Friday, September 7, 2012

Gotta crank 'em out

As the job cycle begins anew, I've got one eye on the pseudology jobs, just in case I see a good one to go for.  There are a few out there, so I'm keeping my CV updated and dusting off my Interfolio account.  And of course, I need to keep my letters of reference current.  That led to calling most of my letter-writers today just to "make sure that they got the link."  While talking with Dr. Whirlwind, zi of the impressive CV, zi said in a slightly lowered tone of voice – which I heard as "Heed what I say now" – that I needed to get serious about putting out some journal articles.  (I don't have any in a major journal.)  Even with the book manuscript that I hope will someday soon be under contract, zi said that all the book could do was buy me some time; one way or another, I have to apply myself to getting some articles out.

In pseudology, at least, it can take years to get an article into print, so this process could take every bit as long as bringing my book to print.  Whirlwind's suggestion was to take a few of my drafted book chapters and re-work them to play around with theory – almost as experiments, really – and send them out.  And, as absurd as it sounded to me, zi recommended putting them on my CV as soon as I send them out as "submitted."  This sounds odd, but it corresponds with Flavia's advice to me to play up everything that I can at this stage of my career, when I literally have nothing significant in publication and need to demonstrate somehow that I can be taken seriously.

Of course, Whirlwind is speaking to me from the vantage point of a very ambitious researcher who has achieved hir goal of full professorship at a bona fide R1 institution.  As I have mentioned before, I have my doubts that I want to follow that exact career path as an academic.  But I don't doubt that even crunchy-granola liberal arts colleges will take the liberty in this godawful job market of judging job candidates partly on their publication credits.  Journal articles have been literally the last thing on my mind within my recent professional development, and I guess that I have to stop letting that slide.

Good thing I'm about to start attending a writing group with some colleagues tomorrow.  We'll see what hours of caffeine and fear of public shame will do for my productivity on a Saturday.


  1. No offense to your mentor, but I don't know if it's 100% necessary to crank out a bunch of articles. I got a TT job without any peer-reviewed articles under my belt. Thing is -- it really does depend on the kind of school you want to work at. SLACs will care a lot less about having a huge list of articles. And remember -- your mentor has a job at a prestigious R1. When getting job advice from someone at a prestigious R1, you have to remember that your career path is not necessarily the same as his/hers was. I mean, you can totally apply to Harvard for a job if that's what you want. In our discussions about the market, though, I suspect that that's not your career path. (Not because you couldn't do it, but because you don't seem to want that particular job. Correct me if I'm wrong.)

    The fact that you've got a book you're working on would impress anyone at my SLAC. In fact, it might even intimidate them. I guess you just have to temper the advice you're getting with the reality of the market, which is a finicky little bastard.

    No matter what, don't stress out about it so much that you neglect the importance of your teaching this year. Good evals will impress SLACs just as much, if not more than, lots of publications.

    1. I had exactly the same thought, Fie. BUT, bearing in mind that I'm not yet in a position to choose which kind of institution to grace with my presence, I feel obliged to keep myself in shape to get a job in a wide range of gigs. And frankly, a lot of the SLACs where I'd love to work are probably a lot more inclined to pick a candidate who has some good pubs as well as good teaching evals than someone who has only the latter. It's a buyer's market for pseudologists nowadays.

      I certainly keep in mind that Whirlwind thinks in terms of R1 standards. Hir ambitions have been necessarily different than mine, due to some research specifics. I'm a lot more conscious of these things this year than I was a year ago.

  2. I'm finding that even schools that demand a high teaching load (or that prioritize teaching) still ask a lot of questions about research. Market over-saturation has ratcheted up the expectations at all levels. What would have gotten us jobs at R1 25 years ago wouldn't even get you an interview at most SLACs these days. An article certainly wouldn't hurt.

    Also, Whirlwind and Flavia's advice is spot-on. You shouldn't misrepresent something, but you do need to show evidence of continued productivity. Committees know how long the publication process can be, and they want to know that you at least have something in the pipeline.

    As one person told me a few years ago, committees are looking at your potential as much as anything else. If you aren't at least trying to remain productive while on the market, they can't picture you trying once you're hired.

    All of this advice, of course, is worth what you've paid for it. It certainly hasn't done too much for me.