Restructuring Non-elite Graduate Programs

I’ve often heard it said (and read it written, and witnessed first-hand) that students from elite graduate programs have an advantage on the job market. All else being equal (and maybe even in some cases when much isn’t), search committees prefer elite pedigree. Fair or not, reasonable or not, take it for what it is.

I’ve also heard it said (and read it written) that in order to make up for their disadvantage, students from non-elite programs basically need to publish, and indeed publish in very good journals. Fair or not, reasonable or not, take it for what it is.

Now I have a question. If things are indeed that way, then shouldn’t non-elite programs be (re-)structured to promote such publication by their students, to overcome the inherent disadvantage? And what sorts of restructuring might be appropriate?


Restructuring Non-elite Graduate Programs — 43 Comments

  1. John, I think there are very few graduate programs that explicitly address the professional demands of publication, and that isn’t good. Elite or not, graduate programs need to train philosophers for the demands of the profession, and that requires training in writing publishable material. As all of us know, an “A” seminar paper and a publishable piece can be worlds apart. It’s not just about getting a job, but succeeding at it once one has such a job.

    I have taught such a course now for several years, both at Missouri and here at Baylor. I think the best approach by graduate programs is to teach such a course to new students in their first semester. Such a course can be brutal, especially on students who’ve been loved and appreciated because of their rarity at small liberal arts colleges, but success in such a course enhances the value of all further coursework.

    On the general question of the wisdom of publishing as a grad student, I won’t say much except to say that it would be unwise to discourage students on this score. It’s such an advantage when going on the market to have published in a top journal that counsel to the contrary would be irresponsible. Of course, that doesn’t mean one should endorse a student’s plan to send out just anything they write, and even the best students need good advice on whether what they have written is promising enough to be worth developing into something to send out.

  2. Thanks, Jon. The course you teach sounds very useful–definitely something I would have appreciated as a grad student.

    Do you think it’s also advisable to encourage students to not write monograph-like dissertations, but to instead adopt a fairly modular, three- or four-chapter design, which is basically a small collection of (at least nominally related) proto-articles?

  3. I don’t know on this. I think there is value in learning how to write a book, especially as books have become more important to the discipline, compared to the situation, say, in the 70’s and 80’s.

  4. Here at Edinburgh we offer our PhD students advice on getting published–indeed, it’s a key part of our progress review process. As Jon says, there’s much more to getting published than simply producing good work, and unless someone in the know guides you on this score then getting published can be an arduous affair (it’s still arduous even once the advice is given, of course, though hopefully a little less so!). Since a good publication record is pretty much a prerequisite to a decent job these days, we feel that it’s vital that we do this, though I’m fairly sure that we’re unusual in this respect (I certainly don’t know of other UK graduate programmes who do this on a *formal* basis). We encourage students to try to get articles published, by the way, simply because that’s much more feasible for someone at this stage in their academic career.

  5. Duncan, do you encourage them in general, or do you (also) look for opportunities to do so with specific papers that show particular promise?

    I’m just curious, but does your formal instruction include, say, reviewing referee reports with the students and advising them on how to respond?

  6. I think having publications is becoming closer and closer to a necessity for graduate students on the market, and the last two schools I have been at have taken steps to promote quality publications. At Fordham we replaced comps with a three paper requirement, primarily with that sort of consideration in mind.

    Sitting on a number of hiring committees myself, one phenomenon I see developing that I don’t like is lots of publications in lesser venues. I would rather see one publication in an excellent journal than lots in mediocre journals. The reason is that graduate student publications show hiring committees “what you can do,” and it is good to show that you can publish in an excellent journal. But what is the value of showing that you can publish in mediocre journals? And worse, you might be giving the impression that this is what you aspire to. For my part, I am starting to advise graduate students to go for quality rather than quantity where publications are concerned. (Please– no jokes about not following my own advice!)

  7. Hi John,

    We do all of the above–students are generally encouraged to publish through the progress reviews and through special seminars we run, but we also make it a policy to look at the student’s particular circumstances and advise them on where to send things, how to respond to referee reports, and so on (this is usually done by their supervisor(s)).

