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05/24/2023

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Questioning Their Career

I'm close to finishing my PhD - I could be done this coming year if I so choose - and I'm not sure what to do next. I'm just not sure that I really like this work anymore. In the last month or so, I have absolutely dreaded the very thought of writing, and even just talking about philosophy, whether with professor, friends, or students, feels painful at times. I know this is a common reaction to finishing up a dissertation - none of my friends have liked their work by the end of it - and so this could just be the result of burnout. I also know that I now am closer to a professional philosopher than I've ever been, though. I have a much clearer sense of what the job is now than I ever did in the past. I don't think I should just dismiss my current antipathy because it might go away in the future.

I also currently have an opportunity to pursue a very different kind of work that I have good reasons to think I could find deeply meaningful and enjoyable, and my life on that path would be much easier if I started the pursuit sooner rather than later. I plan to finish my dissertation regardless, but my plans for going on the job market and all that would entail would seriously conflict with my ability to start on this alternate path.

This has all left me feeling deeply conflicted. I've poured so much of myself into pursuing this degree and a position in this profession. Being an academic feels like a deep part of me. I've also, historically, loved it. It's sometimes been bad just like any job, but that's never made me doubt that I should pursue it. It feels like I could be throwing something away needlessly because of a temporary setback.

I'm hoping for some insight into what sorts of factors have lead folks either to decide to carry on with academia despite some significant doubts or to leave the profession. I think hearing about others' experiences would help me to better understand whether what I'm experiencing now is a case of mere burnout or something more serious. Thank you all so much for any insight you might have!

expectations

I'm wondering how much feedback others get from their supervisors and also how much they expect from you and your work. I've talked to others both in philosophy and outside, and I am very surprised to hear from a lot of people, mostly those from outside philosophy, that they get fairly little feedback, sometimes just once a year with committee meetings, and also often requiring fairly little revision at all. Are the expectations in philosophy much higher than other fields? Are they healthy?

looking for data

I am aware of a couple of crowdsourced web pages for data on average journal review times and other relevant stats for early career people trying to get a feel for where they should and shouldn't send things off if they're hoping for a semi-reasonable turnaround. There are plenty of "specialist" journals, though, that don't end up on those lists, particularly those that intersect with the sciences. I think it could be really helpful to get a thread going in which people can share links to any such journal database pages that they're aware of (including pages for interdisciplinary journals!). I personally didn't find out about these things until well into grad school, and wish I had earlier. I think this would also be a great way of increasing the accuracy of these sources (by increasing submission #s) and slightly minimizing the extent to which success at early stages in this profession hinges on knowing the "right" people with this sort of insider info!

David

Hello,

I'm interested in doing a PhD in philosophy of education. The programs I find just based on internet searching are in education departments. These programs aren't out of the question for me, but I'm wondering if there are philosophy departments that welcome that area of research, as I don't see it much when I look on departments' research pages or faculty interests.

And if there are philosophy departments that do accept that area of research, which programs should I look into?

Thanks.

genuinely curious

Asking as an upcoming applicant: What are mid-ranked programs and how should we compare them? My sense is the following:

1. The current top 9 (ending with USC) plus Stanford are the best.
2. Top 14-22 -- from CUNY to Cornell are second-tier.
3. Top 22-36 -- from UCSD, Chicago, to UPenn are third-tier.
4. The rest, starting with Georgetown, progressively gets worse.

So what are "mid-ranked" programs here? Is it 2 and 3, or just 3, or some of 2, 3, and some of 4? Where do UCSD and Chicago fall, for instance? In addition, do you have a sense as to which programs are on the rise and which ones are on the decline?

I'm genuinely asking this to figure out people's actual perceptions and predictions about prestige. I am aware that there are other factors important to consider; my question is just about prestige comparison. I'm not interested in a discussion of the absurdity of rankings or whatever. Clearly, everyone cares about these and takes them seriously to an extent whether they find it absurd or not.

word limit

Do revise-and-resubmits have to respect the same initial word limit? Or is there some leeway (10% over?)?

PhilReligionQuestioner

I'd love some frank opinions/advice about including Philosophy of Religion in one's AOS. I'm in a position where I can list it, but I don't yet have publications on the topic, so no one would likely know I do PoR if I didn't include it. I have been told by senior faculty across several universities (including those who work in PoR) that there some quarters where PoR is seen with disdain, and that I shouldn't pursue it openly until I already have a job. There's the further consideration, which I'm not asking about here, that there are few jobs looking for a PoR AOS; what I want to know is specifically whether people think there's anything to the idea that it is most pragmatic, where possible, to refrain from mentioning PoR as an AOS to dodge stigma among job committees.

As a follow-up, if folks agree that there *is* such a stigma, I'd be curious to hear what other topics would also be unwise to voluntarily disclose.

Frustrated Naturalist

Related to PhilReligionQuestioner's comment, but coming from the opposite angle. I got my PhD from a good program, but it's a religious institution. My advisor works on phil religion, though it's not their only area (and not what they supervised me in).

