Archive for the 'Academia' Category

Science-a-thon 2017

Thursday, July 13th, 2017

Today is the first-ever Science-a-thon! Started by my graduate school pal Tracey Holloway, it’s a day to raise awareness of and funds for science. I copy her description here:

From Tracey Holloway:

Hi All –

You’ve probably heard about the study that over 80% of American’s can’t accurately name a living scientist — and my guess is that the numbers are similar when asking “what do scientists actually do?” Of course, we do lots of things – work in labs, go out in the field, teach classes, program computers – but the public doesn’t get to see this.

As a large-scale public outreach initiative, and the first major fundraiser for the Earth Science Women’s Network (ESWN), we’re launching Science-A-Thon. … an international “day of science” where participants share 12 photos over 12 hours of their day. From morning coffee through the ups and downs of a day in the life of a scientists (any scientist, any field of STEM, students, professionals – all are welcome).

We already have 100 scientists signed on – lots of earth scientists of course, but also cancer biologists, computer scientists, and more. Men and women, from 10 different countries so far. We’d love to have you! Just go to to sign up. (And you’ll get a great “I love science” t-shirt)

If you’re not up for showcasing your own day, you can support ESWN and Science-A-Thon by sponsoring your favorite scientists (like me!)

You can donate here, if you are so inclined, any amount is appreciated.

Even if you’re not interested in donating to the cause, I highly recommend checking out the #scienceathon hashtag on Twitter as it’s a great way to get a sense of what a scientist’s day looks like.

Below are my twelve images of the day.

Image 1/12

This is the main University of Zurich building that I passed with the tram this morning on my way to my office. (For those who’ve been reading CT for a while, yes, this is a change, I moved institutions and countries last year.)

Image 2/12

More here

Image 3/12

The occasional break is necessary to stay productive. My preferred quick distraction is Ingress. Fortunately, my office sits on a portal (or if I’m lucky, three) so it’s an easy quick break before diving back into work. (For those who speak Pokemon Go better, that translates to two Pokestops.)

Image 4/12

Research is rarely a solitary activity. Here I am meeting with one of my postdocs, Amanda Hunsaker, about researching older adults and Internet use. The beautiful plant in the corner is courtesy of a UZH program that includes someone coming and watering/dusting off/taking care of this marvel.

Image 5/12

I find that a good desktop setup is important for staying on task, this works well for me.

Image 6/12

Lots of research happens through group meetings, this one an advisory board meeting conference call for an important CDC-supported project.

Image 7/12

Touching base with my other postdoc, Marina Micheli, in preparation for a longer meeting tomorrow.

Image 8/12

Went for a walk in the office neighborhood. This piece is next to my building. From one side, it looks like an abandoned log, from the other you realize it’s public art. I’m not sure I would have ever noticed it were it not for the fact that it is a portal in Ingress.

Image 9/12

Science requires training future generations of researchers. Teaching courses, mentoring through research, and in this case grading their papers are ways I contribute to the cause.

Image 10/12

I’m old school when it comes to reading books, paper copies please.

Image 11/12

On my way home, I stopped at one of Zurich’s 1,200 fountains. That is, in fact, the number of fountains in the city. There are many that are quite beautiful. Zurich has the most fountains of any city in the world.

Image 12/12

As my last picture of the day, I share with you a picture of my screen with one of my Instagram accounts, the one with one sky photo a day. I started this photo project over a year ago (I’m on day 452 to be precise). Every day I take a photo of the sky. The sky can be so beautiful and so different. I thought it was worth a moment to pause and take it in every day.

Clueless? Rude? Neither? Both?

Friday, June 19th, 2009

I had posted the following on Crooked Timber last week, but forgot to cross-post it here so it’s a bit late.

Between the topic of Michèle Lamont’s posts, the discussion that followed John Holbo’s note on manners and now John Quiggin’s query about seminar questions, it’s a good opportunity to describe an incident I experienced years ago. I was surprised economists didn’t get more of a mention in the thread following John H’s post earlier given what I’ve seen in their colloquia. I have close-to no experiences in philosophy exchanges (and yet I dare call myself a Timberite…), but I’ve attended quite a few talks among economists so I’m used to their style of Q&A. As some have noted, it often starts a few slides in – or in some famous cases the speaker doesn’t get to proceed past the title slide for most of the time allotted – and being rather aggressive seems standard. If that’s the local norm, they are likely used to it and it doesn’t raise any eyebrows. However, what if you put such an economist in a room full of sociologists? Is it okay for him to import his style or should he take a moment to familiarize himself with the local norms?

