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02/07/2024

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Anon

I am a new TT faculty and have been asked to take over the job of mentoring the Philosophy Club. Any advice on how to be an awesome mentor?

Michael

Strange request, but I have a manuscript for a young-reader chapter book (potential series, think "Magic Treehouse") that is inspired by famous works in philosophy. I am having trouble finding an outlet or agent to help get it published -- I would love any recommendations for agents, publishers, or any other advice for getting into non-academic (esp. children's books) publishing.
I recognize that the lack of traction might just mean that the book/idea stinks, but I still want to give this a good-faith effort before shrugging the shoulders and moving on. Thanks!

VAP Wannabe

I am ABD in a middling department, planning to defend in the summer. I have 3 years of teaching experience as a primary instructor, but no publications yet. This was my first year on the job market, and my advisor has recommended that at this point I start reaching out to department chairs to ask if they might need a VAP in the fall. I've never heard of such a thing-- my impression was that places looking for a VAP generally advertise and go through a hiring process. Should I follow his advice anyway? And if so, any suggestions for how to pitch the email and cover letter?

Agitator

I want to be interdisciplinary, and to appeal to wider audiences, especially in this precarious time for philosophers. But I have a problem whenever I try to do so. As an analytic philosopher, many of my papers so far take the form of, at least in the first part, presenting a problem that should trouble people (often arguing why it should). It might be a problem with existing accounts of X. Or it might be a philosophical puzzle or problem in its own right. More often than not I then offer a solution.

So the reaction I expect – if my audience gets the paper – is either being troubled, for the reasons I urged, or being troubled and then relieved (by my solution), or disagreeing that they should be troubled, or relieved, and so being at least a little troubled about that, instead. Generally, analytic philosophers who get the paper react in one of these ways.

But outside analytic philosophy, I never get any of these reactions. I maybe get well-intentioned feedback along the lines of “Ah, yes, that reminds me of X,” or “You should look at Y,” or “Is your sense of P (which the problem doesn’t turn on) the same as So-and-So’s sense?” They never seem troubled, or relieved, but they also don’t seem to disagree or find the argument underwhelming, trivial, or obvious. This just leaves me frustrated that they’re not playing ball, and my frustration shows, preventing fruitful interaction.

Is it just me? What should I do?

Hermias

In a CV, should you/ how should you list the engagement of other philosophers with your work? (1) is there a clear/tidy way to note the number of citations that your paper has? (2) how to record more substantive engagement - e.g. a philosopher discusses MyView™ for a page or two, of their entire paper is a response to mine. It seems like peer engagement is good/‘impressive’ but not sure how/if to display it in a CV.

phd candidate

What is a good alt-ac 'elevator pitch' for philosophy? I think something like this would be very useful to have in non-academic cover letters and job interviews. That is, how should you describe philosophy to a hiring manager with little to no experience with philosophy? Let's also assume that the hiring manager isn't completely incurious (you wouldn't get a charitable reading of your cover letter or get called in for an interview if that was the case).

Ideally, the pitch should be brief (30 sec./2-10 sentences) and positively reflect the transferrable aspect of philosopher's skillsets. The ideal pitch might also depend on the type of job (i.e., ethics officer vs science policy advisor).

I can only think of one such elevator pitch. That philosophy is about trying to solve deep, difficult problems that cannot be fully answered by reliable methods. Then I would give an example of a problem like this and describe how philosophers try to answer it.

But I'm not sure how appealing this pitch is to hiring managers. I imagine that few non-academic jobs requires you to work on deep, difficult problems with 'unreliable' methods. I would therefore be very interested in ideas from others on how to pitch philosophy in an alt-ac context.

confused grad

Does anyone know whether the Nous and PPR submission windows are still open? Confusingly, the submission homepage says "The journal has temporarily stopped accepting new submissions and will resume accepting them on November 15, 2023." I don't know whether (a) they forgot to take this notice down from last year, or whether (b) "2023" is a typo for "2024". (I contacted the journals a while ago, but have heard nothing back.)

Wondering

Would people hired into a TT position in the last few cycles be willing to anonymously share the details of their initial start-up packages/research funds along with the type of institution they are employed at (e.g., tiny SLAC, highly ranked R1, and so on?). It would be helpful to post what level of research funds (if any) are available to faculty on a yearly basis as well as the details of the startup funds in particular.

I ask because we are approaching job negotiating season for the lucky few, and I think it would be useful for new hires to have some sense of the range of packages currently being offered to philosophers since there might be room for negotiation around these numbers. I don't actually know what my own institution is currently offering new hires, let alone what other institutions are offering, and this makes it challenging for me to be a good advocate for them.

