Listing works in progress? What counts?




In our job-market do’s and don’ts thread on CVs, there was some discussion of whether job candidates should list works-in-progress (WIPs), and if so, whether listing too many of them can decrease a candidate’s credibility. On early career person suggested it might be good to run a new thread on these questions, so here it is!

My own sense is search committees care far more about what you’ve actually published than WIPs. But still, these are fair questions:

Should candidates list WIPs?
If so, under what conditions? What counts as a WIP?
Is listing too many WIPs problematic? 

I don’t have any clear picture on what the answer to (1) is. On the one hand, listing WIPs can show that you have potential publications in your research pipeline. On the other hand, listing WIPs shows that you haven’t actually published them, and in terms of getting tenure and/or promotion, actually publishing is what matters. 

On (2), Bill Vanderburgh writes, “Be prepared to answer detailed questions about anything you list as in preparation.” But, this actually seems to me to be too minimal of a standard. I’ve always been told that you should only list something as a WIP if you would be able to actually provide a paper draft, if asked. After all, it’s entirely possible that someone on a search committee might be interested in one of your papers at some point and even ask to read it. Maybe the probability of this is small. But still, if my recollection serves me correctly, it happened to me as a job candidate on at least one occasion. So, I think it’s probably a bad idea to list papers that are only partially drafted or which you merely plan to draft. 

On (3), I don’t know. Bill Vanderburg writes, “listing more than two works in progress decreases credibility.” Another Assistant Professor adds:

I don’t know that I specifically endorse Bill’s “list only 2” works in progress cap as a strict rule, but I appreciate the spirit of it.

Early Career notes that if you are ABD and have several accepted conference papers in the mix then you likely have 5-6 works in progress. Sure, but those things are also already represented on your CV, right? If you are presenting on the main program of the APA, we all know that you submitted a 3K word paper to get in, and so it is already on your CV, and you don’t need to list it elsewhere. If you are ABD then we all know you are writing a dissertation with probably 4-6 chapters (some of which, presumably, will turn into journal articles if you aren’t trying to make the whole thing into a monograph). But that is also already part of your CV. It seems a bit odd to then also list these things that would be on your CV in other places already *also* as “works in progress.”

I would use a works in progress section sparingly, only if it helps signal *new* directions on existing scholarship (though you could/should also talk about these in your cover letter or research statement) and not just as CV filler (which it risks looking like for most folks).

I guess I think the last sentence of this comment is the most relevant one: search committees will probably consider your WIPs in context. So, if you have no publications, or maybe just one or two, then listing (say) 10 WIPs isn’t going to look very good. It will look like filler, or worse: it will look like you have a lot of things you just haven’t been able to publish! On the other hand, suppose you are a candidate who has 8 publications, and you list 10 WIPs. In this case, I wonder whether you might come across as extraordinarily productive–as someone who has not only published a lot, but who is likely to continue to do so moving forward. Then again, if you have 8 publications, do you even need to list WIPs at all? I’m not sure. The longer I was on the market, and the more publications I had, I didn’t even bother listing them.

Anyway, these are just my thoughts on questions (1)-(3). What are yours? 

Originally appeared on The Philosophers’ Cocoon Read More