Monday, September 20, 2010

Prodigal U does its part to help out TT wannabes

We're hiring! My department at Prodigal U is searching for not one, but two TT positions (one is a failed search from last year, one is a retirement replacement)! This means a lot more work for me, though thankfully I am not on either committee this year.

In honor of TT job postings, I sum up my short list (ha ha) of academic job hunting advice:

1. Thoughts on the academic job market.
2. Looking for a TT job from outside academia.
3. How search committees go from 200+ applications to a short list.

Just a quick re-post, since I am still drowning in work. Personal update: one Sept proposal is done, one was sent to my co-PI for comments, and I am starting the last one today (it is a short 4-pager). Three more for October, but one just requires minor revisions before resubmitting, and the other two are short white papers. One is now due the first week in Nov (not sure if I just want to be done or not), and one is already outlined.


Anonymous said...

A followup question, as an applicant working on tenure track applications, could you describe how you evaluate research proposals in more detail? I'm specifically wondering how should I balance risky proposals vs. proposals pretty sure to do good, intersting science but unlikely to be ground breaking? I understand and am following an idea of having three, one risky, one mid range, one pretty safe, but I'm unsure how risky to make the risky one (and how safe to make the safe one). Do you (or other readers) have any insight as to how this varies at differently ranked schools? I know a top school would want Science/Nature worthy research, but what about a lower tier school?

prodigal academic said...

When looking at research proposals, we look at 1) overlap with current faculty, 2) fundability, 3) likelihood that the applicant has access to and/or can get all the resources required for the research, 4) impact if successful and 5) writing clarity (i.e. do we think the applicant can write a fundable proposal). A lot of it ends up being personal taste, just like when writing proposals.

In my experience, successful applicants briefly describe the safe science, and spend more time on moderately risky and high risk/high reward research. How much risk vs. how much reward depends on what field you are in.