I recognize that such a thread might lead to envy or pain, especially for those who haven't yet secured a TT position, or have a tenure-stream position with no research funds or start-up packages. But I think the downsides of such a thread may be outweighed by the good of giving more people insight into what various types of institutions are currently offering TT philosophers.

Teacher's dilemma?

I have a permanent, non-tt position at a state school. My position is teaching-oriented (4/4 load), and I teach a lot of gen-eds and lower-level classes. The threat of budgetary cuts at my institution concerns me, but I've been assured that my position is secure (I'm on multi-year renewable contracts). In spite of this, I'm still feeling a lot of pressure to maintain high enrollment in my classes and get strong student evals (lest I begin to appear expendable). I'm not cynical enough to think that the latter can only be gotten by compromising standards, but I do sometimes feel like my desire to impose rigorous academic standards and my desire for professional self-preservation are pulling me in opposite directions as a teacher. Does anybody else feel this way? Any tips on how to deal with it?

tenuous position

I used to think that my job as a teacher was to, you know, educate my students, help them learn, and all that stuff. However, in my current position, I am evaluated solely on numerical teaching evaluation scores (with <30% response rates). Since I like the food and shelter that my job allows me to procure, my goal is now to do as well in my evaluation a possible every year. I have been unable to come up with a reason to care more about my students' education than my university does.

Grad Student

I know of PhD students who have dizzying numbers of publications (think > 8) and who have not even started their dissertations yet. But judging by their CVs, most superstar professors at elite institutions published little or nothing before finishing their PhDs, and virtually none of them published anything before starting their dissertations.

This suggests one of two things. Either (1) such insane publication rates among PhD students are a new phenomenon, or (2) having an insane number of publications as a PhD student doesn’t predict career success.

I’d love to hear people’s thoughts about this. I’d also like to know whether I should try to be one of these uber-prolific PhD students. (I just started my PhD .)

Naive

along the lines of some of these teaching posts. I will soon start a job at an R1 university that has made pretty clear that tenure depends almost exclusively on research. This sets up a huge incentive for me to minimize the time I spend on teaching/advising/service to maximize my research.

I guess I'm ok with this, but it also is a bit of a bummer. I care about my students a lot! I also care about service initiatives. I'm not saying it's a zero sum game, but it seems so unfortunate that my career advancement is almost orthogonal to how good of a teacher and colleague I am. (call me naive!)

Reviser

How important is it to make a paper "perfect" -- i.e., perfectly worded, perfectly organized, "idiot-proofed," etc. -- before submitting it to a top journal? I often spend months revising papers before submitting them, even though this doesn't improve the papers much, simply because I'm worried that the slightest blemishes will earn me rejections.

On the other hand, I've never recieved a rejection based on minutiae, and referees always have opportunities to request small changes. So, it occurs to me that these painstaking revisions may not make any difference to my chances of being accepted.

Thoughts?

Sarah

Should I aim at a narrow(er) area of expertise?

I recently secured a tenure-track position, and at this stage of my career, I've observed that most of my colleagues and admired philosophers have a well-defined expertise encapsulated in one or two keywords. However, due to the instability of my career thus far—having moved through different departments and research projects—and my broad range of interests, I find it challenging to focus on the same specific topic for an extended period. I often switch to whatever has recently captured my interest or, more pragmatically, whatever receives funding. While I recognize the benefits of maintaining focus on a single topic, such as deep knowledge, networking, and reputation, I seem to gravitate toward new subjects periodically.

I wonder if others share this experience. How common is it for individuals to stick to the same topic for an extended period in academic and professional settings?

feeling mistreated

I have a question concerning problematic supervisors at the non-TT faculty level:

I've been non-TT faculty with a 4/4 load at an R1 with a good PhD program for three years now. The person who makes the teaching schedule (who is not the dept. chair) gives me four preps every semester, and almost always different classes. For instance, I had seven *different* preps last academic year and one repeat prep for a total of eight classes over two semesters. Seven preps in an academic year is ridiculous (and maybe borderline abuse? I'm not sure.) I would have asked for different classes, but given the faculty's constantly emphasizing to me the contingency of my employment (e.g., "Your contract is only for one year, after that, who knows..."), I felt I needed to do as I was told to solidify my standing. Instead, I seem to have sent the message that I am here to be exploited.

I've also been designing an online class, which has proven to be a ton of very annoying work, only to be told that I won't be getting any sections of the online class in the future once finished, and will remain teaching all four classes per semester in the classroom. And last, the schedule maker also treats me like a child, talks down to me, and is generally an egotistical jerk. All in all, given the extreme mental load of all these preps and online course design, I feel that the schedule maker has basically attacked me and my career with this unfavorable scheduling.