What struck me as rather curious was the way an economist behaved during a job talk I attended in a sociology department a few years ago. The economist engaged in the usual norms for his own department’s culture: interrupting at pretty much every slide. He didn’t take any cues from the rest of the group as to how people behave in the community he was visiting. That is, sociologists don’t tend to interrupt a speaker, certainly not a slide or two in, and certainly not for questions that are more than mere points of clarification. Add to that the fact that this was a job talk, which in some places may elicit even more aggressive behavior, but in the culture of this particular department meant that people would be at least as, if not more, courteous as usual. (Do not confuse courteous with lack of very serious and difficult questions, of course.) The audience was listening intently and the room was quiet for the most part except for the economist’s questions and the sighs of frustrations that started to emerge as the visitor continued to interrupt the speaker.

It’s fine if one doesn’t know the culture of another discipline. However, in such a situation, one might want to be a bit conscious of one’s environment and try to pick up some signals about how others are behaving. Did this economist think that he was the only one smart or engaged enough to have questions? After the third or fourth interruption, all of which came from him, it is a bit surprising that he did not pick up on the fact that his approach was not in line with local norms. Perhaps he did, but just didn’t care.

I was clearly not the only one bothered by the economist’s style. The uneasiness in the room was palpable. In the end, a senior sociologist stepped in. She turned to the economist and explicitly stated that this is simply not how we do things and asked that he hold his questions until the speaker had finished his talk. You could tell that everyone (presumably other than the economist) in the room was quite relieved to have had her do this.

Congrats to my brother!

Monday, May 4th, 2009

Kudos to my brother, Balázs Hargittai, for winning not one, but two campus-wide awards at his university this year! Seriously, even one would be a very notable achievement, but two? Wow!

My brother's award

The Gerald & Helen Swatsworth Faculty Award

My brother's second award
The Saint Francis University Honor Society Distinguished Faculty Award

You know about Inside Higher Ed, right?

Monday, February 23rd, 2009

One of the most consistent email/news habits of my everydays is that I go through the Daily Update message from Inside Higher Ed, the free Web publication about higher education. I have been doing this for a few years now so I tend to assume that even if not everyone in academia reads IHE as religiously as I do, certainly everybody knows about it. Not true though, it turns out, based on several experiences, and thus this blog post. Although I’ve often linked to articles in it, they just did a major redesign of the site with some added features so I thought it was a good time to mention it again.

IHE is sort of like the Chronicle of Higher Education (which most people in academia do know about), but it’s fully free and much more user friendly. I used to read the Chronicle in graduate school and then even signed up for a paid subscription when I became a faculty member. However, as tends to be the case, I almost never visit Web sites that don’t let me set my own username. Moreover, back then, the Chronicle insisted on sending out a hard-copy of the publication. Worse, it was always in a plastic bag so recycling wasn’t a simple movement from mailbox to recycling bin, rather, it required dealing with the plastic packaging. Finally, and especially relevant to bloggers, it was complicated to link to articles in the Chronicle, because many required subscription and login, although it wasn’t always clear which ones. The Chronicle may have improved some of its services since, but it doesn’t really matter to me anymore, because in the meantime I’ve completely switched over to IHE. (This is not to say that I don’t read articles in the Chronicle anymore. I do if someone points me to one, but I don’t check its contents regularly.)

If you haven’t yet, go check out Inside Higher Ed. I’ve found their daily emails especially helpful in staying in touch with what’s going on in higher education. New features include advice columns as well as easier ways of sharing individual articles through various online services.

For those curious, I have no particular affiliation with IHE other than having published a piece on email communication there once a few years ago. I’ve met editor and co-founder Scott Jaschik a few times at conferences, he’s full of great ideas and very open to feedback about the publication.

Book cover contest (including $$ prize)

Friday, January 30th, 2009

I invite you to put on your creative thinking caps and participate in the book cover contest now running over at Worth1000 for my methods edited volume called Research Confidential. The winner receives $150 and the chance to have the design show up as the book cover.

