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Richard Y Chappell

I guess more data and systematic research would be a good start?

To rephrase the commenter slightly, "As many comments in this blog demonstrate, philosophers, even the ones who think they are unbiased, are extremely good at making themselves believe that there is *no correlation* between prestige and quality, despite there being no data or systematic research on this."

A priori, it would strike me as surprising to have zero correlation here. Where does prestige come from, if not the appearance of quality? (And wouldn't it be surprising if there was no correlation between appearance and reality?) Since more prestigious places can more easily have their pick of faculty and students, wouldn't it be surprising if they didn't (on average) end up with better faculty and students? To think otherwise, you would need to think their selection mechanisms utterly incompetent. Which is possible, for sure, but not the obvious default assumption, I would think.

So that's why I don't share the priors of this other commenter. But aprioristic arguments about priors can only go so far. Empirical evidence to actually resolve the debate would surely be much more helpful (and persuasive)!

Against All Hierarchies

For search committees:

Blind review of dossiers. Names should be removed from materials. Letters, PhD institution, and the like shouldn't be looked at until the first-round interview stage.

To avoid the need to search on the internet for publications, thereby revealing applicants' identity, applicants have the option to upload blinded copies of (say) up to three total publications.

This means that PhD institution and fancy recommenders won't be available as a heuristic to prioritize applications. But prestige bias just *is* the result of using PhD institution and fancy recommenders as a heuristic.

Even if Chappell is right that there is a correlation, unless that correlation is perfect, the use of the heuristic leads to anti-meritocratic outcomes compared to blind review of applicants. By comparison, imagine journals not being blinded and manuscripts being accompanied by recommendation letters -- does anyone seriously doubt that journal publications would be much less meritocratic?

People may say: well, we need that prestige heuristic. Biased outcomes or not, without it our search would be highly unmanageable. I say: (a) in a world where journals behaved like the above, editors would also say that they need the heuristic -- we might just need to get comfortable with the fact that searches take a herculean effort, and (b) there are many heuristics that can be developed that would quickly discard applications even on blinded materials.

Lower ranked grad student

I wonder whether the egregious forms of prestige bias is eliminated at least from hiring off PhD programs. Did the graph which showed the rate of upward mobility from lower ranked programs to upper ranked programs (it was on this website I believe) change at all?

noot noot

@ Lower ranked grad student: I would assume that prestige bias has probably gotten worse over the last several years since covid shrunk the job market. Research shows a correlation between fewer jobs and more prestige bias.

I'll add that the total numbers might be somewhat skewed by the boom in demand for specialists in social philosophy where there might be more demand than candidates with this AOS from elite programs. The general hypothesis though is confirmed by what I've seen as far as hiring in areas in which there are substantially fewer jobs (especially LEMM and ancient, but basically any area that isn't ethics/social/political) overwhelmingly favours very select few elite highly prestigious programs. I'll add that since people tend to think one exception makes the general point false: this isn't the same as saying nobody from a lower ranked program gets hired in these areas, but purely from a numbers perspective, it is noticeably less common and pretty much undeniable that grads from certain fancy PhD programs are overrepresented in hires in certain areas.

You can find a rich and substantive discussion of this research in Helen De Cruz's excellent paper: https://philarchive.org/rec/DECPBA

The above article also contains research on the correlation between merit or "quality" and prestige that earlier commentators might be interested in.

The following article also discusses "upward mobility" in prestige between PhD granting department and TT jobs: https://www.frontiersin.org/articles/10.3389/fpsyg.2017.00953/full

Finally, you might cross-reference the placement data from the APDA with something like the PGR rankings to see for yourself what the correlation might be, though this won't tell you anything about the upward mobility factor.

Derek Bowman

One way to reduce prestige bias is to stop caring so much about the gates of academic philosophy. Why care so much about where your paper gets published or where you are employed, unless you too are invested in these markers of prestige?

Apart from prestige, what's so special about the academy as a place for philosophy?

Unless of course the resources that tend to be associated with that prestige offer better opportunities for doing good philosophy, but that would be hard to square with the assumption that there is no reliable correlation between prestige and philosophical quality.


I very much appreciate this post - thank you Marcus (and others) for giving the issue a spotlight here, and in others places on the website.

