Monday, November 12, 2007

King Volcano gave me numbers.

Apropos of Leiter's post today about his rankings, I bring you the second installment from our dear friend Inside Man. (Here’s his first post.) Enjoy.--PGOAT

You’re an excellent undergraduate. You apply to lots of departments and get in everywhere. Your advisors tell you about the Leiter rankings, and you choose to go to a highly ranked department. If students tend to act like you, higher-ranked departments will have better incoming graduate students. In addition, one learns a great deal in graduate school from one’s peers, and graduate students at higher-ranked departments will generally get more out of their peers (since their peers were better coming in). So one would expect graduate students coming out of higher-ranked departments to be better—even if there is no correlation between the Leiter rankings and how good the faculty are at training graduate students. This is why I tell prospective graduate students to look at the Leiter rankings, and it’s why I take them into account in assessing applications. It’s not about prestige: it’s that I think that there’s reason to think that, other things being equal, students coming out of higher-ranked departments will be better. (This is a pretty weak claim and doesn’t justify chucking the file of someone from a non-Leiterrific department with three publications in Phil Studies in favor of the file of someone from a Leiterrific department with no publications. Not that I would do that.)

(PGOAT reminds me that, given my reasons for taking the Leiter rankings into account, I should pay attention to a department’s ranking over time, including when the student was deciding. But that’s a pain, so I tend to just assume that the rankings are more or less stable over time.)

--Inside Man


Anonymous said...

"This is a pretty weak claim and doesn’t justify chucking the file of someone from a non-Leiterrific department with three publications in Phil Studies in favor of the file of someone from a Leiterrific department with no publications. Not that I would do that".

Maybe you wouldn't do that. But most would. That's common knowledge.

Not Me said...

Dear Inside Man,

Thanks for this info. I wonder what your impression is of those from Leiterrific departments who have a couple of publications in less than top journals (not bad journals, mind you, just not Mind, et al.). Does your principle still hold, or ...?

Not Me

Anonymous said...

Yeah, what Not Me asked. And alsdo, what about applications from students at non-US Leiterrific schools?

puzzled said...

Doesn't this all presuppose that graduate admissions committees at top programs ARE good at identifying the best students, leaving the not-so-best for the not-so-top programs?

This is the same problem all over again at an earlier stage.

John Turri said...

"So one would expect graduate students coming out of higher-ranked departments to be better—even if there is no correlation between the Leiter rankings and how good the faculty are at training graduate students."

That's not clearly true. Suppose that there is no discernible correlation between Leiter rankings and graduate-student training. But suppose further that departments ranked number 9, 22, 31, and 40 best trained graduate students, and that number 31 trained them best of all. (Those are just random numbers; I did not re-check the LR to see which departments those were.) In that scenario, I don't think you should be expecting students out of higher-ranked departments to be better.

Anonymous said...

Sorry to change the subject for a moment here, but is anyone else TIRED of the APA site being down? Has anyone emailed a Power-That-Be to inform them of this? (One assumes that, if they knew, they would take steps to correct this. Then again ...)

Interested party said...

Anon 5:29:

I'm puzzled by the claim that most search committee members would exclude someone from a non-Leiterrific department with three publications in Phil Studies in favor of someone in a Leiterrific department with no publications. Is that common knowledge? How does one know?

no-rank guy said...

It seems that specialty rankings don't play as much of a part as I would have expected. Leiter seems to have gone to great pains to say that the most critical factor in choosing a school is finding the highest quality faculty in the field in which you are interested. He seems to suggest that even those in top programs are not in an ideal position if they are working in an area in which that department has very few or no quality faculty.

So, let's assume that you are correct and that students in higher-ranked departments end up getting a better education (i.e. because of the quality of their peers) generally. Perhaps, this makes them better equipped to discuss philosophy generally and better informed about the whole field of philosophy. At a research university, though, aren't you more concerned with a junior member's ability to "make a splash" in her own field? And if so, shouldn't that mean that you concern yourself more with specialty rankings than overall rankings? For example, if someone comes out of NYU with an AOS in ancient philosophy, shouldn't that count less than someone coming out of, say, Northwestern who studied with Kenneth Seeskin and Richard Kraut? [BTW, this is not my department nor my AOS]

Perhaps, someone on the hiring committee at teaching college should be interested in the overall ranking of a program (given that research in one's AOS is less important), but I would think that someone at a research university like yours would want to pay more attention to specialty rankings, no?

homestar said...

There seem to be several empirical claims making the rounds here. Perhaps we should list them so we can be clear about which are and are not in contention.

1. Grad students at Leiterrific schools, on average, arrive in grad school already better than grad students arriving at non-Leiterrific schools (by "better" I presume we mean better reasoners, better writers, more philosophically sophisticated, and/or with a bigger body of knowledge already attained).

2. Grad students at Leiterrific schools, on average, leave grad school better than those at non-Leiterrific schools.

3. Faculty at Leiterrific schools are better mentors qua more acute philosophical critics and qua better philosophers with important views in their subfields.

4. Faculty at non-Leiterrific schools are, on average, better mentors qua better teachers.

I take it 2 is meant to be supported by 1 and 3, in spite of 4?

What would be really interesting is that if someone out there has good evidence of any of these claims. For example, is there a faculty member out there who has moved from, say, a below-25 Leiter school to, say, a top-5 Leiter school, and can comment on whether there were any apparent differences in the quality of the grad students, either as they arrive or as they leave? Admittedly there are so many variables here that it's tough to get any sort of reliable information.

Lastly, we should note the importance of course of the "on average" here--there are anomalys at every school.

Anonymous said...

The "weak" claim - "other things being equal, students coming out of higher-ranked departments will be better" - is extremely weak. It obviously doesn't justify chucking the app of someone with 3 phil studies pubs just because they're from a non-Leiterrific department. The claim justifies attributing weight to departmental ranking only when other things are equal, i.e., when there are two candidates who have no or comparable publications, who have comparable letters from comparable faculty, who have made make comparable progress on their dissertations, etc. So I smell something fishy. The fact is that departmental rankings just aren't treated in the way the weak claim would justify, though many might try to justify their positively weighting higher rank with a claim very much like it. My suspicion (perhaps shared with anon 5:29am) is that many people on hiring committees think that things are rarely if ever equal. The weak claim isn't doing any justificatory work. Rather, other assumptions that render the claim true in virtue of making the antecedent false are doing the work. Because of those assumptions, ranking is given some (probably a lot) of weight irrespective of other considerations. This is strongly suggested by IM's statement that he wouldn't chuck the app of someone with 3 phil studies pubs, just because they're from a non-Leiterrific school, in favor of someone with no pubs from a Leiterrific school. That's a ridiculously high standard to hold any fresh PhD to, let alone those of us from lower ranked or unranked departments. If that's the standard that comes first to mind, I have to say that appealing to the "weak" claim in the way that IM is, is a flat out misrepresentation of the principles with which hiring committees are operating. If 3 phil studies pubs (or something like it) is what it takes for candidates from mid-low-non ranked programs to have a good chance competing with candidates from top tier departments, then there's a *lot* more at work under the surface than the weak claim. The weak claim is a red herring. Moreover, it's dangerous. It misleads both job candidates and those on hiring committees. It helps the latter avoid examining the (what I take to often be) bad criteria that they are using to evaluate candidates. And it misrepresents to everyone the rationality and fairness of the hiring process (which just perpetuates the irrationality and unfairness when the lucky ones who get jobs go on to use the same standards later when they end up on committees).

