Contact Me

~~~”Dr. Karen’s professionalization training has already given me an edge over my colleagues from other, even more ‘prestigious’ universities.” 2009 Ph.D., Social Sciences

Contact me, Karen Kelsky, Ph.D., at gettenure@gmail.com.  Or, leave a comment below.

Your confidentiality is guaranteed.

No spam, No sharing, I promise. That’s not what I’m about.

I look forward to hearing from you!


Comments

Contact Me — 340 Comments

  1. Dear Professor Kelsky,

    Thank you for your kind comment on my recent column in _The Chronicle_. It means a lot to me to have encouragement from someone of your stature and accomplishments when my critics say that I am simply rallying the malcontents and failures.

    I wish you every success in your current venture. What would academe be like if everyone were this honest and practical?!

    All best,

    Bill Pannapacker AKA “Thomas H. Benton”

    • That is high praise indeed, coming from you, Bill Pannapacker/Thomas Benton! You were the first to blow the whistle on the shameful ethics of graduate training in the United States, and directly inspired me –and validated me– to focus my own thoughts and feelings (and ethical decisions) about my role in academia.

      I spent 15 years among tenured faculty colleagues who thought it was declasse and tacky to speak of vulgar things like jobs, job skills, and the salaries that their Ph.D. students were actually living on or could anticipate in the future. I have come to understand why: To acknowledge the Ph.D. students as workers would require them to acknowledge themselves as workers—and this they could not do, as it would have popped their bubble of illusion about the “higher calling” and illustrious status of what they called their ‘work.’ The irony was lost on them that what they called “work” (“right now I’m working on the abject in early American literature”) was what they refused to acknowledge as actual work, ie, labor being traded for wages in a labor market.

      Thank you for visiting the site and blog. Please visit often and let me know if there are any sacred cows you’d particularly like to see me take on!

      Karen

    • hi Karen,

      we worked together before on job interviewing techniques. i was wondering if you offered other services such as writing for publication advice and/or editing. I think that it is in my interests at this point to worry more about publishing that interviewing.
      thanks
      russell cole

    • Your blog is brilliant. I wish I had found this sooner. Any advise for ‘mature’ students? I am 52 and just received my Ph.D. this past May in Mass Media and Journalism. Prior to graduate school I worked as a reporter, producer and television host in three major markets, and never had a problem getting a job so my stuggles now are truly frustrating. Would love your thoughts, Julie

  2. Hi,

    Can you write a post about what to do when your (invariably) female advisor is threatened by your success and tries to ruin your career? I can’t believe I’m the only one this happens to.

    Thanks,
    melissa

    • This actually happened to me! My advisor tried to stop me from being awarded my Ph.D., AFTER I already had the tenure track job offer! I’m just not sure what to say as a general rule about it.

    • You are absolutely right!
      You are not the only one. I suffered from such disappointments for long years, and still paying for them !

      • It happened to me too, but it was a man, an effeminate South African man who had a mentee he wanted to succeed at my (and others’) expense.

    • Hello,
      I recently completed my core Phd courses at a R1 university. For the first two years I experienced great success as I was championed by my highly prestigious chair/advisor. I was funded, asked to speak, asked to collaborate, asked to join the research team, and courted for a future at the university. However, when it came time to enter proposal stage my advisor/chair stopped supporting me and became abusive. During the bridge between finishing my course work and entering proposal time; I was mocked for my dynamic personality, charisma and seemingly undeserved leadership status among my peers. I worked hard. I maintained a GPA above 3.8, produced what was asked, but when my work was directly linked to the chair something inevitably went wrong and I had to battle to avoid disaster. There were political landminds along the way too. I encountered well funded projects that possessed questionable data, I discovered publications that had one first author but was written by doctoral students, and then I found pieces of my dissertation in recent publications of the “research team”. In addition, I was one of 3 students who were on the student team-2 were working on active grants for the chair and I was not.
      I kept on wondering why we hadn’t discussed my concepts or why I hadnt received any offer to meet with a committee to develop my concept. I was just told to write and find the data on my own. Eventually, I was told to not contact my chair for subjectivly deemed unnecessary emails and I as blocked from asking for assistance from any department faculty in regards to a proposal that I had no experience writing. (context: I was initially chosen by the chair for my writing capabilities).I was given limited time to submit the proposal/grant and during this time my chair grew increasingly hostile and psychologically abusive. In each meeting the data requirements changed for the proposal/grant.
      I was called for a meeting by 2 heads of the department and my chair-during that time I was framed, failed before the semester was over, and given no alternatives for success.

      What happened?

      How do I explain this to a university that I may transfer to when and if I recover from this?

      Any comments, replies, and experiences are welcome. Thank you for this blog.

  3. I don’t think it is only women advisors. Or even young untenured advisors. Sometimes male advisors are threatened by their students and in my experience it is worse if you are a woman and don’t fit either the daughter or flirt or submissive categories (horrible to write but women in those categories seem less threatening than others). So what to do when ANY advisor seems threatened by you?

    • Men and women advisors do it differently though. men, i think, ignore you. women, i think, undermine you. Broadly speaking of course.

      • How observant! Yes, men ignore you, women undermine you. This has been my experience. The funny thing is that it is too hard to accept that this is so. I always thought I am just a graduate student why would a tenured, renowned faculty member be intimidated by me? If anything she must be proud of me. Since I thought this way, for years I blamed myself for the unproductive relationship we had. So I also undermined myself. Seeing the situation for what it is helps, even if one cannot change that particular relationship. So thanks for sharing.

  4. Hello Dr. Kelsky,
    I am interested in several of the services you offer to people working on a dissertation. I am currently working on my prospectus. I have worked on several drafts with my adviser, however, it still needs a lot of work. I will be presenting my proposal to the social psychology area group in 3 weeks and I would like to have a strong proposal. I am also interested in having you critique my CV, teaching statement, and my cover letter. I really to to work on my skills for job interviewing too. I look forward to hearing from you.
    Thank you for your time,
    Michelle Peruche

  5. Hi,
    Thanks for the information, it has been helpful. Do you have an examples of job application materials (e.g., cover letters, teaching statements)? If not, I think that would help make your site even better.

    Thanks,
    Hugh

      • You can google exemplary teaching statements, research agendas, and cover letters online; many universities have examples on their own websites. I have used these to put together my own materials and used my peers (doc students) to review them with me.

  6. Request for special post: I would be very interested in suggestions on how to market yourself the non-academic world. I am a social science PhD student (ABD) who has become increasingly disillusioned with my job prospects in academia, especially since I don’t have a trust fund or a wealthy spouse to support me.
    Where do you suggest I start looking? What are options when the only work experience I really have is TA experience? Please tell me I don’t have to keep serving beer and wings on the weekends to pay my rent (and eventually my student loans!)

  7. Request for help. I’m an associate prof in an untenurable position. A contingent position called a full time temporary. I’ve been there seven years and suddenly the hostility from new full professors is unbearable. The provost has taken away travel money and all grants. He is now going to change our titles to lecturers. It’s time to fight back or get out. I want to do the latter but what do readers think is the best way to sell myself. I’ve got an enormous amount of lower level teaching, articles, service, and a new monograph. I would be tenured anywhere else.
    Any advice welcome

    • I am in the same position with a different twist. I am a lecturer with a PHD. The past couple of years the department has hired several lecturers with PHDs and seems to feel threatened. All of a sudden we are referred to as non vetted people who are “thrown into the classroom.” I teach five classes a semester and still publish but am seen as a lesser person in my department. I took this job because it was close to my children’s father, but have been seeking a new one for three years with no luck. Although I have been teaching and publishing in sociology journals for 10 years I cannot get a degree in a sociology department because my PHD is in Public Policy. I hate the small town in which I live and the work environment is increasingly hostile. I really do not know what to do. Any advice would be helpful.

  8. Question – if a letter of application and CV are the only documents requested in a job posting, do you still insist on the letter being a max of 2 pages?

  9. I really appreciate this site, and the work you are doing. I do have one request. Can you give any advise on writing ‘personal statements’, the kind of 500 word bio that some PhD funding committees like to see (I am thinking specifically of Gates Scholarships, Cambridge Trusts, that sort of post-graduate sources of funding). I despise writing these kinds of ‘hero narratives’ especially as I am a late-blooming academic who, instead of building hospitals in Borneo or organizing youth camps in high-school I was struggling to get by with an undiagnosed learning disability. I would like to know your take on these kinds of applications.

    • Midgardarts, Personal Essays are the hardest type of professional document to write because the genre is so poorly defined, and because they have to blend a personal and a scholarly element seamlessly. I will write a post on this later, but for now, to answer your question, you’ll want it to start with a short para on your current endeavors and goal, then go back to the inspirations for these endeavors and goals in your earlier days (this can be childhood, high school, or college), obstacles that you overcame to achieve success, and the different ways that you found expression of these interests as time passed. You will include a specific plan of work for the time being funded—what specifically you hope to accomplish in terms of advanced degree or research project, etc. And then you will also want to include a “make the world better” element, which will talk either about how the work you are doing/plan to do will contribute to the world, or how you personally are dedicated to teaching/mentoring/outreach. You will end with a brief but inspiring conclusion about the impact that your work will make on your field, and on society in general.

  10. Dear Karen,

    I have a question about the request by the search committee to “send everything you’ve got” that follows the initial application round. My problem is somewhat specific to my situation. I received my PhD in 2007 and have been on fairly cush post-docs since then. So really, the book should be done, but it is not. I have a proposal package that’s out with external reviewers for a press but the manuscript as I’ve described it in the proposal and letter is going to be *very* different from the dissertation but is kind of a construction site at the moment. So what do I do? Do I send bits and pieces that have been partially revised, or am I better off sending the dissertation with additional materials that have been fixed? I worry that I don’t have enough time to do any major fixing but am also worried about sending anything that is messy and/or not enough materials to indicate that I really am “completing the manuscript.” Maybe you could do a post in general on how best to handle the evil “send us everything” request?

    Thank you!
    Sarah

    • Sarah, I haven’t encountered that many “send us everything” requests before! It seems kind of cruel. I would not send the diss, given your ph.d. is 2007. You have to be operating well beyond the diss at this point. I’d send them articles and ed. coll. chapters that you have written, and 1-2 book chapters that are in a reasonable state–taking a long day or so to make sure their intros and conclusions are in shape, and that they hang together.

  11. I am entering the job market as I complete my dissertation work within a large 5-year grant. A sub-group of this grant team (including me) are working on a proposal for another that would fund and begin next Fall. I have been invited to be part of that grant team, conducting research, at whatever level I desire. Presently, I’m written in as a post-doc, the most flexible opportunity for me (back up plan that I’m not completely committed to) and the PI (the position isn’t named and he can fill it with someone else if I go elsewhere). I’m curious, though, whether it would be in my best interest to instead take the “Senior Personnel” route, thereby (should the project be funded), taking with me to a new university a specific research project and collaborative. I know established professors who have buy out time and projects all over the place, but am not sure how this is viewed for someone just entering the market. I don’t want to look like I am incapable of cutting ties with my grad school. Thanks in advance for your insight.

  12. Hi Karen,

    Would love to hear your thoughts on the issue of supply and demand for academic speakers. As a mid-career prof and conference organizer, I feel emerging scholars need to put themselves out there more and their supervisors/coaches should be helping them do this. From my perspective, senior “star” scholars are easier to find and promote, but often less available and motivated (not to mention more expensive!). Emerging/junior scholars, even those doing groundbreaking work, tend to be less visible, possibly a “higher risk” option due to their relative inexperience, but can offer a fresh perspective and the event will probably be more significant to their career. Looking forward to your insights and tips!

    • Colette, interesting….. I’ll make a stab at this based on my former life as an emerging/junior scholar, and then as a speaker series organizer, and conference organizer, department head dealing with tenure cases, etc.

      I think that junior people are absolutely delighted to be invited anywhere, and generally go! (actually I spent some serious time as a department head urging my “star” junior faculty to stop accepting so many invitations because they were becoming an obstacle to getting the book done for tenure).

      They’re less visible because they’ve published less, may not yet have a book out, and also because first projects are nearly always relatively narrow in scope, deriving as they do from the dissertation. Thus the “suitability range” of junior people is much narrower, or at least perceived to be so. Senior people with several high profile and bold, pathbreaking publications are seen as being perfect fits for a wide range of events and conferences.

      And then the junior folks, if they’re getting GOOD advising for tenure, are keeping their heads down and writing. That doesn’t preclude some hobnobbing and invited talk-ing, but it’s always got to take a back seat.

      So, in short, I would probably dispute your premise that emerging scholars “need” to put themselves out there more. The main thing they need to do is publish, publish, publish (in top tiered refereed journals and in book fields, the book). Yes, they need to network, and advisors should help, but I see that more at the large national conference level. I always urge ABDs and brand new Ph.D.s to organize high profile panels at their national conference, with a big shot discussant, on the year they are debuting on the market, as, literally, their “debutante party” announcing that they are no longer at the children’s table/nursery, but are now a full fledged member of the academic community.

      But other than that kind of national panel, I’ve seen more junior people go astray by spending too much time being seduced by invitations to speak at campuses (and not getting their writing done), then I’ve seen them fail in their careers by virtue of not speaking enough…. if that makes sense.

  13. Hi,

    this is a request for a special post. I enjoyed very much your Tips for Getting Funded, and I wonder whether you could also give similar, practical advice on getting published. Even a “Foolproof Journal Article Template”, if this is not asking too much!

    I know the rules are different in each discipline but there are mistakes that all of us do when writing academic papers. I’d very much like to hear your thoughts on this issue.

  14. I want to first say THANK YOU! This website and blog have been a tremendous help to me as I prepare to enter the job market. Your straight-forward, no-nonsense advice is both needed and welcomed!

    I have a question about letter-writers. I am doctoral candidate in cultural anthropology at an R1. I will be looking for a TT position at a smaller regional or SLAC. I have been an adjunct at both my R1 school (teaching mostly 300-level classes) and the local comm college (teaching intro classes) for the last three years since completing my MA. Is it acceptable or beneficial to have my dept head from the comm college where I teach write me a letter of rec? She’s not a PhD but has been at the school for decades and has done several class visits so she knows my teaching skills (more than any of my committee members or grad school faculty do). Would she be a good candidate to ask for a letter, or should I stick to faculty at my R1 institution?

    • She’d be an excellent FOURTH letter, clearly delineated as a “teaching reference.” Beyond the faculty at your R1, you also want to actively cultivate external letter writers in your field. After the Ph.D. you don’t want to have all your writers be from the phd institution.

  15. Hi Karen, I recently started following your blog and have found it very helpful, thanks! I would love to see a post about writing good tenure letters, the multiple page accounts documenting your life as an academic that introduces the tenure notebook. These seem about as difficult, if not more so, than writing job letters.

  16. Hi,
    How long is a “brief” research proposal? I’m Australian, and am applying for a 2-year US postdoc in art history, so trying to make sense of the application procedure. The position calls for a letter of interest, CV, brief description of research project, three letters of recommendation, sample syllabus or course proposal, and a writing sample of no more than 9,000 words. Would you mind giving me some length guidelines for each of these items?

    Many thanks, your blog is brilliant and incredibly helpful for outsiders.
    Georgina

    • The brief research proposal will be 2-3 pages, single-spaced, 12 point font, 1 inch margins. Read my posts, “The Postdoc Proposal: How It’s Different,” as well as “Dr. Karen’s Foolproof Grant Template” for guidance on composing this. Also, “The Golden Rule of the Research Proposal.”

  17. Dear Karen,
    I am a junior academic. I am going to give a paper at a major international conference in my subject; now they have asked me to be discussant in another panel as well. This would be a fair amount of work (I have to comment on 5 papers), and I am wondering if this is worth it, CV-wise. I generally try to be efficient in how I use my time. Is this the sort of thing that I should say yes to?
    Thank you so much.
    S

    • While there are many variables to weigh, such as the prestige of the panel you’re being asked to discuss, in general, serving as a discussant is an honor, and carries some weight on a CV, and visibility at the conference itself. It gives you also some bragging rights while at the conference. So I would lean toward acceptance.

  18. What do you think about a personal academic website? I had one in a previous career and I am now redesigning it to fit my new academic profile. What are the pitfalls here? What should be done with this type of communication if one is looking for research position? I think other people would be interested in this.

    • I am *sure* other people would be interested in this; i am just totally unqualified to write about it. As I’ve written in other contexts, my career just missed the widespread adoption of the academic website. I will actively solicit a guest post though, or several!

  19. Hi Karen,

    Love your site – it’s been invaluable. Thanks tremendously for it!

    Here’s a question for which I think I know the answer, but which I’d love to hear your take on, if possible: is it ever appropriate to e-mail a search committee that did _not_ choose you to ask if there is any future advice they’d give you personally as a candidate? It was my first year on the job market this year. I’m in literature, ABD (but with a good article in a top journals), and I was lucky enough to get three MLA interviews, one with a top R1 school. To my mind, the interview with them went great. I’d been following your advice judiciously, and was very prepared. I really liked the people interviewing me, and got the feeling that they liked both my project and me as a person. They asked good, hard, questions, and I felt strong about my answers. I left the interview feeling like I’d given them a good sense of who I am and what I do. I wrote short thank-you e-mails the following day, and two interviewers responded to say they had enjoyed meeting me and hearing about my work.

    Needless to say, I didn’t get called for a campus visit (nor did I get a campus visit for my other two interviews, but that’s ok – I left both of those interviews feeling like they’d be great places to work, but not for me, at least where my life is right now). I’m mostly over it, and generally accept the fact that the search committee decisions can be frustratingly capricious. My advisors have all given me the same feedback: if you felt like the interview went well, it probably did, and you can’t dwell overlong on decisions like this.

    Still, there’s a nagging part of me that wants to know if this was really the case, or if there was some glaring failing on my part that everyone in the interview except for me could see. If there were, in other words, an easily fix-able problem (“you still seemed more like a grad student than a colleague,” “we were all waiting for you to address X problem or X thinker, and you didn’t even mention it/her,” “we liked you, but thought your work was a little too similar to person Y who already works in the department,” etc.) that I could fix by next year. So: to your mind, is there an appropriate way to e-mail the chair (or another member) of the search committee to ask? I know committees are bound by all sorts of legal issues, don’t want to get burned by giving out too much information, and sometimes make decisions that seem bizarre from the outside. But really, any advice from them would be welcome and helpful.

    Just wanted to hear your thoughts on the issue, if possible. Either way, thanks much for the site!