I agree with @Against All Hierarchies - blinding grad programs/letters is a very obvious, easy place to start that search committees could implement, well, now. (I mean, come on search committees. I grade undergrad exams blindly precisely because we have mountains of evidence that suggests I - like everyone - have unconscious bias!)

In response to Richard's comment: First, I completely agree that actual data would be very beneficial on this front. I can offer up all the anecdotes I want, but it's not the evidence we need. To echo @@Against All Hierarchies - going back to blinding certain aspects of applications, like PhD granting institution, even if prestige does correlate with quality, then there's even less reason why search committees shouldn't be blinding themselves! They should be able to find the quality (& hence prestigious...?) applicants without needing to look at where they got their PhDs. And, again, as @Against All Hierarchies points out, the prestige-as-heuristic argument (that search committees need to know to reduce their workload) doesn't float.

I would also add that moving away from Leiter-style, PGR reports would benefit the field greatly. I am aware of the debates Leiter and others have had around this - about undergrads "needing" the reports to know what programs to apply to. There are many strong arguments against this style of justification, (which I'm happy to rehearse here if needed). But, how could a move away from these rankings be done? Well, probably has to began with senior people.

grad student

Sorry, I'm not sure I get the starting point. It seems that people here are talking about a problem. It even has a fancy name - 'prestige bias'. But what exactly the problem is? Is it that the prestige of an institution plays too big a role in hiring decisions? Too big relative to what? what is the right measure of the role prestige should play? How do we decide that? Is there data showing that prestige plays a bigger role than this ideal measure?

All I know from some years of studying philosophy is that the prestige of a journal is a great indicator (not perfect, of course) of the quality of the paper. Also, most great papers I read (not all, of course) were written by people from prestigious institutions. And most times (not all, of course) I check the CV of a philosopher who wrote a paper I consider great, I see at least one line containing a prestigious institution.

Are you sure you're denoting a real problem here?


Prestige bias is not difficult to understand. It's the view that the prestige of a journal is a great indicator of the quality of papers in it, that the prestige of a university is a great indicator of the ability and merit of students in it, etc. But this is often not true.


Re grad: suppose philosophers from what you consider prestigious institutions constitute 5% of all academic philosophers (worldwide), and say 95% of all great papers you read come from them (maybe this is too high an estimation, but I kind of read this from your tone). Is it possible that this data indicates how much prestige bias affects you (through all sorts of ways)? I think it is hard to deny that there is a prestige bias. At least in my case, it is easy to recall cases in which the same ideas are evaluated differently depending on what institution people associate you with. In fact, such cases are so common that it is the opposite case that impresses me. That is, I tend to remember people who do *not* interact with me (or others) in obviously biased way. Mind you, I am affected by prestige bias too, since I remember more such people from prestigious institutions! :)


I would have thought that Richard Chappell is right. It would be surprising if there was no correlation between prestige and quality. I mean, we're talking about averages here. The fact that there's no systematic study of the issue doesn't mean that people aren't informally picking up on something either since the lack of data's consistent with either outcome.


@grad student - to get a feel for why this is a problem check out these discussions here on the cocoon:



Speaking from my own experience (I'm entering my 4th year on the market), but without revealing info about the particulars, I can say that on at least 5 occasions I applied for a job in my AOS and never got an interview. The people who eventually got the jobs had either no publications or one publication, had no (or very little) teaching experience... but they came from highly ranked grad programs. (For my background: my PhD is from an unranked dept. Out of grad school I had 2 pubs in the "top" journals in my AOS. I now have six, all in "top" journals, have held a postdoc, got a big grant and I've also taught 25+ courses.) It seems I'm far from alone in having this kind of experience.

I'm not sure how to account for this other than prestige bias. Happy to hear other theories though. Maybe my CV is in the wrong font?

Grad Student

Thanks for the references. I promise to read them some time (they are opened in my browser), but I need to write a thesis so it won't be too soon.

For you not to think I ignore your comment, let me just say, that without seeing your CV I obviously can't comment on the font, but I also get the feeling that a lot of decisions by hiring, admissions, or scholarship committees are quite arbitrary and too many times they don't pick the best person. Having said that, I'm not sure if prestige bias is the main suspect for the discrepancy. I'm studying at a prestigious institution and, for instance, the scholarship decisions seem to me quite detached from reality, but here they select from people at the same institution.

