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Donald Duck

How to teach topics which in some way come very close to the students and their lives or are related to who they are? What I have in mind are cases of teaching sexual ethics when someone in the classroom says she is a victim of a sexual assault, teaching philosophy of disability when there is a disabled person in the class, or teaching philosophy of discrimination when you have 24 white students and one black student on the course? Is there something the teacher should do differently in these cases compared to when the issue is not present in the same way?


My colleague and I have published numerous papers on one specific idea. It is becoming increasingly difficult to write on this idea without unblinding ourselves to reviewers. We can either cite our previous work and write in the third person, which is not only awkward but also probably unsuccessful in blinding reviewers to the fact that we are the authors (who else would be writing on this idea and citing us so much?). Or we can write more naturally in the first person and redact the citations, which is probably not all that helpful in getting a good review. I've seen some people take the first route, but the finished product always seems awkward. Or maybe in such a niche area blindness is a fantasy anyway...

Pragmatic Romantic

I would be interested in hearing people's impressions on the following issue: How much (and in what ways) does it matter for the purposes of partner hiring whether the partners in question are married (as opposed to "merely" being in the sort of committed relationship where seeking a partner hire makes sense)? Is it more difficult to secure a partner hire if you're not married to your partner? If so, what's the source of the difficulty? Bureaucratic constraints? Narrow-minded administrators? Narrow-minded hiring committees? All of the above?


This came up in the job market discussion thread, but I'd love to see wider discussion: what is the etiquette for post-interview thank-you notes? Is it overkill to send a handwritten note to the search chair after an on-campus interview?

Question about The Monist

This question doesn't likely warrant its own thread, but I'd be grateful if someone knows the answer. The Monist used to have a page on their website that listed CFPs for upcoming issues (all their issues are special issues devoted to particular topics). However, I can't seem to find that page anymore. Does anyone know if it exists somewhere, or where else we can see what future issues are coming/which CFPs are active?


Question about The Monist:

I have been wondering this exact thing lately, and have been tempted to reach out to them to ask what happened.


What is the best kind of topic for a job talk or for an invited talk? I work in metaphysics and do some metaphilosophy, and generally study/am excited about the kinds of topics others find very dry, but my subject matter also has relevance for many "applied," or "real life" issues, and it is easy for me to frame my main research topic as informing these more accessible questions. I would like to make a strategic choice of what to present in some upcoming talks... is it best to formulate a talk that I think will speak to the greatest number of people in the audience? Stick to what I find most exciting/what I am most knowledgeable about? I recently heard a job talk that was on another one such dry metaphysical topic, and I had mixed feelings. One one hand, I wanted to applaud the candidate for sticking to what excites him/his actual expertise, but on the other I wondered if he'd thought about how best to engage his audience. Thoughts?


What is the protocol for when a journal (accidentally) reveals identities in a blind peer review? I've experienced this a few times lately, from both sides: As an author, I got the reviewer's comments and could still see their name. As a reviewer, I got a paper that still contained the author's name (both top-level special journals in my field, btw). What should one do in such a case? Report to the journal? Pretend nothing happened? Decline to review?

Anon Postdoc

A simple CV question: How, if at all, do you list supervision on your CV?

Should you list supervision at all? Does it matter whether it is MA or PhD supervision? Does it matter if you are chair or a secondary supervisor? Do you put it under teaching or in its own section? Do you give names of the students? Do you give the titles of their theses?

I ask because I am a postdoc at the moment with limited teaching experience on my CV. I am serving as secondary supervisor to two MA students. I wonder if I should include this in my teaching section and, if so, how I should do so (see above questions)?


I have an undergraduate student (in the US) who is interested in applying to MA programs in Philosophy. They are worried about how having a DIU might affect their chances of getting into a program. Do schools look at this? If so, is it considered more on the school-side or also by department members? Any insights?

Thank you!

countless cover letters

Cover letters have been discussed before on the blog (see link below), but I am wondering if we might hear about the different approaches people take to ordering information in the cover letter.

We've all heard something like: teaching school/teaching job = talk about teaching first, emphasize it; R1 = talk about research first. But then I've also heard 'always talk about research first'. After all, you gotta show ya can meet tenure requirements at a teaching school, and maybe it comes off as disrespectful if you write as if the department must not care about research. Additionally, when I was looking back at another post on cover letters, there was some advice from Marcus to make sure you show you've actually read the ad and researched the institution. Fair enough. But do you, reader of my cover letter, want to see this demonstrated effort right up front, or can I mix it in, or what? Are you more interested in seeing that I've researched your department than hearing me describe my research?

Cover letters continue to be demanded. But do we really have a standardized understanding of what they are for? Be nice if we did.



Now that some PhD application results are coming out, what advice is there for how to prepare for a graduate campus visit? Should I read articles written by some of the faculty I hope to work with and specifically ask questions about it? Should I email graduate students ahead of time to ask if I can take them out for coffee to ask questions, or should I let the department handle arranging conversations with students? What sort of questions should I be asking these students and professors anyway?