    I agree with the other John (Greco) by the way, best to have one good publication than several weak ones.

  8. Sounds like you’re doing very well by your students, Duncan.

    I agree with you and John that “quality over quantity” is prudent advice for grad students. I actually think that, other things equal, quality beats quantity at any stage of one’s career (though factors extrinsic to scholarship clearly can affect this).

    I do think it’s unfair — though probably not uncommon! — for search committees to read much into a graduate student publishing in middling journals. It’s nearly as likely to reflect an unwise publication strategy, or lack of confidence, as to reflect the quality of the work or, especially, the nature of their aspirations.

  9. You’re right that it’s often unfair John, even if we assume that the student has full information in the relevant sense (i.e., of the quality of her work, where best to send it, how best to respond to their response, and so on). To take an obvious case: student X has an amazing paper, something of the standard of Phil Review say. But it’s her only piece. Should she send it to Phil Review, given that she’ll be on the market within 6 months and almost certainly won’t have it accepted by then, assuming it is accepted (even the best pieces often don’t make it through of course)? In terms of the UK job market, I think I would with regret recommend that she send it to a lower ranking (but decent) journal that is noted for its quick turnaround. And what goes here for Phil Review goes mutatis mutandis for other cases (e.g., the decent paper with a job search imminent). In a nutshell, the problem is that the few years around the end of your PhD carry undue weight in terms of the rest of your career, since they determine whether you get a post and what sort of initial post you get. Failure to get anything at this stage can (but need not) be fatal. But even getting something can be bad news if it means that you’re stuck on a treadmill for the next five years while others are getting their research done. That’s why graduate programmes need to pull the stops out to give their students every assistance.

  10. As someone coming from a fairly “elite” US grad program (“fairly” because we’ve had some faculty shake-ups over the past five years) and who now has a fairly prestigious post-doc, I really wish I had known what many here have confirmed—-namely, as John Greco puts it, that “having publications is becoming closer and closer to a necessity for graduate students on the market.”

    I had been following Brian Weatherson’s advice (google one of his sentences to find the citation):

    “People tend to get hired based on their best papers…As we see every year when looking at junior hires, it doesn’t really matter if that best paper was published in Philosophical Review, the Proceedings of the Philosistan grad conference, or (more likely) the candidate’s own website. What matters is how good it is, or appears. As a rule, spending more time improving your best paper will do more for your professional prospects than sending it off and moving on to another paper.”

    But from my experience on the job market this year, and from that of my other very good, well-pedigree’d yet unpublished friends, search committees are not giving the time of day to those of us without publications.

    Of course there could be other explanations for the **total lack** of interviews I and my friends got, and I don’t think I’m one of the “self-entitled” young philospohers who are getting excoriated over at Leiter’s site. Economic factors are certainly relevant. But in hearing others echo here John Greco’s statement, I’m tempted to downplay these other factors. The fact seems to be that committees are scared to death to hire someone without publications, perhaps for fear of having that trend continue right up to the tenure review process.

    Anyway, I’m not complaining about the committees’ concerns and requirements as much as I am complaining that I was someone who has been acting on Weatherson-type advice when Greco-type advice seems to be more accurate.

  11. Duncan makes an interesting point: getting something can be bad news and may slow down your research in a way that will affect the start of your career significantly. It is obvious that having a very good publishing record will enhance not only the chance of getting a job, but a good one. My own experience has taught me this: I have a degree from a top university and took the first job opportunity, but was then stuck for years, publication-wise. It’s not the end of the world, of course, and things can turn around (and they often do). But it complicates everything. Having been on search committees over the years, I can guarantee you John that a strong publication record, in top journals, will greatly enhance your chances in being noticed, independently of where you obtained your degree. The publications show something that your affiliation cannot: it shows what you can do now, what your value as a researcher is, and this is often more important than anything else, as far as being noticed amidst a pile of hundreds is concerned.