When people appeal to claims like the weak claim to justify this crap I just want to spout a long string of expletives. Now I need to find someone or something to take my anger out on.

Anonymous said...

Wow, I find your practice here morally reprehensible.

Anonymous said...

"I'm puzzled by the claim that most search committee members would exclude someone from a non-Leiterrific department with three publications in Phil Studies in favor of someone in a Leiterrific department with no publications. Is that common knowledge? How does one know?"

How does one know? Well, by being a member of a leiterrific or leiterespectable department in which this has happened. In my department this happens all the time.

Anonymous said...

It may be a vague characteristic, but what is the range of Leiterespectability? 12 to 24 or 15 to 30 seems to be my intuitive guesses.

Anonymous said...

Why pretend the selection criteria are at all fair, respectable, designed to find the best people, etc when this is clearly not so? As another inside man (at a Leiterrespectable department) I know what my colleagues (and, I must admit, I) use as selection criteria. We will interview 12 candidates (including as many women as possible to make the administration happy). We will treat them respectfully but in most cases we do not intend to hire the interviewed candidates. Why not? Well, because we usually know in advance who we want to hire. If friends at Leiterrific department A say that their student Carl is the best student on the market, then we will want to hire Carl. We will want to hire Carl for three reasons: 1) we secretly hope our friends at Leiterrific department A will soon offer us a job if we take their advice seriously, 2) it will look better on our department web page if most to all faculty members graduated from Leiterrific schools, and 3) we don't think blind refereed publications really matter. Those who are going to make it big are invited to contribute to volumes, invited to publish their dissertations with OUP, invited to give talks at Leiterrific departments, etc. Blind refereed publications are o.k. but as articles tend to be refereed by people at lower-ranked non-Leiterrific departments, we don't really take them too seriously, unless (perhaps) it's JP or PR (not that JP is blind refereed).

John Turri said...

Anon 1:33,

That's funny. In any other context, I bet most people would even find it amusing.

Anonymous said...

Anonymous 11:10 again. Why pretend that the criteria at at all fair, respectable or designed to find the best people? Because, presumably, they *should* be. And if they aren't, then the people using those criteria are doing something pretty darn shitty - and, I would venture to say, unjustifiably harmful both to many talented people and for the profession in general. Reasons 1-3 that Anonymous 1:33 gives for strongly preferring grads from highly ranked departments are bad in a number of respects.

As to the first reason, who the heck, when considering job applications, takes into consideration that the candidate took their advice in the past about some job applicant hired at the present applicant's department (especially given that the advice giver hasn't seen all the apps and doesn't know the applicants)? Why think that taking the advice of a Leiterrific faculty member about something like this will work to your advantage in the future, and *if* it would, why would you want to work with someone like that? Moreover, why think that it's ok to do what's going on at either end here - taking the fact that someone took your advice about something like this into account when considering their app or taking someone's advice (advice like 'person X is the best on the market this year') into account when considering job apps? The first reason is questionable both rationally and morally.

As for the second reason, who is it going to look better to if your department webpage has a bunch of people with elite degrees? Prospective students? Administration? The people doing the Leiter rankings? With respect to students and people doing the rankings, if they're taking the eliteness of degrees into account, maybe they should be working with some better criteria. With respect to administration (and I may not know enough here about school politics to be very commital here), why not just insist that candidate X, who comes from a less prestigious department but has done some respectable work that shows talent and promise, is just better than Y with the fancy degree but no pubs and a half-done dissertation?

With respect to the third reason, I'm just flabbergasted. Blind refereed publications don't matter, unless *perhaps* they're in JP or PR?! They don't matter because they "tend to be refereed by people at lower-ranked non-Leiterrific departments"?! Self-perpetuating, elitist BS.

I sure hope that attitudes like this aren't as widespread as I fear. The profession's just not worth it if they are.

Anonymous said...

As another inside man at a leitababerlyrespectible department, I would say that anon 1:33pm hits the ball out of the park.

And having been a candidate from a letierespectable dept rather than a letierific dept, I can attest that it took me the equivalent of 2-3 Phil Studies pubs to start getting interviews. But even then I couldnt beat out a "top" candidate from a leiterific department with a blank CV.

If you want a really good job in philosophy, your talents better peak when you are about 21.

Anonymous said...

Anon 11:10/2:17,

As the original post says: don't' shoot the messanger. I hardly think Anon 1:33 was offering 1,2,3 as arguments, or as normative criteria. They are just a fairly accurate diagnosis of how people think.

undetached rabbit part said...

Idiocy like anon. 1:33 spouts is the reason I wish I chose another profession.

Anonymous said...

If the messengers are fessing up to doing what they're fessing up to doing, and I'm right that what they're doing is bad, then they should be (figuratively) shot.

Anonymous said...

Scratch that - If they're doing what they're fessing up to doing...

liberal arts guy said...

There are several hundred jobs being advertised this year. I don't know what counts as 'Leiterrific', but I assume it means better than top 20 at least. In any case, there are not several hundred graduates from Leiterrific departments this year. So some departments are going to have to settle for someone from a non-Leiterrific program. How do those committees evaluate their applicants? If the two (is it two now?) Inside Men are from top 30 departments (I'm not sure where their departments rank -- I'm guessing), then I'm not surprised that they only want to look at graduate from the top 10 or so programs. But there are lots of jobs -- and good jobs -- at lower ranked departments. Those are the ones I'm applying for, and I'd like to know how they view applicants. What about a good liberal arts college that's not even Leiter-rankable (not having a graduate program) -- any Inside People from a department like that out there?

John Symons said...

Maybe this discussion is unnecessarily scary for jobseekers.

The confessions of these inside men look heartfelt and Anon 1.33 mocks a particular kind of creature who deserves mockery but take heart jobseekers, these are the practices of a small minority.

Most departments that are hiring are not even on the Leiteradar let alone Leiterrespectable. The factors that go into decisions out here in the hinterlands are far more normal.

Also, don't worry about competing with Carl and his kind from (ANON 1.33). Part of the reason that the Leitersusceptible are so hot for the Carls is because they are such rare and precious birds. Of course, Carls wouldn't dream of applying for a job in El Paso.

Anonymous said...

There is another way to make it in the profession: get yourself a teaching job at an unranked school. Get some pubs out. Then slowly make your way up to a Leiterespectable school, then a Leiterrific school. It's been done before.

Anonymous said...

I agree. Anon 1:33 obviously wasn't offering 1,2,3 as normative criteria. And, yes, as a diagnosis of how people think 1,2,3 seem pretty accurate.

undetached rabbit part said...

Apologies to anon. 1:33 if I missed your intent. We all know there are people who do think that way, which is why some of us missed the irony I think.

philla said...

In addition to the myriad other things that are depressing about this discussion, I find it depressing that departments who seek "Carl" are interviewing people they have no intention to hire. It can be really psychologically and financially stressful to go to the APA and endure these interviews. And yet, they are so rare that anyone who gets an interview rejoices in it and would be loathe to complain about it. But if it's all just a facade, why do we bother? Don't we have some pride? I know as a female it is pretty humiliating to think that I might be being interviewed only to please the deans. I'm totally in favor of departments using affirmative action for women and minorities, and I wouldn't be humiliated to know that AA got me a little "boost" onto the short list--but that's different from a department pretending to be interested in me when they're not. That's not AA, it's pandering. Others have suggested in the past that APA interviews rarely or never change the rank-ordering of the short list. If this is true, I think we should band together and get APA interviews abolished.