The Job Market Discussion Thread is featuring a pretty interesting and useful back-and-forth about a the moral-professional justification of a recent VAP posting on PhilJobs. I don't know. Seems like a conversation worth opening to the whole community, although perhaps not, as maybe it will upset members of the hiring department in a way that is contrary to the mission of the Cocoon. (But should we care?)

One comment that jumped out at me that felt especially, ESPECIALLY apt, was from sorrybut, who said that one of the problems with such positions is the way they express 'that there seems to be zero meaningful solidarity between people in TT positions and people on the endless VAP and lecturer roundabout (beyond a kind word here and there)'.

Another one from oat milk: 'I would be careful to not try and shut down calls for solidarity across workers in academia under the guise that there might be something "deeper" happening when these jobs get advertised beyond overpaid admin exploiting desperate PhDs'.

Junior Public Prof

Should you write letters of recommendations for undergraduate students who took you for a 300-student lecture, whose work you didn't personally grade and with whom you had no interaction?

I'd have thought the answer is obviously no, but then I wonder whether this disadvantages students, who need the letters and who can't always find a way to get to know professors... Is refusing at least a decent thing to do, or is it unfair to vulnerable, shy or otherwise struggling students?

exhausted anon

Why doesn't anyone give honest grad school application advice? It's pretty much common knowledge, and confirmed by accessible online data (programs' grad student list that displays their background), that prestige simply matters more than anything else in applications. Despite this, it's told as if one can write a brilliant writing sample and get in anywhere. People who get in everywhere are usually NOT people with brilliant samples; it seems neither necessary nor sufficient to have even a good writing sample. Most people get cut in the initial stages before their writing samples get a careful look. The so-called *elite* schools should just state on their website that they most likely won't admit you if you're not coming from another elite institution. Whatever they say, the statistics are obvious that that's who they are admitting. Instead, everyone goes on and on about how important writing samples are, misleading, or even worse, stealing from and scamming hundreds of people every year. Why is that advisors, programs' websites, etc. don't make this extremely clear?


exhausted anon
When I worked at a typical 4 year state college, and I was asked about grad school by students I made them aware of the following. Some elite schools report having 200 (or was it 300 applicants) for 6 places. I then told the students that it is likely that 1 place might go to someone from Harvard, another place to someone from Yale, a third place to someone from OXford, and one to a Columbia grad - so that leaves 2 places for the other 196 to fight over. So, generally, I did not think it was worth our while supporting students to top-10 schools.

hidden syllabus sharing

The DailyNous posted about a hidden syllabus and asked grad students to say in what ways their behaviors differed from what professors actually expected. That assumes that we know what professors expect, but at least in my program there aren't really clearly stated expectations except boilerplate requirements. I would like to know what professors in fact expect from grad students, and also what type of things they looked out for in writing recommendation letters.


A question about the demeanor of giving job talks. Context first: I am much less good at the presentation side of things than the content side. I am also awkward in social situations.

My question is whether I should approach the audience as if I already had the job and were doing just a normal presentation (again, just demeanor-wise, not content-wise). I have the feeling that I am usually way more excited than I should be. However I also heard from a friend that many candidates didn't get a job because they do not seem excited about their work (which is super surprising to me: why would anyone not feel temporarily excited in a job talk?).

Any thought, advice, or anecdotes...?


I thought I was very lucky this year and got three on-campus interview requests. I have found out through various channels that ALL THREE searches have an internal candidate.

Is this normal? Should I have asked "is there an internal candidate?" before accepting these interviews? It's my first year on the market so I was expecting to be crushed, but not in this way. I am graduating late (August instead of May) because of all the travel and prep. I'm trying to be grateful for all the practice, but mostly I just feel like I have been used and lied to.


What are the norms around potentially overlapping contracts?

I ask because when transitioning from a temporary position to another temporary position I've sometimes faced the problem that my contract a job X is supposed to begin before my contract at job Y has ended. Of course, all of my teaching duties, etc. at X have finished, but I'm still technically on their payroll. Is it a problem to have contracts overlap?


I have been extremely lucky to receive a TT offer this job market season. The salary they are offering me is higher than I expected and I kind of just want to accept it and be done with the job market, but everyone tells me I should negotiate for a higher salary! I don't really know how to do this, especially since I lack other offers. I guess one thing that could help is an idea of what starting salaries people make elsewhere, but I'm finding this information pretty hard to find. Does anyone have any advice or a good resource? Some time back I remember coming across an excel document someone had shared collecting anonymized information about people's salaries in philosophy, but I can't seem to find it.


