Higher Education Research
(Updated 6/25/2018--Previous updates 1/18/2018, 7/31/2017, 5/10/2016, 6/23/2014, 5/17/2013,
INTRODUCTION--This website contains selected papers and topics in Higher (College/University)
Its contents are intended for PhD students and "Junior Faculty" (Assistant or Associate Professor),
Recent Additions and Changes (indicated by "New," "Revised" or "Updated"):
Please note: If you have visited this web site before, and the latest "Updated" date (at the top of
All the material on this web site is copyrighted, but you may save it and print it out. My only request is that you please cite any material that is helpful to you, either as a "book" (the APA citation for this website as a "book" is Ping, R.A. (2006). "Higher Education Research." [on-line paper]. http://www.wright.edu/~robert.ping/he.htm.), or using the individual citations for the papers shown below.
Don't forget to Refresh: Many of the links on this web site are in Microsoft WORD. If you have viewed one or more of them before, the procedure to view the latest (refreshed) version of them is tedious ("Refresh" does not work for Word documents on the web). With my apologies for the tediousness, the instructions for this are
Your questions and comments are encouraged; just send an e-mail to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Selected Papers on Higher Education:
(CLICK ON A RED DOT)
"A Note About 'Just Create a Student Exit Survey'..." (An earlier version of Ping 2008, Am. Mktng. Assoc. (Summer) Educators Conf. Proc., revised June 2008). The paper describes the difficulties of development of an indirect measure student learning objectives, an exit survey, at the department level. (Pls. be patient, the download is a little long).
"A Note on Interventions Based on Departmental Assessment In Order to Improve a Marketing Program." (An earlier version of Ping 2007, Am. Mktng. Assoc. (Summer) Educators Conf. Proc., revised June 2008). The paper describes the thinly covered area of interventions at the department level based on assessments.
"Web-Based Course Benefits: A Novel Application of Principles of Marketing Online." (An earlier version of Ping 2007, Am. Mktng. Assoc. (Winter) Educators Conf. Proc., revised December 2006). The paper reports on an separating majors from non-majors using an on-line principles section for non-majors.
"Distance Education Concepts in a Traditional Classroom: Teaching Support Web Sites." (An earlier version of Ping 2002, Am. Mktng. Assoc. (Winter) Educators Conf. Proc., revised December 2006). The paper describes the development of class web sites in Microsoft WORD.
||The Jr. Faculty Corner (Revised 7/31/2017)
My terminal degree was from a "Research 1" university, I have substantive and methods publications, and have formally and informally mentored Jr. Faculty (pre-Full Professor) for more than several years. The following are, in no particular
order of importance, some of the questions they
| "What is really "most
important" to Promotion and Tenure?"
| "How does one obtain enough
publications for Promotion and Tenure?"
Exhibit 1--A Revise and Resubmit Response Example)
| "How does one get good
"What comes after Promotion
and Tenure?" (including an Ethics Guide exhibit)
|"What about getting a job?"|
|(Please see the responses below, and please e-mail me with your questions.)|
|"What is really 'most important' to Promotion and Tenure?"|
have worked for and visited at several universities. I
also have colleagues at various colleges and
universities, and I have been directly or indirectly
involved with higher education since the 1960's. I
will not comment on the many changes I have observed
in higher education over the years, but for Assistant
and Associate (Jr.) Faculty, teaching and research
appear to have changed little in their importance to
Promotion and Tenure (P&T)--they are usually the
most important (MI) criteria for P&T. My college
is accredited (AACSB), and in my department
(Marketing), Jr. Faculty are not expected to perform
any service. If they do, it is number three on the
list of MI's. Specifically, research comes first (we
have written bylaws that specify the required number
journal articles and their quality). Teaching also
comes first (our bylaws also specify the required
level of "teaching quality"). However, while both are
P&T, neither appears to be sufficient. Specifically, good teaching does not
compensate for insufficient research quality and
quantity, and research quality and quantity does not
compensate for unacceptable teaching evaluations.
Insufficient research typically does not truncate
the usual "6 years to publish or perish" (6PP).