  12. Hello all,

    I have a question about what journals should be regarded as ‘lesser venues’. Or, in alternative what journals should be regarded as good places to publish (besides Mind, Phil review, JP, synthese, etc). Take the Journal of Philosophical Research (an American journal). Does it count as a good/decent place to publish?


  13. Every year at Virginia (which I think qualifies as a strong but non-elite program) I lead a workshop for our grad students on “conferencing and publishing.” My colleagues and I like to bring examples of letters of acceptance/rejection/otherwise from well known journals, as well as referee reports. We also talk about how to make the transition from writing an excellent seminar paper to a plausibly submittable paper, with discussion of what editors are looking for, etc. We also spend time on how to find conferences that are worth submitting to, how to get funding for them, and the like.

    The students say they’ve found it helpful. Seeing rejection letters sent to faculty who have excellent publication records helps to “inoculate” them against the likely results of their first steps in the direction of publishing. In recent years pretty much all of our students who’ve gone on the market have had publications–and they’ve found decent jobs.

  14. A data point: since 2000, at least, every person hired to TT at Penn has had at least one, often more, papers published or in press at the time they were hired. Nearly everyone brought in for a job talk had publications. Now, it might be that the publications played no direct role in the causal process here- it could be that the same excellence that allowed these people to get their publications also lead to their being hired w/o the publications paying a role. That seems unlikely to me, though.

    To echo and expand on a point from Duncan (maybe going beyond what he wants to say- I’m not sure) I do think that committees should not put _too_ much weight on the place of publication, in part because people looking for jobs don’t have lots of time to wait for replies (Duncan’s main point) but also because, I’m quite sure, at many journals, even with blind review, who one is surely plays a role in how the process goes. Not always, but often, the editors know who the submitters is. I think one would have be be guilty of some pretty serious self-deception or be a bit polly-annaish to think that this doesn’t come into consideration when deciding to whom to send the paper for review, whether to send the paper out at all (where many or most cuts are made at many journals), whether to ask for a R&R, etc. The established philosopher seems much more likely to be given the benefit of the doubt at each of these stages, making eventual publication much more likely. Given these factors, it seems to me that while placement should of course get _some_ weight, it shouldn’t be _that much_.

  15. I’ve heard rumors that a number of top-5 (PGR) programs give their students something like the following advice:

    “When you go on the job market, you’ll be able to ride on the reputation of our department, so don’t worry about publishing. Besides, publishing can be a bit of a risk (an article may not be well-received by others in your field, your views may change a year from now, etc.), and publishing is highly time-consuming. It’s better to focus on your dissertation and writing sample.”

    Does this sound reasonable? Are students from top-5 programs really exempt from publication pressures, and can publishing really be a risk, in the way described?

  16. Anon, While I wasn’t at a top 5 program (I think it was top 15, tho, when I was there) this is the advice I got. So, in conjunction with what I thought was good advice of the sort Weatherson offered (see above), I spent time honing arguments and writing samples, instead of sending things out.

    But now it’s clear to me that I don’t have a chance for anything other than post-docs until I get something on the dusty library shelves.

  17. I wonder whether anyone has any advice for those of us at non-elite programs, whose professors make no effort whatsoever to help with the process of getting published? Is it a dead loss? Should we take the initiative and risk alienating our professors (and sometimes letter-writers)? Has anything good been written about this in terms of really useful insider advice?

  18. Dear Luigi,

    Your question about evaluating publication venues hits on a very important point. There is a general trend to rate publication venues by citation measures. Jon Kvanvig and I compared a ranking of philosophy journals done by the European Science Foundation against a couple of different citation measures, to see how well the ESF panel’s gut calls lined up with citation data. That page can be found here, and there is quite a bit of critical discussion that you can find on this blog as well.

    The point I find important is the implication of this switch. Citation data puts different pressures on a field and the publication culture of philosophy is not ideally configured to handle this change. In many fields it is not enough to simply publish, but you must publish in ‘high impact’ venues. And everyone recognizes that to achieve that takes practice. But as philosophy moves toward bibliometric ranking schemes, our low publication rates and stingy citation practices will have the effect of driving down the impact factors in philosophy journals.

