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Are conference presentations really worth anything on a CV? Last year I did 5 conference presentations (I had a lot of travel funding left). I don't see it as really difficult to get an abstract accepted for a conference. It's really easy to rack up lots of conference presentations. I will be making 3 presentations at an upcoming conference and likely 2 more in December. What useful information do conference presentations in your CV convey since a conference presentation is no reliable indicator of quality?

hmm ...

There are two issues being run together here. First, should one have a mixed portfolio of journal articles, book reviews, and contributions to volumes? To this I say, focus on journal articles as that is what will get you a job. The reason to do book reviews is to keep up with the literature you are going to read anyway - I have done a lot of them. Avoid contributions to volumes unless they are with the best publishers; they also take a long time to get through production. Second, there is the issue of what quality of journal should you publish in. Well, the answer is the best you can. Let me make a comparison: you are invited to give talks at Harvard and at BU (and assume you cannot do both) - you are not going to decline Harvard because you are not aiming for a job at an R1. The same reasoning applies to journals - you are not going to say "I'll send my paper to International Studies in the Philosophy of Science rather than Philosophy of Science because I am not aiming for a job at an R1." (No disrespect to ISPS ... in which I have published). The only reason not to send your paper to PoS is because it is unlikely to be accepted for publication. But if you want your research to have any traction, place your papers in the best journals you can. And if your research has traction, you will likely get a job.


I think it is helpful to think about this in terms of the "three pillars": research, teaching, and service. It is a good idea to publish in "teaching" and "service": publishing in Teaching Philosophy or other teaching-oriented journals is a nice way to show that you have thought about teaching seriously; publishing magazine articles could be regarded as some kind of "public service". However, I do not think one needs to diversify research publications (journal articles, book reviews, book chapters, etc.). I would always prefer journal articles and books from good publishers, as well as articles in reputable collections such as the Oxford Studies in X.


Murali: I don't think they do much, although if I was hiring at an R1 and a candidate didn't have much conference experience, that would be a red flag for me (though a defeasible one), since consistent conferencing shows you have decent work in the pipeline and that you're integrating yourself into your subfield networks. In my experience, however, most conferences require a full paper. Some do accept abstracts alone, but not most. I've done around forty or so, and I don't think any was an abstract-only submission (apart from panel discussions).

Back to the OP: I think it's best to focus on journal articles alone. At this stage (i.e. PhD/very early career), invitations to contribute to volumes are probably coming mostly through your supervisor and their network, which makes them count for less in my eyes, at least. Although some volumes do have open calls for papers, it's not that many. Book reviews won't really count in anyone's eyes, and public-facing work can be neat, but doesn't count for much either. (If you have an in and are already doing public stuff, I'd say keep doing it but slowly and steadily, rather than leaning into it. If you aren't, then I'm not sure it's worth the work to seek it out, unless you've got an idea you're really raring to pitch somewhere.)

academic migrant

I honestly think one should focus on good publications. One may use conference presentations as ways to make one's publications better. One may use public facing writing to further disseminate one's research. But the focus should be on the publications if one is to keep the job market in mind.

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