Specifically, an Asst. Professor usually is not
asked to leave because of insufficient research
progress--he or she simply is cautioned in a formal
or informal review(s), then he or she is denied
Promotion and Tenure at the end of year six (but,
see below). However, experience suggests that low
student evaluations can truncate 6PP. Thus,
"acceptable" student evaluations are usually
critical to remaining in 6PP at an institution.
It is frequently a good idea to request a formal evaluation of progress toward P&T each year during the 6PP. This evaluation should cover research and teaching progress toward Promotion and Tenure, and more than the department head should probably be involved. Unfortunately, a slow start on the required number of published articles is not uncommon because the publication process can be lengthy. (This matter is discussed later.) Teaching evaluations are typically based on student evaluations, but they can also involve "peer evaluation" utilizing one or more (fully affiliated) departmental faculty, and classroom observation by one or more (fully affiliated) departmental faculty. Experience suggests that peer evaluation can be especially important if student evaluations are less than stellar. If P&T is denied when there were positive yearly evaluations, there may be grounds for legal action.
That said, there are schools where teaching clearly
comes first. There, good teaching evaluations are
very important, and research is typically done as
time permits (e.g., over the Summer, etc.). Not
surprisingly, publication requirements for P&T
are comparatively few. At these schools, a teaching
evaluation is frequently made in the first semester,
and the results may determine the frequency of
subsequent evaluations. These evaluations are almost
always based on student evaluations. Because they
can truncate 6PP, these student evaluations
sometimes are conducted with "inducements" from the
teacher, such a classroom or offsite pizza party,
for example. I also witnessed a "guest"
(influential) senior faculty member reminding the
class of the importance of high student evaluations
to their instructor, and "encouraging" them to
favorably evaluate their instructor. (Parenthetically, teaching evaluations appear to be positively correlated with "inflated" grades --Google "high grades correlcated with high teaching evaluations," and see Love, David A. and Matthew J. Kotchen 2010, Eastern Econ. J., 151-163 for a possible starting point on this matter. Also see below for more on obtaining "good" teaching evaluations.)
There also are schools with no research
requirements (and few terminally degreed faculty). I
have had one experience with these schools, and the
teaching evaluation situation was similar to that
described in the paragraph above.
|"How does one obtain enough publications for Promotion and Tenure?"|
Experience suggests that the Senior Faculty who evaluate candidates for Promotion and Tenure (P&T) will each have in mind a minimum number of publications, and the "quality" that they consider adequate for P&T. There are also past departmental P&T anecdotes, or publication criteria may be formally stated in departmental or college bylaws, etc. In any event, these expectations can seem high and they should be identified early.
Unfortunately, this "number of publications" may be divided by 6 (years) to become an expectation of annual research progress. However, a "slow start" on the number of published articles is not uncommon because the publication process can be lengthy (more on this later).
There also is a publication "quality" issue, and this also can be an informal or formal expectation. Experience suggests, however, that quantity frequently is more important than quality. While there are schools where all or some publications must be "A level," and situations where "this journal counts twice as much as that journal," this quantity-vs-quality issue can produce confusing advice such as "always submit your paper to a conference first," "always submit to an A-level journal first," or "always submit to a low-level journal first."
Each approach has advantages and disadvantages for
P&T. Submitting a new paper to a conference
first, usually requires editing the paper down to
its essentials, and this frequently "focuses" the
paper. I also find the customary deadline for
submission helps me to "get started" on a new paper.
However, with exceptions, I have found that papers
were little improved by the comments from conference
Submitting a new paper first to an A-level journal usually provides helpful reviewer comments that can
frequently be used to improve the paper.
Unfortunately, A-journal acceptance rates are low, their review "turnaround times" can be slow (this can be especially true of European journals), and
rejections are seldom a pleasant individual experience. Some A-level journals also have an unpleasant habit of
inviting a revise-and-resubmit, even when there is little
chance that any revision will be acceptable.
However, because a revise and resubmit's chances are
usually unknown to the author, some of the best
advice I ever received was to "always make them
reject the paper" (i.e., never decline an
opportunity to revise and resubmit) (more on these
Although acceptance rates are higher, my experience with submitting a new paper first to a lower-level journal has seldom been positive overall. Reviewer comments typically did not produce an improved paper, and reviews took many months. In addition, if the paper was accepted there, the publication backlog typical of low level journals added months, occasionally years, to publication. In addition, I usually wondered if the paper would have been accepted in a higher level journal.
