Higher Education 
Research
(Updated 5/17/2013--Previous updates 1/23/2013, 12/26/2012, 8/21/11, 8/28/10, 6/9/10, 
2/12/09,
6/12/08, 10/26/07, 2/3/07, 12/11/06

Copyright (c) Robert Ping 2006-2013

(Displays best with Microsoft IE and Mozilla Firefox)
(HOME)

                

                
FOREWORD--This website concerns selected topics in Higher Education, primarily in the U.S.
Its contents are intended for PhD students and "Junior Faculty" (pre- Full Professor), again primarily
   in the U.S. It contains thoughts and advice on, for example, promotion and tenure, conference 
   papers, submitting to A-level journals, handling paper revise and resubmits, student evaluations 
   and job searching. It also contains selected papers in Higher Education.

Recent Additions and Changes (indicated by "New," "Revised" or "Updated"):

o A paper about reusing a data set to create a second theory-test paper is available (to help
reduce the
"time between papers"). It turns out that an editor might not object to a paper
that reuses data which has been used in a previously published paper, if the new paper's
theory/model is "interesting" and materially different from
the previously published paper.
The paper on reusing data discusses how submodels from a previous paper might be found for
a seco
nd paper that may not require collecting new data. (Please click here for more.)

 
o The "Jr. Faculty Corner" with thoughts on promotion and tenure; handling revise and resubmits, including a detailed example of a revise-and-resubmit response, etc.
o Several papers on creating and managing web-based courses and the currently "hot topic"
of departmental program assessment.
Please note: If you have visited this web site before, and the latest "Updated" date (at the top of
   the page) seems old, you may want to click on your browser's "Refresh" or "Reload" button on the
   browser toolbar (above) to view the current version of this web page.



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. (2007). "Higher 
   Education Research." [on-line paper]. http://home.att.net/~rpingjr/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, to refresh any (and all) Word
   documents, please click on "Tools" on the browser toolbar (above), then click on
   "Internet Options...." Next, in the "General" tab, find the "Temporary Internet Files"
   section and click on "Delete Files...." Then, click in the "Delete all offline content" box,
   and click "OK." After that, close this browser window, then re-launch it so the latest
   versions of all the WORD documents are forced to download.
Your questions and comments are encouraged; just send an e-mail to rping@wright.edu. 






                
Selected Papers on Higher Education:



(CLICK
 ON A
 RED 
 DOT)

(New)



"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). 
(New)

"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. (Pls. be patient, the download is a little long).
(New)

"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 (Pls. be patient, the download is a little long).
(New)

"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. (Pls. be patient, 
   the download is a little long). 





(New) The Jr. Faculty Corner







I have formally and informally mentored Jr. Faculty for several years, and the following, in no particular order of importance, are some of the questions they have asked.  




"What is really "most important" to Promotion and Tenure?" 
"How does one obtain enough publications for Promotion and Tenure?" (including 
  
Exhibit 1--A Revise and Resubmit Response Example)
"How does one get good teaching evaluations?"
"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 questions.)



"What is really "most important" to Promotion and Tenure?"  




I have worked for and visited 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 necessary, neither appears to be sufficient for P&T. 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. Determining what is "acceptable" student evaluations can be accomplished by interviewing selected departmental faculty, and by requesting informal teaching evaluations by selected faculty during the first year. 

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 with 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.

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 a minimum number of publications that they will require for P&T. This can be an informal number based on past P&T's, or it can be formally stated in departmental or college bylaws, etc. Either way, these expectations can seem high and it should be identified early.

Unfortunately, this "number of publications" may be divided by 6 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 moving" on a new paper. However, with exceptions, I have found that papers were little improved by the comments from conference reviewers.

Submitting a new paper to an A-level journal first usually provides helpful reviewer comments that can frequently be used to improve the paper. Unfortunately, their acceptance rate is low, and rejections are seldom a pleasant experience. Many A-level journals also have an unpleasant habit of inviting a 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 matters later). 

Although acceptance rates are higher, my experience with submitting a new paper to a low-level journal has seldom been positive overall. Reviewer comments typically did not produce an improved paper, and the review took many months. In addition, if the paper was accepted there, the publication backlog typical of low level journals added months, occasionally years, to its appearance in print. 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 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 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. While some P&T committees reduce one's publication count by the number of authors, many do not, and the "one paper produces three hits--one for each author," strategy is ubiquitous. (Consider checking on whether the number of authors on a paper is a factor at your institution.) Occasionally, a 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 review process. (Consider checking on this at your institution as well.)

