Wednesday, October 22, 2008

More on the ideal job ad.

It's true. I do run a blog concerned with job market issues. And now it's not just the APA people who want to talk to you, my lovelies. Now it's the people at Yale. Play nice. -- PGOAT

Dear "PGoat,"

I understand that you run a Blog that is concerned with job market issues. We have been trying to make our job ad as user-friendly as possible. Could you check with your readers about whether the following is useful, and -- if not -- how it might be improved?



-- Tamar


Anonymous said...

Great info by Yale. But let's be honest, most people that read this blog are having a hard time getting a job anywhere, _a fortiori_ they cannot get a job at Yale. So, this additional info is a nice model, but it won't be useful for any candidate that isn't at, say, a top 10 Leiter school.

I love, Yale, and Professor Marcus and the like, but come on do they really want our feedback. It is thoughtful and well done, but the people on this blog what a better JFP, and they deserve it.

candidate for yale job said...

I am applying for this and actually am very glad they are working on clarifying it.

Most of the clarifications are fine, but this part remains very ambiguous:

"We are looking for a candidate who is in an immediate position to teach a broad range of courses in Cognitive Science, including courses at the introductory, intermediate and advanced levels. The successful candidate should also be in a position to teach both undergraduate and graduate courses in Philosophy."

Given that they emphasize that they want a candidate who is from a philosophy department and trained in philosophy, I am not sure what to make of the requirement that the candidate be able to immediately teach half their courses on Cognitive Science. Does this mean philosophy of cog sci, or philosophical ssues involved in cog sci along with some background in the field of cog sci for students who lack it?

As it is phrased, it sounds like they are looking for someone to teach science in a science department, and philosophy in a philosophy department. Even those of us from top departments with strength in phil of cognitive science and psychology are not, let's be honest, ready to start teaching the actual science to students in that field at advanced levels. That strikes me as a most unreasonable expectation.

If they could clarify what kinds of courses these cognitive science classes are expected to be, that would be eminently helpful.

Anonymous said...

I've actually never understood what an "untenured Associate Professor" would be, and Yale's description doesn't help. My understanding of the ranks are: Assistant Professor = without tenure, regardless of how many years of experience you have. Associate Professor = with tenure, but without the record and experience level necessary to attain full professor status.

On this understanding, "untenured Associate Professor" makes no sense.

Anonymous said...

Tenure and promotion at many universities are tied together. At my university they are not. The is a rare species of the tenured assistant professor, which really should never happen. But an associate prof that doesn't have tenure is to protect the new hiring department. This is typically a probationary period for a scholar that has been out long enough to get tenure somewhere, but perhaps not at the place they are going. They keep the title (usually where the money comes in), but not tenure.

At least at my university the money comes with the title of associate and not with tenure.

That's the point of this I think even though those two Asst with tenure and assoc w/o tenure are rare, they happen.

Anonymous said...

It's the difference between rank and tenure. An associate professor achieves that rank on the basis of scholarship (primarily), but might not be tenured if there are issues with teaching, service, collegiality, etc.

Anonymous said...

Candidate, I think that, unfortunately for you, this is one of those "If you have to ask, you ain't gettin' the job" kind of things.

improfound said...

anon 10:59

at my institution, promotion and tenure are two separate processes. you are eligible for promotion (from assistant to associate) after 3 years. so there are untenured associate professors in my department. since promotion earns a pay raise, you want to get promoted as soon as possible.

Prof. J. said...

Lots of places have untenured associate professors, Anon. It's just a higher rank, and generally speaking a higher salary, but no tenure. (Full professor is a higher rank than associate, after all, and the only functional difference is a raise and maybe some extra voting privileges in certain cases.)

Yale, however, has more than most.

Tamar Gendler said...

Thanks to all of you for your suggestions and comments. A few quick replies:

Re: Anonymous October 22, 2008 9:53 AM. Thank you for the kind words. I realize that "the people on this blog what a better JFP," and I'm sorry that's not something that I'm in a position to fix. But in the meantime, yes, we are hoping that the sort of clarifications that we offer on our supplementary page can serve as one sort of model for another way that departments can make the application process less stressful all around.