I'm in an unfortunate counterpart situation re: negotiations? - I was a finalist for a TT, but did not get the job.

what should I be doing now? And do people have stories as to what happened thereafter? Any positive stories of getting denied your dream job, only to finding, and getting, a better job the following year? Is getting a flyout a positive sign that one's application is good enough to be considered in the future; or have I peaked? any discussion or anecdotes (good or bad) would be welcome.


I am having trouble with copyediting of a paper for publication in a philosophy journal in USA. A ‘Journals Production Editor’ (PE) of X University Press sent me a copyedited version of my paper based on the version accepted by the journal (it’s published by X University Press) and asked me to review/correct it and then send back. The problem is that the copyeditor made more than 200 changes in the paper, and I think most changes are unnecessary, such as adding 100 “,”, deleting 20 “,”, changing 10 “;” to “,” and 5 “,” to “;”, “but” to “however”, “which” to “that”, many other optional changes, etc. There’s no explanation for any change. Copyeditor also added in footnotes 10 questions (such as "Explain …", in order tone) that are mainly due to their not reading my endnotes (the journal doesn't accept footnotes) carefully or unwillingness to check the cited material and so fail to better understand the content.

PE says if I would like the copyeditor to reverse a change, I should enter 'STET' immediately following the change, and asks me to answer the copyeditor’s questions. I objected and argued with PE, write a long email saying that I should have the right to reject some changes without the copyeditor’s understanding, and that the copyeditor does not seem to have the required knowledge of relevant (non-English) language to understand my paper well.(The paper is in English, but cited many translations) But PE just replies with two sentences: “No need to explain. Simply type “[STET]” following the unnecessary change.” I then spent a lot of time type more than 100 “[STET]” and explained why I reject where necessary, and sent the file back to PE; I accepted maybe 100 changes. But after a second thought, I find that only about 15 changes are necessary. So I asked PE again: Should they ask authors to point out only changes they agree? (The copyeditor’s name is unknown and I only know PE’s name and email.)

I signed the copyright transfer contract 2 months before this. But I just transferred the copyright of my accepted paper, not a substantially changed paper, right? I think the copyeditor and PE are a bit rude, do not appropriately respect authors, and the copyediting process unjustly favors copyeditors. I don’t mind if the paper can be published or not, but the journal editor and anonymous reviewer are good and open-minded persons.
Have you had trouble with copyediting before? And what do you think about this case?

reading rainbow

I've heard said that one ought not to read one's job talk from written notes.

I have a question about interviews in which the questions are provided ahead of time. In such a context, it seems more natural to have notes. You gave me the questions, and I thought of some answers! Does this seem like a more acceptable place to have some prepared thoughts? I always try my best to memorize my answers, of course, but with provided questions it seems like the need to appear spontaneous is much less pronounced (if at all; am I really supposed to be pretending that I'm answering the provided question off the cuff?)


Hello! I am wondering if you could talk more about the hiring process behind a very specific job call. I understand that sometimes committee members have to compromise on a call and other times create the "unicorn dream" job. How might this be assessed similarly or differently from a broader call? If one applicant miraculously hits all the insanely specific criteria of the job, will this candidate be the one who prevails?

an idea

This is a request, rather than a question. Could we make a chart with all of the unhelpful, problematic things we see through the job market process for schools--to generate collective knowledge? e.g. Some schools are atrocious with spousal hiring. Some schools pitch salaries very low, expecting you'll negotiate. Some schools have departments collapsing because the financial health of the university is bad. Surely, this information would be helpful to future candidates.


I recently got a referee report for an anonymized journal submission that calls the author (me) "he," exclusively and repeatedly. This is incorrect - but I think that's beside the point, since referees should use gender neutral language as a matter of course. Is this still a common issue, or did I just get one very out of touch reviewer? Given that journal referees are anonymous, what can be done about people who choose to use non-inclusive language? Do/should editors normally address this?


Is there a norm on how much of a book chapter contribution to an edited volume can overlap with material published (or to be published) by a journal? I feel like philosophers often "recycle" their own writings but I wonder if there are expectations or norms or even recommendations about this!

Ethan L

I've searched TPC archives but didn't find a thread on "Tips for Writing Conference Paper Abstracts." Replies to this as a thread would be helpful. I was recommended this source years ago, but it's not philosophy-specific [https://history.ncsu.edu/grad/conference_abstracts.php]


I have been wondering the potential drawbacks of applying to a PhD program several years after completing an MA program. Might such a delay reflect unfavorably upon an applicant in the eyes of admissions committees? Additionally, what steps can one take to mitigate any negative perceptions, aside from pursuing further academic credentials? Could publishing one's work be a viable alternative?

New to reviewing

I've been asked to review a paper in a journal that I've already reviewed in a different journal and recommended rejection. I haven't seen the new paper but the title is the same. I was quite sure the paper was not ready for publication then and its been about 3 months since then that I've received the request and so I think its unlikely the paper has substantially improved. Should I still take up the review request?

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