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 "scorekeepers," as someone put it, and they tend to listen to the majority of the reviewers. However, if two reviewers obviously like a paper, and one does not, my experience suggests that the authors 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 say things to the editor that the reviewers will not see). Failing to do this can 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" somehow soothes the authors. Because this practice can add months to a rejection, a speedy revise and resubmit 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, it might be addressed on days 4 and 5 by substantially strengthening the opening paragraphs of the paper concerning the "need for this research," and later paragraphs concerning the "contribution" of the paper. 
   "Details" typically include difficulties with writing and content. Unfortunately, writing difficulties frequently include typos or worse, and these also should be corrected on day 6 and subsequently. (WORD's grammar checking is, in my opinion, quite weak compared to other offerings such as WordPerfect's Grammatik.) 

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 (very) major comments, and 3) correcting typos. Stated differently, consider not revising a rejected paper based on many of the reviewers' comments (consider finding "the" (one) most important objection from each reviewer). I had a paper that was substantially revised in response to every rejection letter. After a few years, I was surprised to find that revisions in response to (rejecting) reviewers' comments had taken the paper in a circle--back to almost its original form and content. For emphasis, experience suggests that major revisions in response to rejections do not always produce a better paper. Improving the "need for the research," correcting glaring errors of omission and commission, along minor improvements and corrections, may be sufficient for the next submission. 

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 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. 

Submitting multiple papers can lead to abuses such as simultaneously submitting a paper to multiple journals. Experience suggests that even with authors' statements to the contrary, 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. 
   The "pressure" of 6PP also can tempt one to use falsified data, or to misreport study results. These practices are surprisingly easily detected by any competent methods reviewers, and should be avoided because they can result in truncation of 6PP (dismissal). 
   It also may be tempting to use a data set more than once. The logic of science assumes that hypotheses precede data collection, reusing data inverts this sequence--many journals assume or state that an empirical study is based on "new" data.   

I also have heard suggestions that were difficult to follow: E.g., its OK to "kick back" after the dissertation is accepted, prepare minimally for class, do not 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 "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 be a good 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, 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, 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 reduced by "thinking the unthinkable," and actively planning for not "making it."  










Exhibit 1--A Revise and Resubmit Response Example (click here)

This is a minimally edited response to the editor and the reviewers for a paper that was ultimately accepted. Reviewer 2 was very unhappy with the paper, while Reviewers 1 and 3 were less so. Because the reviews were available on line (via e-mail), reviewer/editor comments could be cut and pasted into the response. If reviewer comments are in printed form, they might still be available from the editor in electronic form. If reviewer comments are not available electronically, consider using a scanner with text recognition software to produce an electronic version of reviewer comments for cutting and pasting into the responses to reviewer comments. Finally, note the minimal use of the word "disagree." 
 






"How does one get good teaching evaluations?"




As 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 is to "give away grades." At one point teaching evaluations in my department had become so important that few faculty had class averages below a B for undergraduates. 

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 conditions for a relationship is "similarity"--see for example, Thibaut and Kelly 1959, The Social Psychology of Groups, NY: John Wiley & Sons.) In different words, 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), tend 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, 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?"




This question 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, 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 P&T.

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?" 


Getting a job in Academe (in the U.S.) is usually a straightforward process that involves disseminating your vita, interviewing, accepting a job, and showing up for work. While it is always nice to have other schools seek you out with little or no effort on your part, you might want to consider the following comments.

Disseminating your vita usually involves e-mailing it to selected faculty at other schools to inquire about a faculty position. Ideally, this "inquiry" should express your interest in a specific position that is currently open, or may become open. Since departments usually hire in "specialty" areas, your expressed interest should match your teaching/research interest area(s). For example, I was once hired in a large department because I had taught undergraduate Consumer Research 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 is also desirable to mention that a senior faculty member suggested that you contact them. So, it may be desirable to ask others for suggested e-mail recipients. These recipients then might be found on the Web by Googleing their university.