I've noticed that everywhere I've interviewed for TT either has someone doing phil religion on the faculty, or ends up hiring someone who does phil religion. Meanwhile, heavily secular departments ignore me.

Here's the thing: I am as atheist as I can possibly be. A hardcore naturalist. I think philosophical questions about God are about as interesting as philosophical questions about leprechauns. Am I being typecast, or is it likely coincidence? And if I am being typecast, what can I do about it?

Aoi Ashito

I am currently finishing the first year of my PhD. Unfortunately, I am thinking of applying for a transfer because I am not happy in my present program. There are many reasons for this: they are not running many of the courses advertised, some professors I wanted to work with left, etc. I am fine with starting from scratch but I was wondering how admissions committees look upon such applications. What is the risk involved in applying for a transfer? For example, would the admission committees inform my current institution about my intentions?

academic migrant

Surge in work in investigating academic misconduct due to chatGPT?

My employer uses turnitin and asks us to investigate every single case where turnitin shows any percentage of assignments being generated by AI. I think this has gotten a bit out of hand despite constantly warning my students about the policy. (Student who have something detected also tend to conclude their assignments with “some experts say X some experts say Y and this is an important issue so we need to investigate further and have more discussions.”)

I think this has substantially increased my workload and that of the casual staff who works with me. Is this getting more common? How have others dealt with the increased workload and potential unpaid work of casual staff?

Junior

A top 10 generalist journal rejected a manuscript of mine on the basis of one referee report. The one referee said that they had rejected an earlier version of my manuscript elsewhere. I know that editors can have a hard time finding referees, but should editors base rejections on reports provided by one such referee?

Next Steps

Thanks for providing this opportunity to ask questions. I graduated from a top US undergrad almost 20 years ago, and I took a few philosophy courses that fascinated me but did not major in the subject. Many years later, I am passionate about philosophy and philosophical questions and have done a lot of thinking and theorizing on my own. I fundamentally want to "do philosophy" and attempt to answer the great questions. I am fortunate enough that I could self-fund any formal education.

I'm not sure where I should go from here. There are online masters programs at certain UK schools, and there is also the option of writing on my own and submitting it informally for comment and critique. I don't have the "proper" resume to gain admission at most philosophy graduate programs because I didn't explicitly major in philosophy, but I did do well in the courses I did take and I have engaged with the subject a great deal on my personal time. Even my professional work has had an element of "applied epistemology" to it.

I would ultimately like to pursue a PhD for its own sake and I would like to engage with others who are working on philosophy and who are passionate about it.

Should I take an online philosophy MA at The Open University (UK) and then apply to PhD programs? I've also seen more specialized online masters programs at Edinburgh and Birmingham. Should I just write as much as possible on my own and submit it in different places? Should I look for a philosophy "mentor"?

Brandon Yip

This is perhaps a very specific question. I've recently submitted a paper for a prize essay somewhere and was told that it didn't win the prize essay but the panel liked it and asked me to submit it to the journal that was hosting the prize.

The issue is that publishing in that journal sans the prize might be a little underwhelming. The journal itself ranks close to the bottom of Leiter's 2018 list of the top 30 journals and does not appear in his more recent ranking or any of the other lists of top philosophy journals. It is obviously a decent journal nonetheless so it is tempting to just send it there so I won't have to go through the long process elsewhere.

Any thoughts?

anon

Are search committees really constrained by HR policies from saying nothing to candidates about why they didn't get a position?

How are candidates supposed to improve their performance without any feedback?

I understand the catch all term 'fit,' meaning that sometimes its not really anything about the quality of a candidate--its just that another candidate fit the needs of a department better.

But surely there is *something* a candidate could have done differently.

Its so frustrating to get nothing from search committees when you follow up--you either get silence or you get boiler plate BS.

publication publicist

I just published my first book! I would very much appreciate advice on what authors can and should do to publicize a new book. I know that my publisher will do some marketing on their end (send the book to journals for review, etc.) but is there anything more I can do on my end to increase the readership?

Thanks!

ergo

I'm not sure it's relevant here, but I wanted to point out a way in which even a very well run journal--Ergo--misjudges its submissions. It is part of its stated policy that it sends out papers for review only when it believes it has a better than 50% chance at acceptance. So, on the whole, one should expect that roughly 50% of those sent for review get accepted. And yet the statistics which Ergo supplies shows that papers sent out for review are actually accepted at a much lower rate:

https://ergosubmissions.org/statistics/last_12_months

It might be interesting to have a post speculating about the discrepancy, not to pick on Ergo, but to discuss whether its possible causes might reflect some discipline-wide phenomenon.