    I’m not advocating for the use of citation measures anymore than a weatherman advocates for tornadoes. But, increasingly, resource allocation is being determined by such things. Given this, I do wonder about the wisdom of campaigning against publishing.

  19. Dr Wheeler,

    thanks for your reply. But, still, I don’t fully get where the threshold between good and bad venues lie. Could you say, for instance, what value of citation measure could be considered such a threshold in the ranking that you indicated?


  20. In response to the question of whether students at “elite” programs are immune from publishing worries, I can offer my experience on hiring committees. I have been on 11 search committees in the last 17 years. I would say that no-one is immune from the need to publish in order to get a job. Other things being equal, someone from a top ten (or so) program is more likely to get a careful look without publications than someone from a lower ranked department. But getting a careful look is a long way from getting an interview, which is a long way from getting a job. In some cases, if we knew that an applicant’s department discouraged publishing (and there are a few well-known examples), we tried not to hold the lack of publications against them. But often, when it came to making the final interview cut, the fact that someone had published in a good place, whereas someone else hadn’t published at all, carried a lot more weight than the prestige of their respective departments.

  21. Hi Luigi,

    The page I linked to doesn’t seem to be ordered. This excel file might be easier to work with:

    The ESF rankings grouped journals into three categories, A, B, C, which we code as 1, 2, and 3. On sheet 2 of the file the journals are sorted by two different measures. (For an explanation, try searching the blog; there are also links to this discussion attached to a similar exercise comparing PGR faculty rankings with citation rankings for faculty.)

    One point that was mentioned in the old threads, which bear repeating here, is that journals seem to cluster into three groups: specialty journals that link to a science (f.e., Brit. J. Phil. Sci.), general area journals (f.e., J. of Phil.), and History journals (f.e., Kant-Studien). Each group seems to cluster in terms of citation practices, from profligate to close-fisted, which is what’s behind my sociological conjecture above.

    Hope this helps, -Greg

  22. As someone who “gave back” a tenure track position and now works in the real world, I think the best thing grad programs could do would be to expand the definition of The Market. There are jobs outside of the academy that are interesting, worthwhile, and even well paid. Teaching and academic research are not the only possibilities.

  23. Anon, I can confirm that in at least some elite departments, something like the advice you cite is fairly widespread. I certainly heard it from at least some people at Rutgers. (But do not misunderstand: I don’t think the advice represents anything like the official voice of the department; when I say I heard it at Rutgers, I mean that a couple of professors that I talked to gave me that advice. Some professors at Rutgers encourage students to publish more.)

    I began my Ph.D. program at Brown, where the advice I received was more mixed. Some professors encouraged us to make a point of trying to publish, while others gave the advice that publishing too much was to be avoided. (One person who gave that latter advice was a recent graduate of an elite program, so I call this some small further confirmation of the suggestion that the advice is prevalent in elite programs.)

    There was little formal guidance, at either department I attended, on how to go about getting published, where to submit, etc. However, in my experience, many faculty members were generous with their time and advice when I approached them for advice. NonEliteGrad, I’d be stunned to learn that a graduate student ‘alienated’ a faculty member for asking for advice getting published.

    I don’t know whether the advice to avoid (or place a low priority on) publishing is good or not. I do know that some students without publications, even at elite departments, have a very hard time even getting interviews. I also know that some elite students at elite departments land great jobs without publications. These tend to be the lucky few about whom there is antecedent ‘buzz’. Presumably, one gets buzz by impressing enough of the class of buzz-making philosophers. This is much easier at an elite institution, where many of the buzz-makers tend to reside.

    On how one gets to be a buzz-maker, I’m too young and new to speculate.