Tied for the best advice I ever received was to first request informal reviews of the paper by people who know the subject area. Experience suggests that some informal reviewers will decline, and most will not review the paper in detail. But, requesting them to suggest where the paper should be submitted was usually fruitful. However, if they recommended a low-level journal, I usually submitted the paper to a conference (to focus the paper), and subsequently to an A-level journal (for their comments) anyway. (I recall the remark, "Someone my actually read this paper years from now, so you always want it to be your best work.)
Also tied for the best advice I ever received was
to consider "teaming up" with other authors whenever
possible, and to consider starting to write papers
early, even during the dissertation process. Also,
consider submitting several papers at once for
review, and turn papers around immediately. To team
up and start to write papers early, consider going
to conferences, etc. even when not presenting, to
identify others with which to team up. This might be
less effectively done by e-mail. Presenters in your
session and any who request copies of your paper may
be suitable candidates. Authors who are in subject
areas where you might contribute, or who might
benefit from your expertise may also be suitable.
Senior Faculty member may add your name to their
paper (for your meaningful contribution). They also
may add their name to your research to ease the
Submitting several papers at once for review, and turning papers around immediately, are usually required during 6PP because sometimes it can take years for a paper to appear in print (e.g., multiple rejections, followed by multiple revise and resubmits, then a publication lag between acceptance and publication). (Consider asking if a letter of acceptance would "count" toward P&T.)
Revise and resubmits always should be turned around in weeks, if possible, rather than the several months typically requested by editors. This is always difficult because dealing with negative reviewer comments can be emotionally exhausting. One strategy is to take very "small steps" at first. On day 1 consider volunteering to do the revise and resubmit. On day 2 consider borrowing a format for the responses to the reviewers (see for example Exhibit 1 below) and open a new computer file for the responses to the reviewers. On day 3 consider responding to Reviewer 1's first comment in the responses to the reviewers file. A positive comment might receive a "thank you" comment. A negative comment might generate a brief outline of a response, including any changes to the paper--a full response and any paper changes can be generated later. On day 4 consider going on to reviewer 1's second comment, etc. Experience suggests that after several days, a full day of revise and resubmit is usually possible. Experience also suggests that it can be emotionally easier to tackle a negative reviewer's comments, and the editor's comments, last.
As previously stated, the best advice I ever received for revise and resubmits was, "make them reject the paper." Stated differently, consider never declining an opportunity to revise and resubmit. I have sometimes ignored this advice, and always regretted it later. For emphasis, it can be a bad idea to read all the reviewer's comments before beginning the response to reviewers. Experience suggests that this can add weeks to the revise and resubmit, and it can lead to a decision not to revise and resubmit, because negative reviewer comments can be so deflating.
In responding to reviewers' comments, one can be "humble," "direct," or polite. I have tried all three, and have experienced mixed results with each approach. In being humble or polite one should never say "I disagree," or "I respectfully disagree." Instead one might say "I am not sure I (completely) understand the statement/question," then responds with words to the effect that the reviewer might have missed the point, might be incorrect, etc. In being direct, one says "I disagree," or one can ask, for example, "do you have a citation for that assertion?"
Nevertheless, experience suggests there are several realities in revising and resubmitting: some editors are simply "scorekeepers," as someone put it, and they tend to "side with" the majority of the reviewers. However, if two reviewers obviously like a paper, and one does not, experience suggests that one still must convince the editor, not necessarily the dissenting reviewer that the paper has merit (and that the unfavorable reviewer is "off the mark"--you can actually say things to the editor in the cover letter that the reviewers will not see. Failing to do this can sometimes result in the editor "siding" with the dissenter, especially if the dissenter is somehow "important." (Experience suggests that a negative reviewer seldom becomes positive.) For emphasis, I have had revise and resubmits eventually rejected because I was unable to convince the editor of the dissenting reviewer's wrong-headedness.