    • It is my opinion that yes, you can ask. It can be awkward, and not all depts will necessarily respond, but I endorse a non-needy, brief email along the lines of, “Thank you again for hosting me in your department. I am writing to inquire if you would be willing to share any insights with me as to things I could improve in my interview, job talk, or overall profile. This information would be helpful to me as I advance further in my job search. Thank you, Sincerely, XXX.”

  20. Dear Karen,

    I know this question doesn’t necessarily fall within the purview of your normal responses, but I am interested to know if you have an opinion on this topic:
    I submitted my PhD application for X program in the Social Sciences to Y University in December. Since then, I have submitted a paper for review, am on the verge of submitting 2 more for peer review, and submitted 2 abstracts for conferences this year. Do you think it is a good idea to email my potential adviser at Y University to update them with this news? I know I am experiencing pre-decision jitters, but I just want to have the best chance possible to attend Y University.

    Thank you in advance for your response,
    Prospective PhD Student

    • Yes, with all that impressive productivity, you should re-do your cv, and call the dept to inquire about submitting an updated one. I would suggest you contact the departmental secretary and/or the Director of Graduate Studies.

  21. Dear Karen,

    First, thank you for your website and being so generous with your knowledge.

    I am currently finishing my PhD in Early Modern Literature/Book History and am putting together my first cover letter for an Assistant Research Fellow position. I have been using the cover letter outline from your website to help organize my thoughts and info- but I was wondering, since you have stressed that postdocs are different animals than teaching posts because we are in service to the research project, about ways I may want to adjust the template.

    It is especially important since they are only requesting a CV and cover letter – so the letter is also my chance to show how I plan to contribute to the larger project with my own research.

    Many thanks for this and all your help in the past.
    Jennifer

    • Jennifer, thanks for getting in touch. Did you read the post: The Postdoc App: How It’s Different? That one is very helpful for answering precisely your question. I’ll follow up with an email too. Karen

  22. Dear Karen,

    I just found your excellent website today as I began preparing for my very first academic interview! I have a week to get ready. The thing is–it’s a preliminary interview by phone. I would love to see a blog post with advice on how to prepare for a phone interview. In some ways, I think it should be easier since I can surround myself with note cards full of canned answers (in case I lose everything out of my head in the moment), but in other ways I think it is going to be really difficult since I won’t be able to read any body language/facial expressions or show them my warm, smiling face.

    Any advice you have would be appreciated (especially if it came before next Wednesday).

    Go Ducks,
    SMA

    • Click on the category, “How to Interview” and you’ll be directed to many posts about interviewing. One of them is “Rocking the Phone/Skype Interview.” Other good ones include the #Facepalm Fails of the Academic Interview and my latest IHE column: “The ‘Be Yourself’ Myth.”

      Good luck!

  23. Do you have any experience with Canadian SSHRC post-doc applications? Just barely missed the cut this time (recommended but not funded) and am thinking about how to regroup for next year. Thanks!

  24. I have been reading your posts on job interview attire with interest in preparation for an upcoming campus interview, and here’s my question: the tattoo on my calf – cover it up or let my freak flag fly? I can wear a skirt with dark tights (though you recommend against opaque tights, and it’s quickly getting too warm for those), or dark hose (through which it will still be visible), or should I just wear pants? I am an internal candidate and I’m sure at some point this year my tattoo has been visible under a skirt or some such, though I’m not sure the other profs have noticed it. What say you? To tattoo not tattoo? If it matters, I’m an art historian applying for a t-t job in an art & design department, and it’s a custom Celtic knot, about 3″ in diameter. The committee is made up entirely of studio artists and graphic designers. I’m interviewing at a medium-sized Southern public university where women certainly wear pants on the regular, but I was thinking I should perhaps wear a skirt and heels for the interview so as to look more serious/dressed up than I do on a regular class day. The last time I was on the job market, skirt hems were low enough to cover the tatt. Now an up-to-date skirt will definitely show the tatt. Help?

    • I think the tattoo, in and of itself, is not a problem, particularly in an art and design dept. I think, though, that you might want to signal “serious” with a nice suit w/pants rather than skirt with heels. I’m concerned less with other peoples’ reactions than your own psychological state. If the tattoo will distract you if visible, cover it up. That should be your litmus test.

  25. Any advice on chairing a conference panel for the first time? I want to propose a panel for an upcoming, major conference in my field. Beyond writing the proposal, what will be expected of me as the organizer? How can I use the panel to my best advantage?

    • You will conceptualize the topic and write the proposal. You’ll send that proposal out to potential participants. This can be done either in a targeted individual way, or in a “call for papers” on a listserve in your field. Once you have a set of participants, you will seek out a discussant. For this panel to really “work” for you, you need the participants to be reasonably well-known people, not graduate students or rank beginners, and the discussant to be an exceedingly well known and influential scholar. This way the panel will ahve “draw” and a larger audience, and your paper and your leadership will get the reflected glory of the other participants, in addition to the exposure you bring yourself. You will alsohave a higher likelihood of getting accepted. You will want to go for any special status that your association provides, such as “invited status”, which usually entails an earlier submission date to a sub-unit level review. This additional status also provides you a greater draw and audience. Prior to the panel, you’ll want to pull the participants together in a joint email discussion of the panel and its themes, exchange papers if possible, and create a little ‘community of interest.’ Get the feedback of the discussant–if possible, and without imposing—early enough to incorporate changes in your paper. At the conf. itself, plan a panel lunch or coffee or breakfast prior to the panel time. All of this makes for a better experience and connections/networking that yields fruit far into the future.

  26. Hi,

    In a couple of months I will be graduating with a degree in physics from an elite R1 and my ultimate career goal is to have a TT job at a SLAC. I have not had much luck in this search, but seem to be a strong contender for some of the visiting assistant professorships and postdocs I have applied to. My adviser believes that the best way to get the position I want is to build up my teaching experience with visiting positions, but I am learning that the finalists for the most desirable TT jobs have all had some (2-5 years) postdoctoral experience.

    Do you have any thoughts on which path makes for the strongest candidate for the SLAC jobs?

    Thanks.

  27. I am a History PhD Candidate and I am currently writing my dissertation with the intention of going on the job market this coming year. Unfortunately, I have zero publications on my CV. Can you please offer some advice on how to turn my chapters into articles as well as how to submit them for publication? Thanks!

  28. Hi Karen,

    I am a Master ´s Candidate in Dairy Science and Technology at Louisiana State University. I just read your article “Graduate School Is a Means to a Job” and I found it really helpful, thanks for sharing your ideas.

    Best wishes,

    Behannis Mena

  29. Have you written about moving at the associate level, or even — given the nature of the job market — from a tenured associate to an untenured position?

    • i haven’t written about that exactly, although I have a category of post called: “Your Second or Third Job,” which includes one or two posts that might be relevant to you.

  30. Hi Karen,

    Your advice is great! Thanks for your continued assistance.

    I’m wondering if at some point you could do a post about graduate school comprehensive exams? I’m prepping for mine now (in an interdisciplinary department) and it seems that there is no clear consensus on what the hell the “product” of these exams is supposed to look like. We do a take-home exam. 32-hours (24 hours for work, 8 for sleep…but, of course, no one sleeps). While I know each department differs on their requirements and what they are looking for, I believe you could provide insight into this process given your extensive experience.

    Warmly,

    Steve

    • Steve, I’d love to help, but in this particular thing, the rule is there is no rule. The comp/prelim exam system is probably the belly of the beast in terms of the crazy inconsistencies and variabilities of graduate departments. Basically, the only people who can give you reliable info on this are the (successful) previous takers of the exams *in your department*. And/or the profs, if you can find one who is willing to just explain it in a pragmatic, non-mystifying way.

  31. I would like to add my comments to the other voices in praise of your work. I have far too much to say about academe, and leaving it, to fit in one comment-field, but not *all* of it is bitter or disillusioned, since it led me to the place in what is my lifetime’s work I am now. It’s entirely possible that a collaborative book needs to be written about this subject, because there is far too much material here that is not unique to any one person’s experiences. I’ve read through your blog and other links you’ve provided, and it’s clear that my experiences have not been unique. I also answered a request for research that you’re conducting, and I would be interested in talking further about that research with you. I hope to hear from you, Dr. Karen! Best wishes with your ongoing project!

  32. Dear Karen,
    I have been enjoying your blog for several months now and wonder if you might do a post on ageism in academia. I am 49 and should have my PhD finished before I turn 51, but I have always gotten the feeling that people think I am doing it for my own amusement and not as a career change (from book publishing). Since I am involved in book culture studies, I assumed that my 20 years in publishing would be a help but am told instead that these 20 years count for nothing, as they are “non-academic.” I’ve managed an academic journal, run a university press, and helped dozens of academic authors reach as wide an audience as possible, but apparently this was “unacademic” of me.
    This ageism problem seems to be rampant in academia. In my own department (English) I have four other friends similarly disadvantaged by age but doing exceptionally interesting work that 20-something-year-olds could not do. I get the feeling though that we are considered permanent sessionals (adjuncts) at best and may have been accepted into the program in order to ensure less competition for our younger colleagues.
    Yesterday I explained this problem to our university president, who said he would be happy to read anything I send him about the problem. I am hoping to get him to be the first university president to take a public stand against ageism — a simple manifesto that states that a grad student is a grad student regardless of age, a PhD is a PhD regardless of age, and that age should not be a barrier to grades, funding, TT hiring, or general career prospects.
    The fact that we are in Canada, where the Charter of Rights lists ageism as a prohibited form of discrimination should help the cause. The president was a federal MP for many years and a supporter of the Charter.
    I’d like to be able to point him in the direction of your website and I’d like to think that one public statement will start the ball rolling throughout North America.
    Best Regards,
    Ruth

    • Ruth,

      thanks so much for sharing these thoughts. I’ve been trying to solicit some guest posts on aging in academia for about 6 months. I haven’t yet been successful. I have some ideas for a psot of my own as well, so rest assured, it’s coming soon.

  33. Thank you for your wonderful site! I have a question about adjuncting and the job market. I am writing my dissertation far away from my institution because my husband got an academic job in a different state. I was able to find an adjuncting position at a satellite branch of the university and I’ve been teaching part-time as I write. Although I find the teaching itself fulfilling, I find the institutional aspects of adjuncting isolating and frankly, depressing. There is no institutional support and there is no shortage of reminders that we are disposable resources in the university’s eyes. Now with pay-cuts coming up in the fall, I will barely be making enough to cover gas for the commute and daycare for my toddler. I feel like I should quit and just focus on finishing the dissertation and maybe find some time for other projects (such as being on the job market in the fall!). I don’t feel like teaching would necessarily get in the way of finishing, but I am wondering if there are any career-related advantages to staying in this kind of a position.

  34. Dear Karen,

    First of all, thanks again for your weblog and your worthwhile advice. I do appreciate what you do as I’m sure you show the key solutions to many problems and concerns of students.
    As a graduate I wish to pursue a career in research but to be honest I am currently too confused and frustrated in this path. I would be grateful if you may advise me in regards to my current situation which I’m sure would help me a lot.
    I am a Psychology graduate in the UK. In fact, I finished my BSc (in Clinical Psychology) in my country, Iran, and studied my MSc (in Business Psychology) in the UK. Now I wish to get a PhD studentship in the UK ideally and build on my career in research and academia. This is because I’ve always been passionate about studying, learning and doing research. In fact, whenever I picture myself being a researcher in my field it just gives me the most satisfying feeling I’ve ever had!
    The fact is I have been sending emails to potential supervisors (for a PhD placement and also some relevant RA roles as a volunteer) for 6 months now but I have not been successful yet really! Apart from a high competition in this aspect, I believe it is also because I want to switch my direction in the psychology field from what I studied in Masters (Business Psychology) to a completely different direction(Neuropsychology) for which I have little knowledge, no experience but a great passion.
    So now I thought taking a new relevant MSc and dedicating my energy and time to writing a great dissertation for that might be very helpful in my case. And it would hopefully open up the path to find a PhD studentship offer afterward.
    Another alternative that is in mind is actually working hard on writing a good proposal in this area as I don’t have one yet.
    By the way, I do not have either any publications or conference activities.

    Thanks a lot for your consideration and time in advance.

    Sepideh Cheraghi

  35. Hi Karen,

    Can you write a post on the value of book reviews? After reading several of your previous posts (especially the Costco one) I understand that they are not really highly valued. Does that mean we should not do them? I am starting my second year as a PhD student and was approached by a journal to write a book review and I agreed, but now I am doubting my decision. Any thoughts? Thanks!

  36. Hi Karen,

    Just discovered your blog and it is great! I am a recent Ph.D. in the sciences and am looking for a job. A lot of places, especially community colleges, are requiring diversity statements. I would love to see a post and hear from you and others about writing a diversity statement as 1) a white person and 2) that doesn’t come off as insincere, presumptuous, or like it is stretching too much! So far I am 0 for 3 on these community college jobs which I am attributing to a number of things but the diversity statement is still plaguing me.

    Thanks for your efforts. There is a real need for such a forum for frank discussion of all of these issues.
    Cheers,
    RD

  37. Could you could address the possibility of making up for lost time, or if it is even really possible? I am an international student who graduated with my PhD from a top UK university in January, but I have done everything wrong. To start with, I fell into the “there’s always grad school” trap when I found myself working in dead-end jobs and hating life several years after finishing my BA. I decided to do first an MA at home, and then a PhD overseas.

    My time as a PhD student did not go well — I battled severe depression throughout, temporarily lost interest in my topic, was nearly kicked out of my program due to my poor performance, and had to have several extensions, meaning that I took about twice as long to finish as most UK students do. In short I very nearly failed altogether, and I consider it somewhat miraculous that I passed at all.

    Consequently I only have one publication (in an edited volume, based on my MA research, about 6 years old now) and a bunch of conference papers under my belt. To make matters worse, I am a bit older than most recent graduates in the UK — I will be 38 this fall, whereas I think most people here finish before they are 30. My advisor, who was always rather distant, has left the university to take up a post in another country, and I don’t really have a mentor. So, I have been floundering as I try to get myself back on track for the academic career I always wanted. Obviously the first thing to do is to come up with a decent 5-year plan, with an emphasis on publishing and developing new research projects.

    In your experience, is it even possible to recover from a background like this? Should I be focusing on something besides publications?

    • It will be hard, but you can do it with focus. The main thing right now is publications, and then making sure you have 3 solid recommenders writing you good letters. You didn’t mention how old your Ph.D. is, so that will be a factor as well. Your age, 38, is NOT a major factor. 38 is not old in Ph.D. world. If you were in the position at 48, then yes, that would be an issue, but 38, no.

  38. Dear Karen,

    I was wondering what you thought about the following hypothetical scenario regarding the possibility of negotiating the venue for the first round interviews, which are typically held in the big national conventions.

    I’m talking about the humanities, where there is a great deal of easy navigation between departments. Consider a dissertation that straddles two disciplines, each of which has their own separate national convention. The dissertation’s research appropriately qualifies the candidate for jobs in both Discipline A and Discipline B, but the number of jobs in Discipline A far exceeds those in Discipline B. There is no question, therefore, that the candidate will attend the Discipline A convention. But if a single job interview were offered from the handful of jobs applied for in Discipline B, the candidate would also be traveling all the way to this second convention (which is on the other side of the country) just for this 20-40 minute interview. It is a very desirable job, but one has to consider the risk involved in spending close to $1,000 on the 1:15 odds given at a single 20-40 minute first-round interview. Of course the candidate should not confess all of this to the hiring committee, and portray him-/her-self as a high maintenance candidate (which will likely suggest to them that this person will be a high maintenance colleague). But is it entirely gauche to at least ask for an alternate venue for this interview, or perhaps a phone/Skype interview, especially since the applicant’s cover letter never said s/he would be attending Discipline B’s convention?

    Thanks for the great blog and always very helpful advice.

    • It’s not gauche at all to ask for a skype or phone option. It’s increasingly provided by departments that ‘get it.’

  39. Hi Karen,

    I am exceptionally happy that I found your website so early in my career. I have been poking around for some time, and have learned a lot. One big question, however, I could not find an answer to. After a little context, the question is below.

    I am about to embark on a transcontinental move – wife, dog and all – to Oregon (A place I know you are fond of). I got into the grad program of my choice, and am working with some exceptional faculty who have, at least in these very early stages, been absolutely wonderful. I am quite lucky indeed. After my 5-6 years of completing the PhD, however, my wife and I might want to move back to her home city. Of course this is dependent upon what jobs are available, whether we (like you) might want to stay in the pacific northwest, etc.

    My question is this. If I choose a dissertation topic that is situated in or around her home city (pop is approximately 300,000), and write a critical dissertation, will that affect my hireability in that city? Will schools not want to hire someone who writes critically about the surrounding area?

    Any help you can give, either addressing the issue in your blog or pointing me to the blog post I missed, would be greatly appreciated. Many thanks for your time and all the best.

    • This is a good and interesting question. I think the fact that the diss is critical is not at issue; in general the focus on the city or region will increase your hireability for that city or region.

  40. Hello,
    I received my PhD this past spring and am now going on the job market with PhD in hand, which I hope will bode better for my prospects. I was wondering if you could offer some advise about how to change the job cover letter once having received the PhD, vs. before. When I was ABD on the market, my cover letter referred to my dissertation and described it; do I now use that same paragraph but refer to the “book in progress”? should I give the book project a different name? Any advice on what to change in job materials from ABD to PhD would be so very appreciated. Thank you.

    • Keep referring to the dissertation until you actually have a book mss. under review at a press. Other than that, the rules don’t change (as described in the
      Why Your Job Cover Letter Sucks post)

  41. Hi Karen,

    Many graduate students, myself included, have had their progress delayed by health problems. My own two-year battle ended fifteen months ago when my condition was finally properly treated, but my department’s chair is trying to use my failure to have made progress then against me now.

    Since my advisor knew about my condition before it became a problem and I kept him fully apprised of my situation while I was seeking treatment, I feel that the “clock” should be reset so that I have a reasonable amount of time to completion. But there is also the problem of my advisor’s attitude. This past academic year my advisor has been negative, disengaged, unreasonable, and, well, just plain crazy, probably due more to his own recent personal problems than to anything having to do with me.

    I believe my advisor is scapegoating me and my medical condition and trying to drive me away so that he doesn’t have to accept responsibility for dropping me. The chair says that his behavior is “normal” in light of my two-year period of slow progress. But if I “choose” to change advisors now, I will need to completely retrain, so it will take me another three years to complete, something that the chair doesn’t want to give me because he’s somehow construing my advisor’s passive-aggressive craziness as my fault.

    Why isn’t it considered discrimination to treat students with medical disabilities in this fashion? What recourse, other than a lawsuit, does a student have?