Inside Man said...

I apologize for length. But I'm trying to answer as many questions as I can.

To Anons 6:56 and 6:58

Publishing in _Phil Studies_, _Erkenntnis_, _Synthese_, etc. is good. Publishing in _Dialogue_, or _Southern Review of Philosophy_, or some other journals I can’t even remember the names of –- not so much.

To Anon 6:58

It depends where. I know enough Canadians to know that the best Canadian undegrads are encouraged to go to US schools (although perhaps this is changing with Toronto's rise on the charts), so I'm somewhat suspicious of students from Canadian schools, no matter where they're ranked. But students from Oxford or ANU have nothing to fear.

To puzzled

Your question is excellent. The answer is that we actually read writing samples from students applying to grad school. At least I do. (I don't read all of every writing sample, but I at least look at every writing sample from every file that I evaluate, and I read maybe half of them carefully.) For one thing, there are fewer files, so the task is more manageable. For another, schools like mine find it a lot harder to recruit graduate students than to recruit junior faculty members (I'm not sure why, but it's true), so we have to look harder for "hidden gems": good applicants that other schools might miss. And you can't find those unless you read the files. (I would guess that schools that have a harder time recruiting junior faculty members would read more files for the same reason.)

To john turri

If I had independent evidence that some programs were better at training grad students than others, I would use it. The only program that I know of that has a reputation for training graduate students well that is in some ways independent of its ranking is MIT, and it doesn't need any help. I know some _advisors_ train their students well. But that's a separate consideration, one that has to do with specialty rankings, letters, and the like. More on that later, perhaps.

To homestar

I know graduate students from several Leiterrific departments and from a couple of Leiterrespectable ones (including my own). I really do think that the students at the Leiterrific departments are, on the whole, better than the students at the Leiterrespectable ones. My impression is that the worst students at Leiterrespectable departments are worse than the worst students at Leiterrific departments, that the very best students at Leiterrific departments are probably better than the very best students at Leiterrespectable departments, and that in any case there are more very good students at Leiterrific departments than there are at Leiterrespectable ones.

To Anon 11:10

I apologize for inducing apoplexy. I in fact believe a stronger claim, since I think there is likely to be _some_ correlation between the Leiter rankings and quality of faculty and also _some_ correlation between quality of faculty and quality of graduate training.

Another reason students from Leiterrific departments tend to do better is that they are more likely to have letters from people whose judgment I trust.

To Anon 1:26

I introduced the term 'Leiterrespectable', and I'm not sure what it applies to exactly. But I can disclose that my department is ranked somewhere in the 13-35 range.

More later, perhaps, about disclosures from other insiders.

Anonymous said...

Um... what evidence is there that anon 1:33 was being ironic? Many seem to think that he was giving an accurate assessment of the way many on hiring committees think, the criteria they use and the reasons for it. And those of you who are insisting that he wasn't offering 1, 2 and 3 as normative criteria, I hope you aren't thinking that just because they weren't being offered in that spirit (and I was aware that they weren't) that they're immune from rational and moral assessment/criticism. The 3 reasons listed for hiring Carl are not good ones. Even if anon 1:33 was just reporting the reasons that people take themselves to have, the fact remains that those reasons are hooey.

Anonymous said...

At the risk of "outing" Inside Man -- which I have no interest in doing -- I'm struggling to see how the following three statements of his/hers can all be true:

(1) "... my department is ranked somewhere in the 13-35 range."

(2) "... my department is trying to hire this year, and I’m on the M&E search committee."

(3) "Our deadline was last week ..." [posted November 8th]

As near as I can tell, there were no M&E positions at departments in the 13-35 range whose application deadlines were even before (let alone the week before) November 8th.

Let me say again: I'm not interested in "outing" Inside Man. I am, however, interested in whether positions marked "open" are, in fact, regarded much more narrowly in house (e.g., as an M&E search).

Anonymous said...

I am on the job market this year from a (super)leiterific department. I have no publications. Why? Because I was advised not to. Having publications, *even in some top journals*, can be damaging if it caps your "upside potential". There are stories of students from my department denied jobs because their PR or PPR paper did not meet the approval of some curmudgeon who wanted the next Kripke at $50k, and thought the article an indicator that said grad student was, surprise, not the next Kripke after all. I have three things to say about this practice:

1) From the point of view of the profession as a whole, it is clearly non-ideal and unfair to those truly excellent candidates from less prestigious programs.

2) However, it makes sense in a game-theoretic way. By discouraging publication, that barometer is removed and pedigree becomes more important, which of course benefits candidates like me.

3) A consequence of this is that publication records signal different things from different programs. Anyone with half a brain knows that most candidates need to publish to have a shot at a decent job. Thus a candidate from a less-than-leiterrific program is *assumed* to be constantly trying to get published and is judged accordingly. A candidate from a leiterrific program, however, is not. So whatever one thinks of the system as it stands, it is wrong and simplistic to treat publication record as an independent variable in assessing candidates. It's not a matter of X*pedigree + Y*publications = desirability. Rather, it's that other factors (such as letters of recommendation) are more important for the leiterrific candidates than is publication.

John Turri said...

Inside Man,

What do you mean by 'independent evidence'?

John Turri said...

Anon 4:17,

"There are stories of students from my department denied jobs because their PR or PPR paper did not meet the approval of some curmudgeon who wanted the next Kripke at $50k, and thought the article an indicator that said grad student was, surprise, not the next Kripke after all."

Yeah, I'd bet they're just that: stories--the graduate student's equivalent of the bogeyman.

Someone who was looking for the next Krike at $50k is best classified 'an utterly incompetent imbecile'. Curmudgeonliness has nothing to do with such a fantastically stupid expectation.

Also, this is false: "Thus a candidate from a less-than-leiterrific program is *assumed* to be constantly trying to get published and is judged accordingly." This wrecks your third point.

There are lots of decent jobs (using 'decent' in its ordinary sense) that don't require the candidate to have published.

You're right about the game-theoretic aspect, though.

Best of luck with your job search.

Anonymous said...

"other factors (such as letters of recommendation) are more important for the leiterrific candidates than is publication."

Anon 4:17 makes some good points culminating in the quoted observation. My concern is not the (reasonable, I think) proposal that there should be some difference with respect to how different characteristics are weighted by hiring committees depending on the ranking of one's grad program. My concern is the *degree* to which these characteristics actually are weighted by hiring committees, likely to the detriment of talented people lacking pedigree.

I'm also concerned with the question of how hiring committees should confront the fact that some leiteriffic candidates are expressly told not to try to publish while non-leiteriffic ones have been trying to publish (let's assume that this is standard, though I'm dubious - especially about about how much the advice not to publish is given *and* to how much it is followed). How much should this fact count in favor of leiteriffic candidates with good letters? Some. But if a non-leiteriffic competitor has even a decent publication record, I don't think the leiterifficness of the first candidate should be so decisive as a lot of us worry it often is.