The whole experience has been awful. I need to get out of here. I also need to talk to my chair. Does anyone have any additional thoughts? Or does anyone else want to share stories of mistreatment as a vulnerable junior faculty member?

G

I am curious about the difference between "major revision" and "minor revision". I understand that journals might think of them differently. But is there any official policy or is it up to the editors? Is it just a "quantitative" difference about the amount of revisions one is expected to do, or is there any procedural difference in how the editors handle the revised manuscripts? Thank you.

__

This is an alt-ac query. I'm reading through some of the older threads here and I see a lot of people state their dislike for teaching as a reason to leave academy. I currently teach mostly at the gened/intro level with a heavy teaching load, though I do get some upper level stuff and have managed to form relationships with students in the major (I run a reading group, for example). Despite the much less than ideal teaching circumstances, I love teaching and love the tiny impacts that philosophy is able to have on people, especially the many students today who view college as job training and initially hate having to take my class. I'm a VAP who has helped organize several guest speakers and an undergraduate symposium – I say this to make clear that I give a shit about the students, a big one, as it were.

That said, I am thinking about leaving academia. The primary reason is that I don't the current state of academic institutions – in the humanities at least – serves to facilitate real education (perhaps I'm an idealist), let alone good research. Everything from teaching to research is hollowed out by the quantitative. Administrators are hostile towards humanities programs and, I'm sorry to say, academics in secure jobs are too scared to do anything about it. As much as I love what I do, I feel forced into a position where to continue, I have to sacrifice my future, financially, but potentially things like health and other material opportunities. I own nothing and a university lecturer position (seemingly my most realistic hope) will not alter my financial situation in any way.

So my question is – where outside academia might I find ways to impact people in this way? The transfer of ideas, the opening of a mind, even a little, I would like to continue doing this. But most industry jobs seem to lose that dimension and most people who leave for industry seem like they have a 'take it or leave it' relationship to teaching. I suspect I'll continue to 'research' and write regardless of what pays the bills (I do it now and it's technically not part of my job).

Anon

Does anyone know what’s going on with the European Journal for Philosophy of Religion? I submitted a paper to them over a year ago and it was never even assigned an editor. It’s been stuck in limbo since November 2022. Repeated queries have been met with silence. From their website, it seems like nothing is happening with the journal.

jedidiah

I have a question about applying to jobs in different subdisciplines of philosophy. My past and current work emerging from my dissertation has fallen squarely in one subfield (call it X). However, my current and projected future work has been in the overlap between X and subfield Y, and projects to be more squarely in Y in the future. I have exclusively applied for jobs in X so far, but I am wondering if this research path might allow me to open up the range of jobs I might be a fit for. Of course, there might be downsides to this: I may not be viewed as a genuine expert in Y (or worse, either subfield) by spreading myself too thin. I suppose I am wondering if anyone has switched subfields while on the market and had success and whether it was worth the work (tailoring materials, possibly seeking new letter writers). Maybe I'm overthinking things and many if not most of us don't fit cleanly into one subfield of philosophy. Like all things job market-related, I suspect there won't be much to say that's generally applicable, but I thought I'd ask nonetheless!

Dream Deferred

I have a more general question and a more specific question:

GENERAL: can we have a thread of resources for new assistant professors? I've spent so many years on the job market that I feel pretty unprepared to think about the next step.

SPECIFIC: one of my least favorite parts of grad school was participating in the publication "arms race." I know it's not a novel observation, but it seems that in my future institution, in order to get tenure, I have to simply continue to participate. One plus is that this race will be a bit longer as I'll have job stability (and better pay and benefits) during that time. Can those with experience on both sides tell me what, for them, the difference between these publishing arms races has been?

tenure

Do the papers that one publishes prior to securing a TT job at a particular institution count towards meeting the research expectations for tenure at that institution? For instance, say someone has published 5 articles but hasn't yet secured a TT position. Let's say this person get's a TT position at institution X. Say that the tenure standards at institution X are such that faculty need to publish 6 or 7 articles. Would this person need to publish another 6 or 7 articles, or would their existing publications count? Perhaps this varies by institution, but I'm curious about how widely this varies, and what things look like for different kinds of jobs. Thanks!

GradStudent

I'm a graduate student receiving conflicting advice about how to format my conference presentations. The younger faculty at my institution think I should use PowerPoint slides with lots of images and few words. The older faculty think I should walk the audience through a handout, and perhaps use a whiteboard.

The seemingly obvious via media is to give a PowerPoint presentation supplemented by a handout. It's unclear to me why no one has suggested this. Perhaps there's some reason not to mix the two to which I'm not privy.

Does anyone have thoughts about how best to format conference presentations? Better yet, does anyone know whether survey data on this question exists?

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