    Thanks for providing such great advice on your blog.

  42. Hi Karen,

    I’ve been on the market for several years now–with three years of Visiting Professorships under my belt and waiting for the sign that it’s time to move on. Your website has been extremely helpful as I continue to discern the way forward. But so far things *are* still moving forward–I’ve been hired twice to teach full-time at two well-respected liberal arts colleges and have just had my book accepted for publication with a university press. This will be my strongest year on the market yet, but my work this year is a bit unorthodox. I’ve elected not to adjunct and write full-time during the fall semester. In the spring I’ll be teaching at a local university in two different departments who hope to begin developing a cross-curricular relationship (religion and gender studies). They’ve asked me to teach two course especially tailored to my areas of expertise in order to foster this relationship.

    My question is about applying for jobs this fall. I feel uncomfortable listing my spring teaching obligations since they are still in the future, but if I were to receive a job, that experience would be part of the package they’d be getting. I’m also uncertain about saying that I’m writing full-time since it’s a veiled way of saying I’m unemployed. So how do I indicate that this is a very productive year for me, even though I don’t have steady employment?

    Thanks so much!
    Sara Moslener

    • The spring jobs can go in the CV. You can mention the course you’re developing in the cover letter if it is the best choice of course for you to highlight for the letter. You don’t need to specify in the letter when you’ll be teaching it (or where).

      I’d leave your current position vague. The main issue is that you won’t have any letterhead for thisfall’s market.

  43. Hi Karen,

    I sent you a message on Facebook recently, and you weren’t able to reply. I can identify with
    what saymwah wrote above. There is a very real prejudice against the disabled in academe. I’ve had to deal with my own health issues during the past two years, and I had to discontinue my job search search. Although the job market is tight, I’m ready to try again. I was hoping you can contact me to discuss this.

    Thanks

    Brian Refford

  44. Dear Dr. Karen,

    I just wanted to let you know how helpful your blog was when preparing for my first job talk last spring. I was working for the government, and suddenly my dream job in academia appeared. My PhD supervisors were never very helpful in terms of discussing my future, so I turned to your blog to guide my preparation. It was a tremendous help. Your advice is US-focused (which I needed!), grounded in reality, and clear. I learned a ton and I ended up beating out 100 other candidates and landing the position (on my first ever job talk!).

    I recently read your post on surviving the first year on the tenure track , which has also helped me tremendously. It’s so good to know that being overwhelmed is normal, and that there are key things I need to be focusing on. I am following your advice, and already, it’s proving to be very beneficial.

    Thanks so much for your insight and candor on the rather insular academic world. Your blog is invaluable to us all.

  45. I am in the process of writing an external review letter. We do not use those at my institution. Can you guide me to a sample or guidelines? thank you

  46. Hi all,

    I’ve started a website to help PhD students get experience in the real world. The idea is to register and log all your skills and expertise so small, medium and large companies needing very specific skill sets can find you.

    It’s a new site, but I want to spread the word, especially to those interested in breaking out of academia and into the “real world”

    Many thanks!

    Paul

  47. Dr. Karen! I continue to worship your blog. I have a question I was hoping you might address is a future blog post. When is it advisable to send more material than is requested in the job description? I have been advised to always send along a dissertation abstract, even when the job listing does not ask for one as part of the initial application. I have also been told that I should send four or even five recommendation letters, even when the listing asks for three. What’s the right thing to do here?

    • Never send more than they ask for. You’ll just piss them off. Remember they’re overwhelmed with material. My one exception to this rule is that you can accompany 3 scholarly references with 1 teaching reference as long as it is clearly marked as such. But that’s it.

  48. Dear Karen,
    Thank you for your wonderful blog and sincere truth-telling.
    I was be grateful for your opinion on my issue:
    I was just hired for a TT job at a R1 research university which is also my alma mater.
    The professor heading my field in my department knows me for years and has supported me with rec letters (which got me into grad school). However I know she has some reservations about me. Some do with her (she just got tenure after a long process), some are professional (methodological issues), and some do with me (I am probably intimidating).
    Knowing this, I orchestrated my job talk so to address and ‘disarm’ her concerns, which proved successful: at one point she intervened to defend me (or, the field) during the QA section.
    Now starts the long journey of working with her. She is likely to ask me to do too much teaching-related work, be time consuming and under organized (I worked with her before), and try to stall my writing progress. Not fully intentionally of course, but nonetheless so. How would you recommend I go about handling things with as little conflict as possible?
    My best-case scenario is to somehow get her to *support* me, as part of her research field, vis-a-vis other fields/professors in the department. Have no clue how to get about doing this!
    Thank you so much.

  49. Dear Karen,

    First-you rock! Your blog posts have been of tremendous help to me in my search and beyond.

    I currently work in a department that is highly toxic and this is making life pretty stressful. The toxicity of the department is apparently known all over campus and the issues have been around for many, many years (although nothing came up on any academic message boards when I searched). When I was hired a less than a year ago, everyone was on their very best behavior. Needless to say I am on the market this year. My question to you is this: Is there a way to find out if a department has such issues prior to accepting a position via subtle questioning during the interview stage? Or otherwise? I can handle a few crazy colleagues, but am terrified I will get stuck with another toxic department.

    Help! Please!

    Sincerely,

    Codename

  50. Dear Dr. Karen:
    First, I just stumbled on this site after reading a few pages, I want to thank you so much for the information you share so freely. I know it’s also a business, but I recognize a lot of heartfelt advice you give away for free on this site and it’s very generous. Thank you.

    Secondly, I am a Ph.d. candidate (ABD) and I’m wondering about book reviewing for a major journal in my field. I was offered the opportunity to review a book and I assume I should take it but I’m nervous because if I appear to be even a little critical it occurs to me I may be hurting some job prospect somewhere. On the other hand if I’m too admiring, this may also have blowback. (I have not read the book yet as it was just published.)

    I realize these reviews are more about placing the book in its proper critical context — and not as much about actually praising or criticizing — but it still makes me a bit nervous. What should I do?

    Thanks for taking the time to read this.
    Eliza

  51. Dear Dr. Karen,

    I am a fan of your blog and, as a graduate student in -hopefully- her final year, I am starting to get increasingly worried about the ghost of electronic teaching portfolios. Many people I talked to find them extremely useful. My department (Classics) doesn’t and does not see the point in having a e-portfolio at hand for job applications. The most recurrent comment I heard from them is: “Nobody in the humanities departments across America will be interested in reading through a portfolio: it’s boring!”
    I know that you touched upon this topic in a few of your blog articles, but I was wondering whether you would consider talking openly about this subject. It would be interesting to know whether an application with link to e-portfolio sounds pretentious or interesting. What’s the status quaestionis?

    Thank you very very much,

    Emilia

  52. question – I am not an academic – I am a consultant. I have been presenting training classes based on 25 years experience in my field and often am told “write a book.” I spoke to a well resepected professor who is in a related field and he came to sit through my class. I asked him to use that experience to review the materials and give me some feedback / edit suggestions on how well the materials captured the class experience. Before looking at anything (the audio is being transcribed now) he emailed back – he wants co-authorship credit.
    While I respect his opinion and expertise, and while he may add some structure and a small amount of content to the materials, I don’t feel there is enough for co-author.
    QUESTION – he wants to co-author to help his full time/tenure status. Is there any way to have him author some case studies, addendum materials, etc? Where that would count towards his author requirement without taking 50% of the credit for my material.

    Thanks so much in advance for you insight.

  53. Dear Dr. Karen,
    Thank you so much for all the advice, both on this blog and in your publications and webinars. Thanks in particular for the advice on grant applications. I wonder whether you could clarify the value, if any, of applying for grants that you have almost no chance of getting.
    For example, I have a pretty good dissertation project that will very likely be funded by a departmental grant next year. I am also applying for a major national grant. This grant is for the same amount as the departmental grant, the odds against my getting it are astronomical, I haven’t had massive training in proposal writing (although I’ve received a few minor grants), and the application is hundreds of years long and will take up time I should be spending on all sorts of things, such as my dissertation and job applications. Is there still a value in applying, and if so, what is it?
    Thanks very much. I hope this question is of value to other readers as well.
    Best,
    abd

  54. Thanks so much for your wonderful advice, which has proven extremely helpful! I hope to learn if you have any advice for the non-newly minted phd, who hopes to stay in the academic game. Any thoughts, other than continuing to publish, for how to stay competitive on the tenure-track job market?

    • Read my post, “Graduate School is a Means to a Job”. It was published in Inside Higher Ed, but I think i have a link to it from this site too.

  55. Hi Karen,
    I wondering if you have ever posted about someone applying for a job at the institution that they are currently working in? My spouse and I are both academics, and he is now a tenured associate professor while I have worked a variety of jobs at the same institution (no spousal hiring policy).

    More positions in my area are coming up, however, it seems very awkward to go through all the interview paces when I know all the players. Any words of advice?

  56. Dear Dr. Karen,
    I am a butch lesbian applying for jobs for the first time, and am wondering whether to use my legal (feminine) name on applications or the gender-neutral nickname I use in almost every aspect of life. My advisor says to use my legal name. I have published under the nickname, however, and everyone at school and in academic life knows me by the nickname rather than my legal name.
    I would be very grateful for your thoughts.
    Thank you!

  57. Dear Karen,

    Thanks for your wonderful blog and advice. I was wondering if you could do a post on applying to positions in professional schools. That is, for example, a medical anthropology job in a medical school rather than an anthropology department, a legal historian job in a law school rather than a history department, a sociology of religion job in a divinity school rather than a sociology department, etc. It seems to me that these jobs require a slightly different spin since the teaching demands will be on professional/practitioner students, not necessarily undergrads and grad students, and the research audience may differ as well.

    Thanks!

  58. Dear Dr. Karen,
    One more quick question. What to do when a job posting calls for a writing sample and I have a published article in a different subfield and a polished diss chapter in the relevant field? Okay to send both? Single-space and send as one doc?
    Thanks very, very much!

  59. Dear Dr. Karen,
    First of all, thanks so much for everything you do!! Your blog has been a great resource for me for over a year at this point.

    Are we allowed to request topics for posts?? There’s an area I would love to get your thoughts/advice/general musings on: The Second Year On The Job Market.

    I think almost everyone has to take a few rides on the academic job market before landing a position. I came *thisclose* to an offer last year (on my first try!) and am kind of fascinated at the weird mental and emotional cocktail that is now accompanying Round Two. Fear of changing too much in a proposal that got me two phone interviews and a campus visit last year, anxiety and writer’s block from trying to make every piece of every application extra-perfect, seemingly-brash confidence because I came so close last time (“surely this is the year!”), apathy and fatigue over what a crapshoot it all is and whether all this effort will really be worth anything in the end…some of this is just the standard job-search anxiety but I’m sure at least part of it is specifically related to having just gone through the process (and failing) for the first time.

    Like I said, I’d love to get the Dr. Karen take on such a situation, since I strongly suspect I’m not alone!

  60. dear dr. karen,
    in your job market seminar, you said to list revise + resubmits on the CV, especially as an ABD candidate. is this still true if you are planning to send the essay to a different journal than the one that sent you the r + r?
    thanks!

  61. Dr. Karen:

    I am currently on the job market and have found your advice and TPII website invaluable so far– you have a cult following among postdocs in my department. I am considering purchasing a recording of one of your webinars but, before I do so, want to find out if the recording includes the visual (i.e., slides) as well as the audio.

    Thank you.

  62. Karen, I need your help. I’m feeling very… stuck… in my current field. I’m a secondary ELA teacher. In Alaska. I’m looking at going back to school, but am struggling with what to study. I don’t know what options would be best for me at this point in time, and I don’t mind moving if it means I’ll be a better teacher in the long run. I know I need to get funded, and if I can’t, then I’m not going back to school. Also, I definitely do not want to pursue Administration, but I feel like I could be a much better teacher if I went back for a while and learned a bit more. I hope this makes sense. It’s the end of the day, and I’m completely drained.

    Happy tidings,
    Diane

  63. Dear professor

    I need your advice. I recently won a scholarship to a university in Europe for 3 months, and as I have a young child, I took her and my partner with me. The scholarship has given me a monthly stipend to cover rent and other expenses, but I am not making ends meet. I have also been invited to give lectures for the departments Masters students, which I am doing. However, I have some serious issues:

    The person whom I have replaced for 2 months of lectures has not attended one lecture, as he promised, and is busy with his own research work. I am not making ends meet financially and have asked him to see if he can pay me an extra fee, seeing that I am reducing his workload. After two e mails to him and the department head, where I was extremely polite, I have received no answer. I am now totally embarassed and dont know where I committed a terrible mistake, since the person is question is avoiding me. In fact, he has not been very forthcoming and friednlym and is has been a total nightmare trying to communicate with him and the department head.

    I need to know whether they can pay me. Is his snub and lack of interest in my teaching (for all he knows I could be teaching rubbish) real, or have I made a real academic mess by asking for money? Help!!

    Teresa

  64. Hi Karen,
    I have a Skype interview with a university next week, and I just realized by digging around that they have an internal candidate whom they will most definitely hire at the end of all this. The woman in question is the wife of an associate professor in that same department, she got her PhD last year, has been teaching there for a couple of years as a part-time instructor, and the job ad replicates ad literam the description of her research interests on the department’s website. What would you advise me to do under these circumstances? Cancel the interview or go along with the charade?
    Thanks much in advance,
    Gabby

    • Always do every interview you are invited to. First, because you need the practice. Second, because you never know what will happen in the future…. Sure they PLAN to hire her, but then, what if her husband suddenly gets an outside offer and they leave? They’ll go back to the pool. So go and do your best.

  65. Hi!

    First, I LOVE your blog and what you do. I share it with all my academic friends.

    Second, I wondered if you would ever do a blog about crushing imposter syndrome. Any tips for how to overcome it? I seem to find it getting worse even after tenure, promotion, and departure from toxic department to more collegial and more prestigious department. Is it inevitable? Would leaving the academy help or do I just need more therapy? :)

    Thanks!

    • Thank you! I will do that post. Although I’m not sure how much wisdom I can bestow. It is indeed a topic for therapy!

      Actually, I’d like to propose that you write an anonymous post on how it FEELS to have imposter syndrome even after tenure, success, etc. I think it would be very helpful to clients (so many of whom suffer from this) to hear a personal story–even with all identifiers removed.

  66. Dear Dr. Karen,

    I just want to add my voice to the many thanking you for your amazing, FREE advice.

    I’m ABD in the humanities and just landed a tenure-track job for next fall. Everything you say about the sorry state of academic advising–especially on practical matters like HOW TO KEEP EATING IN THE FUTURE–is true. Left to my own devices, I came here for everything from drafting my cover letter to buying shoes to negotiating with the dean. Had I not read your blog, would I have DARED, after getting an offer, to mention a summer salary, start-up funds, and a reduced teaching load the first year? Never. But I did mention them, and I got them all.

    I am the primary breadwinner for a family of four. On behalf of all of us–thank you.

  67. Dr. Karen,

    I really appreciated your topic “How to Write an Email to a Potential Ph.D. Advisor/Professor”, it helped me a lot. I have sent the email (following your tips) to my potencial sandwich Ph.D. advisor (that would receive me for one year), and I receveid no answer. Now I think it is time to send another e-mail asking for an answer (I sent the email one month ago), and so I’d like to ask your help in how to send this email (how to ask for an answer, and you think I should wait some more time?)

    I already thank your help.

    Glaucy

  68. I love this website. I can’t stop reading it. Thank you.
    What is the number one piece of advice you’d give to people struggling with work/life balance? So, if the pressures of publishing are piling up, and a junior faculty member does not want to turn into a soulless, cold person (like the dominant culture you described at UIUC) what is the secret to maintaining a high level of writing productivity and not being unavailable on the home front?
    Thanks again!
    Brian

  69. Dear Dr. Karen,

    Thank you for all your advice! It’s extremely helpful, and I really appreciate your direct, telling-it-like-it-is approach! I was wondering if you have any thoughts on what to write in a cover letter if the job opening comes up because a faculty member is retiring, and your area of expertise matches quite well the areas of expertise of said retiring professor, as well as the job ad? Should one acknowledge the shared interest and emphasize the things that are also different/novel, or just ignore that whole thing? Even if the job ad states states that the areas of research should complement those of other faculty…

    Thank you for your input!

  70. Dear Karen,

    Would you consider doing a post on managing maternity/ family leave issues while on the tenure track? Specifically on negotiating for course releases and determining what options (course release, leave, making up for released courses later vs. taking on more teaching and research) are likely to hurt one less in relation to the tenure clock?

    Thanks very much!
    Molly

      • I’m interested in a related issue: how do people manage reproduction/care issues during job searches? Sadly, for many women, the (few remaining) years to reproduce overlap precisely with the years to get a first TT job. Are there any strategies that would allow a new mother (especially a nursing one) to be on the job market? How does one manage having a newborn and going for a campus visit? If expecting and invited for an interview, how to manage scheduling around the no-fly period of the third trimester? Thanks in advance, and for the excellent blog generally!

  71. Hi Dr. Karen,
    I’ve just been exploring your blog and wanted to thank you for being such a fearless and frank voice for people struggling in academia. We need more advocates like you. I wanted you (and maybe your readers?) to know about a collaborative project for people leaving academia that I and a few post-academic bloggers are starting at

    http://www.howtoleaveacademia.com

    We’re looking for contributors! We hope it will be a total no-nonsense, practical, one-stop-shop guide to quitting academia. We’re also planning a low-cost e-book with essays that share personal experiences of quitting/leaving (whatever you prefer).

    Thanks for all you do!
    Lauren

  72. Dear Dr. Karen,

    I am in the process of Ph.D. applications. I am in contact with some professors that encouraged me to apply to the program and seems to think me as a good fit. One thing I am really struggling with is whether or not to include the potential advisor’s name on my SOP. In some blogs/ forums people suggest me to do so, in some forums they say it is very dangerous as it might narrow my options or I might be a victim of department politics that I am not aware of. What would you suggest?

    Thank you very much for your valuable insight,

  73. Dr. Karen, your site has been so helpful to me this year. Thank you for the encouragement and the advice!

    I have a tiny, piddly, picky little question. Some online applications for jobs do not allow documents to be uploaded but instead require that we copy and paste text into textboxes online. For the “letter of interest” textbox, do you think I should include the department address, date, salutation, and “sign” my name at the end, or should I just include the text that would be the body paragraphs of the letter?