  24. This may be a digression, for which I apologize. Can we have a discussion about the prospects of PhDs from non-elite programs? Of course, they have very little chance of getting into research university. However, what about the ‘less desirable’ teaching careers can they pursue? For example, those in community colleges or small liberal art colleges? Does the present topic of no-publication-no-job apply to these ‘less desirable’ teaching careers? Elites or tenured professors in the profession may find this topic irrelevant and negligible. However, this may be a very real option for many PhD students. Do we have any good advice for these cases?

  25. As a grad student at a university not ranked on PGR, I’d like to get as much feedback as I can before sending papers to journals. Let’s say I’m working on a paper in X and Professor P has made significant contributions to the topic of X but I (and no one I know) knows Professor P. Is there some professional etiquette involved with my sending the paper to Professor P? For those who have been in the Professor P position, do you respond to unsolicited requests for feedback?

  26. I have a related question for search committee veterans. How are co-written papers viewed? One of our faculty wants to write an article with me. (I am nearing the end of my dissertation.) Though he is respected in his field and whatever he writes is likely to eventually get published, I would have to put in a reasonable time investment in to learning the nuances of our joint effort. Should I politely decline (with no harm to me) and work on my one writing?

    What about co-written work with another student?

    In both cases does it appear collegial, well rounded, taken seriously, or merely as someone who only half-published a paper with a faculty member who took pity on me?

  27. Used-to-be-a-Professor…pray tell, what “interesting, worthwhile, and well paid opportunities” await the non-elite philosophy PhD? Law school? Non-profits? Publishing houses? Or was your claim simply that the world is full of other jobs, which seems to be an obvious truth? To borrow a thought from Socrates’ in the Apology: the non-elite PhD would have to be living truly blindly to think that, having been tried and exiled by her peers, she could go to some other place and some other group of peers and find them willing to put up with her! I am sure that some people manage to find decent jobs, but if they do, it is because they undertook a good deal of further debt, and sacrificed a good deal more time, in order to go to a professional school, or trade school, and learn a new business from scratch. In which case the philosophy PhD, it seems to me, is doing nothing at all to help them. It is the further work alone that qualifies them for non-academic employment, which in turn leads one to wonder why anyone would amend the meaning of “the Philosophy Job Market” to include such non-academic labor.

    Of course if you had in mind some work where grad level philosophy study directly translates into employment w/o further professional/trade school certification, my fellow hopeless non-elites and I would love to hear the details.

  28. Luigi,
    There are some journals that almost nobody reads. I think JPR falls into that category. (This may be a great injustice–I don’t know–I never read it.) I doubt that publishing in a journal that almost nobody reads would do you much good professionally.

  29. Leo,

    thanks for your comment. How about journals like Ratio, Inquiry, Theoria? They are not top journals, but at the same time they are not unknown. Would these count as good/decent journals to appear on the CV of a recent Ph.D?
    If not, could you mention a few journals that are good/decent, but which at the same time are not top journals?


  30. I’m curious what the posters would say regarding the very good work in a field of one’s specialty, yet it is not regarded in equal measure to more popular venues. I’m thinking of Husserl-Studies for a Husserl scholar, and Continental Philosophy Review. These are excellent journals in my aspiring PhD field of Continental philosophy. They have excellent representation at SPEP for instance as well.

    Any comments?

  31. It seems to me that the best thing that a second tier doc program can do is restructure funding for a guaranteed year of support _after_ the diss is completed, so that articles can be pushed through journals while the candidate is on the market.

    That postdoc year might even fruitfully be at adjunct faculty/visiting wages and benefits, if those are better than TA benefits and wages.

    That would yield three effects:
    1. Better prepared job candidates on the measures listed here, and perhaps a better teaching portfolio with the extra time to teach, too.
    2. Fewer doc students admitted as funds are reallocated for this additional postdoc year — a “good” overall for the field.
    3. The ethos of “we care” when attracting the best new students.


