Rumors, discussions, and commentary related to jobs and fellowships in International Relations
I am a grad student toying with the idea of using a multi-method approach (statistics + case studies) in my dissertation. Is this good/bad when it comes to the job market? Thanks in advance for your advice.
Lots of good dissertations mix methods, whether it's stats and case studies or a formal model with case studies, or all three. Just make sure you give equal weight to both; at least pay lip service to current trends in qualitative methods when writing up your case studies.
10:16 pm asked the wrong question, in my opinion. I have sat on many search committees over the years, and which method the candidate used in his/her dissertation only mattered when we were seeking someone to teach methods courses and even then only when we had specific methods in mind. Even in those cases, however, the questions that were always foremost in my mind when reviewing a candidate's file were (1) is the candidate's research interesting and (2) do the methods -- however many are chosen -- fit the research question? Tossing in certain kinds of methods just "pay lip service to current trends" (5:37 am's words) is a bad idea, I think. Being deeply knowledgeable about different methods, on the other hand, is very important. But just because you know how to use a hammer, a buzz saw, and food processor doesn't mean that you have to use all of them to make dinner.
6:54 is quite right that you should not use inappropriate methods, but it's still a good idea to show that you can do more than one kind of research. You might do this by sending more than one writing sample.
I think 5:37 simply meant that if you are doing a multi-method dissertation, you shouldn't fake part of it; if you're doing case studies, demonstrate that you have basic knowledge of current trends in case study methods and qualitative research design. If you don't, it will a) come off as inappropriate, and b) turn off the qualitative scholars on the search committee.
Anonymous said...Is there any rule of thumb about how many positions to apply for? Is there any downside to applying to every position that is even remotely appealing (say, 30 or 40 total)?Separate but related question: how much do departments communicate with one another about their applicants/candidates, if at all?3:43 PM, September 10, 2008 Anonymous said...I think the best rule of thumb is not to apply to any job that you would not accept even if you did not get any other job offers. Other than that, I think the idiosyncracy of the job market rewards those who have many opportunities to succeed.In my experience, departments share very little information with one another directly about search candidates. But they all find out what everyone else is doing by coming here!5:21 PM, September 10, 2008Anonymous said...To 3:43: As a current member of a search committee, I'd say there is no rule of thumb in terms of number of applications. The thing to focus on is balancing 1) the maximum number of credible applications, and 2) customizing your application for each. There are so many chance elements at play in searches that you'll want to cast a relatively large net. However, your applications should be customized for each application (ideally, it would be great if your letters of rec were customized as well, but this isn't realistic).As far as depts communicating with one another, my experience is that this just depends on whether there are personal contacts/ relationships between the two. If your letters writers can give you an extra personal "push" via telephone or email, especially if they know someone well where you're applying, it would certainly help your case.5:46 PM, September 10, 2008Anonymous said...As part of the ABD "clusterbomb" approach to the market, there is nothing unusual about applying for numerous job openings to increase your chance of finding 1) a job, and 2) a good fit. The only downside I can see from an applicant's viewpoint comes with the monotony of sending out 40+ different versions of your application letter. Funny story: due to a glitch in saving a draft letter, I accidentally sent an application to the University of Chicago that was actually addressed, and written for the University of Colorado. Not surprisingly, I wasn't considered by either. So, don't do that.6:41 PM, September 10, 2008Anonymous said...I'm serving on my first search committee. My first piece of advice to job-hunters is that once you've identified some jobs that you think are particularly enticing, make mention of this to your adviser and really, really make sure they are pressing the flesh for you. We work in a limited-information environment, and a little fleshing out courtesy of your adviser is appreciated on our end, too.Think of it as a somewhat costly signal on their part. You know signaling games, right?7:47 PM, September 10, 2008Anonymous said...I have a question regarding writing samples. I have two writing samples to send out with my applications. One is an article that has been accepted for publication and is accordingly polished, but has little to do with my dissertation other than that they are both IPE. The second is a dissertation chapter that has been reshaped into an article manuscript. The second writing sample is fairly well developed and close, but not quite at, the point where I would send it out to a journal. My question is: am I better off sending out both, knowing that one is still a bit of a work in progress, or should I just send out the more polished article? I have been sending out both, under the assumption that there is value in demonstrating that I am far enough along in my dissertation to have developed the article manuscript, but I am starting to question this approach.8:57 PM, September 14, 2008Anonymous said...Having served on multiple search committees, I think your initial instinct was correct: send out both. I'd want to see not only that you're publishing (which is terrific), but also get a taste of your dissertation. In fact, if you just sent the article, I would probably wonder why you didn't send any of your dissertation.7:27 AM, September 15, 2008Anonymous said...Agreed with 7:27: send both. Make sure that whatever you send includes the paper around which you'll be designing your job talk. The job talk is the thing. The job talk is the thing. Start chanting this to yourself at night if it helps.10:39 AM, September 15, 2008Anonymous said...Question: Is there such a thing as a job-talk being TOO polished? I mean, is there a chance of coming-off as phony? Do people ever say "wow, that was a great talk... but there's NO WAY someone can deliver like that day in and day out in a classroom setting?"(Just curious, and in no way overconfident.)