The job market is grim, and your experience is not unique for people from unranked institutions. I heard of a guy from Rutgers who had I think more than 10 publications in the very top journals who had a lot of trouble finding a TT job (I don't know if he found one eventually). A placement officer in a highly-ranked university told me that he doesn't understand placement anymore. So even if we make the quite reasonable assumption that at least in some of the cases you were the better candidate, I'm not sure we can immediately infer that you suffered from prestige bias. It might be other arbitrary factors that we don't understand or a factor we can guess. Maybe one of your letter writers wrote a bad letter? Maybe they wrote a good letter but they are not good at writing letters? etc.

Also, a thing that is not very talked about but to my impression makes a *huge* impact is DEI-shaped policy. If you are a man and white, it might be that the other candidate got the job because it improves the DEI statistics. I don't know if you're indeed a white man, and what your prestigious though publication-less competitors were, but if you are a white man and they were women/non-binary/non-white/all-of-the-above it might be part of the explanation. I don't at all wish to enter the discussion of whether it's a good practice or not, just to state what appears to be a major causal factors in such decisions.

grad student

@wood You said in the end that "this is often not true". In my experience it is true much more often then not (nobody thinks these are bullet-proof statements). Will you still call it a bias if it is true most of the time? If not, then to convince you need to bring empirical data about the reliability of the prestige indicator. If yes, then it's a more essential disagreement. I think that hiring committees always have only partial information, and they should use whatever partial information they have that is an indicator of future success, except when it's immoral to use some kind of information in your hiring process (e.g., race, gender, religion, etc.). I don't using the information about where you got your education is immoral, because the factors that determined that are very similar to the factors that will determine the hiring process.

@tttt I don't think that such data indicates what you say, because in my specific case, I have a rule of never checking where the author comes from before I finish the paper, and in general a lot of the papers I read, even when I know in advance that they were written by a very prestigious philosopher, are not considered great by me. It might simply be that what Richard Y Chappell said above is true. The philosophers in the prestigious departments are on average better, and this attracts students on average, especially the good ones, and this lets these departments select the best candidates from a larger pool with a higher average talent. We are talking only about averages here, but it's highly unlikely that there is simply no real effect in how the distribution of talent to departments, but only an imagined effect that is expressed in prestige bias.

grad student

@sisyphus OK. I have read the threads instead of writing my thesis (I blame only myself!). Interesting. Thanks for referring me to them. It seems to me that some information about what's going on in hiring committees is necessary to have a well-based view. It seems that there is one phenomenon in need of explanation, namely, that people like yourself have a lot to "sell" in terms of publications, teaching experience, etc., come from unranked schools, and don't even pass the initial filtering for interviews. the commentators here and in these threads offered 3 competing hypotheses:

1. Prestige bias
2. Discrimination against white men
3. Something related to connections and letters - your letters are not good enough, or from people the hiring committee members don't know personally and feel less obligated to, etc. This is similar to 1 but is not directly a case of prestige bias, but maybe of other biases.

Now, first, let me tell you that I was surprised to learn about a specific difficulty for people with your profile, or that having such a profile is "a thing". I'm not from the US, and in my country, I'm quite sure they put much more emphasis on proven achievements (i.e., publications and teaching records). I wonder how wide this phenomenon is and if it's indeed a thing. In any case, I think that without further data all 3 are plausible (and I haven't read De Cruz's paper yet).


Re grad: I will stop after this post, since it's hard to convince people that their advantage is possibly unfair. But I certainly agree with you "it's highly unlikely that there is simply no real effect in how the distribution of talent to departments".

There are many prior reasons to think the impact of prestige on quality is not as dramatic as your data suggests. For example, as far as I know, nonnegligibly many talents went to non-prestigious phd places for many reasons. Also, excellent teachers are truly everywhere, even if their average research output is not as steller as the top schools'. Etc.

Yes, candidates like what you describe can fail to find a tt job if they fail to connect with the committees. But there are *many* people elsewhere with top papers who don't even *expect* to get a tt job. Anyways, thanks for the discussion.


@grad student
Glad to hear that the references were helpful/enlightening. Again, let me reiterate, how Marcus, Helen, and others here on the cocoon are doing what they can to bring these kinds of issues to light. (Btw, you should read Helen De Cruz's paper when you have a chance, but get your thesis done for now.) Awareness is a good place to start.