    Mystified writes, “Of course if you had in mind some work where grad level philosophy study directly translates into employment w/o further professional/trade school certification, my fellow hopeless non-elites and I would love to hear the details.”
    I’ll bite. My spouse never even took a tt job before deciding to change careers. One semester of software courses and a summer internship, and he landed a position at CitiGroup, which turned into a very successful career in systems design. A friend who was turned down on an early tenure decision left to become an investment banker. (Still is, the economy aside.) Another friend was turned down for tenure and went to work for an aerospace company as a manager. The fact of the matter is, no one outside academe cares whether other academics judged one worthy of tenure.

    From an Non-Elite writes, “Does the present topic of no-publication-no-job apply to these ‘less desirable’ teaching careers?” Let’s suppose one is actually interested in teaching and in teaching undergraduates; if so, a SLAC is the place to start. If one thinks teaching undergraduates will be hell, then the top research programs offer the only out.
    In fact, at most SLACs the publication record of an ABD or newly-minted PhD only carries minor weight. The so-called ‘importance’ of the journals in which publications appear is also different; as ‘Continental’ notes, above, we are interested in whether you publish in journals respected in your field. But, we are more likely to be interested in someone who went to a decent SLAC as an undergraduate or who shows real interest in teaching undergraduates than in someone who is all about the ‘leiteriffic’ world of analytic research programs or than in the number of first publications. After all, if you never publish, you won’t be tenured. If you only publish all the time and are a poor teacher, you also won’t get tenured. If you are an arrogant idiot, you likely will not get past the first review.
    So, yes, the world of philosophy is considerably larger than the PGR suggests.

  33. Sorry it took a while to jump back onto this thread — I’m in the middle of switching computers.


    Did your advisor or department ever discuss publication strategy with you and your friends?


    I believe you about the relative advantage of prestigious publications, even for those from elite departments (and Post-doc’s comment reinforces your point). But I do suspect that many people tend to treat pedigree as a quasi-proxy for one’s “value as a researcher,” especially, it seems, early on in the process of sorting through a pile of hundreds.


    The workshop you describe sounds great.


    I agree with you that search committees shouldn’t place so much weight on publication venue, and should attend more to the paper’s actual quality. If SCs did that, then Weatherson’s advice — which Post-doc now laments — would be more accurate.


    I agree with Jonathan — it would be shocking and clearly wrong for your professor to respond negatively to a (polite, etc.) request for assistance in getting something into publishable shape.


    Do you think that elite and non-elite departments alike are going to have their funding affected by this shift? Will it affect departments at public universities more than ones at private universities? Will it to a certain extent depend on a department’s strengths (perhaps, e.g., those who tend towards formal treatments of philosophical problems will more readily go along)?


    You wrote, “no-one is immune from the need to publish in order to get a job.” I’m curious — in your experience, can the need be fulfilled by publishing non-refereed and/or invited papers? Because unless I’m mistaken, there exist a number of recent cases where someone got a very, very nice job without a single blind peer-reviewed publication. And if it can be fulfilled in this way, why wouldn’t a very good writing sample fulfill the need just as well?

    from a non-elite program,

    There were many remarks pertinent to your question on this thread. I think publications are helpful to landing jobs at CCs and SLACs, but aren’t nearly as necessary as they are for R1s. The comparison isn’t perfect, though — I’d bet that some SLACs (e.g. Dartmouth, Wellesley, etc.) are nearly as demanding as elite R1s for hiring and tenure&promotion.


    In my experience, some respond generously, others merely respond, and yet others just ignore you.


    This is what I’ve heard about how joint-publication is viewed in philosophy (it’s very different in the sciences): You get less than half the credit for a dual-authored publication than you’d get for a single-authored publication. That changes if you have multiple joint-authored publications with a specific author.


    To a certain extent it matters what field you’re publishing in. Did you have a specific field in mind?

    David Beard,

    I like your idea.

  34. John,

    my field is philosophy of science/mathematics.

    I also have another question though. So far we’ve been talking about elite vs. non-elite programs. So it is natural to ask: what counts as an elite program? One among the first 5 or 10 programs? And there are probably also semi-elite programs, i.e. programs from which it’s not impossible to get a research job (first 10-25 programs?) in NON-RANKED research departments. Am I wrong?