As previously mentioned, some top-tier journal reviewers request a revise and resubmit for articles they have little intention of accepting. This may occur for several reasons, including that editors usually dislike the generally rough treatment first submissions can receive, and a "resubmit anyway" may soothe the authors. Because this practice can add months to a rejection, a speedy revise and resubmit (and multiple papers in review) is especially advisable during 6PP. (Again, consider making them reject the paper).
After a rejection of a "focused" paper (see
the comments on conference papers above), experience
suggests that an extensive revision of a paper in
response to the rejection may not be the
best strategy to ready the paper for submission to
the next journal. Glaring errors should never be
ignored, but, as you may have heard, getting a
revise and resubmit can be the "luck of the
(reviewer) draw," and for P&T one should
probably just "keep the paper moving," as one
colleague put it. This may require a different set
of "small steps." On day 1 consider volunteering to
"keep the paper moving." On day 2 consider
identifying the next submission outlet. On day 3
consider reading the editor's comments from the
rejection. These comments typically full into two
categories: "details" and "lack of contribution."
While "lack of contribution" could be viewed as a
matter of opinion and the journal chosen, it usually is a serious
matter that must be addressed. Thus, this might be addressed on days 4 and 5 by
substantially strengthening the opening paragraphs of the paper concerning the "need for
this research," and adding paragraphs later concerning the
"contribution" of the paper.
In summary, the paper should probably be
back in review after 1) improving the opening
paragraphs concerning the "need for this research,"
and later paragraphs concerning the "contribution"
of the paper; 2) considering the editor's comments, and 3) correcting typos. Stated
differently, consider not revising a
rejected paper based on all of the reviewers'
comments (consider finding "the" (one) most
important objection from each reviewer). I once had a
paper that was substantially revised in response to
every rejection letter. After a few years, I was
surprised to find that this had taken the paper
in nearly a complete circle--back to almost its original form and
Finally, consider continuing to submit the rejected paper to relevant journals, books, etc. Stated differently, consider never "giving up" on a paper as long as there is an outlet that will count toward P&T. However, after about two rejections it may be prudent to start on the next new paper while the "difficult" paper is in its next review cycle. In other words, a "difficult" paper may take years to appear in print, which may be too long for 6PP.
Several other comments may be of interest. One occasionally hears advice such as "one must establish a research stream early." Such suggestions are important because establishing a research stream tends to "distinguish" an author. However, given the usual P&T requirements, this may not be possible during 6PP. There usually is plenty of time afterwards to establish a research stream.
For emphasis, submitting multiple papers can lead to
abuses such as simultaneously submitting a paper to
multiple journals. Experience suggests that this
practice may be common. Experience also suggests
that it is likely to be detected, however. Reviewers
in a particular area are usually in short supply,
and as a result they may review for multiple
journals, which increases the likelihood of their
seeing a simultaneous submission.
I also have heard suggestions that were difficult to follow: E.g., "its OK to 'kick back' after the dissertation is accepted," "its OK to prepare minimally for class," "dont teach in the summer," and "start saving early for P&T." It is natural to want to take the summer off after receiving the degree; or to take the first semester after being appointed Asst. Professor to "learn the system," to learn how to teach, to prepare for classes, etc. However, the same discipline that won the dissertation "battle" is usually required to "win" the P&T battle. In particular, experience suggests that it may not be possible to learn the system, how to teach, etc. even in several years, and meanwhile "the clock is ticking."
Assuming one has been asked to teach introductory courses, consider requesting a text with the best instructor's manual, PowerPoint slides, computerized test bank, videos, web sites, etc. While experience suggests that many Senior Faculty believe that all faculty should "add value" to every class, this may not be good advice for 6PP. Stated differently, consider minimizing class prep time, using multiple choice tests, requiring no term papers or projects, etc. at this point in your career--you will have the rest of your academic life to learn to be a great teacher and get the best from your students.
While it is attractive financially, teaching over the summer typically involves a compressed teaching schedule, and it can seldom be accomplished without considerable sacrifice of valuable writing time. Thus, the "start saving early" suggestion.
The "submitting multiple papers at once" requirement also suggests replications of the dissertation model, extensions of the dissertation model into other contexts, etc. However, research funds may not be available during 6PP unless they have been personally set aside by the Jr. Faculty member. Again, consider starting to save early. (However, one might consider using a Scenario Analyses--search on "scenario analysis" in the monographs on this web site.)