Both publications and letters are important, and I wouldn't suggest that one candidate's letters should be discounted entirely in favor of another's publication record. But letters have significant limitations that publications don't. Good publications can *demonstrate* a range of important abilities. Letters are more like promissory notes that express confidence that some candidate has serious potential. Why weight testimony so heavily in favor of one candidate when there's publicly available - and, I should point out, unbiased (that's the point of blind refereeing) - evidence of another candidates ability?

Again, I don't want to suggest that letters are irrelevant in the face of a competing publication record. Nor do I want to underemphasize the importance of anon 4:17's observations. I'm just dubious about how much these considerations justify current practice as described by the inside men. I don't think they do much in that regard.

Inside Man said...

To Anon 1:33

(1) I take letters of recommendation from friends or people I know at Leiterrific departments seriously, because I respect their judgment and because I think they're likely to have come across many good graduate students, not because I think that by doing so I will increase my odds of being hired. I have no reason to think that my colleagues are any different than I am here.

(2) I don't give a rodent's posterior how things look on my department's webpage; I want us to build the best department we can, by hiring the best people we can. But here my colleagues might be different than I am (although my evidence for saying this is really that when I want to hire X because I think X is one of the smartest philosophers I've ever talked to, it turns out that X's candidacy is a non-starter if X hasn't published enough).

(3) I think refereed publications do matter. At a minimum, they're a sign of professionalization. Many graduate students haven't written something good enough to publish in _Phil Studies_ (e.g.). The information that someone can write -- because they have written -- something good enough to publish there is non-trivial, especially about someone from a non-Leiterrific department. I think my colleagues agree. Some of us (myself included) tend to look down on people whose work appears only in non-refereed venues. But maybe that's just a further indication that we are ourselves non-Leiterrific.

To liberal arts guy

Many liberal arts or otherwise non-Leiter-ranked schools have good philosophers who trust their own judgment. For reasons that I've mentioned above, they're more likely to read your writing sample.

To philla and others

It's not just that deans want us to hire women; we want to hire women, too. I have yet to be on a committee where a woman was interviewed in bad faith. (In fact, I've been on a committee where a search was cancelled because the only alternative was to interview a candidate in bad faith.) And I have yet to be on a committee where an early favorite had a lock on the process. This is not to say that these things don't happen; but they're not universal.

To Anon 4:12

Some details -- exact Leiter ranking, AOS, deadline -- might have been changed to protect the guilty (that would be me). But the rest is true. (If I have violated norms of blogging, I apologize. If this debars me from further contributions, I will acquiesce.) The point is that there's no special reason to think that apparently open searches are secretly closed.

To Anon 4:17

I agree that students at super-Leiterrific departments are discouraged from publishing. I think this is a mistake.

To john turri

I don't think everyone we interview will be from a Leiterrific department. If we interview someone from a non-Leiterrific program and like them, we'll be more inclined to interview people from that department again. Eventually, we might come to believe that people from that department are being well trained. That's the sort of independent evidence I had in mind.

Anonymous said...

I'm at a super-Leiterrific (say top-4) program, and contrary to popular belief we are not given any unequivocal advice regarding publication. Rather, you get different advice depending on whom you ask, and also depending on whether the faculty think you are "the next Kripke" or not. There are faculty at my program who are vehemently anti-publishing, and those who think it's a great idea, and those who are indifferent. Certainly, there is consensus that there's no use in publishing in bad journals. But some of us have published in medium-journals (e.g., APQ) to the delight of our advisors. There's also consensus that you shouldn't spend too much time on publishing (it's a time-suck) and that you shouldn't publish stuff too early if it might turn into something good enough for a top journal later on. We're also told that we should be careful not to "waste" our dissertation material since publications achieved before being hired may not count toward tenure. Other than that, we're given hugely mixed messages. We're told that top-5-ers don't need pubs, but then when we get them we're told it will help us tremendously, and that the market is trending toward even top-5-ers needing pubs.

Anonymous said...

Boy am I glad that I care fucking less about Leiter and his fucking report. I can't believe that philosophers (who are obviously very intelligent) would stoop to such status-quo bullshit.

Anonymous said...

Oh, and by the way, I'm from a Leiterespectable department. Don't you think that it's weird that this man is almost single-handedly determining your future (I say almost, because he does have some help, namely the relatively few people who help him out)?

Anonymous said...

For the record, this is from the Methods & Criteria section of the Gourmet:

"In late September and early October 2006, we conducted an on-line survey of 450 philosophers throughout the English-speaking world; over 300 responded and completed some or all of the surveys."

Pseudonymous Grad Student said...

First off, huge thanks to Inside Man for answering questions. This stuff is much appreciated.

Second, I can't tell is Anon. 1:33 is being ironic or engaging in hyperbole or what.

But I do know that some SC members, for whatever reason, rate candidates above all else based on the rank of their departments and the fame of the advisors. Gualtiero Piccinini's done us the, uh, service of putting that attitude on full display in this old post:

Taking Leiter rank of a candidate's department as more important than everything else has the retarded consequence that her grad school app writing sample--the term paper from a junior-year seminar--ends up counting for more in her job search process than her dissertation, her publications, or her writing sample.

It's fucking retarded.

Pseudonymous Grad Student said...

God, I suck. Let me try that link again:

Piccinini's post here

Inside Man said...


Thanks for the link. I wish I had said all of that. Because it's true (and well put, too).

Well, I don't know about the part about how the interviews merely confirm pre-existing rankings. I'll let you know in Dec.

It's defensible to use the Leiter rankings to break ties. It's indefensible to use the Leiter rankings above all else. They're probably used for cases in between. Whether that's defensible hasn't been settled.

Anonymous said...

Much as some of us might be annoyed by the huge influence the Leiter Report has, let us not forget that Philosophy has always been an old-boys'-network, and the good jobs were always given straight to the Princeton and Harvard grads. I would bet that the system was much more unjust before Leiter came around. At least now department prestige is based on peer-assessed faculty quality rather than just on the prestige of the university as a whole.

N asty, Brutish, and Never Leiterrific said...

Well, I guess i'm screwed. I'm finishing a dissertation at a school that is, here's a new term, Leiterlite. That is to say, not ranked. All that German, Greek, the DAAD, the translation work, presenting at the APA, blah, blah. If I had known how important those rankings would be, I would have led with my mind and not my heart. Damn!

Anonymous said...

Anon 6:27,

I have similar mixed feelings. I come from a leiterrespectable department. The university by itself doesn't have much street cred., if you know what I mean. However, on the job market at least the SCs know that my dept. is solid.

This might also help with the run of the mill "teaching" schools at which most of us will probably find a job. Dept. chairs can say to their deans, "Yes we like this candidate and you know what you may not have heard of the university he got his PhD from, but I assure you its one of the top 30 in the nation and its the best in the nation in his particular subfield."

John Turri said...

Inside Man,

Re whether the Leiter Report should be used to break ties, here's a bit of reasoning, and I'm wondering what you think of it.

Candidates A and B are "tied" overall. Candidate A is from the summit of Mount Leiter, Candidate B from a dept not mentioned in the report at all (either 'Leiterrible' or 'Leiternonymous'--take your pick). Candidate B deserves the interview/job, then, because she's accomplished just as much but with fewer resources (e.g., no famous faculty writing letters, no interview prep, etc.), thereby evincing more ability and perseverance.

