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October JFP

UPDATE:  It appears the APA has pulled the on-line version. 

A couple of readers have sent me the link, for which my thanks.  As expected, it's not a great October JFP, and one worries that some advertised positions with asterisks may yet disappear due to financial problems.  I would, again, remind job seekers to be careful about the timing of their dissertation defense, since, as the saying goes, "PhDs go stale."  (Just to be clear, I take it what the saying means is this:  the farther you are from the year of your PhD without a tenure-track position, the more unfavorable inferences hiring departments will draw about your qualifications.  It's obviously not a rational inference to draw in the midst of an economic crisis, but there it is.)  Unless your advisors tell you otherwise, I would not defend in December just for the sake of being able to say at the APA that you have defended; it is the responsibility of letter writers to indicate whether you will be done or not, and when.  I would, to the extent possible, time defending closer to the time when you know if you have a job--or simply delay defending until next year if it looks like no job offers are materializing.

Thoughts from others on this issue?  Signed comments strongly preferred, though I will entertain anonymous comments from students as long as their e-mail is visible when they submit the comment (it won't appear).

UDPATE:  As two readers have now pointed out, the on-line ads go well beyond the 250+ ads in the October JFP (indeed, they go up to #500 or so).   Many of these will presumably be in the November JFP.  It is possible, then, that the November JFP will make up for a somewhat weaker October JFP.  Let us hope so.


Is 267 jobs not a great October JFP? I haven't counted the asterixes, or the number that are not entry-level tenure-track, but this seems like a fairly normal number.

More specifically, is there a nice table with data on jobs in recent years. The only 2 October JFPs I had to hand were 2006 (which was considerably larger) and 2003 (which was a little smaller).

We had been in the 300+ range the last couple of years, if I'm not mistaken. But no doubt someoen will dig up the stats. Notice also that something like 16 slots in this JFP are devoted to Fellowships (open to others besides philosophers) at the University Center for Human Values at Princeton!

That's a lot of Princeton fellowships, but I believe that isn't uncommon for previous years as well.

It would make such a difference at this time of year if the job ads were easily sortable by, for example, rank and area. This shouldn't be that hard to do, if the APA insisted that job ads come in with clear marking for rank and area.

FWIF: I'm looking at the PDF of JFP167--October 2005--and the highest numbered listing is 363.

Perhaps an ignorant question, but one related to earlier discussions about faculty not retiring due to retirement fund woes . . . Does any of this trickle down to students applying this year for PhD admission? The thought here is that if ABDs decide to wait it out a year, perhaps less funding is available for incoming students.

Past October JFPs:

Volume 179, 10/10/08: 267 ads (as Brian notes, they've taken this down, so maybe it will change)

Volume 175, 10/10/07: 347 ads
Volume 171, 10/10/06: 332 ads
Volume 167, 10/10/05: 363 ads
Volume 163, 10/11/04: 322 ads
Volume 159, 10/10/03: 254 ads
Volume 155, 10/11/02: 274 ads
Volume 151, 10/12/01: 284 ads

Looks like a bad Oct JFP - only 2003 was worse in recent years.

Regardless, of the number of jobs, the format of the latest JFP is unacceptable. It has always been a mess, but this year they did not even bother to alphabetize the jobs with in the regions. For instance, the listings start off with NYU, but more NYU ads are listed later on. This will make it difficult to keep track of the positions you are interested in. Furthermore, the web-only ads appear to include repeats of about half the jobs in the October JFP. For example, the Princeton Fellowships are listed in both places. In other cases it is unclear to me if the ad is for a new job or not. So now one has to carefully read and compare two very long documents that are poorly organized to find all the positions one might be interested in.

I defended in the fall thinking that would help me on the market. It didn't, and it took three years before I landed a TT position. In retrospect, there are any number of things I would do differently, but not defending before I had a job (or publications) has always stuck out as one of the most obvious, even though none of my advisors said a thing about it. If you don't get a job and you've already defended, then you're stuck trying to publish in time to have something accepted for the following fall. At the same time you'll probably be preparing for and adapting to whatever temporary job you've been able to land, and for which you've likely had to move. Not a desirable situation. Kids, stay in school.

I was also struck about the lack of alphabetization and repetition in the JFP. How hard can it be to just do what they've done in the past?

The American Academy of Religion's _Job Postings_ does allow for sorting in precisely the way that Brian Weatherson suggests. It has other problems, for example the search is at the bottom of the page and hard to find, but it would present an obvious model for the administrators at the APA if they wanted to make JFP more useful.

AAR requires schools posting an ad to identify values of the following fields (each field may have multiple values): Primary Field (=AOS), Department Type (e.g., Religion, Religion/Philosophy), Appointment Rank (e.g., Assistant, Associate Professor), and Required Attributes (e.g., Ph.D., administrative experience).

I am just curious. A couple of grad students and I (a grad student) were discussing the poor job prospects thus far for this year. Could someone give us a ballpark figure of how many job applicants there are in an average year? We batted around figures anywhere from 200 to 800, which means that clearly none of us had any idea. Could someone help out here with some past figures?

The APA has a table of jobs and applicants data for 1982-2003 here:


I hope they'll update this soon.

How does the APA determine candidates for the "candidates" column? Is it simply based on the number of Ph.D.s awarded that year?

Did you see job ad #207: UT Arlington seeks a new Chair of the Department! Too bad they don't mention that clinical experience is a helpful qualification! Anyone thinking about the job ought to google "Burgess-Jackson" to see what they're in for.

I find that advice like this sticks me between a rock and a hard place, because the advice I've received in the UK is that it's increasingly hard to get a job without a PhD in hand on this side of the pond. This appears to apply even to Junior Research Fellowships and the like these days - explicitly for some and implicitly for others. My supervisors are therefore strongly encouraging me to defend at the earliest possible date. Does this ring true for those of you familiar with the UK market, and what would your advice be to a job-seeker based in the UK, but also interested in the US market?

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