I do think there is such a thing as a job-talk appearing too polished. I don't think it has to do with the candidate's ability to pull it off everyday in the classroom, but rather with whether the candidate is annoyingly cocky. Some spontaneity is a good thing in a job talk, especially in Q&A. I've been in job talks where the candidate *literally* had a backup slide for every question answered (whether or not the slide actually helped answer the question). Impressive in one respect; a bit annoying in another.
Do committees always expect that a job talk will be based directly on a dissertation chapter (or two, or whatever)? Say your dissertation is in good shape, and you're working on a separate project that is based on and advances your dissertation research but is ultimately a new endeavor. Let's say it's also a bit more innovative and methodologically advanced. Would using this new material as the basis for your talk be a good way to exhibit a commitment to good research, or would it just make committees wonder why you didn't present a dissertation chapter?
Following up on a post from the main job thread, will submitting an incomplete application kill your chances of a job? What if you make clear that the additional materials will be sent soon? Deadlines are creeping up (and some are already past), and I'm still waiting for my last recommendation letter!
1) On the job talk, present something that is far enough along that you can be confident about the argument and the evidence. For most ABD's or new mints, that's a dissertation chapter. I would not present something that is relatively new and/or unpolished, no matter how innovative it may be. You'll get creamed. I've seen it, and it ain't pretty.2) On incomplete applications, yes, an incomplete application can kill your chances. From my experience on search committees, we often meet within days of the deadline (sometime the day after) and immediately try to get to a "long short list" of applications that we want to take an even closer look at. If your application is incomplete in an important way, you likely won't make it through this first cut down. Now, if you already have two glowing letters in your file from credible people, then missing the third may not be as important.
I would echo what some others have already indicated. Except in very exceptional circumstances, those looking for their first job should almost always give a job talk that is directly related to their core dissertation research. Ditto with the writing sample - you want to include something that comes from the dissertation whether its a sample chapter or diss-related spinoff article. (Of course, I would recommend against sending in the whole 800-page behemoth. If the committee wants more, they will request it.)I would also agree with what 4:38PM said about backup slides. Having a clean polished talk is great, and one should always think of potential questions in advance and have reasonable answers in mind. But I've witnessed a number of times where a candidate is busy rummaging around for the perfect backup slide and ends up ignoring the actual question being asked. On incomplete applications, I would not obsess too much about the things that are outside of your control. So if your home institution is delaying sending out your grad transcripts or if your fourth letter writer is out to lunch for whatever reason, committees will usually be accommodating, especially if the portions of your file that are under your control are complete.
What is wrong with being prepared in your job talk with backup slides? I realize you might then do a poor job flattering the questioner, since they will realize their question is not a unique and special snowflake. Therefore, what is the right way to balance the desire to look prepared, like you have thought of some of the questions people will ask, without coming off as cocky?
My recommendation is to prepare as many backup slides as possible, and update your presentation in response to feedback, but to be judicious about when you use them in your job talk. You do not want to appear cocky or spend too much time looking for slides when answering questions. However, I think anyone that would recommend doing less preparation, rather than more, is incorrect. You do not have to use every backup slide you create, but the process of doing it can be very helpful. Finally, you do need to try to look spontaneous even if you have heard a question several times before.
So does pretty much everybody use Interfolio to send their application materials? I'm curious what the package looks like when it actually arrives. Wouldn't a cover letter on nice off-white heavyweight paper with fancy letterhead make a much better impression?
From a multiple search committee member: If I had a dollar for every "cover letter on nice off-white heavyweight paper with fancy letterhead" that preceded a far less impressive cv, I'd be, well, not rich, but I would have some nice pocket change.
i'm looking for a list of departments that are good for pursuing both "international relations" and "formal theory". Only NYU and Rochester come to mind. Are there others? I appreciate your advice, and thanks in advance.
Stanford's got good IR people, and good formal people over at GSB.
What are some good questions to expect during a phone interview?
I can second the comment about printing your resumes and cover letters on bond paper: no one, at least around here (R1) cares. For good or ill, all that matters is what's printed on the page.
To 12:21 - I recently had a phone interview and, like you, had no idea what to expect. Here are the questions I was asked.1. Where are you at on the dissertation?2. What are your publication plans for the dissertation?3. Where do you see yourself in five years?4. What can you teach?5. What interests you in the department?Pretty generic stuff, really. This was at a middling state school, so I think they were just trying to single out the genuinely interested applicants.
What are the top five IR dissertation awards?
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