  35. Hi John,

    My case is perhaps unusual, since I am in a research computer science department…and in Europe, no less. But I spend part of my time working on funding issues: getting it, evaluating other people’s requests for it, defending our requests for it, dividing it up once we’ve gotten it, and the like. And I pay attention to what is going on in the US and the EU. Most of the funding agencies we deal with are fanny-over-kettle for measurements of research impact, and the pressure this creates is changing the way we evaluate the members of our research center.

    Philosophy is different from computer science, but other fields that may be closer peers to philosophy are using citation data to argue their case to the authorities controlling their budgets. So if philosophy departments begin to lose out on funding to departments who use such data, then ….

  36. Luigi,

    Yes, it’s a matter of degree. Departments can be more or less elite. I don’t think there’s a definite cutoff point beyond which someone could expect to get a good TT job right out of grad school, either at a research university or a nice SLAC.

    I remember being fairly surprised at some of the differences between the chart Jon did not too long ago (which Greg linked to above) and the intuitive sense one gets of the journal hierarchy as a grad student and junior faculty member.

    But here are a few journals I’d say are generally regarded as at least very good by either measure, and would satisfy the description you originally asked about, and which I wouldn’t be surprised to see publish an article in the philosophy of science or mathematics: Erkenntnis, Canadian Journal of Philosophy, Pacific Philosophical Quarterly, American Philosophical Quarterly, and Philosophers’ Imprint.

    That list is not exhaustive, and I welcome others to add their own ideas.

    P.S. These results might interest you. They derive from a non-scientific opinion survey Brian Weatherson did a few years back.

  37. I’m at a CC — my teaching load is the stuff of nightmares for R-anything faculty (5/5 and large courses… no TAs).

    On the other hand, I’m ABD and tenured. I’ve been on several hiring committees and I’ll tell you that most folks don’t have a clue about how to position a CV for a teaching position.

    First — to correct a few misconceptions about teaching at a community college..
    1) Generally you’ll need to be either ABD or have a Ph.D. to be competitive. Of the last 7 new hires I know, all have Ph.D.s.
    2) It is possible to do your own scholarship and teach a 5/5 –you just need good time management.
    3) The level of autonomy and intellectual freedom is comparable to what you’d have at a 4-year school.

    On the point of publications — put your teaching experience first on your CV — then list anything that sounds at all like scholarship of teaching, finally put your best two articles on there, no more.

    A long list of publications tells us you want a paycheck, not a teaching position. You have control over how you present yourself, so make sure you seem to be very interested in teaching.

  38. With respect to coming out of a not highly ranked PhD program and the benefit of publications, anecdotal evidence suggests pedigree snobbery is almost impossible to overcome. As a grad student who came out of a good but not ranked program with two journal articles in peer reviewed journals, two book chapters and a page of conference presentations I still managed only one interview out of over 70 apps sent, as opposed to my friends in ranked programs who had one and no publications each with over seven interviews at the APA east. I know Leiter thinks pedigree speaks to qualification but I figure demonstration of qualification such as a record of publication should speak more loudly. If you come from a non ranked program, regardless of how good your are at your job the elitism of the field is a heavy prejudice against you. Add to that a desire for diversity candidates and a good even exceptional yet traditional student from a non ranked program has a very tough road ahead. I speak as someone who now has lost two jobs to diversity candidates (both of which I was informed I lost merely because I was not a diversity candidate) who didn’t even have degrees yet even though I now have over 15 publications and two pages of presentations. Again, unfortunately merit does very little on the job market in light of pedigree snobbery and demand for diversity. I figured philosophy as the pursuit of wisdom would have more integrity. I have been sadly disappointed.

  39. I find it very hard to know how to evaluate claims like that of the anonymous “Bitter Phil Prof”, because of necessity if the author is to remain anonymous, they cannot disclose to use just what the papers were that are on their CV. Maybe this person has produced stellar work… or maybe they have gotten a handful of things through the refereeing process that are not particularly interesting or noteworthy contributions to the field. Of course they can go on to claim, in full sincerity, that the papers in question are really top-notch, but this is just the sort of thing where any individual philosopher would want to evaluate for him or herself. I am (obviously) not opposed to posting anonymously, but this particular kind of conversation is nearly impossible to have successfully under such terms.

