Monday, October 15, 2007

It's Hard to Read You, Like I'm Illiterate

I've spent the last couple of hours going over my spreadsheet of jobs and getting the various addresses in the right format to print them onto labels. (Or at least, I hope I've got the addresses in the right format. Last year, MS Word fucked up all my labels, so even though I'd told it exactly what brand of address labels I was using, I still to had to screw around with the formatting on each sheet of labels to get them to come out right.)

Anyway, one of my office mates and I were just talking about how unreadable the JFP is. It's a spectacularly badly edited document. First, there isn't a standard format for the ads. Yeah, I know total standardization would be impossible. But fuck that. Would it kill departments doing tenure-track searches to all start their ads with the ranks, AOSs, AOCs, and deadlines of their searches? In that order, and in a list rather than a rambling, relative clause-laden sentence? Look, it's easy:
Rank: Assistant professor (tenure-track). AOS: Open. AOC: M&E and History preferred. Deadline: Nov. 1, 2007.

Then the ad could say whatever else needed to be said, and no one would have to do a close reading of the whole 350 words to find the deadline. Wouldn't that be nice?

But even worse, have you noticed how there's ads doubled-up in the web-only additions? Take Cornell. It looks like they've got one job that's numbered both 55 and 444. Doesn't that shit get any copy-editting? Come on.

13 comments:

Himself said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Pseudonymous Grad Student said...

himself -- Huh. Can you point me to examples? Are they depts actually advertising for two positions?

Himself said...

I was so sure . . . but having had a hard look at the JFP again, it seems I was wrong. I suspect this is a cognitive effect of reading similar ads over again that one thinks one's seen the exact same ads again and again.

Anonymous said...

Your APA fees at work. There is probably a market for someone willing to type up a table just as you suggested, maybe with pre-formated labels within the spreadsheet. We could each pay five dollars to download just the job #s we want based on certain search criteria. Anyone? A great timewaster.

Anonymous said...

My thoughts exactly about a standard format. I managed to waste an hour or so converting the whole thing to an excel sheet with a separate AOS/AOC column -- easy to automatically if the ads actually follow the recommended format, but a pain in the ass if they can't even include the letters "AOS".

Anonymous said...

In one case, it never says WHAT the job opening is. Look at #2, Baruch College. How many words do you have to read before you can justifiably infer that they're hiring a DEAN. They never actually say it. It just sort of comes up by the by. It's the 251st word in a 500 word description (by my reckoning), and it just slides it in, "The Dean reports to the Provost . . ."

Anonymous said...

At my old school, the dean wouldn't let us use the words 'AOS' and 'AOC' in the ad, since he thought they were silly jargon (and since he was a micromanaging idiot).

Rob Helpy-Chalk said...

Why would the APA spend any time making life easier for people who are powerless? What are job candidates going to do, post grouchy blog entries?

JB said...

>> It's a spectacularly badly editted document.

Please tell me I'm entitled to a prize for discovering this obviously intentional spelling error ...

Anonymous said...

Simon Fraser seems to actually have a new job in the supplement (they say people applying for the first job, in M&E, are also automatically considered for that open one).

And Chicago has some crazy ad that says they're looking for people in Ancient, and then continues that all subfields will be considered, especially language, mind, epistemology, metaphysics, ethics, and philosophy of science. And they've got a third set of criteria listed too, for their other job.

Anonymous said...

This isn't really bad editing, but did anyone else notice the U Wisconsin ad?

For a more detailed description of UW-Fond du Lac, see www.fdl.uwc.edu; for representative courses, Google University of Wisconsin Colleges Philosophy Department

Now we could really abbreviate the ads: "Rank, AOS/AOC; google us for more information".

Jon Cogburn said...

One small factor here is that each department has to clear their proposed adds with their university wide Human Resources Management. This requires all sorts of bizarre rites of propitiation, that even poor Franz Kafka failed to capture in "The Castle."

In my experience, HRM can send them proposed ads back to the department over and over again requiring frankly bizarre changes depending on whatever legal issues they are het up about that semester, the positions of the heavenly bodies, as well as their complicated casting of the I Ching.

This being said, your proposal for standardization at the outset (AOS, AOC, deadline, etc.) would pass HRM muster. It could even include possible income and stuff like that with the proviso that if one's HRM will not let you fill that then in it gets left blank. This would also make statistical trolling of the type Leiter and you are attempting vastly easier. So the APA is not off the hook here.

Anonymous said...

I think Jon Cogburn underestimates the folly of local HRM departments: I'm not optimistic that all HRM departments would allow the 'AOS' and 'AOC' jargon to pass. (Still, more standardization, even if less than perfect compliance, would be good.) At my old school, either the dean or the HRM department decreed that departments could only solicit letters from short-listed candidates; they had to short-list candidates *without looking at any letters*. This insanity was thankfully short-lived. But it indicates that one shouldn't expect HRM departments to acquiesce to simple, sane measures.