Let me say that I very much agree that the overall lack of jobs in the philosophy job market is the biggest factor that undergirds so much of what's going on. Lest we forget that it amplifies the problematic effects of prestige bias. And, as you note, there are other factors that might be coming into play.

In the jobs I've applied for, it's obvious to me that more often than not, the reason I don't get far in the process is simply because I'm completely out-classed. The person who was hired ended up being a rockstar, or was a tenured person making a lateral move, or whatever. In such cases, I get why the search committee didn't give me an interview. But in other cases, it's far less clear and I'm left totally befuddled, scratching my head my head when I see who they ended up hiring.

I'll also add that I don't blame people who are hired on the basis of prestige. Someone who is hired from a highly ranked program, who maybe has a good publication, has no idea who else might have applied for the job. They doubtlessly worked hard to get where they are, and they deserve a good job as much as any of us. However, I think it's really important for such people to avoid taking on the likely false belief that they are simply "better" philosophers, and that prestige didn't play a (possibly) decisive hand.

Ultimately, I return to Against All Hierarchies' point about blinding materials. I see no reason why the practice shouldn't be implemented by hiring committees. There's strong data to support it. And philosophers - who are acutely attune to ethics and justice - seem to be particularly obliged to adopt just hiring practices.

Blah, blah. That's my two cents. And I can't help but to sign off with a snarky quip: search committee members, no need to worry yourselves with what you hear here. I mean, if I was ever to get to be on a hiring committee I'd push hard for just practices (like blinding). But, I'll soon be nudged out of the field, along with so many others like me, so there's no need to worry about what we think.


Quite a few people have pointed out that, for various reasons, it would be surprising if there weren’t any correlation between prestige and quality. I agree; there probably is a decent correlation between these things. An inference like --‘If they’re from [insert fancy place], then they’re probably [insert positive philosophical evaluation]’ –-isn’t a bad inference. But inferences like these don’t reflect the core moral issue that those who are worried about prestige bias are pointing to.

The core moral issue is related to the fact that the following probably *is* a bad inference: ‘If they’re [insert positive philosophical evaluation], then they’re probably from [insert fancy place].’ The reason this is a bad inference is because there are plenty of excellent philosophers outside of prestigious places, and there’s plenty of excellent philosophical work outside of prestigious journals. In fact, this outcome is *extremely likely* in a context such as academic philosophy, where the market is utterly saturated, such that there’s far more incredibly talented and qualified people/good works than there are fancy jobs/fancy journals. In that context, it will generally be true that those who end up in the fancy institutions and the fancy journals won’t be *far more talented than everyone who didn't*, but *far more lucky than everyone who didn't*. (See the economist Robert H Frank’s ‘Success and Luck’; he argues for this general claim persuasively.)

TLDR: the problem with using prestige as a heuristic for quality isn’t that it directs our attention towards people who are undeserving of it—the problem is rather than it often directs our attention away from people who are equally deserving of it.

just got my first permanent

re Grad Student

"a *huge* impact is DEI-shaped policy. If you are a man and white, it might be that the other candidate got the job because it improves the DEI statistics. I don't know if you're indeed a white man, and what your prestigious though publication-less competitors were, but if you are a white man and they were women/non-binary/non-white/all-of-the-above it might be part of the explanation."

it might be a major cause, but if we just like to appeal to personal experience as solid proof, my own experience is that as a person of colour and second language speaker, I *lost* my (am I allowed to be entitled? just trying to be sarcastic) jobs to many white male candidates who have significantly less fancy CVs as mine. If DEI makes some people feel disadvantaged and entitled, then I'd tell you that I'd be more than happy to trade my *advantages* for something as colourless and plain as being a white male English as first language speaker.


re: Humanati - Well said.


re: just got my first permanent

Let me begin by saying that I have no idea what the stats are around "DEI hiring". What I can say is that philosophy, as a profession, would *greatly* benefit from better representation on all fronts (gender, racial, LGBTQ, disability, cultural, socioeconomic, etc.). Additionally, I can't even begin to imagine the challenges of being a non-white, non-English speaker trying to make their way in the profession. In my own experience, I have a very good friend from grad school who is non-white and a non-native English speaker. I truly believe he's better at philosophy than I am - and we've had about the same success on the job market (which is basically no success). I do know one thing we have in common - we both have PhDs from the same unranked dept...