Finally, as we say in (Applied) Marketing, "always have an exit strategy." I have heard anecdotes of how the "exhaustion" of P&T, article creation, review, acceptance and publication somehow was somehow reduced by "thinking the unthinkable," and actively planning for not "making it."
| Exhibit 1--A
Revise and Resubmit Response Example (click here)
|"How does one get good teaching evaluations?"|
a colleague said, "if there were a
good answer, we would have heard it by now."
Nevertheless, teaching evaluations seem to be
positively correlated with grades, although in some
studies they explain very little variance in student
evaluations (i.e., their effect is comparatively
small). Thus, one simple strategy to improve teaching evaluations might be to "give
away grades." (At one point teaching evaluations in
my department had become so important that few
faculty had class grade averages below a B for
However, useful themes related to teaching evaluations emerge from several research streams (see for example the paper "Web-Based Course Benefits..." above). Summarizing what could be termed the "communication styles" research (see for example Jung 1924, Psychological Types, NY: Random House; and Alessandra, Cathcart and Wexler 1988, Selling by Objectives, NJ: Prentice Hall), communication styles can be plotted on a graph with one axis that is task (cold)-to-social (warm) style, and the other axis that is fast-to-slow paced. Some authors argue that one communicates with others near one corner of the four corners of this graph most of the time (e.g., warm-slow, warm-fast, cold-fast, etc.). Since Ph.D.'s generally are task oriented (task/cold) (but fast or slow paced), this may make them "different" from many of their students. This may explain low student evaluations of Jr. Faculty who have not yet learned to moderate these tendencies (i.e., to "move" their communication style with students more to the center of the communication styles graph). For emphasis, one of the dimensions of a relationship is "similarity"--see for example, Thibaut and Kelly 1959, The Social Psychology of Groups, NY: John Wiley & Sons.) In different words, one might consider lecturing, etc. in a "warm/social" manner that is neither too fast nor too slow.
On the matter of "warm/social," there seem to be three types of instructors: high, medium and low authoritarian/disclosing (see for example the paper "A Note on Interventions..." above). High authoritarian/low disclosing (i.e., cold) instructors may experience comparatively less communication with their students (e.g., students have few questions/comments, do not come to office hours, etc.), and as a result these instructors may be less well-liked, and they receive lower student evaluations. High authority instructors also may have high expectations of students, and they may give lower grades, which also may result in lower student evaluations.
There also is some curious evidence suggested by Heider's "Balance Theory" (see Heider 1958, The Psychology of Interpersonal Relationships, NY: Wiley): students who do not like a subject that is taught by an instructor who likes the subject (e.g., in a required course), may tend to not like the instructor. This may explain low student evaluations among Jr. Faculty who have not learned to help students to like the subject matter. For emphasis, one could consider "selling" the course extensively, especially in required courses. Balance Theory also may explain high evaluations among Jr. Faculty with high "Referent Power" (i.e., "likeability," see for example, French and Raven 1959, "The Bases of Social Power," in Studies in Social Power, D. Cartwright ed., Ann Arbor, MI: U. Michigan Press)--students who like an instructor who likes the subject, tend to like the subject.
Not surprisingly, "Referent Power" (i.e., "likeability") might be improved by smiling in class. I had an instructor who was a "jolly old soul" in the classroom, and he received high student evaluations. After discovering that he never smiled during office hours (or anywhere else), I wondered if his classroom behavior was an act. (However, I still gave him high evaluations.)
|"What comes after Promotion and Tenure?"|
may be more important than it seems. Many
"philosophers of higher education" in the U.S.
believe that tenured faculty should begin to
seriously embrace their "larger service" obligation
early (e.g., Hamilton 2007, "Faculty Autonomy and
Obligation," Academe, Jan-Feb, 37-42). In
brief, many believe tenured faculty have an ethical obligation to
create knowledge and disseminate it. Continued
research is one way to create knowledge, and "good"
teaching should help to disseminate knowledge.
