Publishing to get a teaching job w/o ‘running dry’

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In our newest “how can we help you?” thread, G writes:

I am an advanced graduate student in a good, but not elite, program. My goal would be to land a teaching oriented job, not a research focused job. I have over 5 papers in good, but not excellent, journals.

Here’s my question. I am plugging away at my dissertation, which is composed of 3-4 stand alone papers. I could submit two of them right now for publication. But, should I do that, I worry I will have nothing new to send out after I land a permanent job, should I be so lucky. Of course, I will have new ideas for papers in the future. But I am so focused on my dissertation right now that I would need a good bit of time to get back in a position to publish new work. So, should I sit on my dissertation chapters, and so have ’rounds in the chamber’ when/should I land a permanent job, or, should I just publish as much as I can now, looking as good as possible for the market, but risk ‘running dry’ after/if I land a job? I understand that maximizing my number of publications isn’t necessary or even beneficial for certain teaching jobs, but the idea of sitting on papers that are ready to go is a little annoying, to say the least.

This is an excellent question. Another early-career reader submitted the following reply:

I would submit everything right away and not worry not much about future lack of paper ideas. The review process can be long; a lot can happen after you submit that adds up to the wait. For instance, you might be rejected by several places before landing an R&R.

I entirely agree, but let me add some detail as to why…

First and foremost, one needs to get a permanent job (in this case, preferably one at a ‘teaching institution’) before the issue of ‘running dry’ afterward is even an issue. So, the OP’s first question should be: what’s the best publishing strategy for getting a job like this? My answer to this question might seem odd, but it’s this: even if you want a job at a ‘teaching institution’, you’re probably best served by publishing as much as you can–just not in tippy-top journals. Here’s why I say this: the more that I published while on the market, the more interviews that I got at ‘teaching institutions.’ Why? Well, having served on a number of search committees, my sense is that competition on the job market has become so stiff that candidates who are otherwise excellent fits for teaching institutions (viz. having excellent pedagogy, etc.) still stand out positively with more publications than fewer. The key, in my experience, is simply not to be publishing in tippy-top places like Phil Review, Nous, PPR, etc.–as publishing in these types of journal may make one look like a better fit for a research institution. Are these features of the academic job market today regrettable? My answer is: absolutely. Christine Korsgaard nicely sums up this and other related problems with the profession in her excellent Dewey Lecture currently making its rounds around social media. But, of course, job candidates can’t solve these problems. As I know from my own 7+ years on the market, for better or worse one simply needs to make the best of the awful situation one faces.

Second, I would really suggest to the OP not to worry about the well ‘running dry’ after the dissertation. First, as someone who has made it through a PhD program successfully, published a handful of articles, and written a dissertation, the OP should trust that they will be able to come up with new publishable ideas in the years to come. I know this from experience: there have been at least a dozen times in my career when I’ve wondered, “Am I done? Will I ever have any more good ideas?”, and yet each time, new ideas have come. I know it can be scary to leave grad school and imagine moving beyond the dissertation and coming up with new publishable ideas in a full-time job with a significant course load–but you can do it! Second, my sense is that at many universities (including ‘teaching schools’), one really does need to publish significantly beyond the dissertation (e.g. to get tenure). For these reasons, I really don’t think there’s much to be said for holding off publishing. If and when you have publishable work, publish it!

But these are just my thoughts. What are yours?

Originally appeared on The Philosophers’ Cocoon Read More

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