Re candidate for yale job October 22, 2008 10:29 AM. You ask for clarification about the sorts of Cog Sci courses we are looking for. That will vary by candidate, of course, but here are some examples: Intro level: "Intro to Cog Sci"; Intermediate level: "Classic works in cognitive science"; Upper-level: topical courses such as "Perspectives on Perception" "Perspectives on Consciousness" "Modeling Cognition" "The Cognitive Science of Morality" "Innateness Reconsidered" etc. Let me know if you need more clarification.

Re: Anonymous October 22, 2008 10:59 AM: At most universities, tenure and promotion to Associate go together, but at some places (Yale is one), Associate Professor is a position that can be held either with tenure, or "on term" (that is: untenured). I'm afraid I can't do better than the link that I provided to Yale's Faculty Handbook in the on-line materials. One of the things to remember about advertisers is that we don't necessarily make the policies of the Universities at which we work. So some sorts of quirkiness just can't be avoided.

Thanks to all of you for your comments.

Anonymous said...

How about some useful feedback for Yale, folks? It's great they're asking.

I liked the details about what they mean by "PhD in Philosophy." Sure, they mean exactly what they say, but I'm (for example) one of those people who has more philosophy training than the average Philosophy PhD, and it helps me to know that, yes, they really don't want to hear from me. Other people might, similarly, find the AOS/AOC clarification helpful.

Details about the cover letter are especially helpful given discussion on this blog about that topic, and to a lesser extent the details about CV and letters of reference are helpful.

The clarification about teaching qualifications is worse than useless. It's like the IRS forms that explain the line that says "Name" by saying "Write your name here."

Petty point: When Yale says "We realize how stressful this process can be," all I can say is, maybe you do feel my pain, but I don't really care if you do. Better to scrap that sentence altogether.

One last point, and I think it's important. I object to the framework of the hire. If you really want interdisciplinary people, you should have a general Cog Sci search and say you want people with strong philosophical training to apply. If you want a philosophy person, say you want a philosopher. A lot of Cog Sci people, those doing the best work, are liable to flow over traditional disciplinary divides. That's something that's familiar to, e.g., our engineering colleagues, but unfamiliar to humanities types and some natural science folks as well. This ad says to me that Yale's more interested in local politics than in finding the best Cog Sci people. Sorry (and I know a lot of people here will disagree with me) but that's how I feel.

Anonymous said...

anon 11:02, I think you'll find the courseload isn't guaranteed to be 100% CogSci... you might have to teach Intro Phil. or Epistemology or whatever.

I'm not sure I want to be taught Intro Phil. by a psychologist or a computer scientist.

Also, you're probably going to have to supervise the odd non-Cog Sci PhD thesis too. This is a Philosophy department job after all.

Anonymous said...

I'm 11:02. I've taught Intro to Phil., logic, and history of phil. and could serve on committees in several areas of phil. A lot of people only chair committees in a narrow area, and I could do that in mine. I probably have more grad training in philosophy than you do, 11:10 (and maybe at a more Leiterific school).

But your observation that "this is a Philosophy department job after all" begs the question. Please reread my post. Cog Sci is an interdisciplinary field, so looking only for people with traditional disciplinary qualifications is rather ignorant. If Yale wants to hire a philosopher, then let them look for a philosopher with AOS in cog sci. If they want a cognitive scientist, then they shouldn't look just at philosophers, narrowly defined. Some dean somewhere wants to pay off two debts at once.

Anonymous said...

I probably have more grad training in philosophy than you do, 11:10 (and maybe at a more Leiterific school).

Maybe you could get your home institution to give you a Ph.D. in philosophy, if you've done enough work in it to merit a Ph.D.? Or to write a letter saying that although you haven't officially enrolled in a phil Ph.D. program, you've done the work that is normally required to merit a Ph.D. (and flag that you have such a letter in your cover letter)? I bet there's a lot of beaurocracy involved in the first option, but maybe the second is a real possibility?