOS can be good for your career check out this link (You can fast forward through my pitch to Brian Keeley’s segment which is rather more relevant to the OP):


Both Brian Keeley and I got into the Philosophy of Conspiracy Theories on the basis of what we thought of as one-off papers, published in the nineties, though his primary AOS was neurophilosophy and mine was metaethics. I was a relatively junior lecturer (though one with a secure job) but Brian was working in an electric fish neurology lab and philosophy departments did not seem to want to hire him. His much-cited paper on conspiracy theories was his passport to employment. The Philosophy of Conspiracy Theories has been the basis of much of our subsequent research, and certainly the topic of many of our citations. But there is this difference between our cases and those of the OP. No professor specialising in the philosophy of conspiracy theories either did recommend or *could have* recommended that we publish. For prior to our papers there was no such subject as the Philosophy Conspiracy Theories. It is important to remember that neither the number nor the boundaries of 'areas of specialisation or competence' are set in stone, and that those boundaries are often pretty porous. It is a mistake to take the current framework of genres and sub-genres as a given.

More generally I would say that about half my publications lie outside my original areas of specialisation (though as others have noted, AOCs and AOSs tend to expand with publication) Some have sunk like a stone but others have been quite successful as measured by citations, so on balance I would recommend it as a publishing and research strategy.

But the OP is more focused on the question of whether having a non-AOC paper (or a paper not in their original AOC) would help them to get a job. I am inclined to agree with others that if you have a publication in some area, then you can honestly list it as an AOC. But setting that aside, a point to remember is this. If you get a job anywhere but in a big prestigious department which can tolerate a high degree of specialisation, you will likely have to teach a wide range of subjects, some outside your comfort zones. Thus (caeteris paribus) the wider your range of expertise (as evidenced for example in your publications) the more saleable you are likely to be.

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