    Seems odd to address someone in a copy-and-paste textbox, but it would likewise seem odd to omit a salutation from a letter of interest.

    Thanks for your input.
    Anne

    • This is an awkward thing, but I’d prob. paste the whole letter, salutation and all. Without those elements, it’s just not a letter.

  74. Dr. Karen,

    I recently read the secion about advisors, as I am in the process of trying to secure an advisor for my thesis this semester. My first question is, what is the best way to go about talking with a professor to be an advisor? I asked a professor today after class, and she said my ideas sound nice and that she could be a SECOND reader. Needless to say, this was not the response I was hoping to hear. Should I have a clearly defined research question? I thought that an advisor would help me prob my ideas to further develop my research question so that I can begging my prospectus. In retrospect, I am thinking that maybe because my ideas for my thesis are raw and this was the first time I had met this particular instructor pretty much sum up the reason my professor did not accept the role as my advisor. I just want to regroup and be better prepared to ask a few other professors if they would consider being my advisor.

    Background: I am an English Composition grad student in Sacramento

  75. Good day Dr Karen
    I came across your blog today and wondered if you have blogged on doing literate review or could do it in the future.I am postgraduate student and I have recently started work on my literature review. I wonder if there are efficient strategies for doing the review especially with the help of enddnote. Thank you and I look forward to your response.Moga

  76. Dear Dr. Karen,

    I am a recent Ph.D. who will be going on an on-campus interview soon. I am also married to a Ph.D., same discipline, very different area. We are not specifically looking for a partner hire at this time. Last year at an on-campus, I was asked what my husband does at a dinner by a non-faculty member who may have been a plant. Things just got more illegal from there. Needless to say, I don’t think it helped my prospects, even though I did what I could to make our arrangement non-threatening to the department.

    I wear a ring (with ring indent) and I have no idea how to handle being married at my interview. Not mentioning my partner might seem suspicious, and I don’t want to lose a great job because I just happen to be married to another academic. How should I handle this situation?

    Thank you,

    Kate

  77. Good evening,

    As a seasoned ABD, an exciting TT was brought to my attention. I know of numerous hungry colleagues out there who will also apply for this position. I thought, however, it was “time to stop being a grad student,” put on my big girl pants, and submit an application. Your guide “Taming the Academic Job Market” saved me from my paralyzing anxiety – thank you! It is such a breath of fresh air, cuts right to the meat of the matters, and is, frankly, downright hilarious at times.

    You are a hero to many of us out in academic job limbo. Thank you, thank you, thank you!

    Carey

    • thanks for this, Carey, and I hope you get the job. but you’re already a winner (hokey, but i’m serious) because you have stepped out of the grad student role and started to take control of your own fate. well done!

  78. Hey Dr. Karen,
    Thank you for such an awesome website!
    Would you consider writing a post on tips for dealing with different degrees of mansplainers in different situations? For example, the friend who mansplains, the collegeague, the conference mansplainer, the mansplainer-in-public. I’m looking for suggestions for gentle-but-teaching style responses to slap-them-down style responses that don’t make me look bad, and everything in between. (And would you include a simple definition and explanation as to why it’s inappropriate for your readers who might be unaware of their own mansplaining tendencies?)
    Thank you again for your website!
    TB

  79. Hi Dr. Kelsky,

    I really love your website. I am an undergrad continuing on to grad school next fall, and this site has been very helpful, so thank you!

    My question has to do with the etiquette/appropriateness in students hugging their professors. I know that male professors have to be extremely careful as to how they interact with female students. I’ve become really close with several of my professors, and I really admire and respect them as advisors and scholars. That said, I’ve definitely had the urge to hug them from time to time, but I’ve stopped myself because I don’t want to get them in trouble or make them uncomfortable in any way.
    Do you think hugging is off limits or unprofessional? Or is it all right?

    Thank you,
    Kayleigh

  80. Love your site, and have used free + paid (webinar) features!

    I was hoping you could write a post on dealing with the CRUSHING disappointment of not getting the job. It’s my first year on the market, got a few interviews and one on campus. I thought the on campus went *fantastic,* I was certain the job was mine. Well, you know how this ends…it wasn’t! I don’t have other options right now, but will prob be able to adjunct next year. But really, I’m sure I’m not alone here – it is SO hard to move on! I need to teach, finish my diss, keep applying for one year positions…but I just CANNOT stop dwelling on the job I lost. What did I do? Why didn’t they pick me? It’s like getting dumped (especially after being on campus, picturing yourself there, meeting everyone..).

    Any advice (maybe a post) on dusting yourself off?
    Thanks.

  81. Hi Dr. Kelsky,

    It would be great if you could offer us, readers, a post about a good cover letter for researchers who search for a job outside academia. I am a post-doctoral fellow in Sociology in a prestigious European University and dream about working for an international organization. However, I don’t know how to sell my skills to an employer outside this academic world! Do you have some examples of successful cases?

    Thank you!

    • If I knew anything about that, I would. But I don’t. there is need for another one of me who focuses on the non-academic track for Ph.D.s.

  82. Dear Karen,

    How do you list other-language journal articles on your CV? If the title of the journal and article are in a language other than English, is it ok to translate them into English so that hiring committees can understand the topics?

    Thanks so much for your practical and funny blog!

    Kacey

  83. Hello~

    I am looking for information about summer internships, but can’t find much on your blog. I am a first year PhD student in education and have recently been offered a unpaid internship at an international human rights education nonprofit, based near my university. I think it could be an excellent opportunity and a way to expand my resume/CV. I don’t want to assume that the job academic market will be any better in four years. Have you written about internships for PhD students previously? Can they be negotiated?

    Thanks very much.

  84. Dear Prof. Karen
    Many thanks for your recommendations. I want to apply for a PhD program, so I want to send an email for a professor which his researches are as same as my favorites to make an appointment. I would be grateful to help me with a sample letter.
    Sincerely yours
    Mohsen

  85. Dear Karen,
    I just returned from a conference where my paper inspired a leading scholar in my field of history to approach me. After a brief chat, he said that I should feel free to email him if I need any help, and that he had helped another scholar in our field. Indeed, that scholar’s book has a blurb from this leading scholar, although the leading scholar was at a different institution.
    So my question to you is how do I manage this relationship. What is an appropriate next step? Ideally, I would like him to be on my dissertation committee, write letters for me for the job market, and help with the publication process. I am going on the market in the Fall (ABD) but expect to be on it for at least three years, things being what they are.
    I have a history of messing this sort of opportunity up by asking too much or just not asking anything at all. So do you have any long term strategies for how to cultivate a useful contact in the field, of whom one should rather not ask too much but whose interference could mean a post-doc or some other really helpful position?
    Thank you so much for creating this brilliant site, which is why I was presenting at said conference in the first place!

    • Read the blog post, Why You Need a Recommender from outside Your Committee. it explains how the process of proper cultivation should go. Also read my three part How To Rock the Conference series, which elaborates a bit in different ways.

  86. I discovered your website a few days ago and am systematically reading everything here. Since I haven’t read everything yet, it’s possible I haven’t found the appropriate post but there’s a topic related to securing a TT job that no one has yet addressed: the role of luck.

    Last week, I accepted a TT position at a school that in most ways matches my fantasy of an ideal place work. I’ve been marveling over my good fortune for the past few days and have come to realize that fortune, however defined, did indeed play a large role in my getting this job.

    I’m in education, which has its own rules regarding TT eligibility. In addition to a record of scholarship, teaching, and service, most ed schools require a minimum number of years teaching in the K-12 system. Some schools, notably the theory-heavy R1s, will waive this requirement if a candidate’s scholarship and funding records are impressive. Most places, though, want a K-12 background in addition to a doctorate.. This, in my opinion, is reasonable. After all, if you’re going to teach teachers, it helps to teach from experience.

    So, since earning my PhD in a theoretical branch of education five years ago, I’ve buried myself in the K-12 world. I sent out the occasional application for positions in my field but never got so much as a phone interview. I wasn’t surprised. I had a strong teaching background but my scholarship was modest. Four preps a day, five days a week, coupled with grading, parent conferences, professional development, etc., leave little time for research.

    My goal, however, was to land a TT job at a teaching-focused institution, a place where I could finally get down to the business of teaching teachers. I needed to adjunct to put some independent college teaching on my CV and wanted access to a university library to kick-start my research agenda. As it happened, a well-regarded local college needed someone to teach a class in my field. So, with my wife’s blessing, I left a full-time K-12 job with full benefits to adjunct at a local college for roughly 1/20th of the pay and none of the benefits. It was a huge gamble. We were expecting our second child. There was no guarantee that I would land an sort of full-time position at a college, never mind on the TT.

    And then it got worse: within weeks of my resignation, my wife’s working hours and salary were cut 20 percent. I now had one shot at getting back into the higher education world full-time. If I didn’t land a TT job this year, it was back to K-12, possibly for good.

    As it was, and contrary to the experience of academics in other fields, having the adjuncting on my CV seems to have all the difference. I was offered half a dozen phone interviews and three campus invites before getting a TT job offer. And, instead of using a possible second offer for leverage, I actually declined a campus interview after getting the position because the job I got was the job I wanted.

    I like to think that my academic background, my scholarly potential, my excellent teaching, and my winning personality led to my grabbing the brass ring. Looking back, though, it’s clear that many factors beyond my control helped make it all possible. My new department was about to lose several faculty to retirement and wanted someone with my exact and somewhat unusual skill set and background. I happened to be in a position to apply and we, as a family, happen to be in a position to relocate. I apparently outshined the other candidates for the job – I still have no idea who they are, nor do I care to know.

    I got along famously well with a well-respected TT faculty member in my field at my current institution, someone who was more than happy to serve as a reference. The department chair, too, has been extremely supportive of my job hunt. So, by the way, has my wife. Any of these individuals could’ve decided not to be supportive and any of them could’ve sunk my chances. And, perhaps most importantly of all, it happened that I picked this year to gamble on getting back into academic teaching and CV building.

    The stars, in other words, aligned. Of course, they would’ve aligned anyway. Had I been a less than competent interviewee, or had I in any other way been unready or unqualified, the alignment would’ve been meaningless. Had I still been a K-12 teacher and my principal denied me the time off fly out for multiple interviews, it would’ve been similarly meaningless. Pasteur’s observation of chance favoring the prepared mind came to me more than once during the job hunt. I did everything I could. And it worked out.

    This experience, however, reminds me that most TT hopefuls do everything they can. Whether or not it’s enough is often beyond their control. Landing a TT job is such a crapshoot it amazes me that anyone gets hired. Playing the job hunt game can be a crushing, exhausting experience with an ever-shrinking number of winners. And yet, the only way to win is to play.

    I wish I had some magic formula I could jot down here, some secret I could share. All I can say is, be ready, be sharp, be nice. And be lucky.

  87. Hello Karen,

    I am an advanced assistant professor on the market for my second job. Despite massive preparation for a phone interview for a TT SLAC/teaching position (including using your excellent advice, thank you very much for that!), I am pretty certain that I just flopped it. I mean, I knew ALL about them, had prepped as you suggested, but got a bit stiff, was too nervous especially at first, to relax and really authentically consider their questions as I am able to do now, in hindsight.

    For example, when asked about a typical day in my class, I described just that, 1. A review of the class theme, 2. making a connection the the previous class, 3. perhaps asking students to complete a reading quiz or in-class writing, then 4. discussion or small group work. What I did NOT express was that, because I teach at all levels and a number of different courses, there is no “typical day,” and that my teaching is interpersonal, dynamic, and student-centered but one successful exercise in a typical class is…, etc. *KICKING MYSELF* about a few other moments like this. I did consistently ask, “Have I answered your question?”

    You get the point. I hope. I now see how I could have performed much better.

    I sent a thank you email to the chair and mentioned that I would be happy to answer follow up questions and send documents related to our discussion, but is there ANY OTHER WAY that I could save what I view as a less than stellar phone interview? Would it be unprofessional to email the committee follow up thoughts, for example?

    • For anyone else in a similar situation, I stopped freaking out and realized that sending another follow up email would be a bad idea. I did, however, send a kind, quick, super soft inquiry after a week had passed, as their timeline for on campus visits is less than one month from today and a girl needs to know. Having served on SCs, I have no problem with tactful, thoughtful inquiries as long as someone does not seem desperate, pushy, or crazy.

      MORE importantly, this website is an amazing resource, and if I am invited to campus, you can bet that I will very strongly consider paying Dr. Karen for a bit of campus visit expertise! Thanks for all the free stuff and for the community that you’ve allowed to connect here. Super cool!

  88. Dear Professor Kelsky,
    Your advice is like a breath of fresh air in the decaying atmosphere of academic research!
    I am from life sciences, and seek to ask your advice on how to ensure publication from the work I contribute. Unfortunately I have found hard work, commitment, good results, ethics, decency does not ensure publication. What can I do to ensure my work gets published and my name is not blindly left out from papers when I have left the lab? I have no publications yet from my MSc or PhD research work in spite of the good results and good relationships at work, all the while I saw far less committed people getting ahead with papers. What am I doing wrong? Thanks in advance for your help!

  89. Hi Karen –
    I have a wardrobe puzzle for you. I am interviewing for a position in an ecology department (think sandals over socks and hawaiian shirts). In one day I will be expected to give a job talk, visit 2 farms, and then have dinner. I need one outfit that can handle all three. I don’t want to look like a grad student, but I also don’t want to be over-dressed for the farm extension workers I will be meeting. Do you have any suggestions?
    Thanks,
    Kate

    • I love puzzles like this. I’d wear pants and a dansko type clog, which is not a true clog but encloses the whole foot. it’s a classic academic look and will travel from farm to dinner! I’d wear a blouse and a jacket or cardigan over that.

  90. Hello,
    My dissertation advisor recommended your website and I have been enjoying all the information you so freely share.

    I have a question and realize it might be too involved for you to answer, but I am trying to get as much advice as possible before I make a decision.

    I am a lecturer but am currently ABD. I got offered a fellowship to write my dissertation, but I will not be allowed to teach for the year. I have been a lecturer at this institution for several years and have contributed to the university well beyond the requirements set forth in my position (i.e: service & publications). I have considered asking for a leave of absence from my current position of lecturer and wonder if you have any tips on how to negotiate with my department head regarding the situation. My partner is a tenured professor at the same university (different college), therefore if I do not get the leave of absence, I cannot to take the fellowship and risk being unemployed the year following the fellowship.
    Any advice you could give would be much appreciated. Thank you for your time! JKE

  91. Karen,

    I recently interviewed at a small college (anthropology position in a behavioral science department). When I had my campus visit, I was told their “institute for applied research” wasn’t really an institute, but it was really a concept they devised to filter their grant money through to avoid the college bureaucracy. Two of the faculty also told me that they paid themselves out of the grants they received to give them additional income for vacations and also served as an incentive to write more grants since they avoided having to pay overhead by going through the university. They wanted to know what grants I was going to apply for and suggested I do the same with the salary aspect. I talked this over with my advisor and he and I found the scenario unethical and I withdrew my application. He said that if grants go toward salary, then it goes through the university because the salary is then paid by the grant, rather than the university; but that grants are not meant to be used as personal income unless it is making up for a semester where you are working on research, etc. and not teaching. I just finished my PhD and I haven’t written a ton of grants, but I wanted to know what your thoughts were about this – did I make the wrong decision?

  92. Dear Karen
    I am in the final year of my English Literature PhD at the University of the Witwatersrand, South Africa. I have always been a responsible student and my work has consistently been of a high standard.

    I found your website because lately I feel like I am in an academic crisis: I have made headway with my research, have recently publishd a paper and know that I am capable in this field. The problem is that I have other passions and that I never saw myself as an academic: I have written novels since I was a child (although I have never had the confidence to try and publish them) and this has always been my dream. It was the reason that I started literature studies in the first place. Lately I have been feeling more attracted to a career as an author even though I have spent so many years building up my academic career: I don’t know if it this because I am going through the usual PhD “blues” or if I should be seeing this as a sign that I shouldn’t pursue this career.

    I am almost 30 years old now and am nervous about suddenly changing plans and direction when I have spent so many years in academia. I have an interview for a job at a local University: the problem is that instead of making me excited this has made me even more uncertain. I have never stopped writing all these years and I am so afraid of my true passion becoming a mere pipe dream because I got caught in the academic mill.

    Please help – I would really appreciate any direction and advice!

    Sonia

  93. Hi Karen,
    I have been working at my current community college for a decade. Since then I have earned my doctorate and distinguished myself as an excellent teacher (so say the reviews and evaluations). There are a number of others in my department with similar credentials who would make great FT professors. I was told by the former dept. head that long-term adjuncts who have proven their instructional ninja skills would be given very serious consideration when several TT jobs open next year.

    However, one of my fellow adjuncts was told flippantly by the soon-to-be new department head that he would be looking for “new blood” because “proximity breeds contempt” yada, yada. We are not convinced this is the prevailing feeling of the other TT folks, but we are also painfully aware of the department head’s role as a ‘gatekeeper.’ Should we all ‘abandon all hope, ye who enter here,’ or ignore this seeming catastrophe and pretend in our heart-of-hearts that we still have a chance? If so, what can we do…or NOT do? Help us, Obi-Wan!

  94. Hi Karen,
    I’ve been following your website and others as I navigate the TT job market. I frequently see advice on negotiating the startup, but how much is considered a suitable startup that asking above that becomes unrealistic? I know that biomedical startups tend to be high, but what is the “normal” range (not including salary) at research-centric universities? Most job posts say they offer a “competitive startup,” but what does that actually mean? I recently tried adding up the cost of all equipment that exists in my current lab that I would actually use when I start my own lab, plus the salaries of a few personnel for ~2-3yrs, and it came out to about $2 million, which I’m assuming is too high to request. Any advice would be much appreciate for my future job negotiations. Thank you!

  95. Hello Karen,
    I have a question about changing one’s name from a “minority” sounding name to a typical NorthAmerican/European sounding name (i.e. taking your spouses name) in the academia. I was quite happy with my own last name, but after having spent two years in the academic job market and observed the profiles of the PhDs who get hired, I have come to the conclusion that my name (and possibly my cross-cultural background) cries out “ESL.” Not to mention the abuse I get in student evaluations for having an accent, or other types of racist comments. I should probably mention that my field is English (enter: cynical smile.) I could go on ranting about the “glass ceiling” and how I was considered a star graduate student and was told that my diverse background was an advantage, and how I am now completely ignored at the job-search stage even though I am perfectly qualified to work at a TT-level … but I will refrain. I should also mention that I already have some publications under my pre-marital last name.

    Thanks!