Anonymous said...

Inside Man wrote:

"Some details -- exact Leiter ranking, AOS, deadline -- might have been changed to protect the guilty (that would be me). But the rest is true. (If I have violated norms of blogging, I apologize. If this debars me from further contributions, I will acquiesce.) The point is that there's no special reason to think that apparently open searches are secretly closed."

My impression is that this basically blows your credibility. Normally when people change details to protect their identity, they don't _assert the details as true_.

Suppose you're not at a 13-35 program. Then you're saying you are in answer to a question is a load of bullshit.

Suppose that part is true but you're lying about searching in M & E or that you're deadline was 'last week'. How does lying about those details help protect your identity? Suppose you had _refrained from lying_. Would that permit us to infer your existence? Hardly.

So.....I'm not sure how to take the rest of what you say.

John Turri said...

Anon 8:02,

"Normally when people change details to protect their identity, they don't _assert the details as true_."


Anonymous said...

Either IM approached PGOAT to write these posts, or the other way around. Hopefully, at some point she had some justification for believing IM to be who he says he is. If that's the case, then just trust PGOAT. What would she gain from letting a liar post on her blog? Starting discussions about things that were already being discussed?

Anonymous said...

The troubling thing we should notice about all of this is that in many cases one's ability to secure a decent job hinges not just on a writing sample form their junior year of college, but on the kind person/student they were in HIGH SCHOOL!

Even if writing samples are taken more seriously by admissions committees than search committees, we all know that a preponderance of students in the elite grad programs also benefited from attending elite undergrad programs.

Anyone who thinks GREs and a good writing sample make up for recommendation letters from a famous (or semi-famous) philosopher and a brand name B.A. needs to take their head out of their ass.

The problem with all this is that admission to elite undergrad programs is simply NO MEASURE of academic ability except in the most minimal sense (it tells us a student is not brain damaged and probably comes from wealth).

Getting into an elite college has more to do with luck and personal background than anything.

Anonymous said...

I guess Anon 8:02 can clarify that one her/himself, but charitably, I took the point to be that if Inside Man is claiming to be providing insight into the hiring process of a mid-leiter-ranked program, then he better not be lying about being from a mid-leiter-ranked program. Same for the other possible points of departure from the truth, mutatis mutandis.

Man, I wrote this as soon as I read John Turri's comment -- already I've fallen off the thread of this conversation. Don't we all have dissertations to work on (except Turri, of course)?

Anonymous said...

I agree with many of the comments regarding how unfair the system can be. But just to note that discrimination cuts both ways. I come from a top 10 Leiterrific school and in my job search this year, location is playing a big role. But I know that places I apply to in my desired location that are leiterlite or leiternonynmous will not even consider me seriously, because they think I think I'm not good enough for them. Fighting this bias involves putting a lot of time into crafting a cover letter for a non leiterrific school that I wouldn't for one that was leiterrific, because the leiterrific school doesn't care what I say in my cover letter. Yes, this isn't an awful problem to have, but I have seen a few cases of good philosophers that end up with no jobs because the places at the top didn't think they were good enough, and the places towards the bottom figured that he/she thought they were too good for them.

Regarding the grad school-undergrad correlation. I came to graduate school from an undergraduate program that has a top 5 graduate program. I was told very explicitly as an undergraduate that if I didn't get into a top 10 program, I shouldn't bother going to graduate school at all. I was shocked at the time, but reading this discussion thread reminded me that that was good advice.

On the other hand, I've seen a few kids that make it into our graduate program that don't come from prestigious undergrad places and they had NO idea how the system worked. The unfairness starts much sooner than the job market. An undergraduate coming from a top 10 program or a top 10 college is going to have better training, understand the system and be able to get into a better graduate school, where they will likely get even better training, and it's no shocker at the end of years of being exposed to the top people in the field that they manage to snag the top jobs.

Leiterlite said...

Leiterlite here.

Let's see how smart people are here. You will not find out who Inside Man is, so leave it alone. Second, why would he lie? What's his motivation? Third, who cares who he is? You can take what he's saying with a grain of salt and move on. But perhaps what he says is of interest. Just don't take it too seriously if you are so concerned.

John Turri said...

Anon 8:26,

Yes, thankfully I completed my dissertation some time ago!

I actually don't see what harm could come from fudging either the deadline or the area. And if the ranking is slightly off, that really wouldn't matter either.

Liberal Arts Prof said...

This may be a day late and a dollar short, but here goes. Job seekers, take heart!

First, I happen to have a degree from one of the Leiterifficest departments, but some of my colleagues do not. I ended up, and happily so, in non-Leiter land: a liberal arts college. It is one that happens to be very good, and is ranked quite high among SLACs (we are a NESCAC school, so I'm almost outing myself). So, great place to work, respectable undergraduate institution. But guess what? In our search we look for a COLLEAGUE, not the next Saul frickin' Kripke!

Two imaginary applicants come across my desk.
1) ABD from NYU with interesting diss., no pubs and glowing recs.
2) PhD from Northwestern, 2 years VAP at Oberlin, strong recs from NW and Oberlin faculty, and a couple of peer-reviewed articles.

Applicant #2 is moving into the closer-look pile, no question. Why? Seasoning and proven ability to get the job done. And that JOB is teaching, service work, advising, etc. In other words, collegiality writ large. I am not going to be fooled by my own pedigree into thinking that A is better than B simply because they come from the same type of place I did.

As long as there is evidence that the research portfolio (past and future) will give you a shot at tenure, then the ability to actually, oh, you know, DO all the various and random things that any faculty member HAS to do, is more important than pedigree. I need my colleagues to pull their weight, keep our department enrollments strong, teach great classes, and provide intellectual engagement across the college. I can't take a flyer on mere promise. There is too much at stake. And, for what it is worth, I think Letters of Rec are going (or perhaps have already gone) the way of the Harvard GPA, so I take them cum grano.

Perhaps these criteria don't hold true for institutions in the Leiter rankings. Well, dear job seekers, count up how many positions are advertised in the JFPs this fall from Leiter schools and how many are from non-Leiter schools. Play the odds. This business is difficult enough without worrying about self-replicating (and, in my mind, completely asinine) culling practices by a self-identified elite.

So, finish the diss., work up a couple articles, learn how to teach in a couple one- or two-year positions. In doing all of this you will demonstrate that you will be a reliable and trustworthy colleague when it comes time to compete for a tenure-track appointment.

Robert said...

Anon 8:02

You really need to have an adult beverage and relax a bit. You're going to explode around Dec. 10th if you're not careful. Inside Man is trying to be more transparent than most, and you need to take out your frustration in some other venue.

You say:
"Suppose that part is true but you're lying about searching in M & E or that you're deadline was 'last week'. How does lying about those details help protect your identity? Suppose you had _refrained from lying_. Would that permit us to infer your existence? Hardly."

This is not at all true. I was surprised to hear Inside Man divulge as much detail as he did, since I thought he outed himself as coming from one of two departments, with a strong likelihood of one dept. based on what he said. I don't want to fill in any more details, so let's just not speculate as to whether he is covering his tracks before or after the fact, OK.

It's fine to challenge Inside Man's standards, but why assume he's trying to pump intentionally misleading info into our forum? Or maybe I don't understand blogging etiquette...

Anonymous said...

We are all going to explode around Dec. 10th if this keeps up.