I will also say that there is data on hiring and gender that indicates women are hired at higher rates than men (look around the cocoon and you'll find some of the data. Also check out this post on the daily nous: https://dailynous.com/2022/10/04/gender-in-philosophy-hiring/ )

I like what one person said in this post at the daily nous. I think it might have some applicability here:

"Like most people, I welcome the outcome of more women getting hired and thus philosophy having a better gender balance. Commentators above point to anecdotal evidence that preferential hiring of female candidates is a significant factor driving this. I want to make a simple point. Let’s suppose that, in the current circumstances, preferential hiring is a morally appropriate way to achieve a better gender balance. In that case I think we need to acknowledge an injustice with respect to the burdens of younger men who are facing a job market where preferential hiring works against them vs. older men who have been in the profession for decades. The point is that when it comes to the historically bad climate for women in philosophy, it is the older men who are largely responsible for it (e.g., by perpetrating, accepting, or not challenging sexual harassment and casual sexism) and who have unfairly benefitted from it (e.g., by facing a much easy job market 30 years ago because many talented females who could have potentially outcompeted them for a job on merit were driven out of the profession by harassments and sexism). Yet to address these problems it is the younger men who suffer (by having a much harder time getting hired) in order to correct problems that is mostly the fault of the older generation.

In a fairer world, the gender balance would instead be advanced by a significant number of older men resigning from their positions early on the grounds that they are culpable for, or unfairly benefitted from, the historically bad climate for women. These positions could then be made available only for female candidates to improve gender balance. Meanwhile the normal stream of new positions that become available through other means could be filled without preferential hiring, meaning that younger men are not being systematically disadvantage to make up for the sins of the older generation. Of course, for various practical reasons, the fairer way of doing things is unfeasible, and thus, if we want to make significant progress on the gender imbalance problem, it seems that the preferential hiring must disadvantage younger men. But even if this is morally acceptable in the circumstances, I still think there needs to be widespread acknowledgment that it is unfair that this burden cannot instead be forced onto older men instead.

There is also an important lesson here for the younger men who have lost out on the recent/current job market and have reacted to this by becoming bitter and cynical. I sometimes hear men in this category speak dismissively about female candidates who might have been hired ahead of them on non-meritocratic grounds, or about hiring committees who employ preferential hiring. The former deserve no ill will and are actually doing their bit to help philosophy in the long-run (by improving the gender balance) despite sex-based difficulties they may have faced. The latter might be acting wrongly, but this is open to debate and reasonable people can disagree on the moral acceptability of preferential hiring. Where these younger men should really direct their ill will is at the older generation of men who completely failed the profession by being responsible for and benefitting from a bad climate for women that made the profession so male-dominated in the first place. These men who, tend to hold most of the senior positions in the profession, have failed to meaningfully acknowledge their role, and have borne very little of the burden when it comes to fixing the mess they created."

Marcus Arvan

Note to commenters: I have now had several readers submit comments objecting in strong terms that this conversation has breached the safe and supportive atmosphere of the Cocoon. While I do my best to moderate with a light hand (so as not to squelch discussion), the blog's mission has always been to ensure a safe and supportive environment for all. This thread was intended to focus on prestige bias, as opposed to other types of bias. So, I'm not going to approve any further comments not focusing on prestige bias, and ask everyone to respect this. Moderating a blog like this (with a mission like ours) is difficult work, I do not always get things right, and people may disagree over whether I do. Please know that I do my very best, and have a general policy of deferring to readers on what they take to constitute a safe and supportive environment.


re: Marcus (and readers)

Thank you Marcus for your efforts moderating to maintain a safe and supportive environment. Let me apologize for anything I might have said that's antithetical to that end.

whoever... but respectfully

There is a real tension in the profession. Here people seem to be interpreting many differences to a prestige bias. But over at another blog, they are discussing the demise of a journal in political philosophy, and one commentator remarked: "It’s a huge service to readers to have a few selective journals where, if the editors are doing their job properly — as they may not always but, one hopes, usually do — one can keep abreast of important new developments and contributions in the field without having to wade through dozens or hundreds of published pieces. Think of a selective journal like Ethics, PAPA, or JPP as a labour-saving device" (DS). Clearly, our profession does use shortcuts - we take the place of publication as a reliable indicator of quality. That seems rational to me. Of course, good papers can be published in obscure journals, and bad papers in highly regarded journals. But if people really think the good philosophy is spread so evenly across journals, and universities, etc. then they are probably working in a different world than I am.