    • I would never recommend changing your name; I strongly suspect that the issues are not your name but other elements of your self-presentation. I’d actually suggest you get in touch with me to work on your documents.

  96. Karen,

    I just want to thank you for offering so much advice and support for free. I know you get a lot of shit for “pimping” job advice, but it really is a valuable service. And I also want to let you and anyone who cares to read know that it really does help people who don’t have the money to pay for your services.

    I’m happy to report that I am a very recent graduate, and as a result of following your blog, I was offered a TT position in Higher Education Administration at a flagship college shortly after graduation! I followed your advice for the phone and campus interviews to a T and it paid off. So, thank you, thank you, thank you!

  97. Hi Karen,

    I have a paper that my advisor thought publishable. I did submit it to a referred journal. It was rejected. Now it’s under review again. However, I’m defending my dissertation in this coming July. It’s not possible to have the paper published while I’m still ABD (for financial reasons I have to defend this year). My question is: how much will it hurt to have no publication as ABD? Will publications during my job-searing year help compensate my having no publication as ABD?

    Thank you in advance for your attention.

    • Irene,

      If your article is being considered, you can put on your CV “under consideration by journal XYZ.” That way the search committees will at least see that you have been making an attempt at publishing. I made the mistake of not submitting any articles during my time as a grad student (but I did attend and present at numerous conferences). If the journal has agreed to take your paper, you can treat it like a publication on your CV and indicate “forthcoming in Journal XYZ” and give the issue date. This helped me a lot.

  98. I am a “non-traditional” (aka old) student. I returned to school and joined an MSW program, after working in the field for over 22 years. I am a GRA and am getting ready to enter my last year. I was excited to be in a program of social workers. I don’t know what I thought but I suppose I was expecting some fabulously supportive Socratic experience where everyone collaborated harmoniously and sang around campfires. Not so. I have never had such a bad work environment. The management demands adherence to a “chain of command” and has a fellow student report on the behaviors of others. The management refuses to discuss anything about “stressors.” The students in my cohort are, by and large, good students and everyone is working for the same thing; however, some students have undermined others during presentations, reports, etc. I have never experienced such back-biting and childish behavior. This is especially true in the research center. I want to quit but I am concerned about how it may affect my future. I have three days of internship next semester and I would only be working 9 hours, weekly. The money is not worth the stress. How does it “look” for someone to give up a GRA position?

  99. Dear Karen,
    I survived the Ph.D., have already published a book and 2 articles and am now adjuncting at several schools and am working on my second book manuscript. I got really lucky on my first book contract–I met a publisher at the MLA who was starting a new series called “e-notated classics,” basically annotated e-books. To make a long story short, my dissertation consisted of creating an illustrated, annotated version of a book that had been out of print since 1920 (and was virtually unknown), and I happened to have my dissertation on my laptop in the hotel room. I spoke with the editor was offered a contract on the spot.
    So far, I have completed 3 of the six chapters in my second manuscript. My question for you is, are there any resources you can recommend for finding publishers to whom I could submit the book proposal or the inquiry? The book examines the image of 19th century Japan as presented in the works of Pierre Loti, so it crosses disciplinary lines somewhat–it is neither purely French studies nor purely Asian studies. From what I have seen, my manuscript has *no* competition on the market–there is not a single book in English that focuses on this topic. Thank you in advance for your help.

  100. Hi, thanks for this website! Really liked your c.v. help section, but have a question; how do people list a join first-author manuscript? Is it kosher to swap the order? I’m 2nd author on a paper and not sure whether I should put an asterisk, what that asterisk should say, or whether my name should go in front, even though technically I’m 2nd. Thank you!

    • If you’re second author you have to list your name second (you can bold your name). If you are actually a JOINT first author, then you can list your name first.

  101. Hi,

    Thanks for your insightful posts. I have a question regarding syllabus development. I’m starting a new faculty position and will be teaching two out of the three sections of a required course. Another faculty passed along the syllabus he has been using–he had been teaching all sections. I have made changes to the syllabus, based on my past teaching experience, skills, etc. Is it appropriate to make changes, or should both instructor’s syllabi be the same. I know this will likely depend on department, but just wondering if there is a general rule of thumb. I would hope that I’d have the freedom to design this course, as I see appropriate. Thanks,

    • It will depend on the nature of the course and its place in the overall curriculum, particularly whethr the content is collectively decided or individualizable. You’ll have to check with the dept on that before making changes.

  102. Dear Karen,

    I am a fourth-year PhD student in the social sciences thinking about quitting. I’ve known for a while that I’m not aiming for a life in academia, and I’m not sure it’s worth putting in another two to three years just to keep the goodwill of my advisors and prevent a massive hole in my resume. (I have an MA, but had it before I began the PhD program).

    Thing is, I expect that to find employment along the lines I’m interested in, I will need to complete a professional graduate degree (probably an MPH). In fact, this would have been a better choice for me I’m not worried about my ability to get through it. What I am worried about is whether dropping out of the current program would torpedo my chances of acceptance into a professional degree program. (I should note that to date I have made timely progress in the program, have secured external funding, and am on good terms with my advisor and committee members.) How would one represent this decision and the years of work that came before it to an admissions committee and program faculty? What do I do if my advisor won’t provide a reference? And is there a way or time to drop out that is better than other ways and times?

    Maybe this is something you’ve written about before, or others have? Any guidance you can provide would be hugely appreciated. And thanks for your positive approach – it really helps in thinking about this transition!

    Best,
    Paula

  103. Hi Karen,

    This website is a fantastic resource for all PhD students, and I’m certainly going to recommend it to any PhD student I meet (it has also helped me “productively procrastinate” this afternoon).

    I’m a PhD candidate in a public policy school in DC, and also work at a policy think tank in the city. I was wondering if you would consider writing a post for alternative (non-university) career options that may be available in some fields, such as public policy. It is naturally geared towards the more “applied” fields, but can often be rewarding and/or frustrating.

    Thank you for creating this excellent resource!

  104. Hi Karen,

    I’m working on my manuscript and book proposal. I have a question about receiving competing offers from publishers. I understand one should not send the manuscript to more than one publisher at a time (right?), and that I should start with my #1 option. But then a friend, and you (see July 27, 2011 on your dissertation story), talk about receiving various offers… How do you get more than an offer at a time if you’re not meant to make multiple submissions of your proposal? And, should I actually be trying to get multiple offers for my book? That surely sounds exciting.

    Thanks for such a great website!!

  105. Hello Professor,

    I needed a help regarding an abstract for a paper. But when I was sending youa mail, it says e-mail id: “gettenure@gmail.com” is not recognised.

    What should I do?? please help

  106. Hi Karen,

    I think your website needs some polishing. It’s hard to navigate, which is such a pity. Your advice is so important to get lost in the middle of some hidden post.

    Costy

  107. I have a tenure-track job in a R1 university. I love my department and school and I get along with my colleagues very well, but I hate the location of the university. It is located in a rural area far from many amenities. I have decided to go to the market again as I can’t see myself living here for another 30 years. Do you think it wise? What should I say to my interviewees as for the reason of my replacement? Shall I be honest? How can I end my job at the current university without hurting anybody’s feelings?

    Sharma

  108. Hi Karen

    I have two questions about Interfolio. I read your earlier post noting that, unless your professors insist on it, you do not recommend using this service. Do you still recommend this? It seems that Interfolio is increasingly more common in the job market. My second question regards the recommendation letters. A professor recommended that I contact my top recommenders and ask them to submit three letters to Interfolio: one for an academic job, one for a non-academic job, and one for a post-doc. Would you second this recommendation or suggest that we ask for letters as we apply for jobs?

    Thank you
    Jen

    • I agree that it is growing in presence, a fact that i deplore. I still despise it and what it reveals of professors’ abandonment of basic advising responsibilities. However, you know your profs and what they will and won’t do. I agree that if you are to use Interfolio, that having that selection of letter versions is the best way to do it.

  109. Dear Karen,

    I just found your blog this evening and was so enthralled by your insights into academia that I quickly abandoned my plan to spend yet another evening working on my dissertation. Like so many of your readers, I’m in need of advice that I can’t seek from those within my institution. I’m supposed to complete my PhD in the spring and am currently slated to go on the TT (History) job market this fall. I have a a thin CV and no teaching experience. By all accounts, it would be a miracle if I landed a TT job this year. Knowing this has made me feel like it is foolish to waste time and energy dressing myself up for the market and preparing the numerous materials for job applications when I have a dissertation to finish. Of course, when I voice this concern, I’m told that it is good experience and practice for when I truly am ready.

    The problem is that I might never be ready. For some time now I’ve thought that academia is not for me. I’m not willing to sacrifice my personal life for my scholarly work (and as a young woman with a ticking biological clock and a partner who can’t relocate to rural nowheresville with me to live on a peanuts salary, I feel like that is the choice I’m asked to make); I’ve always been far more interested in teaching than research; and I’m simply disenchanted with academia–tired of feeling impostor syndrome, tired of working 7 days a week, tired of dealing with the egos, and tired of feeling like almost all academic work does not matter. Apparently, as one of your readers inspiringly put it, I’m resistant to indoctrination.

    Even as I write this I see that I don’t want to go on the TT job market, but 1. I’m afraid to cut the cord and leave academia behind (It’s all I’m trained for! What if I regret my decision!? Maybe I’m selling myself and academia short?) and 2. I’m afraid that the political costs to not going on the job market are too high. My dissertation committee expects me to do this, and I think that until I have my PhD I need to play by their rules. (Did I mention I’m a “star” in a relatively small program heavily invested in my success). What do you think–is it too risky to declare your intentions to leave academia before you’ve graduated? Will I ever feel confident making the decision to leave?–I feel like fear disguised as precaution is holding me back. At the end of the day, I just want to get my PhD as quickly and painlessly as possible so I can move on with my life, but I also don’t want to disappoint and look ungrateful to a program that has given me a lot of financial support.

    I can’t thank you enough for the wonderful resources and support your blog offers.
    -L

  110. Dear Karen,

    I am a new junior faculty member and recently had a discussion with my Dept. Chair about selecting a mentor. He wanted to pair with an older male faculty member (who seems to be a lovely person), but I wanted to be paired with a female faculty member that is a bit more accomplished in our field (and frankly different from me in ways that would be beneficial). I mentioned I preferred to have a female mentor and my chair seemed a bit upset (as if I had said: “I cannot work with men”). It goes without saying this is not true and I did not want to dignify that major jump to conclusion with a response. I am interested on hearing your take on this and any advice you have in regards to selecting a mentor in general for junior faculty.

    Thanks in advance for your input.

  111. Dear Karen,
    I wish to join the chorus of praise & warm appreciation for your terrific blog, which I was just referred to yesterday. I have 15 years of f-t academic work under my belt, and I have just resigned from my tenured position as Assoc Prof at SUNY Empire State College, to become an Exec Asst to a lawyer. I am delighted, excited, curious, and MUCH much happier than I have been for many years!! Your remarks are full of wisdom, and realistic, and I appreciate the fact that you are not merely ranting at the evils of academia. I love academia, and academic people. I rejoice for my friends who are fulfilled and happy within its borders. But I know so many who, like me, need to get out.

    I am floored by the outpouring of warmth, affirmation, excitement, and envy that has greeted my news in just the last few weeks (this is recent), from academics!! several of whom are now quietly begging me for tips. I wasn’t expecting this. I have been called courageous by many people, including people I thought disliked me. I have been told to create a blog & write a book about it. Clearly, the buzz is out there and the acad. world needs to know of other options, like L from Aug 12 above–I will try to reply if I have time.

    I am going to refer my new fans to your blog!

    Keep it up.

    • Congratulations on your move, Celest! I’d love to hear more about your decision if you’d like to write a guest post, anonymously or not, for Professor Is In! If you’re interested, please email me at gettenure@gmail.com.

  112. Hi Dr. Kelsky,
    I am so happy that I found your blog. I am a doctoral candidate in a fairly new doctoral program. I moved from another state to attend this program that promised to graduate students within three years. I have now been in the program for four and half years. My committee chair turned out to be very weak. She relies heavily on the doctoral program director in guiding me through this process. Therefore, the focus of my dissertation experience has been about pleasing my program director. My program director has big ideas, but does not have a strong research background. Due to the lack of support and guidance, I had to move back home with my parents to collect data. Now that I have data and have set my defense date, it seems as if my committee is doing everything possible to prevent me from defending.

    All of the suggestions I needed a year ago, they are deciding to provide now. Chapters that should have been completed before the proposal defense; they are having me to revise almost entirely now. Lastly, I have exhausted all funding. I can no longer take out loans and my assistantship expired after my third year in the program. The reality is that I can’t afford another semester and truly need to graduate.

    In typing all of this, I just would like to know, how can I remain encouraged under these cirmcumstances?

  113. Hi Karen,

    Thank you so so much for this website. I’m currently a Master’s student, applying for PhD programs this fall. I was panicking over contacting professors at potential schools and started googling out of desperation, and I was so relieved when I found your post “How to Write an Email to a Potential Ph.D. Advisor/Professor.” I sent out emails to a few professors, and have gotten responses from about half. A couple of them wrote back saying they’d be happy to answer any further questions over the phone. I was happy to get such responses, but now I’m starting to panic over these phone calls. How should I carry out the conversation? What should I have prepared? What questions should I ask them? I’ve wrote to them about my possible research topic. Should I talk more about this? I’m kinda freaking out, any help would be great. I’m applying to PhD programs in History and East Asian Languages and Cultures departments at different schools in the US.

    And again, thank you so much for your posts.

    Sincerely,

    Grace

  114. Hi Dr. Kelsky,

    I’m the girlfriend of a guy who is finishing a PhD. He’s experiencing everything you’ve described in this blog. Stuck on research, behind on deadlines, stressed about getting everything done, worried he won’t be good enough… and I feel like I’m going nuts! I love him and support him, but my M.A. was nothing like this, so I can’t really help. All of my suggestions create more stress. Do you have any ideas about how partners can help their PhD partners, or how the partners can survive till there’s a job offer?

    Thank you!!

  115. Dear Karen,

    I am applying to graduate programs in African history. The top ranked programs, both historically and according to USNWR, are school with otherwise lower-ranking history programs, such as Michigan State, Minnesota, and Emory. There are also a couple schools with all-around great history programs that also have strong African programs, such as Stanford and Northwestern. Should I have a preference for the latter? If schools like MSU are great in the field of African history, does it matter that they have departments of overall less reknown?

    • unfortunately, yes, you should lean toward the latter. the overall status of the department matters more than the status in a particular area, as i learned to my own regret when i chose a low-ranking program well-known in the field of Japan studies.

  116. Dear Karen,

    First off, I have been following the site for about a year and a half now and you read my CV and an early job letter back before I had submitted my PhD. I wanted to let you know that I received two interviews immediately after I submitted the thesis – one for a post doc and the other for a permanent position (Early modern literature and book history). I didn’t get the Lecture position (which looking back, was probably not a good fit), but I did get the post-doc – a 16 month job working on a project right in my research field – HUGE thanks!

    I am updating my CV and realised I have an item that I feel I should include but have no where to put it: As a grad student I helped develop an electronic project that was nominated for an award. I know we don’t usually highlight grad work, but the job I’m applying for is looking for people who can bring a digital humanities element to the department and their students. The project in question was a map that undergraduates created content for and so is quite relevant as I did both the web work and helped the students develop their ideas and think about writing for web audiences.

    Any thoughts on inserting a “web project” area to my CV? My post-doc is also digital – I am editing/web coding and managing the production of an electronic edition of a collection of early modern plays. This seems to be a trend with me, one that people are interested in and I’m not sure how to pitch it on my CV.

    Thanks Karen.
    Jennifer

  117. I’ve been reading your posts on the second job search, and I’d like some additional guidance. I have received tenure and would like to look for another job (The main, overwhelming reason is the location of my current university). Do I only look for associate positions? Is it career suicide, or at least incredibly foolish, to apply for assistant positions? That is, I would lose tenure and potentially “start over,” I am assuming. Your advice is very clear for those in the assistant, pre-tenure stage. I am a bit worried that I have missed the boat and am kicking myself for not doing this sooner, but that is another story.

  118. Dear Karen,
    I wondered if you might advise about the notorious two-body problem for couples where both partners are academics. My partner is in a tenure-track, whereas I have just begun my job search, but I wonder: when and how do you bring up (e.g., in an interview) the two-body considerations? What kind of partner-support can one reasonably expect from a university after receiving a job offer? I’ll be thankful for any advice you might have about “managing” this problem in earlier and later stages of the job search.

    • Volume prevents me from responding individually here, but please ntoe that i have two posts on the spousal/partner hire on the blog. You can find them using the search box.

  119. I am currently looking for a tenure track position for next year. I am ABD and plan to be finished no later than June. There have been a lot of job postings in my areas of expertise. I am having a hard time narrowing down where to/not to apply. I know I want to live in a warm climate, and have a tenure track position, that values research as well as teaching, that doesn’t require a huge course load (I have seen some with as many as 5 a semester)! I am also interested in smaller liberal arts colleges, but there doesn’t seem to be as much flexibility with course loads. I know there is no magic number of positions to apply for, but can I apply for too many? My initial thought was that I should apply to as many as possible that fit my criteria and hope that I get accepted to at least one of them. . .

  120. Hello,

    I was hoping you might advise me regarding book proposal etiquette. I sent out multiple inquiry letters to different University Presses. I was thrilled to get several responses from editors expressing their interest and even inviting me to submit a proposal. I know it is a major no no to submit a proposal to more than one press. A few of the editors asked me to send them sample chapters over email. Is it acceptable to send sample chapters to more than one press at a time?

  121. Hi Karen,

    I know your site is mostly for current doctoral candidates and beyond, but was wondering if you had any advice on writing statements of purpose. I have already read both posts under the tag “How to get in to graduate school” which were incredibly helpful, along with the other posts on life and career options for those on the PhD path (which were shall we say eye-opening). I am still dedicated to applying and would appreciate your direct advice if you are willing to provide it.

  122. Hi Karen,

    First, I echo everyone’s thanks for your excellent (free!) advice on the blog. I used your posts to significantly revise my cover letter last year, and this resulted in four tenure track offers. I am now in the process of re-building my CV and keeping it up to date. One of my former grad school colleagues mentioned that she/he posts former on-campus job talk presentations as “guest/invited lectures” on her/his CV. I wasn’t entirely sure if this was ethical so I thought I would inquire here about it. Do you think this is an appropriate line item on one’s academic CV?

    Thanks in advance for your help.