While I'm not writing my dissertation, how about:

Super Leiterrific: > 4.0
Leiterrific: > 3.5
Leiterrespectable: > 2.5
Leiterlite: > 2.0
Leiterlingerer: 2.0 or less, but on the Leiter list.
Unleitered: departments not on the Leiter list

Anonymous said...

I said:

"Suppose that part is true but you're lying about searching in M & E or that you're deadline was 'last week'. How does lying about those details help protect your identity? Suppose you had _refrained from lying_. Would that permit us to infer your existence? Hardly."

Robert replied: "This is not at all true."

Wrong, Robert. To refrain from lying does not entail telling the truth about one's identifying characteristics.

John Turri: The point was that normally when one changes details to protect the innocent, the details are incidental and designed only to add color to the story. They are not relevant details. Moreover, normally when one changes details to protect the innocent, one signals that one has done this in order to protect the innocent! (Otherwise people who know an x that corresponds to the details might think that x = the person in question.)

And to the other person who said the people running this blog presumably know who Inside Man is, etc., so why don't we just trust him: The problem, as another reader of this blog has pointed out and as is likely obvious to any M & E candidate on the market this year, is that the set of schools that had their deadline 'last week', are ranked 12-35, etc., appears to be empty.

The most charitable interpretation, I think, is that Inside Man changed the details about when his department had their deadline. That bit of info is the least relevant. (It is more important that the general perspective he provides be attached to 'M & E search' and 'Leiter 13-35' than that it be attached to 'deadline last week'.

Of course, one might still wonder (and this connects to my reply to Robert) what advantaged is gained by asserting that one's deadline was last week if it wasn't. It's not as we would have been able to figure out who Inside Man is if he had refrained from saying anything about when his departmetn deadline was.

Anonymous said...

Liberal arts prof.,

I don't want to call into question what you say. I've talked to other liberal arts faculty at selective schools who have made similar comments.

But at least for some liberal arts depts it does seem that pedigree matters. When I've looked at the faculty at Williams, Amherst, Middlebury, The Claremont Colleges, etc. These depts. don't seem to hire below say the to 10 to 15.

Now I know that this is a very small minority of SLACs. But I'd imagine that others in desirable locations with small teaching loads and a lot of money have similar track records.

Also, it is interesting that you chose NYU and Northwestern. In my experience, and you can tell me if I am wrong, SLACs prefer to hire people that have PhDs from institutions that have a brand name (regardless of their Leiter ranking). So when the trustees, parents, etc. see the faculty lists they see Professors from "elite" institutions.

So here is my question would the candidate from, say, Florida State who has the qualifications of the candidate from Northwestern still beat the candidate from NYU?

Moreover, they seem to

Anonymous said...

Anon. 6:07 here. Sorry for the sloppy post. I meant to delete that last line.

Anonymous said...

Let me second what 'liberal arts prof' says. I've had t-track jobs at both an elite liberal arts college and a good research university (both 2-2 loads) and been on search committees in both departments. Hiring does not proceed as Inside Man describes at either place. First, writing samples do get read, or at least skimmed, even at the first cut. Second, we aren't evil, so we do want to give applicants from non-elite programs a shot. It is true that the dossiers from elite programs tend to be stronger, but if someone from a non-elite program has good pubs, or even a super-interesting writing sample without pubs, we'll want to interview her or him. Let me emphasize: we're not evil, and so we do not assume that a sorting that took place between five and ten years ago tracks current hirability.

Liberal Arts Prof said...

Responding to 11/13 6:07am:

"So here is my question would the candidate from, say, Florida State who has the qualifications of the candidate from Northwestern still beat the candidate from NYU?"

Short answer: Yes (at least when they come across MY desk).

"In my experience, and you can tell me if I am wrong, SLACs prefer to hire people that have PhDs from institutions that have a brand name (regardless of their Leiter ranking). So when the trustees, parents, etc. see the faculty lists they see Professors from "elite" institutions."

I do agree with this, for the most part. Keep in mind that "brand name" for parents, trustees, etc. tends to track with undergraduate U.S. News rankings, etc. So, Rutgers and Pitt (just like Florida State) are going to seem "non-elite" to the vast majority of the non-academic audience. I chose Northwestern simply because it was the first non-top-50 school, not (consciously at least) because it is a "name brand".

As an example, a quick survey of the t-t Phil faculty of a selective LAC in the middle of Pennsylvania - one which has an excellent regional reputation and a decent national reputation - yields this: Rochester, Michigan, Stony Brook, Florida State. Great school, great job, etc. Non-Leiter, but superb position to get hired into.

It would be interesting to do a survey of faculty hires all across the discipline. I imagine we would still see a prejudice in favor of the top 15, but I hope there would be evidence of some diversity with respect to degree-granting institutions as we spread out through the data. Moreover, I think it is in the long-term interests of the profession to encourage this sort of diversity, but that is for another post.

Again, the main point I was trying to get across here is that most jobs are in undergraduate institutions. These also, for the most part, happen to be excellent places to live, teach and pursue one's academic interests. I also think, and I of course may be wrong, that these sorts of places are more likely to give 2.5-2.0 applicants close looks as long as there is strong evidence of "collegiality" and fit.

So, don't despair, and don't get hung up on gaining access to a tiny minority of hiring institutions.

Inside Man said...

To Anon 8:23

There isn't a preponderance of students from elite undergrad programs in my department. But then we're not an elite grad program. There were more students from elite undergrad programs in the department I was a grad student in. (I was not one of those students from elite undergrad programs.) When it comes to grad admissions, I look at letters (so, yes, letters from philosophers whose judgment I trust help) and writing samples, generally don't give too much credence to GRE scores (although my colleagues do, perhaps because they're too lazy to read writing samples carefully), and generally give no credence to the brand name of the undergrad institution. But this isn't enough to justify taking the Leiter rankings maximally seriously, especially if elite departments do things differently.

To many others

I took the deadline and the area to be irrelevant. I took the Leiter ranking of my department to be relevant. So I didn't lie about the latter. I could have not provided information about the deadline or the area, true, or I could have flagged that I was making things up: e.g. "the deadline was, let's say, last week." Perhaps I should have. If I lied (um, which I did), it wasn't too mislead people who are trying to find jobs. (I care about this blog and people who are trying to find jobs.) Rather, it was to mislead my colleagues. I was hoping to be able to report on some of the retarded shit they would be bound to say in meetings. To that end, I needed them to think that Inside Man wasn't their colleague, not that Inside Man could, but need not be, their colleague. It would be unfortunate if, in doing so, I shot my credibility in the foot, so to speak.

Anon 6:07 said...

Liberal arts prof,

That is good to hear, since I am in a 3.0 dept and I am focusing my search on undergraduate institutions.

Anonymous said...

So, since you've introduced the terms 'leiterrific' (I really like this word), 'leiterrespectable' and 'leiterlite', what do we do with pesky continental programs? Shall we call them leiterrible? leitereviled?

Anonymous said...

For those of you who've missed it, Leiter's been kind enough to start up a thread dealing with some of these issues over at his blog. Hopefully that discussion will provide us with more credible insights into the machinations of the hiring process. Peace out.

Anonymous said...

okay, thanks Inside Man. Cool. We/I just wanted to take out some frustration, anonymously, one someone one the hiring. Thanks for clearing things up.