You may recall the thread here and over at Crooked Timber a while back regarding the book’s title. I received many great suggestions. In the end, an idea I got from Jonathan Zittrain won out. The subtitle “Solutions to Problems Most Social Scientists Pretend They Never Have” came from a suggestion on the CT thread submitted by reader Vivian. Many thanks to both! (In fact, many thanks to all who participated in those helpful threads and convinced me to abandon my original idea.)

The title is not the only idea for which I owe JZ thanks. I’m following in his footsteps by running a contest for the cover design. His book on The Future of the Internet – And How To Stop It ended up with its cool cover this way.

The contest page gives a brief summary of the book and some ideas I have for a cover design although I’m very eager to see all sorts of other suggestions. The site also lists technical specifications for submissions. The contest runs for a week. If you can think of friends who are good at this sort of thing, please pass the word along. And thanks to my publisher, The University of Michigan Press, for supporting this idea.

Saying thanks

Friday, December 26th, 2008

Last year, when I was putting together my tenure file, I kept thinking that a section was missing. Where was I going to thank all the people who had helped me over the years? Of course, it makes all the sense in the world that a tenure file does not have an acknowledgements section. After all, talk about a situation where one would feel obligated to include everyone, rendering the exercise completely pointless. Nonetheless, while academic work is often characterized as a lonely enterprise, feedback from others – whether on research, teaching or professionalization – is an essential part of the process. Thus it seemed wrong to put forward one’s materials without acknowledging all the assistance and support offered by colleagues and friends near and far.

When I heard that I got tenure, I said thanks to people as I let them know about it. But it didn’t quite seem enough. While there is room in articles to acknowledge others’ contributions, they tend to be focused on the specific actions related to that particular piece. Book acknowledgements can be a bit more inclusive, but even there, it is not clear how wide a net one would cast.

When talking to one of my colleagues about this, he suggested that the appropriate thanks is to pay it forward by mentoring future generations. That is a nice and generous idea and I’m happy to do it. Nonetheless, I still wish there was a way for the many people to get credit. This is part of all that invisible work in academia (and probably many other professions) that never shows up on CVs. Thanks to those who engage in it, it means a lot!

Public Spheres, Blogospheres

Thursday, October 23rd, 2008

Public Spheres Blogospheres Flyer I’m on my way to UC Irvine to participate with some very cool folks in a meeting called Public Spheres, Blogospheres hosted by UCI’s HumaniTech. I’m on a panel about Blogging and the Academy.

I suspect the question of whether or how junior faculty should blog will come up. While it’s a topic I’ve pondered here numerous times and it may make some people yawn at this point, I believe it’s still worthy of discussion with some points that haven’t been considered sufficiently yet. More on that when I get around to organizing my thoughts about it (this conference would be a good opportunity for that, hah). Academics from different fields will be represented at this meeting, which may lead to different takes on the topic. I look forward to the conversations.

My department is hiring!

Monday, October 20th, 2008

My department has several positions and given the interdisciplinary nature of our program (hires from the past 5 years have PhDs representing 6-7 fields), it’s important that we distribute the ad widely so that we reach people from multiple disciplines. Thus the posting on EBlog (i.e., no, we can’t just advertise on a couple of standard academic mailing lists as we’d miss potentially relevant candidates). Although I’m on leave and so not involved with the day-to-day logistics of the search, I’m happy to answer questions about the program. (Related, see my post earlier this year on CVs for the academic job market.)

Tenure-Track & Open Rank Positions in Media, Technology, and Society
@ Northwestern University

The Department of Communication Studies at Northwestern University’s School of Communication seeks to hire three tenure-track appointments beginning September 1, 2009. Two positions will be at the level of assistant professor, and one will be open as to rank.

We are looking for candidates who can work in a strong interdisciplinary program and advance a vital area of research. Possible areas of expertise include but are not limited to: media industries, institutions, publics, and policy; digital media; media and social networks; technology, work, and organizations; computer-mediated communication, human-computer interaction, global media, information infrastructures, and history of communication and information technologies.

The Department of Communication Studies supports a popular undergraduate major and graduate programs in Media, Technology, and Society, Interaction and Social Influence, and Rhetoric and Public Culture. Scholarship includes leading work on new media, technology and society, social networks, and the cultural determination of the public sphere. Through special resources for research support and scholarly event programming, the department is able to offer rich opportunities for scholarly development.