Since most positions are formally "announced" (advertised) in print, etc., it is also desirable to mention the position announcement, and the stated position. Thus, it may be useful to use the "position announcement" resources in your 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 in your e-mails that you will be present at these functions.

A senior faculty member may recommend you to a colleague at another school, or someone at another school will 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.  

Comments: 
   Recipients may not see your e-mail because of spam-blockers, etc. If a reply is not received in a week or so, a letter or phone message may be required. 
   If you are responding to a position announcement, you should follow the directions in that announcement in every detail. Failure to do so may result in your "application" being ignored. E-mails also may be used to alert selected faculty to your "application."
   Many departments begin hiring beginning in January for the academic year beginning that Fall. So, it may be advantageous to begin the job search in the Fall of the year proceeding your graduation. 
   Response rates to your efforts can be disappointing--10% or less is not uncommon, depending on the "ranking" of the target schools. Stated differently, it may require e-mailing, etc. 10 different schools to generate 1 interview. So, "Job Fairs," and
direct recommendations, mentioned above, may be important in generating interviews.
   Even if you are scheduled to interview with a school at an upcoming job fair, or as a result of a recommendation, a short e-mail to selected faculty stating that you are looking forward to meeting them may be a nice touch.
   Including an abbreviated vita with the e-mail is usually a good idea, and it should probably state that references and an expanded vita are available on request, to conserve space. Stated differently, "executive search firms" state that you must provide a 1 page vita to impress a reader--more than that is usually ignored. (However, references and an expanded vita could be available as links on the abbreviated vita.)

Interviews can vary from a few minutes at a "Job Fair," to a day or more at a candidate school. In general, you should bring copies of your abbreviated vita stapled to your expanded vita (again, you must 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. 

Comments: 
   Consider bringing several presentations: the full presentation, a 1 hour version, and a half hour version. An hour, sometimes less, may be allotted. (Again, decisions in these areas may be made in a few minutes.) In addition, consider restricting questions to the end of the presentation, or be prepared to switch to the abbreviated presentation if questions have eaten up the available time.
   Your dissertation presentation should probably be different from your presentations to your faculty. Many faculty in the interview audience want only to evaluate your presentation ability, usually to gauge your teaching potential, and to determine if your estimate of dissertation completion is reasonable. Thus, your dissertation presentation should be designed along those lines. 
   For emphasis, "presentation ability" is not PowerPoint skills. It involves "neutral" Communication Styles, low authoritarianism/high disclosure (e.g., warmness), using Balance Theory to help the audience like the presenter, and using "Referent Power" (see "How does one get good teaching evaluations?" above).
   "Executive search firms
" emphasize that your primary interview mission should be to determine if you can be successful there--in addition to "fitting in," could you get promotion and tenure in a few years, and if not, can you move on to an equal or better school from this candidate school? 
   It is important to remember that the academic community is a small world--any negative remarks made during the interviews about you current school or its faculty will almost always be relayed to your faculty.
   It is customary to say "thank you" at the end of each interview, and afterward. For emphasis, it is important to send at least an e-mail to each interviewer thanking them for the visit--again, it's a small world. 
   In most cases, interviewee inquiries after an interview are a waste of time. If the candidate school is interested in you, someone will contact you (usually after all the candidates have been interviewed--you should consider identifying this date). Otherwise, it is usually safe to assume they were more interested in someone else. However, it is always important to continue to show your interest in the schools where you would most like to work (and the interview went well). One strategy for these schools might be to continue e-mailing selected faculty with "news," hopefully about your dissertation progress, accepted papers, etc. For emphasis, one should probably substitute "...thanks again for the interview... thought you might be interested in my progress..." for phrases such as "I am very interested..." (your keeping in touch is usually enough).

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 trying. It is usually a good idea to rent a place to live for the first several years so you can "change your mind" if necessary. "Executive search firms" recommend that one always have an "exit strategy," and "moving on to move up" is not unexpected.

There is also a step zero: picking target schools. There usually are three types of target schools: 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" schools, and "exploratory" schools. "Acceptable" schools should be targeted early, just in case none of the schools at which you sincerely want to work produce an interview/offer. "Exploratory" schools might include schools about which you know little or nothing. For example, I interviewed at several small exclusive schools because I knew nothing about that venue (e.g., I might have liked that environment).











(HOME)




Copyright (c) Robert Ping 2006-2013