Sirius Black said...

I'm at a high mid-ranked Leiter dept. For what it's worth, I pay hardly any attention to letters of reference. Letters, especially from 'top' places, often seem highly over-inflated, so they're basically worthless. If I know the letter writer and I'm familiar with the kind of letters they write, I might put some weight on it, but not a great deal. Publications will definitely be something I look for. Publications in weak journals don't count for anything at all, and may positively harm you, but publications somewhere decent will put you into my 'second look' pile, no matter where you're coming out form or who your supervisor is. (Not that you won't get into it without publications: but there had better be something to make you stand out, because given the number of applicants, we're obviously looking for reasons to reject people.) I'll give at least a quick read of every writing sample that goes into my second-look pile. You can tell a lot from a quick read. The ones that look interesting, I'll read in detail. And this will be the main factor in determining who from the second-look pile I will push for us to interview.

Thomas said...

Since I am the only FSU grad working at a LAC in PA (to my knowledge), I just wanted to point out that I am neither "the liberal art professor" nor the anonymous commenter who used FSU as an example. But since I have now entered the comment thread fray, I might as well take this opportunity to say that LAC's are delightful places to work (I happen to work at the Rochester/Michigan/Stony Brook/FSU LAC mentioned earlier in the thread). So, don't despair. There are lots of good jobs out there for people who worked their asses off in grad school--even if you didn't attend a school with a high PGR ranking.

Liberal Arts Prof said...

Such a small world...

Thomas, sorry for "outing" you (if that is even the correct term for somebody being used as an unknowing paradigm in an anonymous blog comment thread)!

I am glad, however, that you enjoy the LAClife as well, and that you can stand as a real flesh-and-blood testament to gainful employment, regardless of Leiterdom status (on both sides of the fence).

Thank heavens you didn't write in and say that your place of employment was hell and that you regret ever having gone into academe because of it... My credibility, as weak as it is anyway, would have been trashed! :-)

Jonathan said...

Just a few quick observations from my perspective. I'm currently at a super-leiterrific department after transferring a couple of years ago from an upper lieterrespectable department (by the 9:54 suggested criteria).

First, judging by my own limited but not insignificant experience, super-leiterrific departments are populated by better grad students than are lieterrespectable ones.

Second, it is true that some super-leiterrific students are advised not to publish. (I believe, but am not sure, that I've heard that this is particularly prevalent advice at NYU.) It's also true that at least some number of them do follow that advice, and go on to be very successful on the market. I've encountered the advice at my department, but not at all universally. Indeed, it seems very difficult to get obviously-reliable advice about how much publication is ideal -- probably because everybody's just guessing. But yes, the fact that the leiterrific are told they needn't worry as much as others about publishing does complicate the assessment of candidates via publication record.

Third, not everyone from lieterrific, or even super-leiterrific, departments get top jobs, or even jobs at all. (One recent grad from my program was told that he only missed out on a good job because he had no publications.) I have the feeling that some people have in mind a picture of a magic sticker that you receive upon entering a Rutgers or NYU, which guarantees a lieterrespectable tenure-track job in six years. That's not the case. The students who come to mind and fill you with envy by landing the best jobs without even seeming to try fill their colleagues with envy too -- they're the best of the best, and the hiring committees know it.

(Obviously, this discussion applies only to the top research positions.)

Fourth, I was curious about the suggestion that undergrad prestige plays a huge role all the way down the line. Here are the undergrad institutions for this year's incoming class at my super-lieterrific department:

University of Toronto
University of Colorodo
Davison College
University of Minnesota
University of Chicago
UC-Santa Cruz
University of Virginia
University of Richmond

Thomas said...


No worries. I don't feel "outed." Indeed, I would have been happy to post non-anonymously even if had you not (indirectly) used me as an example. I just didn't want people to think I was being strangely self-promotional/congratulatory in an anonymous blog thread!

Anonymous said...

Anon. 9:43:

"For those of you who've missed it, Leiter's been kind enough to start up a thread dealing with some of these issues over at his blog. Hopefully that discussion will provide us with more credible insights into the machinations of the hiring process. Peace out."

Dude, if you kissed ass any harder, we could hear your lips pucker through our computer screens.

Jonathan Ichikawa said...

Yeah, don't you hate it when anonymous internet posters anonymously kiss up to the big names in the field? They're obviously just hoping for anonymous special treatment.

Anonymous said...

I'm Anon. 9:43 and I was also the one who asked Leiter to raise this topic on his blog. In response to Anon. 12:26's snarky comment, ass-kissing is usually only effective in contexts where the ass-kissed knows the identity of the ass-kisser. (Jonathan makes the same point more succinctly.) I wrote to Leiter knowing that he doesn't communicate with anonymous writers, but he decided this topic was important enough to warrant a post on his blog. My description of his action as kind is simply a statement of fact.

A number of valid concerns and issues have been raised in this thread and in response to Inside Man's previous post. But while I love this blog dearly, I don't think soliciting information from anonymous faculty is a good idea. Inside Man's comments have chilled me to the bone, but I have no way of verifying whether his description of his hiring department's practices is true and/or whether this behavior is widespread across the profession. Continuing this discussion on Leiter's blog should give us a better idea of the actual hiring practices that go on in departments, and hopefully provide some peace of mind as well.

Those of us on the job market know how important this discussion is. It will get a wider reception over at Leiter's blog, so please post your questions/concerns over there. Leiter's policy of allowing grads and job-seekers to post anonymously and expecting those with inside information to post non-anonymously should ensure that the information provided is both useful and credible. I liked this blog a lot more when it allowed me to laugh at myself.

Anonymous said...

And with that, I hereby pronounce this thread DEAD.

Let's let the conversation continue at Leiter's place and move on to a new topic. This one's too damn depressing anyway.

Not Me (aka Anon 4:12)

Anonymous said...

"...expecting those with inside information to post non-anonymously should ensure that the information provided is both useful and credible."

We might get useful and credible information from non-anonymous sources, but anonymous sources can provide a unique and rich kind of information as well, namely the kind that will be honest even to the point of exposing their own department's and colleagues' unpleasant hiring practices. For instance, over at Leiter's non-anonymous forum, we can't expect to hear non-anonymous faculty talk about prestigious pedigree greatly outweighing accomplishments achieved on a playing field that has been more-or-less leveled, such as publications in refereed journals. (That is, it is a rare leveled playing field for what one does after one's undergraduate career, while pedigree is largely a reflection of what one did during one's undergraduate career.) But anonymous sources, such as Inside Man, are liberated by their anonymity to reveal such practices.

It might be (okay, it is) depressing, but the profession, and people on the market, need all relevant information, and anonymity is as crucial in this process as it is in whistleblowing. Of course, you might not place too much trust in anonymous sources, but factors other than anonymity should bear on the credibility of each case independently. (And, for many of the reasons given above, I see little reason to doubt the credibility of Inside Man or the hosts of this blog when they suggest his credentials.)

Anonymous said...

I think the anonymity of inside man and others is valuable insofar as it might encourage him/her and others to air out the dirty laundry.

The posts from those on the other side of the veil at LR are going to give us the rational side of the hiring process, because those who post certainly don't want to admit to having irrational or reprehensible selection procedures.

Anonymous said...

Jonathan, when you said:

"First, judging by my own limited but not insignificant experience, super-leiterrific departments are populated by better grad students than are lieterrespectable ones."