Northwestern University is an equal opportunity, affirmative action educator and employer. Women and minorities are encouraged to apply. Hiring is contingent on eligibility to work in the United States.

Applications should be sent to Professor Noshir Contractor, Chair, MTS Search Committee, Department of Communication Studies, Northwestern University, 2240 Campus Drive, Evanston, IL 60208-3545. Applications should include a CV, evidence of teaching effectiveness, and three letters of recommendation.

Initial review of applications will begin on October 31, 2008, with continual reviews of subsequently-received applications until all positions are filled or a final review deadline of December 31, 2008 is reached.

At Berkman

Monday, September 22nd, 2008

I’m on leave this year as a Fellow at Harvard’s Berkman Center for Internet & Society. Berkman is an amazing community of people working on important and exciting projects concerning the social and policy aspects of the Internet. In just three weeks of affiliation, I’ve already participated in countless wonderful conversations with people who share my passion for studying digital media and have learned lots about related issues. My main goal for the year is to write a book on Internet use and social inequality. My biggest challenge will be staying focused on that task instead of starting up numerous collaborations with my colleagues given the many areas of overlap in our interests.

Berkman sponsors some great events that are open to the public. This Tuesday evening will be one such event: a talk and reception celebrating the recent release of the book Born Digital by John Palfrey and Urs Gasser. I’m still working on a separate post about the book, but wanted to post a note now given the date of the event. This will be a great opportunity to meet lots of people affiliated with the Digital Natives project upon which the book is based.

After all this time…

Sunday, September 14th, 2008

I’m on leave this year and enjoying catching up with old colleagues and meeting new ones. I was at a reception the other day and was graciously introduced by a famous senior sociologist to a visiting senior sociologist as an “[insert some very kind words] scholar who studies the social aspects of Internet use”. The visitor laughed. No one else laughed though so quickly, smile wiped from his face, he said: “oh, you’re serious.”

Yup, seriously, there is this Internets thing and there are some interesting and important social science questions one can – and *gasp* I will even claim should – ask about it. As shocking as this may be, some places might go so far as to give you tenure if you do it well enough.

So a shoutout to all of my amazingly wonderful mentors and colleagues over the years who’ve supported me in this endeavor, I certainly don’t take that for granted.

Herr Professor Daddy? I didn’t think so.

Tuesday, August 19th, 2008

I love my MommyAnyone who thinks male and female professors are treated equally by students is clueless. Just recently I came across a couple of examples that are very illustrative of this point. A friend of mine told me that her undergraduate advisees gave her a photo of themselves in a picture frame that says: “I love my Mommy”. (Apologies for the pathetic illustration accompanying this post, but given the time I put into it, I’m posting it.) Then just a few days later, I came across the following note on Twitter:

A friend of mine just bought this (as a gag) for her diss. director

Yes, click on the link. I’ll tell you where it leads, but you’ll appreciate it better if you see the image. The link is to a children’s book called “My Beautiful Mommy”. Raise your hand if you’re a male professor and students have given you similar gifts “as a gag”. No one? Shocking.

I can see the comments already: “If female profs are more caring then what’s wrong with students expressing their appreciation for that?”

First of all, students demand much more emotional work from female professors than they do of male profs. If the women don’t provide it, they are often viewed as cold bitchy profs that don’t care about students. Although I don’t know of any systematic studies of what types of topics students bring up during interactions with professors by gender, I have heard plenty of anecdotal evidence suggesting that female profs get approached much more by students wanting to talk about life issues than male profs. (More generally speaking, there is literature on how gender influences teaching evaluations, here are some older references.)

Second, there are plenty of ways to express appreciation that don’t involve putting the female prof in a mothering role, a role that certainly isn’t emphasizing her academic strengths and credentials. As my friend noted, a gift of this sort makes her feel as though her only contribution to the students’ success was in shepherding them through their projects and not in providing intellectual stimulation, helping them professionally, or contributing to the creation of new well-trained researchers. Maybe, just maybe, she’d like to be recognized for her intellectual contributions and the part of mentoring that involves the research aspects of her job. And while it would be neat if mothering was equated with all of those things, don’t kid yourself. Of course there is nothing wrong with being compassionate and caring, but it’s not what tends to be rewarded professionally in academia.

