Notes: Getting a Job at a Research University

1 How to get a Job at a Research University (R1)

Original Creation Date Unknown, but around the time of Getting a Job at a State School

2 Opinions of the panelists: When did you decide?

  • more familiar with big university rather than small liberal arts college
  • default option (theoretical physics)
  • likes teaching more than research
  • missed working with graduate students
  • focused more on research (media)

    academic books count as research in humanities, not so in engineering/tech

3 Carnegie Mellon University Classification (R1, R2, …)

4 When invited …

  • ask about condition of the talk (who attends? how many? audience background?)
  • ask about expectations of delivery
  • ask about culture of department
  • overview of research agenda -or- focus on a particular project
    (these can cycle thru and back)
  • use new stuff, stranger and more exciting, not stuff already published
  • do a practice talk (field questions from smart audience)
  • in physics: colloquium (broad overview), seminar (focused and jargon ok)
    be comfortable with other topics (again the smart audience)

5 Publication Record

  • Humanities:

    • first pub important, place it well
    • pub record is its own narrative
    • time better spent on quality not quantity
  • Physics:

    • high impact paper is better
    • have around 10 or so, with you as first author

6 Post-Doc?

  • Humanities:

    • wish they had a job instead
    • requires interfacing
    • treated as ‘summer-fling’
    • teaching might hinder progress
    • lack of performance is risky (ex: job instead)
  • Physics:

    • gives opportunity to be independent
    • essential, freedom
    • build pub record, establish reputation
    • teaching experience irrelevant
    • but do have to give a good talk

7 Adjunct

  • serves at whim of the university
  • might lose class to low enrollment
  • low pay, no benefits
  • stagnates your career
  • Rather get a full but non-tenure track position

8 Application

  • Humanities:

    • always send dissertation abstract (2-3pgs)
    • letter, writing sample, teaching philosophy
      (don’t wait for them to ask)
    • address committee with Dr. or Prof. (not ‘committee’)
  • Physics:

    • research statement and letters of rec most important (for physics)
    • personalize cover letter to the job position
  • Info:

    • get job info via databases, list-serves
    • Academic Jobs wiki
    • Physics Rumor Mill
  • Timing:

    • In academia, don’t bother applying unless there is a posting
      vs. Industry, apply whenever (and repeatedly)
  • Fit:

    • Harvard notorious that they don’t tenure assoc./assistant prof.
      prestige can hurt (overconfidence in interview)
    • spin what you do to what the dept. needs
  • Other:

    • chronicle of Higher Ed
    • Public Records of faculty salaries

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