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on the clock

"Yay!" I tell myself. "I did it!" After many job-market cycles I managed to get a TT job at a R1 school. It's what I wanted. Having said yes to half a dozen collaborations throughout the years and twisting my research to fit the goals and visions of three research projects (through as many postdocs), I made it. I don't mean to sound sarcastic, I am pretty happy. But as I'm beginning my first semester "on the clock", I find myself staring at a "timeline to tenure calendar" that I worked up: a 200-or-so column table with each "week" over the next four years taking up one column.

I feel as though I have at least two options. First, I can stick to the spaghetti-&-wall method, where I keep juggling through a bunch of research collaborations that are all vaguely tied together and hope enough sticks to make a coherent case for tenure (especially to an outside letter writer). Or, I can prune off those that I'm less invested in, clear the plate I have in front of me, and drill down into one or two areas within which I might plausibly, to an outside letter writer, be seen as a "field leader."

Going with the first tried-and-true method would likely yield a large number of publications and maybe a grant or two, but at the perceived risk of not becoming a top-tier or renowned expert in any single issue or cottage industry or sub-field. Going the second route might yield fewer deliverables, but might also allow me to develop that "expert-flair". Of course, there's also the risk that I'll choose poorly, or never develop that "expert" reputation (what makes one an "expert" anyhow? Is that even something that tenure letter writers really care about or am I just assuming that?). I'm also sure that there are other, perhaps better, options that I'm not considering.

To file it all down to a few points: are there good (better?) strategies for organizing or prioritizing one's projects in an effort to maximize one's chances for tenure? What do tenure letter-writers really look for? Is this just all a species of impostor syndrome? Do / should people "change" their workflow once they're "on the clock"?

Anyhow, I appreciate it. Best of luck to all those in a similar boat.

early career

I am in a teaching-heavy VAP (4/4) and am scheduled to do lots of morning teaching this coming year. I would really appreciate hearing from others who have taught early classes (i.e. 8-8:30 start times) about any strategies they've developed precisely for teaching in this early morning (e.g. is there a style of in-class activity you found worked esp. well for early classes?)

Class size is 25 students.


I'm teaching a massive (~300 student) course this fall and looking for tips about how to incentivize attendance. Of course I will make the class as interesting, fun, and interactive (small group discussions/activities, etc.) as possible. But I'm not sure this is enough. How can I encourage students to come to class in ways that don't overburden the TAs?

(I feel like this question must have been asked before, but I can't find it in the archives. Please do point me to it if it exists already!)


I am an advanced graduate student in a good, but not elite, program. My goal would be to land a teaching oriented job, not a research focused job. I have over 5 papers in good, but not excellent, journals.

Here's my question. I am plugging away at my dissertation, which is composed of 3-4 stand alone papers. I could submit two of them right now for publication. But, should I do that, I worry I will have nothing new to send out after I land a permanent job, should I be so lucky. Of course, I will have new ideas for papers in the future. But I am so focused on my dissertation right now that I would need a good bit of time to get back in a position to publish new work. So, should I sit on my dissertation chapters, and so have 'rounds in the chamber' when/should I land a permanent job, or, should I just publish as much as I can now, looking as good as possible for the market, but risk 'running dry' after/if I land a job? I understand that maximizing my number of publications isn't necessary or even beneficial for certain teaching jobs, but the idea of sitting on papers that are ready to go is a little annoying, to say the least.


I understand that you are supposed to wait three months after submitting an article before reaching out to the journal to inquire about the submission, but I'm wondering if I should also wait three months before inquiring about a submitted revision for an R&R?

Anonymous  professor

Tl;dr: I have tenure but I am not happy where I live.
I won the academic lottery after years on contingent contracts, and then I finally got on the TT and received tenure, yay!!
I love my job--I have lovely students and great colleagues (don't take a good work environment for granted). But, I don't like where I live. There are limited options for my spouse. I don't like how car-dependent the place is. I do not like the climate, which is getting more and more extreme due to global warming.
Before the pandemic I felt that my love of the job outweighs the not loving the location. But during the acute phase of the pandemic I got a huge bout of homesickness for my home town. Also, I got worried being so far away from my parents who aren't getting any younger. It would not take many hours and I need to take a long flight to reach them.
The pandemic worsened my sense of homesickness and increased my desire for more geographic control. It's like I'm realizing and now only fully coming to terms with how much I (and my partner) have sacrificed for my academic career.
How do you deal with this? Moving to a place that would fit my criteria of e.g., physical proximity to my parents is close to impossible given how the job market is structured. But I'm also not quite willing to go alt-ac. So, maybe what I need is a psychological shift? Any perspective on this welcome, of people who learned to love where they lived or tips to feel more at home.