Chat with me at ASA

Wednesday, July 30th, 2008

For those going to the annual meetings of the American Sociological Association meetings, the following may be of interest. My department (Communication Studies) in the School of Communication at Northwestern is likely to be hiring for several positions this Fall in the area of Media, Technology and Society. We have a great interdisciplinary program with lots of smart and interesting folks. If you’d like to hear more about it and will be at ASA, please send me a note so we can set up a time to chat.

Revisiting a topic given changes in the landscape

Thursday, June 12th, 2008

In the comments thread over on Crooked Timber about homepages of academics, reader Oisin asks:

I’m a PhD philosophy student, entering my 2nd year; is maintaining a blog a good idea for a PhD student, in addition to having a homepage? Or is it perhaps a bad idea? And if so, why?

How having a blog may influence an academic’s career is a topic that’s been discussed a lot among bloggers in the past. Nonetheless, taking it up once again in light of changes in the blogging landscape makes sense. As I consider the question, I will note some significant differences among blog types and why the term “blog” has limited utility.

To blog or not to blog is not really the question. What parts of one’s self one wants to portray publicly and to a professional community is more the issue at hand.

What do I mean by “changes in the blogging landscape”? The practice of blogging keeps on spreading well beyond the geeky tech-savvy realms of its initial years. I don’t just mean the practice of authoring blogs, but the understanding of what blogs are and the practice of reading them.* Given this change in who is aware of and reading blogs, maintaining one may mean something different today than it did a few years ago so I think it’s worth another discussion.

I started blogging (in May, 2002) just a few months before going on the academic job market. I don’t recall concerns about negative repercussions, but by then I had already been maintaining a mailing list with hundreds of subscribers and mainly saw the value in an activity of the sort (e.g., dissemination of ideas, meeting people) rather than potential concerns. In any case, at that time few people on hiring committees knew what a blog was much less would have been reading them so I think it is easy to argue that blogging at that point may well have influenced an academic’s career less than it might today, for better or for worse.

As I have watched blogging become more mainstream in some circles (e.g., what’s up with the recent upsurge in bloggers among sociologists?), I’ve started to wonder, again, about the potential career consequences of blogging especially given that it is sometimes done in ways I would not necessarily consider conducive to one’s career.

But the general question of whether an academic should blog is complicated. There are several issues at hand and these may all influence its desirability.

First, should one blog under one’s own name or under a pseudonym and how does this decision influence things? Next, what are the types of topics one should cover? Should one stick to or avoid research, current events, professionalization topics, teaching, personal information, pop culture, anything and everything in between? What style should one use (professional, chatty, combative, arrogant**, etc.)? What should be the frequency of posts (several times a day, every couple of days, few times a month)? These are just some of the considerations and potential variations in blogs and how they and their authors may be perceived.

It is precisely this long list of variables that makes it nearly impossible to give general advice about whether an academic (at the grad student level, junior faculty level or any other level for that matter) should or should not blog. I continue to believe that there are potential benefits to blogging, both personal and professional. However, I also think, increasingly, as I come across all sorts of blogs, that some people are likely not being helped by their blogging. For example, if you write under your own name and do so in a style that suggests you think very highly of your smarts yet your posts seem to suggest that you are not very bright then it is hard to see how that would be beneficial (but perhaps it is not detrimental either). On the other hand, if you write really smart commentary, but do so under a secret identity, it is not clear how that is going to be helpful either. (On that note I should add that it seems extremely rare in the case of academic pseudonymous blogging that the identity of the author is not revealed eventually, at least to some, which is something for folks choosing that path to keep in mind.)

So my overall advice? Be smart about your online presence, whether on blog or on email. Realize that what you write – whether under a pseudonym or not – may well be connected to you later so it should be material you are willing to stand up for in situations other than the privacy of your living room (where much of blog writing is likely drafted).

What does it mean to “be smart” in this realm? This is where people will likely disagree, which is why I hesitate to give more fine-grained advice. Personally, I find it off-putting when people’s style suggests that they think highly of themselves, but little of their writing delivers.

But styles can also add something positive to otherwise mundane topics. For example, I don’t know if early in one’s career (or any other time for that matter) is the time to advertise a series of professional rejections broadly (e.g., blog post about having been rejected from a conference followed by a blog post about having been rejected from a journal followed by a blog post about having been rejected in a fellowship application process). On the other hand, even such information could be conveyed in a way that suggests a reflective and careful thinker.