While, ideally, both should be of equal importance
after P&T, many "teachers" believe that "good"
teaching takes a lifetime to perfect, and experience
suggests that many tenured faculty have about 10-15
years of productive theoretical research. Thus, it
may be prudent to continue to emphasize research,
while beginning to emphasize teaching after
This also may have implications for promotion to Full Professor. Experience suggests that while research is still important, to very important, for promotion to Full Professor, teaching and "service" (as service is typically defined) are usually much more important than they were for Promotion and Tenure.
While all this may seem obvious, philosophers of higher education raise the specter of increased public oversight (e.g., loss of academic freedom, loss of "lifetime" employment, peer review of ethics violations, etc.) if "the public" perceives the professorate to be unethical, either individually or as a group, in their creation of knowledge (e.g., via research) and its dissemination (e.g., via teaching). This already has happened to another peer-reviewed profession in the U.S.: physicians. Their inability or unwillingness to "contain their costs" has led to substantially increased oversight at the federal, state, local and provider levels. In my opinion there already may be more than a few elements of declined trust of tenured faculty by "the public" in the growing preference for vocationally experienced and non-tenured faculty, and the current emphasis on accountability in higher education (e.g., measuring what students have learned) by accreditation agencies.
Thus, after P&T one should consider internalizing the ethics of the professorate. One also should consider internalizing the long-term consequences to the professorate of individual lapses in these ethical expectations (e.g., increased public oversight, loss of academic freedom, loss of lifetime employment, loss of peer review of ethics violations, etc.). The obvious ethics of research are well documented, and include not being a principal, or an accessory, to intentional errors of omission or commission. Apparently less obvious is that not continuing to create knowledge throughout one's academic career, an error of commission, may be an ethical lapse (e.g., it may create the perception that professors "do nothing but teach a few classes" for their comparatively "high" pay, lifetime employment, etc.). Thus, for emphasis, ethical behavior may include the sustained publication of theoretical and applied research throughout one's academic career.
The ethics of knowledge dissemination are less well covered. Knowledge dissemination may include reviewing papers, and organizing and chairing at conferences. Reviewing papers can be especially conflicted. Rejecting "less than perfect" papers protects the knowledge base, but it restricts the dissemination of knowledge. Knowledge dissemination obviously includes teaching. Nevertheless, the ethics of teaching are comparatively thinly covered, perhaps because they may seem "obvious." I will not attempt to fill any gaps in this subject area, but the following business ethics guide is offered as a general guide for the ethics of teaching (click here).
There is another matter that may not be well understood: the obligation to participate in "peer review" in all its forms (i.e., civic virtue--habits of personal living that are important for the success of the (academic) community--see Kraus, Christina Shuttleworth (1994), (Livy) Ab vrbe condita Book VI, Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.) This may include peer-reviewing papers for publication. This also may include willing service on internal or external peer-review-like committees (e.g., college and university P&T committees, grievance committees, etc.--any "peer" committee that might be replaced with a committee of "outsiders" when academic "peer review"/civic virtue fails). For emphasis, this peer committee responsibility becomes increasingly important as the numbers of tenured faculty decline.
Finally, philosophers of higher education write of fiduciary responsibility (i.e., acting as a trustee of the "freedoms" granted by the public to the professorate). It may not be well understood that the professorate's fiduciary responsibility is exercised at the individual level. Stated differently, philosophers of higher education believe it is the responsibility of each tenured faculty to ethically create and disseminate knowledge, and to exercise peer review in all its forms.
At the risk of overdoing it, one hears aphorisms such as "recent Ph.D.'s are entrepreneurs," "what is good for the individual is good for the discipline," etc., which tend to suggest that a recent Ph.D. is Robinson Crusoe living on his or her own little island. While there may be merits to this view, it ought to be tempered with the realization that each tenured faculty member is a member of "the professorate." Membership in the professorate confers individual responsibilities that extend beyond one's little island, and that are important to the survival of that professorate.
|"What about getting a job?"|
a job in Academe (in the U.S.) is usually a
straightforward process that involves disseminating
a vita, interviewing, accepting a job, and showing
up for work. While it is always nice to have other
schools seek one out with little or no effort on one's
part, the following comments might warrant consideration.
