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03/14/2022

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hmm

Trevor
I worry that 60,000 words may be too long to be useful. If the "book" is supposed to help someone decide whether to pursue such a career - someone finishing a BA - I think most people will think it will be easier to just apply and see what happens than to read a book 60,000 words long, that will inevitably talk about things one cannot understand (because one is not yet in the system).

Marcus Arvan

@hmm: I don't know. I sure wish I had a resource like this when I was applying to grad school (and later working through grad school, making all kinds of mistakes that a guide like this might help someone avoid!).

Sure, not everyone might be interested in reading 60,000 words, but I suspect that many people might (I myself knew more than a few grad students who probably would have benefitted greatly from a guide like this). I think this is a real service to the profession by Trevor, and I'm excited he'll be sharing it here.

hmm again

Marcus
My concern is with 60,000 words, not the idea of a guide. To create something that people will not use until it is too late is a bit odd. I worked in advertising in the past - you have to know your audience

Trevor Hedberg

A few quick comments based on the exchange above. First, this guide isn't primarily about how to apply to graduate school or whether to apply to graduate school in the first place. That is covered briefly in an appendix, which could stand alone as its own document. The guide is about how to complete graduate school in philosophy while also accomplishing what's necessary to be competitive on the job market (to the extent that is possible with the way things currently are). The primary audience includes current graduate students -- not just prospective graduate students.

Second, I have gotten email inquiries over the last year from undergraduate students (with whom I have no affiliation) who have stumbled upon my website asking when the guide will be completed. So there are at least some prospective graduate students who would be interested in a guide like this.

Third, the particular sections are meant to be self-contained, so you wouldn't have to read the whole guide to understand a particular segment. To give one example, imagine you want some advice on teaching your own course for the first time. You could just read the section of the guide that addresses that issue. Or perhaps you're getting close to writing your dissertation and want to know what that experience will be like. Then you could just jump to that section. I highly doubt most people using this guide will read every word that's written, and it will be organized to facilitate that.

Caligula's Goat

As a book / guide that is far too long for its intended usage. It might make more sense to create a website that has nested pages (like a wiki) so that people can zoom into all and only the information they're looking for then and there.

Even with the shift in vehicle, that's probably still too much content for a guide intended for undergrads. Karen Kelsky's book is probably around that length though her target audience is much older than undergraduates tend to be and includes people who have spent a lot of time picking up efficient reading/skimming skills so it makes more sense.

Trevor Hedberg

Caligula's Goat -- The guide will be hosted online. Probably not in the format of a wiki but using an elaborate linked table of contents (where you click where you want to go).

This guide isn't aimed exclusively (or even primarily) at undergrads, though it could be of use to them. I expect those currently in graduate school to be those who would be most interested in the material.

Michael

Looking at the outline on Trevor's website, I'm not sure I follow the concerns. First, this is clearly not *solely* a guide for undergraduates. The dissertation, Obstacles to finishing graduate school, and leaving academic, for example, have a more limited audience. Second, we're talking about 60,000 words for an 18 part document. On average, they're going to be just over 3k words each. As self-contained bits of advice on different stages of the process of thinking through (and then working through) graduate school, this is from from overwhelming. And third, even if this is not clearly indexed and/or chaptered, we live in the age of fully searchable texts. Students can look for what is currently troubling them even if they don't want to read a full how-to guide for grad school.

Early career

I've read every single post about how to do well in the job market on this blog and there has never been a single point in time where I thought, this is too much to read, I wish the author could say less! On the contrary, I always find myself craving for more.

My point being, while 60,000 words might sound daunting at first, if the information is useful and covers a wide range of issues (as I am sure it will be judging by the author's description and past posts), readers would only have wanted it to go longer.

Looking forward to seeing that manuscript!

Former Chair

Fwiw, the length would not have stopped me from getting a book like this. I bought "Getting What You Came For" -- 416 pages -- and didn't regret it.

This is not an endorsement of GWYCF. I finished my PhD in 2006. I don't know if the book has been updated since then.

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