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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.

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