Alternatively, if a graduate student is trying to be part of a professional blogging community – that is, s/he is mainly engaging in conversation with other people from the field – then it may not make sense to focus a string of posts on something like having spent a day at the beach, a day watching football, and a day baking cookies. Nonetheless, if done in a witty, interesting and insightful way, that could be fine as well.

Perhaps where I am going with this is that if it is more likely to be a personal journal of brief notes about one’s everydays then it is not clear why it would need to be linked to a professional community (and thus I would keep the blog separate from a professional homepage and I would not necessarily link to it when commenting on blogs of colleagues). However, if one engages in topics of broader appeal then it can make sense to make that part of one’s public persona as it can be beneficial to come to be known as an interesting and careful thinker.

All of this brings me back to a point I have been making for a while (but to which I cannot find a reference at the moment, perhaps mostly having made this point in talks): the term “blog” is of limited utility as it refers to so many different genres. This applies in the academic realm as well as others. Whether an academic should or should not maintain a blog is partly dependent on how one defines, understands and approaches the writing and communicating with others. Instead of asking oneself whether one should blog, I’d ponder its intended purpose and goals, and contemplate answers to the questions I listed above.

And one important final point. Ultimately, whether one gets hired or gets a promotion will have a lot to do with one’s academic record. In that sense, much of the above may be irrelevant except to consider whether blogging is eating into one’s research time or time otherwise spent on, say, watching reruns of Law & Order (totally random example I pulled out of nowhere;).

[*] That said, I have to share one of my recent Twitter messages here: “reality check: Man taking photos of pastry in store with high-end camera, seller asks if he’s a blogger; response: what’s that?”

[**] For the record, I don’t actually believe that many people make a conscious decision about wanting to write in an arrogant style, but some end up doing so and there is little appealing about it.

The importance of Web sites for academics

Monday, June 9th, 2008

A propos the discussion of CVs for academics going on the job market, I’ve been meaning to post about the importance of having some Web presence, especially a homepage one maintains with information about one’s work.

I’ve been continually surprised over the years about how many academics fail to take advantage of the Web as a medium for disseminating their work. This seems especially important in the case of those actively seeking a job in the near future.

Whenever I go to a conference, I’m on the lookout for students doing interesting work. Recently, I saw a few impressive presentations and wanted to follow up by learning more about these students. I know we’ll be hiring next year and I wanted to share information about these potential candidates with my colleagues. I looked them up online so I’d have more to go on. Nothing. This is an opportunity missed.

What should a basic homepage include? It should have information that a CV would contain, but the nice thing about a Web site is that it can easily include additional information. In the least, abstracts of published papers would be helpful. Of course, most helpful is to have full copies of these papers. While copyright issues may arise, preprints are almost always okay to post.

Although I don’t encourage students to post too many details about papers not yet accepted for publication, it is possible to mention one’s areas of interests and expertise and that will give visitors a better sense of one’s work than no information whatsoever.

CVs for the academic job market

Monday, June 9th, 2008

Over on Scatterplot, there is a discussion of how CVs should look when students (or recent graduates) are applying for academic jobs.

I wrote a long comment that I figured I would reproduce here (with some editing for context). My experience comes from having applied to numerous positions when I was on the job market in 2002 (with several on-campus visits and then job offers resulting) and from having sat on a couple of hiring committees in addition to seeing CVs of additional folks who’ve been interviewed in my department and some others on campus over the past few years.

One way to approach putting together one’s CVs for an academic job application is to look at the CVs of people who’ve gotten jobs recently, jobs of interest to the candidate. If someone’s been out for a few years, it’s fine to ask them for a copy of their CV from the time when they were on the market. (On that note, it’s also worth asking people for a copy of their application letters.)

Overall, it’s important to put the most important information on the first couple of pages. What’s most important? This partly depends on the type of job (top research department vs liberal arts college vs lots of other possibilities). My comments are mainly about applying to top research departments in sociology, communication and some related fields.

Order – For top research positions, I’d start with degrees (including school, field, year), then perhaps a line or two about interests followed by publications, grants and awards, invited presentations then conference presentations, followed by teaching and service. If it’s a type of department where teaching may be more important than research then I may put teaching above presentations to signal its importance. Another place to emphasize teaching is in the application letter as well as by including additional materials in the packet such as teaching philosophy or teaching evaluations.