  123. Hello Karen,

    Your advice is really helpful. My question is about rules of etiquette in academia for “general inquires.”I saw a posting for a contractual professor position that has the potential to grow. It is no longer active online though, and it was originally posted a couple of months ago. It seems like it is not filled though. Is it better to call to inquire or apply via email anyway? I wonder if the latter is a way to put yourself out there. Thanks.

  124. Dear Karen,
    I received a request for additional information from one of the universities where I’ve applied (it is a religious university) . They want me to tell them “just a little” about my religious affiliation and how I would fit in their community. I am not religious. What and how much do you recommend that I tell them? (I searched your blog but could not find a post about this issue).
    Thank you!

  125. Hello. Do you think you could please write an entry about how to get an article published in a journal? I will often write something and my professors or the editors of a journal will say, “All of your arguments are correct, but this still won’t get published, because you have not expressed them properly.” According to them, it is an issue of marketing and packaging. Even if all your arguments are correct, you have to engage with the current literature and debate in just a certain way in order to get anyone’s attention. So I would be interested in a post about the dos and don’ts of writing an article for publication, wherein you assume as given that the author of the article is completely accurate in all their arguments, and their flaws are ones of presentation and marketing, not factual analysis.

    For example: if you want to write a book review, make sure it’s a new book and not an old one. A completely accurate and true appraisal of a ten year old book is something no one will care about. That’s an overly simplistic example whose answer is obvious, but I hope you get the point.

    Thank you!

  126. Hi Karen,

    Thank you for the amazing blog. There is so much I can learn from your blog. I am using your techniques in writing letters to the professors.

    If it isn’t a bother can you please post some tips on writing a Statement of Purpose for a given program. I am applying for digital media programs and writing a statement of purpose is becoming a nightmare for me.

    I look forward to your kind guidance and assistance.

    Kind Regards,

    Alex

  127. Dear Karen,
    Like everyone else it seems, I love your site, and was hoping you could help with a quick question. I’m a PhD student in my final year (humanities), and have just been asked to publish a chapter in an edited volume. I quickly agreed as it seemed a great opportunity but, as I’m writing the book chapter (derived from one of my thesis chapters) I’m starting to think I would much rather submit it as a journal article six months or so down the line.

    Is there an ethical issue with just doing both? They would be based on the same material, but would naturally be different and the journal article would be longer, peer-reviwed etc., so – basically would it look bad to do both an essay and a journal article, so should I pull out of the book chapter and just submit the article myself later. Of course I suppose you’d need more context, but I’d love to hear your first reaction, I’m sure lots of other people have been in a similar situation.

    Thanks!

    • You cannot, may not, must not double submit the same material for publication twice. The best thing is to pull it from the book IF you can do so without unduly harming the book project to which you dd commit, or offending someone important to your future.

  128. Dear Karen,

    This is an extremely valuable resource! Thanks so much for making it available.

    I read your post about applying for diversity fellowships. I like the suggestion about putting in an “As an X…” clause in the teaching paragraph. But I also have a question:

    Is it appropriate to be forthcoming about sexuality (of some other ‘X’) in a cover letter for an academic job that is *not* specifically for a diversity position?

    Best Regards,
    Andrew

    • I have a column forthcoming on Chronicle Vitae that addresses exactly this question! It will be out in about 1 month’s time. Please make sure to look for it. In the meantime, sexual orientation does NOT count as official diversity in the United States (I believe it does in Canada) so you have to choose whether to disclose. if you’re in the humanities and applying for schools in the East or West (or parts of the midwest), AND you legitimately feel that your sexual identity has a meaningful impact on your teaching style, then sure, disclose. But if you’re in the hard sciences of conservative social sciences (econ/poli sci) and/or applying in the South or to a conservative school… then think twice.

  129. Hi, Karen. So happy to find your blog for the first time today. I recently made the decision to stop pursuing a job in academia. I finished my PhD several years ago, and have been working as research staff since then at a large university. I have witnessed first-hand the same horrible bullying others have talked about on this site. My question is this. I am about to leave my position soon, and the grant I have been on requires us to disseminate our work. My team mates and I have produced a couple of written research reports that I believe are publishable and will be valuable to the field. But the deans have informed me that I have no right to publish them since I was staff, not tenured faculty. I have no clue why they would oppose this – other than simply because they can. They have done nothing but block our work throughout the entire project. I checked our university policy on intellectual property and it’s hard to tell, but it looks like as PIs, they get to decide. What recourse do I have? Should I go over their heads? Or just chalk this up to one more wasted year in academe? What really gets me is not just losing the chance to get my own name in lights but that our findings could have been useful to help improve practice.

  130. Hi Karen,

    Briefly, thanks for writing this and for your care and attention in helping with this difficult process. I’m heading on the market and dealing with all the issues you’ve described. But I would also like to add that I despair at the amount of abuse you receive from some of the commenters. Boy oh boy. Glad you’re soldiering on and keep in mind that there are plenty of people out here who benefit quite happily from your posts!

  131. Dear Karen,

    I am a VAP at a highly selective liberal arts college that is very quickly turning into a research university. It offers several internal grants and fellowship competitions through various research institutes and centers for faculty at all levels. Most of the grants and fellowships are small but significant monetary amounts ranging from $2000-$5000. With my eventual goal being turning my 3-year VAP position into a real tenure track position a few years down the line, my question is how prestigious is it in the eyes of department chairs and deans to win one of these internal grants? Also, what advice do you have for someone like me who aspires to stay, at minimum by renewing the VAP contract or by landing/creating a tenure track position?

    Thank you!

  132. Karen,

    I am interested in applying for two tenure track positions. The applications are due on Jan. 6th . I have most of the items needed…but would like some assistance so that I may present myself in the best possible light. Are you available to work with me…within this time frame?

  133. Hi Karen,

    I’m ABD in the field of educational leadership and instructional technologies. I plan to finish up next Spring so I’m applying (yay!). I just read your post on Why Your Cover Letter Sucks…. and mine did. In fact, I blush thinking about it :) Thanks so much — I completely rewrote my letter using your advice and while it’s not “there” yet, it is about me — specific. Before, I almost bored myself! Many thanks and waiting for your book… which I hope to recommend to my own students. — Angela in the MidWest

  134. Dear Karen,

    I am currently applying jobs and have found your advice quite helpful. Last week, one of my letter writers passed away. Her letter is available to be sent to potential employers. Should I make any note about her passing on my CV or in my application?

  135. Hi Karen,
    I am just finishing “Death of a Soul.” Thank you so much for writing that. My friends and I have had many similar experiences. Many of us left academia for the reasons that you state. Some stayed. None of us have written out the experience as well as you did.
    Cheers,
    Eric

  136. Hi Karen,

    I have what I think is an original question/ insight that I thought I’d pass your way, in case it is of interest.

    I have a young friend doing her first BA and who has somehow been included in the secretarial aspect of sorting through tenure-track job applications at one of the big NYC schools. She was laughing to me about the fact that so many applicants don’t include their info as a header that runs through all of the pieces of the application (maybe not the much-obsessed-over cover letter and CV, but I suppose she means teaching statements and dossiers, reading samples and the like). I have never considered doing this, and thought I’d get your opinion. Is this a) a common practice? b) worth doing? c) another absolute irrelevance that people shouldn’t stress about?

    For my part, I’m leaning toward c) — might be a thing administrators get annoyed by, but ultimately in the room where decisions get made, it isn’t an issue. But that’s just a guess.

    Thanks!

  137. Dear Professor,
    I have a question. A professor promised me a letter of rec. after giving me two As. Now she says she wants me to improve my writing sample before she writes the letter. Is that just? Thank you.

  138. Hi Karen,

    Thank you so very much for providing the mentorship and professional development tips we all wish we had. I had a question for you about navigating academia as undocumented. I’m a graduate student, and I am currently working with and mentoring an undergraduate that recently shared with me that she is undocumented. She came to me asking advice about applying to graduate school, being open about her status with future colleagues, and what kinds of things she should be aware of navigating academia more broadly as an undocumented person. Do you have any tips or resources for undocumented academics that are/are studying to be faculty at research-oriented universities? Thanks for all that you do!

  139. Hi Karen,

    I was recently interviewed and asked, once again, “How do you balance research and teaching?” At this point, I’m realizing this is a very common question, but one I find very silly. We all do it. How? Just doing it… lack of sleep, weekends, vacations, and most of all, organizing our schedules. My point is, the answer to this question seems very obvious to me. Is there anything committees expect to hear when they ask this, or are they asking it just because? Do you have any thoughts on this? (I’m kind of looking forward to read a “I think this question should be banned from interviews” just to have a laugh.)
    Congrats on the book. We definitely need it!

  140. Dear Karen,

    First, thank you for your website and FB page–they’re a terrific resource. I’m writing with a question. I’m unable to attend MLA because of surgery that was scheduled after I sent out application letters. (I’m fine, thank you). If I receive MLA interview requests (yes, I’m still waiting), I plan to respectfully request a Skype interview. Short of a doctor’s note, is there any way to establish my credibility? I fear hiring committees will think this is some kind of weird scam. And do you suggest any particular approach as far as framing my request? Your thoughts much appreciated!

  141. Thanks so much for the advice on this blog. I have a question that I don’t think has been answered. I am on the market and put in my cover letters that I had two articles under review (true). Last week, one was accepted (subject to revisions etc.) and I sent out updates because this week all of my open jobs closed. Today, I got the acceptance for the other article. So I’m ecstatic – but I want to maximize my interviews!! Do I send updates again, or is that overkill? does it depend on the institution?
    Thanks so much!!!!!!

  142. Hi Karen,

    I love your website, you provide great insight. I do however believe that you are incredibly racist towards white people, which is ironic, seeing as you are white. Hope you can clean that up a little bit!

    Dominic

    P.S. I’m not white.

  143. Dear Dr.Karen Kelsky,
    I wonder how could you give reply for such different kind of posts. Its all oriented for Ph.D students. Now I am applying for Master of Science(MS) in Electrical Engineering in the US universities.

    I need a favor from you, could you please tell me how to approach the professor before admission on concerned professor in my field to increase the chances of getting admit. I already submitted online application to the universities. I fear that If I mail it may goes wrong and create a negative impact on my admission. Could you please share me template how to approach professor for MS program?

    Hope you could help me.

    Thank you for your consideration.

    Thanks & Regards,
    Naveen.

  144. I have read quite a few of your posts but haven’t found the answer to the following question: having submitted an application and followed up to make sure it arrived, can I email to ask whether the deliberation is still unfolding? I applied in early December. It is now mid-January. I know the head of the search committee but am trying to maintain a friendly and collegial but professional distance during the deliberations. Would it be unprofessional to email and ask if I’m still in the running? Since this is a dream job in my home town, but also I think a realistic match to my credentials etc, I’m really on tenterhooks waiting to hear back… but it’s been so long… and it is chilling to think I may never hear back… Hm. Advice would be appreciated!

    • I have a post on this. It’s called “Can I Call the Department?” Find it by using the search box on the Pearls of Wisdom Blog page.

      • I had an inkling you’d addressed this, but couldn’t think how to search it. Should have just gone with the obvious. Thanks for getting back to me.

  145. Just read the article by Rebecca Schuman, I did not know about your site but then spent the next 30 minutes reading through it [http://www.slate.com/blogs/browbeat/2014/01/15/phd_debt_project_google_doc_survey_collects_figures_of_graduate_school_debt.html]

    Excellent all around, I will be recommending it to my grad students and wanted to thank you for your entrepreneurial approach to academia. You are 100% correct that academic publishing IS a business, and increasingly, young faculty are not just expected to publish, and be public intellectuals if called by university communications for interviews but also to generate grants whilst teaching, doing committee work and having a personal life. Most universities should not hand out PhDs not worth the paper they are printed on, and you are doing an excellent service not just pointing this out, but providing an outlet to students who are tenacious and stick it out. Thank you for this website. I will return and often.

  146. Hi, Karen–

    I’m an ABD student on the market in English. I appreciate your frank perspective on your website and the practical advice you give.

    I’ve run across this situation a couple of times in various job applications, and I’m not quite sure what to do. In application forms that need to be filled out online, when is it appropriate to simply direct the reviewers to my CV? More specifically, I have online applications which ask for all the details of previous employment (name, address, phone, etc), most of which is listed on my CV. Should I include that info in both places?

    In a related question, I’ve come across a couple of job applications which ask for my “highest salary” at previous places of employment. Should I be concerned if that “highest salary” is pretty low?

    I recognize that these online applications are standard forms that they probably require all potential employees to fill out, but I’m a little unsure how to navigate the waters here.

    Thanks for your help.

  147. Hi Karen,

    I received the following email. I thought you might be interested in reading this. Adjuncts are typically treated as slave labor. There is a movement under way to organize adjuncts into a union to help stop the cycle of exploitation. I was wondering if you can post the following announcement.

    Ajunct Action Logo
    Hi —

    “Being an adjunct can be an isolating experience. Our schedules alone discourage interaction with one another. However, stories I’ve heard from fellow contingent faculty since I became involved in the adjunct unionization efforts– little job security, lack of benefits, the struggle to get by on sometimes astonishingly low wages — has led to a growing awareness of our shared contingent status. Coming together with fellow adjunct faculty, I recognized a way forward to a better future through unity and collective action.”

    That’s Rebecca Gibson, an adjunct instructor at Tufts University, who joined with her fellow contingent faculty members at Tufts University this past fall and formed a union with Adjunct Action, a project of Service Employees International Union (SEIU).

    Adjuncts in the Bay Area experience the same set of issues as adjuncts in Boston and across the country; work doesn’t stop at the classroom door, but the pay and benefits often do. Contract faculty, who make up 70% of instructional faculty nationwide, spend many hours outside of the classroom preparing for courses, supporting and assessing student performance, and designing curriculums, yet are left without job security, adequate pay, and a voice within the higher educational system.

    That’s why adjunct professors across the greater Bay Area are coming together to form a union with SEIU. We believe that together we can build the strong voice we need to raise standards for our profession, strengthen our voice in the university system, and improve the quality of education for our students.

    Click here to sign an authorization card indicating that you’re ready to fight for higher standards at your school. Once you’ve signed, an organizer will be in touch to let you know what the next steps of the campaign are.

    SEIU represents adjunct professors across the country, including 23,000 professors, lecturers, librarians, counselors and coaches who teach in the California State University system. Adjuncts at American University, George Washington University and Montgomery College have all seen significant improvement in their working conditions after forming a union with SEIU. And the movement is spreading. Georgetown University adjuncts voted in May to join SEIU. In Boston, adjuncts at Tufts University voted to form a union in September. Whittier College in Los Angeles voted to unite in SEIU in December. Union elections are underway or soon commencing at Lesley University in Boston, the University of La Verne and Loyola Marymount University in Los Angeles.

    A New York Times article from December said “The SEIU strategy has the momentum right now” when it comes to adjunct organizing.

    Join the movement. Sign an authorization card now and we’ll be in touch soon to discuss next steps.

    Best regards,

    Marny Silverman

    Director, Adjunct Action Bay Area

  148. Hello!

    First – allow me to say thank you for hosting such an excellent website. Your advice has been immensely helpful.

    I am getting ready to accept an offer of admission to a PhD program. As such, I am thinking about my future career in academia as a professor. I would hope to teach at a well known university (who doesn’t?). Therefore, does it matter where I get my PhD or is it more important to focus on the quality of my advisor, my publication record, etc.? In other words, if I choose an unranked program, will that damage my chances of getting a decent job offer in the future? What is your advice?

    Thanks!

  149. Hi Karen!

    I am a third-year postdoc in a biological science (almost everyone in my field postdocs, typically for at least 3-5 years, before they apply for faculty jobs). For the past three years, I have been funded by a training grant that I applied for, but I haven’t yet succeeded at getting more funding. I know I don’t want a career at a research university, and I like working with undergraduates. So when I found out that my postdoctoral mentor would not be able to fund me after the end of my fellowship, I decided to start applying for VAP and TT positions at four-year colleges a year ahead of schedule. Despite my imperfect CV (which is on the thin side, especially where teaching is concerned), I have succeeded in getting several interviews for both VAP and TT positions, probably because I paid close attention to the advice on this website.

    Here’s where my dilemma comes in. As dilemmas go, it is a good one. I have an offer from one of the VAP positions. It is a good VAP job (VERY high salary for a VAP, prestigious college, good students, great institutional fit, two-year appointment, opportunities for research with students), but it is the worst job of any of the ones I have interviews for. Within the next few weeks, I have an interview for a TT position at a public four-year institution, and an interview for a three-year VAP at a more prestigious SLAC with more research funding. Offer College’s dean is playing hardball and will not give me enough time for the search processes at Interview U or Interview College to come to a close, before I accept or reject Offer College’s offer.

    I am not sure what to do here. On the one hand, I really liked Offer College and think I’d be extremely happy there. On the other hand, I feel like I’m actively turning down better opportunities by taking the offer, even though I know that there is a sizeable chance I will not get an offer from either of the latter two institutions. What on earth should I do in this situation?

  150. Hello Karen,

    I hope you are doing Well.I am recently graduated from University of North Dakota, working as temporary faculty at the same university. I am looking for a postdoctoral positions. In some instances, employers are asking a document of ‘DESCRIPTION OF RESEARCH INTERESTS’. I was wondering if it is a research statement. Please give some advice how to prepare a ‘description of research interests’.
    I appreciate your time.

  151. Dear Dr. Kelsky:

    I would like to thank you for your blog. I’ve been reading it religiously, and it’s helped me gain a better understanding of the current state of the academy. With that being said, I would like your advice.

    I’m currently an undergraduate that will soon be receiving BAs in English and Spanish and an AGS in Women’s Studies from a small university that no one has heard of. I am, of course, aware of the terrible state of the university, but I still plan on going to graduate school. I would like to ask you two questions in regards to preparing for graduate school and beyond:

    1) As an undergraduate senior, what are some things I can do to fill out my CV? I’ve presented a couple of papers (one at a conference for post-graduate level conference), founded and led a few student organizations, and got a job at the university writing center (among other things). I wanted to know if there’s anything else I can do to help make myself stand out.

    2) I have various research interests that stem from the degrees I’ve been working towards. I was wondering how I would find out which of those interests would make me a more desirable candidate later on in my academic career. For example, I would rather study English over Spanish, but should I choose the latter to focus on if it’s more likely to get me a job within academia? How do I know which research areas are the “hot” ones currently in vogue, the ones that universities seeking?

    Again, thank you so much for your “pearls of wisdom.” I’ve made sure to tell both my professors and my peers about it.