Grad Student

Do people have a checklist of things to do before submitting a paper to a journal? If so, what do your checklists look like? I'm wanting to ensure I don't miss anything before submitting and that my paper is in the best shape it can possibly be. Thanks!

non-tt faculty

Does anyone have a good understanding of what article statuses, e.g. initial check or awaiting associate editor recommendation mean? I think some are fairly self-evident in retrospect, but when I first started submitting to journals I was quite confused and anxious.

I think, of course, the best thing to do is to not check article status every hour, but some general answers may be helpful to people like my former self.


Are there specialist journals in (contemporary/analytic) metaphysics? If so, what are they and which is better to publish metaphysical topics in? Top generalist journals or the specialist ones?

graduate student

Does anyone have any views/recommendations on note-taking tablets? (iPad, remarkable, onyx book, supernote)

job market applicant

With the 2022-2023 job market swiftly approaching, I was wondering if the Philosophers' Cocoon was planning on continuing with the Job Mentoring Program this year. This is my first real go at the market, and I would really appreciate the opportunity to have have someone who has gotten a tenure-track job take a look at my materials.

extremely frustrated and sad

I have written two papers that get regularly desk rejected. I've just created an excel spreadsheet to track that. These are papers that are the result of the realisation of a research project I've got some external funding. Several people who are more experienced and more accomplished than I am and who read the papers tell me that they are good: top-15 on Leiter's list (I've managed to publish something of that stature in the past). These two papers were collectively rejected 12 times in the past 6 months and were rarely sent to external reviewers... but when they were sent for external review, the reports were ok (some mild acceptance, some R&R recommendations).

It seems that when one actually reads the papers, then the impressions are mostly positive; the problem is that the editors keep throwing my works in the bin without sending them for an external review... I'm very frustrated because I'm running out of journals that my papers are suitable for... And I start to wonder if my institutional affiliation and nationality are not playing at least some role in this chain of rejections (I come from a country that is not philosophically cool, like UK or Germany, and my university is internationally relatively unknown)...

Do you have any ideas what the problem is? And what might be a solution?

East Coaster

Job Market Applicant,

I don't know if this is helpful for you, but depending on your institution, I suggest looking for recently alumni (say, within the last decade). I reached out to a number of recent alumni from my own phd institution, and I ended up with a half dozen readers and mock interviewers. No one seemed offended, and virtually all of them were willing to help somehow.


Job market applicant
I would be willing to look at your materials. I have done this in the past - but I would only do it if Marcus A. mediated it. That is, you send him the material, and he passes it on to me. And I return the feedback through Marcus. As I have said, I have done with before.

Early Career Dude

I feel a bit out of the loop professionally. Most often when I learn about a conference or workshop, it's from someone already going and the deadline for submission has already passed. This is partly my fault for just not being more proactive. It may also because I'm not on Twitter, though I'm open to making a lurker account if I knew whom to follow to get professional news. More generally, I wonder if folks could tell me the basic places I should be checking regularly to learn about major calls for papers, workshops, etc. (I do moral/political philosophy, so if there's something specific to that I'd also appreciate it.) Thanks so much in advance.

anonymous postdoc

In the last stretch of my PhD, I survived a sexual assault. I was able to finish and defend my thesis and to start my planned research postdoc despite that. However, I haven't been productive in the first 6-8 months of my postdoc because I was recovering and going through the criminal system. A year after the event, I have now almost fully recovered; I don't have PTSD, but I am still in therapy. As I am approaching the job market season, I was wondering whether this is something that can/should appear in my job materials or disclosed by a letter writer to explain the slow pace of my research. All my letter writers know what happened, but I haven't been public about that. Having gone through that experience might also influence my future work in social philosophy and shape my interest for service work (e.g., university committees on gender-based violence).



I have a question about book reviews. I am a junior assistant professor, and I plan to complete/publish a book project before getting tenured.

I have seen that books in my field (from the same press) that were published around the same time get very different number of reviews. Some of them are reviewed by 6-8 scholars, whereas others are reviewed by only 2-3 people. I am wondering about this discrepancy: how can a junior person make sure that their book is going to receive a larger number of reviews and attention?

I have seen that other junior people write book reviews. Are people invited to write book reviews, or could they just send their book reviews to journals? Do people try to connect to others, perhaps more senior scholars, by writing book reviews?

I would like to know your reasons for writing book reviews/declining requests for book reviews and suggestions about how junior people should proceed with regard to book reviews. Thanks a lot!

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