    Anyhow, in response to Bitter Phil Prof, I would certainly add: a one-publication CV for a fresh-minted PhD, where it is a really superb paper, and they have another, also superb writing sample… such a person would _naturally and appropriately_ beat out a lot of people with a passel of perfectly good but unexciting publications. Quality matters more than quantity, even at, or maybe especially at, the junior level.

  40. I think Anonymous Epistemologist is correct as to the relative significance of quantity and quality, even at SLACs.
    I don’t want to offend Bitter Phil Prof, of whom we know nothing, but the “15 publications and 2 pages of presentations” may not be impressive if the publications were not refereed or were not in good journals [not just the ‘best’] or if the presentations were regional, given at one’s institution, and so on. Compared with such a record – extensive in quantity but not low in quality – a smaller record of high promise from a new philosopher might look much better. (Again, I know nothing of BPP’s case, so this is not a characterization of his/her record.)

    As to ‘diversity’ in hiring and the integrity of our field, I’m not sure I agree with the implication of BPP’s comments. The implication seems to be that concern for diversifying a program does not comport with disciplinary integrity.
    I suspect that there is an assumption at work, here, to the effect that the ‘diversity’ candidates were not equally qualified. But, of course, we cannot know this, nor can we know how this or that SC reads files or what the program’s needs are.
    My own experience in hiring is that there are usually several very good candidates for any position. Against that background of qualified candidates, I think that [e.g.]choosing a candidate who is female to ‘diversify’ an all-male or largely-male department makes sense – as would hiring a person of color for an all-white or largely-white department – and so on.
    How is that a failure of integrity? There are good reasons to diversify the profile of professional philosophy – some of these are educational reasons and some are more purely philosophical reasons.
    I don’t mean to discredit BPP’s comment, at all. S/he is in a terrible situation whith which we all should sympathize. But, I do think that we philosophers should not be quick to discredit the importance of seeking diversity in our programs or our discipline.

  41. In response to Bitter Phil Prof: I agree with the suggestion that it’s difficult to evaluate the comments here without knowing more of the situation. But I confess, it’s a little bit hard for me to believe that BPP was, after an unsuccessful job application, “informed that he lost merely because he was not a diversity candidate.” I don’t know a lot about how these things work, but I’m just having a hard time imagining a person who would both (a) know that BPP was passed over merely for being a white male, and (b) decide to tell BPP that this is the case.

    I register this skepticism with a degree of humility: I really don’t know how these processes work. Is it usual, when one’s job application is rejected, to be told this sort of thing?

  42. I may as well apologize in advance for the typos which, inductively, I know will follow.

    Jonathan Ichikawa’s question about what people are told when they are not awarded a position is interesting. I find it hard to beleive that anyone would tell a candidate s/he had not been hired just for the reason of ‘not being a diversity’ candidate. I can imagine someone’s saying that in order to avoid having to say something substantive about the particular candidate’s qualifications, or to somehow imply that it was out of the hands of the SC. Even then, this strikes me as a remarkably dangerous comment to make, and I cannot see how giving in to one’s cowardice would justify it.

    Further, the vry construction of that claim is odd. Does it mean, “we wanted to hire you” or “would have hired you” but for this fact? That suggests the candidate being spoken to was, in fact, the SC’s unanimously preferred choice. Now, it’s possible that a Dean or someo such might insist a program hire a lesser ranked candidate for diversity purposes, but I would think most SCs would resist such suggestions.

    Really, I think there is very seldom one clearly best in all ways candidate. More often, it is something along the lines of “our top 3 or 2.” In those circumstances, to tell someone who is not offered the job that it was only because of his/her not being a diversity candidate is dishonest. It’s also unfair to whomever is hired.

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