ABD

I am teaching Critical Thinking in the Fall. I took Critical Thinking as an undergraduate and it was one of the most dreadfully dull courses I ever took in my degree. The main thing I remember from it is that we spent most of the semester memorizing the forms of fallacies. So, I was wondering if anyone has suggestions for how to approach Critical Thinking in a way that would make for a more exciting/beneficial class. I'd appreciate any recommendations for good textbooks or sample syllabi that I could model my own off of. I'm particularly interested in opportunities to integrate more global voices and/or philosophy into my eventual syllabus.

hegel lover

Here’s a follow-up question to our recent discussions of perception, personal politics, and the job market:

Let’s say I work on a historical philosophical subject that is not evidently political (even though I secretly think it is), and that I also teach philosophy of religion semi-regularly. Let’s say I’m also a member (non-TT) of a department that has issued pro-BLM and pro-Roe-v.-Wade statements with which I wholeheartedly agree. If I link to those statements on my personal website, how would that be perceived? Again, my support is genuine, but I also hope to show search committee members where I stand in a politically ambiguous subfield.

Thanks in advance for any thoughts!

Aspiring Philosopher

Thank you for this thread. I am a prospective PhD student from the Global South. I have a BA and MA Philosophy from a the national university of my country (although virtually unknown outside). I aspire to study in the top UK and US philosophy departments became the philosophers I wanted to work with are there. I wanted to get some advice on what can I do to possibly compete (or at least equalize the playing field) with PhD applicants from top Philosophy departments in the UK or US (say top 25 in Leiter’s PGR). I only have one publication so far (published in Synthese), but I am assuming that my degree and recommendation letters wouldn’t be viewed as at par with those from my Western counterparts, and I am worried that this automatically disadvantages me. What do you think are my chances getting in the top Philosophy programs? What should be the things that I should highlight in my application that could help my case? Thank you and I appreciate your thoughts.

summer hopes

How do people get into the flow of writing new material again when it's been a while? I'm hoping to have a really productive summer research-wise, but I've found myself spinning my gears far more than I'd like. I'd love to hear of any tips, tricks etc. from others who've struggled with this and have found some success combating it. I'd especially love to hear from any fellow ADHDers...

Not yet book ready

How do people get two part papers published?

I have a project developing a new view on a topic that I am finding it difficult to fit into anything like the length of one paper (I would like to turn it into a book, but I don't think that is viable at my career stage). Making the positive case for this view and explaining how it works takes about the length of one paper. And responding to existing criticisms of similar, but distinct views, and showing how the new view avoids them takes about the length of another paper. So it seems sensible to split it into a two part paper (which I have seen, but vary rarely). Something like "Exciting New View, Part 1: The Positive Case" and "Exiting New View, Part 2: Response to Critics".

My question is, how do you go about getting such a pair of papers published? Do you simply submit part 1, with the promise of a part 2 to come? Do you submit both parts at once? Is it just too risky to ask a journal to consider something like this? Does anyone have any experience with publishing a two part paper?

anonymous

I'm sure this worry was addressed in an earlier post, but I couldn't find it, so here it goes:

Let's say I'm working on topic X. I have a novel interpretation of Y, which is related to X, and I published a paper defending this interpretation of Y. In my new paper on X, I want to assume this interpretation of Y. How to do this without violating anonymity? Here are my thoughts:

- I can just cite myself as a third party, explain the view briefly, and then say that I will assume this view. But I think this approach would not realistically protect anonymity since I'm a very early career person, and no one is going to assume my views except for me.
- I can briefly explain the interpretation without citing myself. But this raises worries like: "this interpretation needs much more work to get off the ground" or the claims like "this view is already defended in an earlier paper that the author isn't aware of." So honestly, I don't know what to do.

How do you incorporate your published work into a new paper without violating the rules of anonymized peer review?

nostargazing

I haven't thought through how to best ask this question, so pardon me.

I wonder if others have similar experience as me described below and how they approach this experience. The education I received was like there is a sort of first-rate work, and a small group of people who do this kind of work. As an example, best work in metaphysics was said to be done by williamson, sider, Hawthorne, etc. But as I go on in the profession, new names keep popping up to an extent that it now seems impossible to keep track of all the people that can be of interest to me (100 times larger?). So I kind of give up on tracking names now.

PhD Candidate

What are the norms (in the US) for expressing gratitude to your dissertation advisor/dissertation committee upon completing your dissertation? A handwritten card seems appropriate. Should you give a small gift as well?

awkward past

Before getting a PhD in philosophy, I did an MA in a different subject (related to religion) and got a publication in that area. This topic no longer characterized my interest or personal convictions - and given some recent discussion on this website, it seems it could evoke some prejudice in search committees. Would it be dishonest to simply remove this publication from a CV used for philosophy jobs?

Phil

Is there any data, or do people have some knowledge on whether high-profile philosophers (academics in general) review papers for journals? Is there any disparity between who or people at what stage of their careers tend(s) to do more reviews? Or are all people more or less doing the same level of reviews? I'm curious whether the top people or high-profile people expect others to review and work for them, but they don't do the same for others.

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