    –Amanda

  152. I recently applied to a job, which ultimately went to someone who I think is clearly less qualified and indeed hired because they were former grad student colleagues as the search committee chair (i.e. they had got their PhDs at the same time at a different university). Just wondering whether you’ve heard of people filing formal complaints about patronage-type issues. In a super-competitive market, I suspect a lot of people have contemplated this too when reviewing the CV of the person who beat them out for a job.

  153. Hello Karen,

    I had three campus visits and I am patiently waiting for the outcome if the search process. Currently, I am in my 60-day grace period as my OPT extension expires last Jan 24th. Which means I need to leave the country by March 25th. Is it going to affect any job offer if the university knows that I will need to have a work visa for me to be able to work. Also, if an offer is made and I am out of the country, how would the negotiations go. Thanks a lot.

  154. Hi Karen, I’ve found your web site really helpful. I realise this is a very general request, but is it possible to have a post on making the transition from UK to US academia or indeed the differences between the systems. I currently have a 3 year contract as a lecturer (equivalent to assistant professor in the US) and am considering expanding my job search to the US in the next year or so. I am aware that there are huge differences in the interview process and indeed the length of the time you wait to hear the outcome of your application (in the UK it is common for the successful candidate to be informed on the same day as the interview). So, I am interested from your experience areas you feel there may be differences between UK and US academia. Apologies I realise this this is a very broad question. Thank you in advance. Joanne

  155. Dear Karen,
    I am quite frustrated by academia and am not sure what I can do further.

    It seems academic progress is expected to be incremental: small steps forward building on previous research. Although beneficial for many facets of research, this effectively means that assumptions set decades ago are no longer open for change, because that is no longer incremental.

    However, there is a major problem using current large-scale neural network computational neuroscience models to understand how the neural circuits responsible for recognition can flexibly incorporate new information. Current models are based on the assumption established
    4-5 decades ago assuming that neural recognition is primarily “feedforward”. Although several articles have been written over the years describing parts of this problem, they have been minimized with flimsy theoretical “patches”. I have found a solution that fundamentally addresses the problem, but it does not conform to the
    feedforward assumption.

    The incremental expectation makes publishing (where it will be seen)and finding an independent research position impossible, despite my obtaining an unparalleled multidisciplinary background including degrees in Electrical Engineering Computer Sciences, Neuroscience, and a MD. In effect, instead of facing the reality and asking why little
    has been revealed about this problem over the last 4-5 decades, Academia would rather bury someone like me.

    Let me know if you have any suggestions to fulfill Academia’s promises: to promote new research.
    I have come to the realization that those promises are cynical and patently false.

    Sincerely,
    Tsvi Achler MD/PhD

  156. Hi Karen I love your blog and find the advice to be spot on, I think you should probably have a call in radio show! In any case, I have a request for a special post, on how one goes about getting to edit a special issue of a journal (as a follow up of course to the post on how to organize a conference panel). Thanks!

  157. Dear Karen,
    I am a PhD student with a view on following up a mixed career (both in consultancy and academy). I just finished my MSc with an award-winning 20,000 words dissertation that I would like to convert into an article (of around 9,000 words) and publish at some peer-reviewed journal. The problem is that the dissertation argument is so concatenated that I’m struggling to find the most important parts (or rather, to shorten or delete the less relevant ones) in order to produce the smaller article. My dissertation was based on an quantitative experiment (therefore composed of a conceptual framework, a proposed method, the experiment and analysis of results). What can you advise me on that?

  158. Karen,
    Thank you for this blog! I am a doctoral student in behavioral economics (interdisciplinary Ph. D. in economics and psychology), in the dissertation phase. I’ll be starting my job search this Fall, and I could use your advice.

    I am 36, a single mother of an 8-year-old, and I love both research and teaching, but I have consulting experience as well. My big question is, “Do I have a realistic chance of landing a job at an R1 university if my degree is not from an R1 school?” I believe my work has real merit. I am structuring my dissertation so that each chapter shows a different skill set: Chapter 1 is very theoretical, abstract and mathematical, Chapter 2 focuses on empirical research in the psychology lab, and Chapter 3 is a field study employing the fruits of my research in a public financial literacy curriculum. I also plan to teach a large lecture-style class in the Fall and I am developing a smaller seminar style course to teach in the Spring. All in all, I’m trying to show potential employers a well-roundedness in my skills from theory to lab work, to field work, to teaching. I also have successful business grant-writing experience in my C.V.

    My dream job would be to do research full-time, and I believe that my greatest strength is my ability to synthesize information from various disciplines, find previously undiscovered patterns, and communicate them to an interdisciplinary audience. The two things I think I have working against me are:
    1) I will receive my degree from a run-of-the-mill State University, and
    2) My family obligations won’t allow me (or, I should say I’m really not willing) to put in 60-hour weeks an a regular basis.

    Should I ditch the idea of R1? Where would you imagine a candidate like me being successful?

  159. Hi Karen,

    Let me just state that I love your blog. I am still in the academy, plan on staying in, but you say a lot of the things that I try to discuss with my students and colleagues daily. I just never thought about turning it into a business (which I had). Love the idea and look forward to reading more. Kudos to you and it is part of my mission (now that I am tenured) to talk to others, particularly grad students, about debt, job prospects, quality of life inside/outside of the academy, as well as other aspects.

  160. Hi Karen,
    I, like so many others, am so grateful for the frank, informative and humorous responses on your blog. It has helped me tremendously to prepare for job interviews. I have a campus tour coming up next week, and there is a two hour break between a meeting and teaching a class. My question is, are these two hours truly an independent time for preparation, or am I inclined to informally socialize with faculty during this time?
    My last campus visit they kept asking, “Are you sure you want to be alone?”
    Your input will most certainly be invaluable.
    Thanks!

  161. http://www.gladvisor.com/aboutus.aspx

    Karen – I wonder if you have heard of anything like the service above, which is targeted more at Medical graduates, but syas they are advisors who help people figure-out how to get their student debt paid-off in the best way possible. I was looking at options for myself and came across their page. It looks really interesting and I was thinking about contacting them, but I thought I would ask you first. Given the huge issue with student debt in the PhD community, could this be helpful for us or is this just another way to exploit new grads? I would love to hear your opinion! Thanks very much!

  162. Hello! I just tried to submit a comment but I’m not sure if it worked. Apologies if you get it twice!

    Just a note to say I have linked to your list of resources on academia and mental health, as well as using it extensively personally. Thank you for that and all the other things you are doing! If you like, please check out my project on experiences of suffering in academia and share, if you think it is interesting and worthwhile.

    http://academiaiskillingmyfriends.tumblr.com/

    Thanks again!

  163. Dear Karen,

    After spending 14 yrs (10yrs for my doctorate)Aug. 2013, I am so angry, depressed, and frustrated. Now I am an unpaid researcher at the U of I at U-C. After skimming through your story, I thought it is good idea to drop a line. I can see myself through you. Thank you.

  164. Just curious, but I have a 30-minute interview for a non-TT instructor position that pays rather well, and it’s the only interview I’ve got after 61 applications in nine weeks’ time. It’s in African American Studies, my secondary field. The department head said the committee will ask me about teaching. I’m going to knock this out of the park, but I’d appreciate advice for how to handle this specific type of interview situation. So, any advice? And thanks in advance!

  165. I am hoping you can help me. My own advisor is not sure what to do in my situation.

    I recently (on Wednesday April 9th) received a job offer from “college 1” over the phone. They said they would send me the packet today (Friday April 11th) and that I needed to look it over and return it by next Friday April 18th. They also wanted a verbal commitment over the phone, but I said I would wait to look at the packet.

    They called be back yesterday and said they need a verbal commitment before they send the papers and that they need it by Monday April 14th. This seems odd given that they haven’t sent my the offer in writing, although they have explained the main points over the phone.

    I have another college, “college 2” that is going to likely be giving me an offer early next week or mid next week.

    If I give college 1 a verbal acceptance and then decide I do not like parts of the offer, or want to take the offer from college 2, can I just not return the packet? Will there be legal/ethical ramifications if I do this?

  166. Hello Dr. Karen!

    I love your blog! Thank you so much for all of your helpful advice and encouragement. Regardless of the situation I’m facing, I can find the pep talk that I need from your writing.

    I am a Ph.D. student in psychology. My dissertation focuses on new faculty’s experiences (both positive and negative) as they learn the ropes of their new positions. I hope that it can show the need for interpersonal, mentoring support for this unique career stage. I am planning the recruitment strategy for this study. Do you or your readers have any suggestions of how I can reach out to newly hired faculty? Any suggestions that you have for growing my network of potential participants would be great!

    Thank you so much,
    Sarah

  167. Dear Karen,

    I enjoy our blog very much and I must say that you are spot on about most major problems in academia. I was wondering if you could do a post about those of us who are in between receiving our PhD and our first postdoc position. Very few people talk about this very difficult period. I received my PhD in November and have since had all my student privileges cut by the university which is the way they do their business. I have an offer for a postdoc which will start in October of 2014, but how does one survive until then? It’s a year of economic poverty and I had to get a loan to survive with the bare minimum. How can PhDs utilize this year? More importantly, can we still use our old affiliation when publishing during this in-between time and speaking at conferences?

  168. Ditto. I received an academic fellowship last year at this time to support the writing of my dissertation. Once I accepted the fellowship, my academic department essentially cut me loose. At that time, the loans became due and sapped up the funds from the prestigious fellowship. I’m currently homeless, broke, have applied for 150+ academic jobs, and nobody has so much as given me a shot at a telephone interview.

    • Kevin, did all this happen after you received your first postdoc? Meaning you are now looking for another postdoc or position and have run out of money?

  169. I found your blog while researching information about how to handle a negotiation of a TT offer. I found the horror stories, but never thought anything like that would have happened to me from this institution…until it did. I was informed today by the dean, whom I was speaking with to accept the offer, that the department wanted to go a different direction…Needless to say, I’m devastated and confused…

  170. Dear Karen, I need your advice on a touchy matter. I had a relationship with my PhD adviser for 1.5 years (I know, I know, big problem and it shouldn’t have happened but well, it did). He is in his 40s and we were both single. I have since received my PhD and have been applying for post-docs. Right after I got my PhD, a few of his students and possibly colleagues have been whispering about our relationship which led to a huge argument and him not speaking to me for months except for a cold “Hello”.
    He is being distant with people now and I can’t seem to get a meeting out of him to discuss some of my applications. Do you think this relationship will affect my job prospects, even though the relationship between me and him is over?

  171. Dear Dr. Kelsky,

    I am writing to you for advice in regards to my Curriculum Vitae.
    I have been an ESL teacher for over twenty years. I have a BA and I have recently completed two years of full-time studies in a TESOL Masters program and the final thesis from an American university. Unfortunately, I was unable to pass the final exam therefore the degree was not granted.
    My question is; how should I state this on my CV and in my cover letter when applying for US academic teaching jobs?

    Thank you for your time and consideration.

  172. I appreciate the writing you offer for free on your blog, both the practical career oriented material and the bigger picture issues like your recent study on PhD debt. Thank you for both. Related to PhD debt, I wonder if you have any information about graduate students receiving welfare. My family gets food stamps and I’ve known several graduate students with children who got WIC benefits. Generally stipends in the humanities are very low (mine’s less than a full time employee working at the federal minimum wage and hasn’t been raised in five years) so this must be pretty common among grad students in the humanities who don’t have some other source of income. I would be interested in knowing how widespread this is, if you have any info on it.

    • if you google “Ph.D.s on foodstamps” you’ll find a major Chronicle piece on it from 2012, and probably a whole bunch of blogs and followups to that. It had a huge impact on the academic community—it’s a major issue. Also read about Mary-Faith Cerasoli’s hunger strike to protest adjuncts in poverty.

  173. Dear Dr Kelsky,

    I haven’t ever been in touch with you, but I found your blog tremendously useful and incredibly helpful in recent job interviews (interviews in which I was trying to move from being a postdoc to my first permanent position). All those little tips on how to not sound like a grad student proved to be invaluable.

    I have just been offered a post that I’m very happy with and in an excellent institution (in the UK), and I wanted to pass on my thanks!

  174. Dear Karen,

    I have a question that I think would be useful to address in a future blog post.

    One of the things that I find most frustrating about the job market is the lack of feedback. I’ve been on the market more-or-less “full time” over the past two years, and I’ve had some success, getting several interviews and a few campus visits. I would love to say that I’ve learned something from this process, especially as I have gotten very close to landing my TT and one would think this experience would be valuable. I can’t really say that, however, as aside from fairly vague responses (i.e., “we went with the candidate who best fit our needs”), one rarely get useful feedback as part of this process.

    My question is, when, if ever, is it appropriate to seek more detailed feedback from a search? And if it is, how does one do so?

    Thanks,

    Dan

    • If you make it to the campus visit, then yes, you can contact the chair of the search committee by email to ask a general, non-desperate sort of question like, “I would like to ask if you can provide any feedback on my materials or visit that would provide insight as I move forward in my job search.” Most will probably not respond or refrain from providing, but a few good souls might, and that feedback will be helpful indeed. When I was a search chair I used to LONG for candidates to contact me afterward, so that I could alert them to their major bloopers. I didn’t expect to go into great detail, and on the few occasions I was asked, I didn’t. But I was able to share a few general points that the candidates really, desperately needed to know about basic errors of approach they were making.

      Beyond this, really, you might consider working with me! I’ll be HAPPY to tell you everything you’re doing wrong in your job docs and your interviews! :-)

      • Thanks Karen,

        What I suspected, and consistent with my experience.

        I’m considering doing some work with you, mainly for interview stuff, which is where I seem to struggle. I’ll be in touch if I decide to go that route.

        Thanks,

        Dan

  175. Dear Karen,
    I have just finished my PhD and have been applying for post-docs. I have recently discovered that another student that I have been collaborating with (closely, or so I thought) has been presenting our work at national conferences without including me as a coauthor.

    We are from the same lab group, and our advisor has suggested that I simply include these presentations on my C.V. and that if any questions arose, he would vouch for me. I don’t like this idea as it may simply appear to a P.I/reviewer that I am lying and will not feel prompted to investigate why. Do you have any suggestions as to how I should handle this?

  176. Dear Karen,

    Thanks for all your many amazing posts. They’ve been a big help while navigating the job market this past year (dry run).

    I’m wondering what you think about teaching fellowships. I’m ABD and I’ve been offered one of these, which is great, but I’ve also been told that they don’t look that great on the CV (and I’ll be going on the market in earnest this autumn) because they’re “the poor man’s research postdoc”. I’d really appreciate your thoughts.

  177. Dear Dr. Karen

    I am looking forward for a post doctoral scholarship in Health insurance topic. I even worked on the research proposal and sent it to Professors. I have some questions in mind, is it so that the research must be related to the country where one is applying for post doctoral fellowship? I even want to know how can a strong research proposal be made which can leave an impact? I understand the post doctoral position is highly competitive and if you can guide me it would kind of you. Thanking you in advance

  178. Dear Karen,

    Is getting a postdoc position like winning the lottery? I feel like there is no rationale in the choices they make and that they are assigned arbitrarily to candidates. I’ve seen people with no publications get postdocs and others with many publications get nothing. Surely there must be something wrong with this scenario.

  179. Dear Karen,
    I stumbled on to your website this week and find your guidance to be exceptional. Thank you!
    I have 2 questions:
    1. What is the difference, if any, between a Creative Statement vs. Research Statement? I’m in the process of applying for a Teaching position and the University gave the option of either/or.
    2. I’m a recent MFA Graduate with more artistic professional experience than teaching experience(at least at the collegiate level). As I apply to these positions I’m uncertain how I can make my BIG PICTURE goals and required research appealing to the institution. The challenge is that I intend to design and open a Performing Arts School(secondary education)designed in part as an answer to the larger question plaguing the performing arts industry right now, which is “will technology dismantle the performing arts?” Do I need to tailor the statement to convince the institution that this research will benefit them or just that the research is worthwhile?

  180. Dear Karen,

    Thank you for all that you’ve done to bring sound, responsible and effective advice to young scholars and first-time job seekers. I honestly don’t know where I’d be had I not stumbled upon your blog.

    I really appreciated your latest post about planning the research and writing trajectory while on the tenure clock. Hence, I am wondering if you have advice on how to make the most of a one-year research-oriented postdoctoral fellowship while continuing to apply for tenure track jobs. I am afraid of being too ambitious and then ultimately wasting this gift of time on things that in the end won’t get me the permanent position that I seek.

    Thanks for your insight!

  181. Thank you Karen, for an insightful resource and a fun read.

    I have a adjunct question of a different kind for you. I am considering requesting adjunct faculty status with a state university. This is not a random request – I work regularly with several faculty there, and I know the request will be well received. This is not like the adjunct instructor or professors so many of us get stuck working in, but more of a formalized relationship that is supposed to facilitate collaboration. There is no defined service requirement, and I would not be doing any instruction beyond the occasional seminar presentation. The advantages for me are being able to serve on graduate committees, and having library access.

    My question is what do you,or your readers think, about what such an “appointment” will do on a c.v.? I am still angling for an academic position, and have a pretty strong c.v. for my discipline. My biggest weakness is limited teaching experience, and teaching positions are what I’m most interested in. Do you think an adjunct status like this (assuming there are committee appointments) will help, or is it just another sort of fluff?

    And thanks again for crafting such a fun and helpful site. Best regards!

    • If you gain more than you lose, and can afford this financially without accruing more debt, and can set a firm time limit to gain the teaching experience you need to fill a particular gap on your CV, then sure that is fine.

  182. Dear Karen,

    First off: thanks so much for a fantastic site, it has been a constant reference point finding my way through graduate school.

    I grew up in New Zealand and studied there up to the Masters, before joining the sociology doctoral program at Boston College. While my undergraduate degree was awarded by Victoria University in Wellington, I did the last year as a full time exchange student at UC Berkeley in California.

    Do you have any suggestions for how to include this on my CV? Can I somehow put it under education at the top of the CV? If not, where else might it go?

    As it stands, I have simply left the exchange out, but given the standing of UC Berkeley in the field of sociology it would be great to find a way to more effectively incorporate my time there.

    Thanks so much, any guidance you could offer here would really be great,

    Liam

  183. Dear Karen,

    I graduated with my PhD in May of 2014 (in social and behavioral sciences/policy). Currently I am in month 2 of a postdoc fellowship at an ivy league institution’s school of public health. I’m miserable. I have 5-6 publications/projects in-process of my own, and so I can assure you that I am not bored. However, Tomorrow will be my first meeting with my PI (yes, 1 month after I started)and today I had a networking lunch with a faculty member who told me ‘this place is a business enterprise and they don’re actually care about public health, they just want to be sure that they can brag about you’.