Disseminating one's vita usually involves e-mailing it to selected faculty at other schools to inquire about a faculty position. Ideally, this "inquiry" should express an interest in a specific position that is currently open, or may become open. Since departments usually hire in "specialty" areas, one's expressed interest should match one's teaching/research interest area(s). For example, I was once hired in a large department because I had taught undergraduate Consumer Research while in graduate school (in a staffing emergency), even though I had no academic credentials in that area. For this reason, it may be desirable to teach a few (popular) classes before graduation. Stated differently, one should give the appearance of wanting to make specific contributions in teaching and research (service is expected).
It may also be desirable to mention that a senior faculty member suggested that they be contacted. Thus, it may be desirable to ask others for suggested e-mail recipients. These recipients then might then be found on the Web by Googling their university.
Since most positions are formally "announced" (advertised) in print, etc., it may also be desirable to mention the position announcement, and the stated position. Thus, it may be useful to use the "position announcement" resources in one's discipline.
Some disciplines have what amount to "job fairs," at a conferences, etc., where candidates interview for positions. So, it also may be useful to participate in these functions, and mention one's planned presence at these functions in one's e-mails.
A senior faculty member may recommend you to a colleague at another university or someone at another university might contact you unsolicited. This usually results in an interview, either as a courtesy to the senior faculty member, or as a courtesy to the individual who contacted you unsolicited.
Interviews can vary from a few minutes at a "Job Fair," to a day or more at a candidate department. In general, you should bring copies of your abbreviated vita stapled to your expanded vita (again, you should plan to capture the reader in 1 page). It is also a good idea to have a 1 page visual aid summarizing your dissertation. Also, I have been told by non-academics that academics typically have terrible eye contact. "Executive search firms" suggest talking to yourself in a mirror to improve eye contact (you will need this skill anyway while lecturing).
In most cases an interviewer will use the results of a one-on-one interview to rank candidates. In addition to getting answers to questions about your vita, including when your dissertation will "really" be finished, the interviewer will usually be trying to decide if they want you to "join their club," as one colleague put it (junior faculty are usually expected to "work with" departmental faculty at least in departmental meetings). Perhaps surprisingly, "executive search firms" state that this decision is made in the first few minutes of the interview.
Teaching potential is usually assessed by either your presenting the dissertation or by your teaching a prepared lesson, usually to a group of faculty. Thus, you probably should bring a prepared lesson, visuals and all, and your dissertation presentation to the interview.
A day-long interview visit almost always involves a sit-down meal. An industry colleague stated that academics usually are "awful" at the table. "Executive search firms" suggest taking a quick table-etiquette brush-up course to clear away any gray areas. At the table, be prepared to field questions about your teaching and research, and when your dissertation will be completed and approved.
Accepting a job offer can be trying. Once a school extends an offer, they frequently expect an immediate decision. Stated differently, they will seldom accept your reply that you are still interviewing (which they usually interpret to mean you are looking for a better offer). I have observed four candidate strategies after a job offer has been made: decline, stall, accept, or a combination. The most convincing stall tactic seems to be "I am still talking to my significant other." Combinations include accept then decline, and decline then accept. However, neither seem to work out very well. Accepting then declining creates problems for the candidate school--they usually tell the other candidates that the position has been filled. Declining then accepting also creates problems for the candidate school--schools usually make their offers serially, and your declined offer is usually extended immediately to another candidate.
Showing up for work also can be complicated. It may be a good idea to rent a place to live for the first several months/years so you can concentrate on work, not logistics, and you can "change your mind" about your employer if necessary. ("Executive search firms" recommend that one always have an "exit strategy," and "moving on to move up" is not unexpected in the workplace or academe.)
There is also a step zero: picking candidate departments. There usually are three types of target departments: ones at which you are required to interview (e.g., because a faculty member has recommended you), ones at which you sincerely want to work, and "others." The "others" should include "acceptable" departments, and "exploratory" departments. "Acceptable" departments should be targeted early, just in case none of the departments at which you sincerely want to work produce an interview/offer. "Exploratory" departments might include departments about which you know little or nothing. For example, I interviewed at several small "exclusive" universities. mostly teaching universities, because I knew nothing about that venue (e.g., I might have liked that environment).
Copyright (c) Robert Ping 2006-2018