In thinking about prestige bias, it's also worth thinking about the Matthew effect (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Matthew_effect). Leiter posted this morning about how rare it is for any of the "top ten" departments to hire anyone with a PhD from outside the top ten. It is of course possible to defend this pattern by arguing that philosophers with PhDs from the top ten produce better work (typically, or on average, or whatever) than do philosophers with PhDs from outside the top ten. But, even if that's true, it's not necessarily just—and the success of those with PhDs from the top ten isn't necessarily "deserved" (if you go in for that kind of talk). PhD students in top ten departments have access to the professional networks of philosophers in top departments. And those networks themselves are to a degree (I don't know how large exactly, so I won't try to be specific) "closed" to philosophers in other departments. Being in a top ten department may also confer other kinds of benefits (I assume it does, but, again, don't know enough about the details to say more), from more money for conference travel to more conferences/talks in one's home department to simply having (what for the sake of argument we can presume to be) "better" philosophers as teachers and mentors.

One thing I've always found rather odd is that lots of philosophers are willing to say that graduate admissions is something of a crapshoot; but then they turn around and insist that the students who wind up in the higher ranked programs are "better." They might retreat, when pressed, to the claim that the students who wind up in the higher ranked programs *end up* being better, because they get better training (I take that to be Leiter's view, or at least an important part of it). But if we take the Matthew effect into account, it's not clear how comforted we should be. Consider someone who attended a program ranked in the 30s, who was rejected by all of the top ten programs to which they applied only by chance; perhaps this person ends up being a "worse" philosopher than they would have been if they'd been accepted by, and had attended, a top ten program; how comforted should they be by the fact that attendees of the top ten program that randomly rejected them are *now*, because of the better education they received, better philosophers?

I'm increasingly inclined to think that, if admissions, e.g., is a crapshoot, it would be better to make that explicit: admit qualified students randomly.


re: whoever.. but respectfully

I see your point, but I think it falls under the purview of @against all hierarchies' point regarding how the prestige-as-heuristics argument fails.

Imagine a search committee was blind to an applicant's PhD granting institution & to the journals where their writing samples where published (say each applicant submits 3? papers as writing samples).

First, let me say the committee could know how many papers an applicant published, even if they didn't know where. If a committee wanted, I suppose they could even stipulate that publications that aren't in one of the top, whatever, 30 journals, can't be included (and if they said that, then at least they'd have to be explicit about their biases towards prestige.)

Scenario one: a dept. search is in AOS X, and maybe the dept has one or two faculty members who work in X or close enough areas to X, that they should be able to judge whether a writing sample is solid work or not. Will it be a lot of work for these people? Yes. (Just practices might demand a lot of work.)

Scenario two: a dept. has a search is in AOS X and there's no one in the dept. who knows enough about X to judge whether a writing sample is good or not. In such cases if a committee knows a paper has been published in a peer-reviewed journal, they can rest assured it's passed a standard - it can't just be wrong nonsense. Beyond that, if the committee can't tell grade A philosophy from grade B philosophy in X (again, assuming journal prestige does, in fact, indicate quality of philosophy), then I'd be willing to say that the dept. probably doesn't need someone who does grade A philosophy in X. Someone who does grade B will be just fine - perhaps even a good fit seeing as the people on the committee liked their grade B papers better than the grade A ones! (Analogously, if I really don't have the driving skill to tell the difference between the fastest possible sports car and a slightly less fast sports car, I probably don't need the fastest possible sports car.)


Just want to add one more important benefit to um's list: "from more money for conference travel to more conferences/talks in one's home department to simply having (what for the sake of argument we can presume to be) "better" philosophers as teachers and mentors" and editors(-in-chief) of prominent journals as mentors.

Filippo Contesi

Apologies for the self-advertisement but I write a bit about some possible causes and solutions of/to some of these problems here:



One of the solutions to prestige bias when hiring professors that several people have proposed involves blinding search committees to the faculty's PhD-granting institution. Does anyone know if any university search committee already does this?


This "blinding" of PhD institutes is wholly ineffective. Candidates will list courses they have taken, or who was on their committee, or who examined them, and these will effectively reveal where they did their PhD. The same goes for their letter writers - most candidates (especially just after the PhD) still largely rely on letters from their home institution. So I doubt it is worth even trying this.

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