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academic migrant

Absolutely. The story from my somewhat mid ranked program was that when hiring, there are way too many CVs. So one way they did it was throw away every CV that had no pubs. Then every CV that had no shiny pubs. (And as a side note, pubs in really bad places may count against.) Then every CV that wasn't impressive relative to career stage.

And this has been repeated many but probably not enough times, but it takes very long to get a pub unless one is super lucky. So start thinking about pubs ASAP. Ideally, when one is on the market, they should have enough pubs to make oneself distinguishable. This can take much longer than planned.

Even as a person with a stable job and much more experienced in writing, I still find it hard to have as many pubs per year as I would have preferred to.

Bill Vanderburgh

I agree with Marcus: It is even more important to publish (and teach) while in a not-top-ranked program. Keep it reasonable, two or three papers by graduation. In our recent searches, we took seriously many applicants who came from such programs, but no one who had no pubs. The pool is just so strong, that to be competitive you need to have some.


I don’t think you should worry about being “tied” to your views. In most cases, you are the person who will engage most deeply with your paper - I doubt anyone knows or cares what MyView(TM) about X is. Also, some people have this weird attitude of trying to convey that they have never learned anything by doing philosophy, that what they wrote 5 years ago is their unbegotten eternal thought.

Also, you might not have the chance to publish them later, so iqra!, iqra!

A Philosopher Named Slickback

The answer is yes. Unfortunately. It is so frustrating to think that a grad student from a mid-ranked program with "shiny pubs" merely competes (after putting in this much work) with those of the T10. Is philosophy so hyper-obsessed with the prestige that they literally treat T10 grad students as philosophical nepo babies? To think that lay prestige from a T10 carries as much weight for those grads on the market as those who publish but come from, let's say, the mid-30s to 40s is insane. Hopefully, times will change, and this discipline will become more focused on the work and the merit of the individual vs where the person came from.


I graduated from a T10 with multiple pubs and got diddly. So. YMMV.

Tony waters

I was at a mid level teaching institution. We threw out the CV s of anyone who didn't have teaching experience. Preferably with a teaching award. Publications were still checked, but were of secondary importance. Please note too teaching institutions like mine control 80% or so of the permanent academic jobs in the US.


You should try to make sure to have at least one pub (if possible), 2-4 is ideal, beyond that may actually hurt you.


My experience may be an outlier but I landed a permanent NTT teaching position with 3 years of solo teaching experience and no publications. (My program is not ranked leiterrifically, although we do make the "notable" list for my area in the history of philosophy.) The year I got the job, I also got multiple on-campus interviews at teaching-oriented SLACS.

This all might have been luck, it's impossible to say. But my experience seems to indicate that there are jobs out there for candidates who are very serious about teaching and who don't publish much - just not your traditional R1/R2 jobs. I didn't get so much as a zoom interview for any of these, or for any research focused postdocs.


I am a bit perplexed why anyone thinks that anyone should be finishing a PhD without a publication in a decent journal. The PhD is a research degree and the basic idea behind it is that you are qualified to research in your field. The best proof of that is a publication in a scholarly journal. So, people at lower ranked programs (and I was at one), should not think of this as a special burden on them. The perplexing thing to me is that some people got the idea in their head that it is fine to finish a PhD without a publication. By my defence, I had two papers accepted for publication; and I subsequently published two more from the thesis. And this was in the stone age ... 1997.


There are many factors here in terms of which kinds of institutions you're aiming to get hired by. My rule of thumb is that you should have 1-3 publications, but no more. You need to shine with potential, too many pubs and you start to look like a known quantity.


Having more than four publications wouldn’t hurt you, I think. If you want to research position…


I work at an R2 and I think it's reasonable to expect that a candidate will have published something. Some very top candidates have only one pub. I would think 1-2 is plenty, maybe 3, but the arms race thing where people come out of grad school with 8 pubs is unhelpful to me. It makes me think you are just publishing your seminar papers and that's not what serious research is about and it will hurt you. (Maybe if you're at Princeton it's different, but that's not most people.) So I would try for only a few high quality pubs and not more.

Derek Bowman

"The PhD is a research degree and the basic idea behind it is that you are qualified to research in your field. The best proof of that is a publication in a scholarly journal."

Some faculty are of the position that, the PhD being the qualification for research in your field, one ought to get the PhD, then begin publishing research in one's field. This is obviously bad advice for most would-be job candidates, but it's not a crazy view of the nature and purpose of graduate education. Indeed, the alternative seems to imply that the last 1-3 years of graduate school are wasted, since students will need to already be producing professional-level research at that time in order to reliable have publications by the time they finish their degree.


At my large, private RI, when hiring for a TT position, we want to see evidence that you can get tenure. That can come in multiple ways, but the easiest is to know that you have a steady stream in the pipeline. At least 1-2 pubs out (a few more certainly doesn't hurt), another 1-2 accepted but not out, an R&R or two, etc. Or perhaps a signed contract with a letter from the acquisitions editor, clear timeline, full chapter drafts, etc. As an undergraduate program, we also value teaching and want to see experience and evidence of teaching effectiveness, but admittedly that is something we feel like we have more time to train you on, whereas the clock is immediately ticking on pubs for tenure.

I also agree that it seems rather silly to worry about publishing something you might later disagree with. If you're not evolving in your views as a philosopher, you're doing it wrong.

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