Can we assume you mean something like _in general_? Or are you making the utterly classless remark that each of your colleagues at Rutgers is better than any of your colleagues were at Brown?

Jonathan Ichikawa said...

The former, obviously. That's the reasonable interpretation.

(Dogs are bigger than cats, even though puppies are smaller than my friend's fat cat.)

In general, a good rule of thumb is probably to interpret people as saying something that is plausible and inoffensive, if the alternative is to interpret him as saying something implausible and classless.

Anonymous said...

As common sense might entail...

John Turri said...

Hi Anon 5:02,

I'm one of Jonathan's former grad student colleagues from Brown, and I did not interpret him as saying or implying anything offensive.

Anonymous said...

For the record. I find it interesting that Leiter is now pressuring philosophers to respond to his post on hiring processes.

Is this because they don't want to admit that much of what inside man and others have said is on the mark?

Anonymous said...

Anonymous at 7:16, good point. I find the silence shocking. But why not post this comment over there and we'll see?

Anonymous said...

Leiter's talking smack about this blog. Seems he doesn't like the nonsense.

I just want to note that I concur with Professor Turri. There's a lot of nonsense being posted at PJMB.

Posted by: Brian Leiter | November 13, 2007 at 09:49 PM

Anonymous said...

Nice attempt to stir up trouble, Anon. 8:23. But Leiter's obviously only referring to some of the more reckless comments in this and earlier threads. If as he and John say most of these posts are false and designed to induce panic, this is something we should all be up in arms about.

I agree with Anon. 4:12/2:38. Can't we let this thread die and move on? I really don't see what good it's doing.

Sirius Black said...

On the issue of anonymity: I would never post on any of these threads non-anonymously, because I know I'd get in trouble from HR. (But it's also annoying to have to keep individuating the 'anonymous 1:33 etc' - hence my use of the silly fake name.

"Anonymous" said...

Hey, do you guys remember that sweet blog about the Philosophy Job Market? You know, the funny one with the cool posts about how wretched the job market is, how absurd PFOs are, etc.? Man, that was some funny shit. Whatever happened to that blog?

recent hire said...

For the record. I find it interesting that Leiter is now pressuring philosophers to respond to his post on hiring processes.

Is this because they don't want to admit that much of what inside man and others have said is on the mark?

I actually started to post at Leiter's, and didn't, because I don't want people to identify the specific searches I was involved; especially given what I'm about to say, but also because I'm untenured and I think it's best to err on the side of not doing stuff that might piss people off. But, I'm not ashamed of the process I described.

Anyway, way up there Philla said:

I'm totally in favor of departments using affirmative action for women and minorities, and I wouldn't be humiliated to know that AA got me a little "boost" onto the short list--but that's different from a department pretending to be interested in me when they're not.

In my limited experience, it was the former; we didn't interview anyone we weren't potentially interested in, because interviewing is tiresome and we don't want to do more of it than we have to. (Alternatively, because we have only so many spots, it's really hard to cut down the list, and we're not going to waste a spot.)

The way it worked with us was, we formed a three-tiered list; the first one tended to be candidates with great pubs, the second candidates who were untested because they were fresh out of school, and the third like the second but a bit more so. Then we read the samples in the first tier and cut it down to an interview list. But there were no women on that list, and there were several women in the second tier; we figured that an all-male interview list was a bad thing, so we read the samples on the second list too to see if there were any relatively hidden gems. And we decided that there were a couple of candidates (both women) who we should interview. One of them, as it happened, rocked the interview and the campus visit and got the job. But the only point where we took gender into account explicitly was when we said, "Let's look at tier two (which included some men to see if we can avoid an all-male list."

Incidentally, I doubt our dean cares who we interview from the AA standpoint; they care who we hire. But that could easily vary from school to school. Anyone read "In the Garden of the North American Martyrs"?

Anonymous said...

I suppose this throws the leiterrific and leiterrespectable, et cetera into dissarray. Here's a comment from jon Kvanvig over at Leiter: "In these cases, pedigree is viewed as something that fades to insignificance within 10 years (those still emphasizing or relying on theirs after that point have simply failed to develop a reputation of their own), in accord with Dick Foley, a wise and knowledgeable man about such things if there ever was one, has always insisted on: highly ranked departments attract overall higher quality groups of students, but the best people at lower-ranked institutions are, to a quite general degree, every bit as good as the best people at the best places."

Anonymous said...

Be careful what you put on the net before, during, and after you get your prestigious job in philosophy:

Clayton said...

For the record. I find it interesting that Leiter is now pressuring philosophers to respond to his post on hiring processes.

Is this because they don't want to admit that much of what inside man and others have said is on the mark?

It could be that, but it could also be that people wanted to know more about the hiring practices.

Anyway, you really think there is a single professor he pressured or believed he would pressure with his call for comments from faculty? I think you've confused Leiter with Lord Vader.

Anonymous said...

"Brian L has guilted me into this (with the title of a recent post, regarding "stepping up")." -- from the beginning of a post by Sandy Goldberg

Anonymous said...

Six more and we'll have hit the century mark...

recent hire said...

I think the correct take on that isn't "Leiter pressured people to post" so much as "Leiter (successfully) begged people to post."

Liberal Arts Prof said...

I think Inside Man, PGOAT, PGS and Nth Year should be congratulated on getting this discussion going, both here and in its later incarnation at Leiter's place. It is healthy and useful for the market to be discussed in both fora, anonymously and non.

anotherworriedgrad said...

I agree with liberal arts prof. The discussion has been highly illuminating!

Anonymous said...

Highly illuminating indeed!: It's disappointing, but (disappointingly) understandable, how little is said in this thread about what Inside Man means by "good" or "better" in such phrases as "better…graduate students", "how good the faculty are at training graduate students", "students coming out of higher-ranked departments will be better". I suppose few care, as long as the jobs are got and departmental reputations (and "productivity") are maintained. Or, maybe, the assumption is simply that "good" in such discussions doesn't merely mean considered good. Is the assumption warranted? This profession is filled to the gills with people who are overly preoccupied with making a name for themselves, whether or not that involves actually doing good work in terms of being an actually good teacher or being an actually good philosopher. God knows the latter aren't necessary for the former! They certainly aren't sufficient! From my first moments as a grad students, to my first moments in my first tenure-track job, I have throughout been gravely disappointed at how much professional philosophy resembles other professions and almost every sector of our commercialized world in its preoccupation with status, reputation, and prestige. I originally chose philosophy as a career because I (naively) believed that philosophers generally didn't care about such things (I suppose I was foolishly thinking of folks like Socrates, Diogenes the Dog, etc.). I understand the concerns of grad students who are worried about just being able to feed themselves now and in the future; but I don't altogether understand or respect the continued committment to making a name for oneself that so possesses most of those in the business who are already well-fed. The philosophers whom you know of who aren't so committed wouldn't be worth mentioning by Leiter or those who follow his Reports.

Liberal Arts Prof said...

I suspect if we rewarded excellent teaching half as much as we reward shoddy and redundant "research" the whole field would benefit tremendously. Not to mention the educational experiences of average undergrads, who might then, you know, respect the idea of living a philosophical life.

Liberal Arts Prof said...

One Dollah!

Finally. Is this the first century mark for the blog?