Recruitment bleg

My department has had a precipitous drop in both applications and admissions for our PhD program. We have funded positions which we haven’t been able to fill with new-to-program students. These are a pretty good deal and involve no teaching responsibilities for the first year.

So I have two requests:

First, how do you think we should go about trying to make people who might be interested aware of the opportunity? Some programs mail out glossy posters touting their graduate programs. I suspect those mostly get thrown away, however, and I’m not sure that people these days look to posters for information.

Second, if you are in the position of mentioning our program to someone who might be suited for it, then please do so. Obviously this isn’t everybody: Students who can get funded slots at top-ranked programs should take them, some students should be talked out of going to grad school, and so on. But there are students who would get a lot out of coming here.  We have strong faculty in a number of areas. Our graduates have a decent record of getting permanent and even tenure-track jobs. Many have gotten jobs at community colleges, the sort of jobs that aren’t even on the radar for graduates from top-ranked programs.

If you have ideas or questions, please comment.

Self promotion

I got news today that my promotion from Associate Professor to full Professor has been approved by the university president and will be effective with the start of the Spring semester.

This is a difference that means nothing to people outside academia. It doesn’t really change my job any, because I was already department chair and already had tenure. I didn’t even put any thought into the prospect myself until I was pretty far along as an Assistant Professor.

There’s a raise in pay, but not enough that it changes the integer number of yachts I can afford to own. For those graphing yacht buying-power over time: Still zero.

Even so, colour me chuffed.

UAlbany philosophy hiring

The UAlbany Philosophy department is hiring this year. If you know someone who’s a fit for the position, please encourage them to apply. The department is pretty congenial, and Albany is a nice place to be.

In terms of research specialty, we are looking in applied ethics broadly construed. We mention some things that could mean in the ad, but we are pretty open-minded about it. The backstop requirement is that a candidate must be OK with teaching an upper-division undergraduate course in Philosophy of Law pretty much every year.

The ad is on the UAlbany HR page and will be posted more broadly soon.

Area of specialization: Applied Ethics and/or Political Philosophy

The successful candidate will have a promising research program in the area of specialization. The Philosophy Department at the University at Albany is interested in building on its existing strength in the area of global justice, but will consider candidates working in other areas such as bioethics, environmental ethics, the intersection of political philosophy and philosophy of science, business ethics, etc.

The job involves teaching both at the graduate and undergraduate level. In addition to teaching in their area of research, the candidate should be willing to teach Philosophy of Law at the undergraduate level on a regular basis.

Why I hate my publisher

“Hate” may be too strong a word, but I lack an evocative word for this kind of sad, weary resignation. Neither “angst” nor “ennui” are transative.

I published my book, Scientific Enquiry and Natural Kinds: From Planets to Mallards, with Palgrave MacMillan. I’d had a positive experience with Palgrave co-editing New Waves in Philosophy of Science, and they were launching a new series of philosophy of science monographs.

My book was initially available at a fairly high hardcover price of $70-some, but this was to be expected. It was available from on-line sources like Amazon at a bit less, and the eventual paperback would be more affordable. That’s what happened with the New Waves volume, anyway.

But then, in early 2015, Palgrave became part of Springer. This wasn’t because Springer wanted to own Palgrave, but just because Springer wanted the Nature Publishing Group (which belonged to MacMillan) and Palgrave was swept up in the merger deal. To be clear, Springer is among a handful of predatory publishing conglomerates which I would never have published with if I’d had a choice. Monographs published directly with Springer are super-expensive, priced to extract money from academic libraries but not to actually be read by much of anybody.

Since my book was published, the price for the hardcover print has steadily increased. It is now, ridiculously, $100. This is not a matter of increasing the price on reprints or minimally revised editions, but just of jacking up the price for copies from the first print run.

Meanwhile, the eBook is priced at $69.99. Although not explicit anywhere, it’s pretty clear that the motive for jacking up the price on the printed copy is to make a gap between the price of the printed and electronic copies without actually discounting for the eBook.

In the last year, the publisher has started offering electronic copies of individual chapters as separate purchases for $29.95 each. This is terrible, because the chapters are not separate articles. Although some of the parts would make sense read alone, the chapters refer to one another. Among the chapters which are available for thirty bucks a pop are the introduction and conclusion, which are all references and summary and in which no original philosophy is done. The whole reason I wrote a book was because the project grew larger than something that would fit comfortably in an article.

I have written to my publisher numerous times about the sale of separate chapters. It seems like a terrible model both for me and for them. It means that fewer people will respond to my work, except in glib ways that address only part of the larger project. It also means that any customer foolhardy enough to buy a chapter is likely to be pissed off and hate both the work and the publisher. Some people may bumble into paying, but I don’t see how it’s a good business model over the long term.

I have received no response to my queries about the sale of separate chapters. In the same missives, I also asked about whether there would be a paperback edition and was told consistently that sales did not justify it. Despite that, a paperback edition was released this Summer. The price is $95, just $5 less than the still available hardback!

To sum up: Steady and sizeable increases in the price of the hardcover edition. Overpriced electronic edition. Electronic editions of separate chapters. A paperback edition which is priced within a margin-of-error of the hardback edition.