    I need more personal interaction and opportunity to do research with community partners. I have already decided that I will not be pursuing a tenure-track faculty position and I want to begin looking for jobs at the 6 month mark of my first post=doc year. Will this look bad on my CV? How do I explain to the PI that this post doc just not going to work for me for another 1.5 years? HELP.

    -CC

    • I can understand your feelings but I do feel you’re basing too big a decision on just a couple interactions and 2 months of experience. I would not burn any bridges at tomorrow’s meeting if i were you. Give it a bit of time.

  184. Dear Karen,

    It has been a year since I submitted my dissertation and I am about to begin a one-year visiting assistant professorship in a research university — as well as another round of job applications. I wondered what to do regarding a letterhead for my new applications; it seems inapt to use my graduation department’s letterhead, but equally inapt to ask to use the letterhead of a program in which I am only a visitor of a kind. Any advice you might have will be great.

  185. Hi Karen:
    I have a question about how you suggest people handle the issue of illness and pregnancy (as separate issues)? While at my first job, I had my tenure clock extended because of pregnancy and again because of a (successful) fight with cancer. I am applying for jobs and need to explain differences in my productivity in comparison to others who graduated when I did…I don’t want to be too vague (in case interviewers worry “health issues” will impact my work now), but I don’t want people to dwell on the two issues either (since I seem to be free and clear). Both are highly feminized- pregnancy and stage 3 breast cancer. What do you suggest? Thank you in advance for any suggestions you have.

  186. This site is great. I just wish I’d known about it before starting graduate school, especially given the realities of racism/colorism/sexism in academia (and one of my biggest mistakes, especially as an immigrant kid who was the first in my extended family to pursue a doctorate, was in thinking academic anthropology would be less racist/deeply committed to antiracism, which it is just not; the racism and colorism I experienced was truly shocking beyond anything I could have imagined coming out of a supportive undergrad program at an Ivy League school).

    I am writing because I think that it is important to stress some of the race/gender-specific forms of abuse in the cult known as the academy, so as to alert more readers to these pitfalls so they can avoid them. In particular, and given the current OCR investigation of multiple schools for covering up campus sexual assaults and harassment, I think it is important to stress the intersection of racism, sexism, classism, ageism, and disability in relation to the kind of retaliation that occurs when a female student/student of color/queer student speaks out about discriminatory practices and hostile climate violations, even when the speaking up is to try to stop bullying that is adversely affecting the student’s academic performance, a situation that an older student could be more likely to confront given the diminished likelihood of indoctrination of which you write. Especially if you are not coming straight from undergrad and have worked in a corporation in which the same kinds of abuse wouldn’t be allowed such that your definition of normal behavior is at odds with the normalization of abuse and bullying that characterizes academia.

    I really don’t think one can emphasize how much academia is truly a cult, especially given how missteps can permanently derail even those who would otherwise have been highly-sought-after diversity hires. The university where I did my graduate program is now being investigated by OCR for covering up Title IX violations. I am currently being retaliated against and cannot finish my doctorate for having blown the whistle on this problem and speaking out about how the cover-up of my hostile climate complaint was part of the larger pattern being investigated by OCR. I spoke up in the first place because I thought I was doing the right thing, the ethical and decent thing that you’re supposed to do as an anthropologist (especially given the official AAA race statement) in alerting professors to sociopathic racist bullying and sexual harassment by a White male graduate student then on the job market. Not realizing how the academy really works and who it does and does not protect, I thought professors would support my speaking up since I made it clear that I was trying to make sure a predatory and abusive person wasn’t being recommended for jobs where he could harm vulnerable students. Apparently, this is exactly not what you are supposed to do as a woman of color in the academy, and I was viciously retaliated against for ‘not knowing my pace’ and ‘opening my big mouth’ and ‘making the department look bad’.

    Yes, when you are in a cult-like environment, this is your reaction to a person speaking out to try to protect female students from abuse. And since I was not close to being on the job market myself, I thought it was clear that I was speaking out against abuse on principle, not to undercut the competition. Several,years later, in the wake of the OCR investigation confirming the rectitude of my speaking up to identify a real and legitimate problem, I am more hated than ever by professors who threw me under the proverbial bus for telling the truth and filing a hostile climate complaint (only after I firs tried to politely get the chair to take action but she refused, in no small part because she was enraged that a person she sees as a racial subordinate, especially when a lowly graduate student, was ‘telling her what to do’). Her recalcitrance is underscored by the AAA sexual harassment statement which came out last year, acknowledging that anthropology has a serious sexual harassment problem (as the 2010 AAA race and racism report confirmed that the discipline also has a serious racism problem).

    The cult metaphor is really not too strong for describing what goes on in the academy, and how the most vicious forms of abuse and discrimination come to be seen as so ‘normal’ that those who speak out against them–which should in fact be the normal course of action–are instead turned on and attacked as traitors making their department look bad.

    It took me years to de-program myself, in part because I was so shocked by the level,of abuse that I was subjected to that I first had to acknowledge that it had happened before I could come to terms with why. I would not wish the abuse I have suffered on even my worst enemy, and so it is with this motivation that I am posting this comment. As such I am respectfully recommending a post on abuse and bullying, how to identify and avoid sociopaths in the academy and to understand who they target and why. Corollary to this, I also think there need to be more discussion of the kinds of a use and discrimination that students from marginalized groups encounter in the academy, and how to cope with such abuse/discrimination–especially when it is actually coming from one’s adviser: for example, one is being treated as a token because of one’s race but is clearly not respected as much a White/male advisees. Especially given how women are socialized to be ‘nice’, it becomes far too easy for abusers to target those they know are already most marginalized in the academy, because they believe these people won’t speak up, or because the abusers know that once they do they won’t be supported.

  187. Dear Karen/Prof/Dr Karen/Kelsky/amazing lady who runs this very useful website,
    English is not my first language and I’ve been going through a long and slow process of trying to get an university in England to allow me to spend a few months there doing research (I’m a grad student, master’s level) while I’m supported by a government funding agency from my country. During this snail-paced exchange of emails, I accidentally forgot to add a “Prof” in front of a name and added it in front of another that didn’t need it. One of the people involved was nice and told me about it, but let’s say that the milk was already spilled at that time. Although I’m trying hard not to offend anyone with my barbarian ways of emailing, I also don’t want to get a stress ulcer every time I write an email to an English speaker academic. Could you please help me (and also others non-native English speakers) using adequate polite language? When should I address someone as a professor? When should I address someone as doctor? When is it ok to call someone by her/his first name? What is the exact difference between a professor and a lecturer? And please, what am I supposed to write at the end of the messages??? Kind regards, best regards, best wishes, “c u l8r”?
    With love,
    Confused illiterate literature student

    • Dear Confused–always use the formal “Professor” until invited to use the first name. Use “Professor”, not “Doctor.” The former is more proper and appropriate (although the latter is not a terrible mistake!)

  188. Dear Karen,

    If a research statement is requested, what information should go into the cover letter? It seems redundant to explain my research trajectory in both documents.

    Thank you

    • You still abide by the template in the “Why Your Job Cover Letter Sucks” Post. The CL does not change at all–it is the most important doc and must be comprehensive. The RS then expands on the info there. I have another post on the RS: Dr. Karen’s Rules of the RS.

  189. Dear Karen,

    Can you offer any advice to someone hoping to make a transition from an academic research position to a tenure-track position? I have been in a research (non-tenure) track position at a R1 university for 8 years. A tenure-track position has opened up in a different (related) department that I am interested in.

    Thank you

    • Just follow all the rules of job documents and interviewing on this blog! And, work with me if you can manage it re time and money!

  190. I have 2 questions that I have not seen addressed in former blogs:
    1) What does one do if one university makes an offer well before the “interview season” is over? For instance, you get an offer in January with other interviews scheduled for February. Can you put that offer off for months, to see how the other interviews pan out? It seems that protocol dictates that you can’t hold an offer longer than 2 weeks or so, but I am being contacted from a university who seems to want to move quickly.
    2) Any advice for professors who are looking to move from an “inferior” university where they have tenure to a more prestigious university for a TT position. How to spin this in materials without disparaging your current institution? How to present yourself in a way that doesn’t make the search committee think “why on earth is this person doing this?” I can’t imagine I am the only one who is willing to lose tenure at one university for a much better university / location / cost of living, whatever. Along with this question, is there any way to negotiate for tenure in these situations, i.e. accept the lower rank salary but retain tenure?

    • 1) no you cannot. You have to grab it or take the risk to wait. It’s an unscrupulous practice in a way, since it puts candidates in a terrible bind, but it’s increasingly common among the “lesser” schools who want to grab top candidates without having to compete directly with better offers.

      2) you can do this but it takes careful phrasing in the letter; at the same time, no need to overthink it or worry your motivations will be questioned. Asst prof searches get LOADS of assoc prof applications at this point in time; it’s not unusual or questionable. But when you conclude the letter you’ll want to be explicit that you’re seeking to move for x or y reason. Don’t get all breathless and desperate and pandering and pitiful, however. Stay factual and calm, and remember that YOUR needs and wants are really of little concern to them. they’ll short list you if you meet their needs, substantively, through your teaching and research, NOT your desperation and hysteria. Read my post, Those Twelve Sentences.

  191. Dear Karen,
    Do you think it is better to remove the “future research plan” paragraph entirely from the cover letter for the Lecturer position?
    Does it show me as a stronger scholar, oriented in the future goals, or would it rather raise a red flag of.. being someone who wants more then they are about to offer?
    The job description doesn’t mention any research, just running General/Organic Chemistry labs.
    Your advice is much appreciated!

  192. I am a new assistant professor and I have several extremely talented undergraduate research assistants. Two of them have worked hard to be the best possible candidates for graduate school; they presented research at national conferences and one of them is a third author on a publication currently under review with a good journal. They both now have their hearts set on positions with professors at R1 institutions. Do you have any advice on how they can construct their statements to demonstrate they are serious applicants and help them stand out?

  193. Dear Dr. Karen,

    I sent an email to you about 2 weeks ago to see if you have room for another client. Maybe my email got stuck in cyber space. I know there are issues between Macs and Google.

    I’m an interdisciplinary scholar of the built environment who focuses on the mutual influence between diasporic communities and their urban environments.

    I have a TT position in Australia but would like to return to the US. I am wondering if you have time to assist me with job applications.

    Thank you.

  194. Hi Dr. Kelsky,

    I’m wondering what your opinion is about including portions of my dissertation for job applications requiring a writing sample. I’m applying in the field of comp/rhet and my doctorate in educational research; therefore, the dissertation is quite scientific. I’m thinking that it might be useful to include it for the R1 jobs, but perhaps include a “softer” research sample for the non-R1 schools, but I’d love to hear your thoughts.

    Thank you!

  195. Dear. Dr. Karen,

    I have spent countless hours reading your website and have benefited greatly from your advice. I recently applied for a TT job and by following your advice, got an interview! Thank you for what you do!

    The interview schedule I’ve been sent is a bit unlike anything I’ve come to expect about what the campus visit is typically like and I wonder if you’ve heard of anything like this before.

    They have asked for a half hour job talk describing my current work and proposed future research. Following the job talk there will be half an hour of questions from the audience, comprised of people from the department, then time to chat with a couple of faculty members, then a meeting with the selection committee. The whole process will take 3-4 hours.

    Also, this an out-of-province school (I am Canadian) and they have not mentioned anything about travel arrangements. I am happy to make my own arrangements, but from reading your website and others’, the lack of any mention of this from the people I’ve corresponded with (dept head and staff) seems unusual. I’m not sure if this information is relevant, but the job is in a faculty of medicine.

    Many thanks for all of the work that you do for us and for demystifying the process!

  196. Dr. K,

    I’d be really interested in your thoughts and advice on being a “public intellectual.” I’ve been in several conference and mentoring sessions (usually sponsored by various fellowship organizations) that insist on a personal website, blog, headshots, and as widespread a social media/online presence as possible. While I definitely understand the emergence of digital humanities conversations and technological innovation and presence as it relates to pedagogy, I also am wary of the downsides to so much personal exposure (and, admittedly, what for some colleagues borders on a slight obsession with becoming a disciplinary celebrity). What are the pros and cons of personal branding in the academy (especially if you are still a graduate student and early on the job market)?

    Thanks for the consideration!

  197. Is there ever an advantage in leaving one academic setting for another? For instance, leaving a large research university to work in a smaller university, but in a big city, where the college’s priorities are on service and teaching (nursing department) rather than the pressures of making tenure, funding, and balancing? Or, does the baggage simply travel from one setting to the next, in your opinion? I’m more a service and teaching prof myself and thinking of makin’ a leap.

  198. Dear Professor Karen,

    Hope all is fine. Thank you very much for this blog. It has been of a great help to me in preparing my project, cover letter, and recommandations for my recommanders. I really appreciate your willingness to help us on pursuing our career goals.

    I have a question: There are so many formats to there when writing literature review. Do you have a preference/suggestion on the particular literature review?

    My project for my graduate studies is on the unemployment of women in my hometown in Kosovo. So for the project, I am developing a plan that would deal with reducing unemployment of women and integrating them into social, economic, and political culture.

    I found my resources but have difficulties in choosing the right literature review.

    Best,
    Anesa

  199. Dear Karen, here’s a quick call for advice. I am Assistant Professor at a reputable European university, in the process of applying for jobs in the US for next Fall. My family and I have been selected in the Diversity Lottery, and will probably have a Green Card coming spring. I wonder whether I should mention that fact in my motivation letter – it might mean that the university that hires me will not have to apply for an H visa for me and my family. Thanks for your advice

    • sure a brief mention in the final paragraph would be fine; however, be sure to follow the advice on my blog closely (or work with me!) to make sure you get this genre right. YOur use of the term ‘motivation letter’ concerns me. Read my post, Those Twelve Sentences.

    • Dear Karen,

      I love your website. I have been fantasizing for years as to how I will quit my job. The straw that broke the camel’s back happened when, as the second most senior person in my department, I was promised an office and then denied. (This, of course is the short version).

      How much notice does my school deserve? Opinions are mixed and the internet is not helpful regarding academic jobs. I was planning to respect the college enough to send a polite letter, return their keys, etc…, but I won’t give them 3 months, and I don’t want to give them the full 2 weeks. My fantasy is to give them 2 weeks (minus a day in protest). What do you think? Please considering answering this post. Thank you!

      • I guess my first question is, are you tenured, and what is your plan for after you quit? I know quitting is a great fantasy, but do you have a solid established Plan B?

        I’d just investigate with HR there what your legal obligation is, to make sure you’re not vulnerable. If there is the scope, I think a two week notice sounds great.

  200. Help! I am a lecturer with a PHD. The past couple of years the department has hired several lecturers with PHDs and the tenure track faculty seems to feel threatened. All of a sudden we are referred to as non vetted people who are “thrown into the classroom.” We are no longer allowed to vote but are still expected to attend departmental meetings. I teach five classes a semester, have very high teacher evaluations, and still publish but am seen as a lesser person in my department. I took this job because it was close to my children’s father, but have been seeking a new one for three years with no luck. Although I have been teaching and publishing in sociology journals for 10 years I cannot get a degree in a sociology department because my PHD is in Public Policy. I hate the small town in which I live and the work environment is increasingly hostile. I really do not know what to do. Any advice would be helpful.

  201. Dear Karen,
    Long time listener/fan, first time caller.

    I’ve seen a couple of job ads recently that ask for “evidence of scholarly output.” What the heck is this? A research statement? Sample publication? A new document that I don’t know about?!

    Any wisdom would be helpful!

  202. Hi Karen,

    I was browsing through your website- I think it is great! As someone who decided to decline getting a PhD, (and each day that passes am glad I didn’t go that route), it is essential to have information that is honest out there.

    I tried telling some of my other terminal MA classmates that they shouldn’t bother with a PhD. I spent a year focusing on trying to get into programs. I did, but then after visiting the school I was accepted into decided it was not for me, it looked like more self-righteous (i.e. pompous) academics talking about social justice and doing very little in actuality… (Anthropology–what else?).

    You should have a section (if you don’t already) on your website about the Graduate Record Exam. I know in the 1980’s it was not that important, and only became a very critical factor when schools saw their funding plummet and more and more students thought a PhD was a ticket to the middle class (2000+). While I was lucky enough to not do poorly on it, several institutions were very blunt about wanting all their scores in the 90th percentile or higher… What are your thoughts on how the GRE is used in the admissions process?

  203. hi Karen,
    I just found your blog when I was searching for spousal hire advise. I would greatly appreciate if I can get a advise from you.
    My husband just got tenured in a prestigious university and I am working as scientist in the same department with different faculty member who is retiring very soon. My husband also getting possible offers from different university and present department is trying to retain him.
    My husband contacted the chair of the department about job opportunities for me in the same university. Good stable job for me is going to be a key issue for us to decide to stay or move to different university. Our department chair showed his inclination to discuss the job opportunities for me. I am a scientist (biologist) with 14 years of research experience but now would like to move on to non bench work fields such as research administration or grant administrator.
    My question is can we negotiate for a research administrator or grant administrator job for me? Is it in the power of a department chair to get me such administrative job?
    Any advise would be helpful. Thank you

  204. What is (are) the difference(s) between “The Quick & Relatively Painless Guide to Your Academic Job Search” and “Taming the Academic Job Market”?

  205. Can you write a post about harassment of tenure-track faculty? I am currently leaving a tenured faculty position for tenure track one. Some thoughts on how to navigate potential harassment while on the TT would be appreciated.

    Here is some background:

    Just after I started my previous post, a colleague in my department targeted me for age harassment. She invited me out for dinner during my first month on the job, only to tell me halfway through that she was against my candidacy and thought I was too junior and inexperienced; calling me the department “baby” at a faculty meeting; tugging my hair “affectionately” during a faculty meeting.

    She was on both my hiring committee and my tenure committee, so I did not call her out on her harassment. With hindsight, I see that she was trying to keep me meek and submissive. Unfortunately, her tactics prevented me from creating strong alliances with other people in the department. Basically, I didn’t know how far her reach extended so I just kept everything strictly professional.

    Luckily, I have a strong record and received tenure with no hiccups. She tried to throw some minor criticisms my way – not enough committee work, for example – but these were ignored.

    As I move to my new post, I am thinking about what to do if I experience harassment there. Do I call the perpetrator out on their harassment? Launch a formal grievance? Tiptoe around? Keep quiet? Call in a lawyer?

    A blog post on this topic would be very much appreciated.

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