Formatting – Please skip any fancy formatting, fancy paper or fancy binding. The latter, especially, can be very distracting. The last time I was on a hiring committee, there were a few files where the applicant put his/her material in an additional folder. (The staff putting together the materials tend to create folders for each applicant anyway.) Sometimes, these folders make the CVs and other materials harder to access. I realize it may sound ridiculous that it would be a notable nuisance to deal with this, but when you have just a few hours (yes, that’s the reality of the situation) to go through 100+ applications then any such distractions make a difference.

Papers that have been submitted to a journal for review and have been invited for resubmission – These should be listed, although I’d prefer to see them in a section separate from Publications. One possibility is to have a separate section called “Papers Under Review” where the first entries can be the ones with an R&R (“revise and resubmit) status. However, I would not list specific journal, if for no other reason, because it compromises the blind review process.

Papers under review – I hate seeing these on CVs, but I have experienced colleagues bringing them up in discussion at earlier stages in the process. While I don’t believe it does someone any good at the long-short list stage, it may help in retaining a name/file for that stage. (That is, when the committee is working its way from 100+ applications to, say, 20-30, these entries may help keep a file in the pile.) My preference – as a committee member on the other end – would be to see this under a separate section after publications as noted above.

Unpublished papers not under review – Some folks will list papers that are not under review (e.g., XYZ Title. ABC Department. Unpublished Manuscript). I would not include these. If anything, I’m left wondering why they haven’t been submitted for review if they are full papers.

Declined awards – If these are off-campus awards then I would mention them. These tend to be declined either because the recipient also received another award that created a conflict or for personal reasons, neither of which signal professional concerns (in fact, the former suggests that the recipient is very resourceful in successfully applying for several awards).

Dissertation abstract – While I’ve certainly seen people include this (and have seen such friends get good jobs) I personally hate to see CV space wasted on this. There are plenty of other places in the packet where one can include this information (most notably as a paragraph in the application letter). I turn to the CV for a quick glance at the main accomplishments such as publications, grants and awards. That said, most of our searches tend to be pretty broad so we’re not necessarily looking for very specific things. I guess if a department had a very specific need to fill then perhaps one could communicate a match in the abstract.

Tailoring to job specifics – If a deparment is looking for something specific (i.e., it’s not an open search) then it’s a good idea to tailor either the letter or the CV (or both) to the position.

All-in-all, I’d draft a CV and show it to faculty in one’s department for feedback (obvious person being one’s advisor, but getting feedback from additional faculty can also be helpful).

Congrats to this person

Monday, April 7th, 2008

I didn’t know Brian Donovan until I saw this video he posted on YouTube after which I feel like I know him a tiny bit. He’s an alum of the Northwestern Sociology Department and he’d been involved with the excellent Culture Workshop that I attend whenever I can. That’s how I heard about his tenure and this fun way in which he’s decided to let people know about it. Congrats, Brian!

A day in the life…

Tuesday, February 5th, 2008

Whoa, I guess I won’t be reading any blogs (or emails for that matter) today.

Here is my schedule:

8:30am – Breakfast with job candidate
10am-noon – 4 one-on-one meetings with students one after the other
noon-1pm – Attending job candidate’s talk
1:30-7pm – 11 one-on-one meetings with students (straight through, obviously)
7pm-? – Dinner with colleagues and job candidate

So yeah, this many meetings is not usual, but I thought the students from my undergraduate writing seminar would benefit from some one-on-one discussions of their research statements.

Just another 12+ hour day. Wish me luck.

Video of talk at the Berkman Center

Saturday, November 3rd, 2007

As I mentioned earlier, I gave a talk at Harvard Law School’s Berkman Center for Internet and Society the other day. The folks at Berkman have kindly posted a video of the talk and discussion. Some interesting issues came up in the Q&A leading to an engaging conversation so I recommend that part in particular. (The talk itself was relatively short, less than 25 minutes, followed by over half an hour of discussion.)

Talk at Berkman

Monday, October 29th, 2007

I’m speaking in the Berkman Center Luncheon Series this Tuesday. (The Berkman Center for Internet & Society is based at Harvard Law School and is home to several exciting projects on IT and policy.) I will present recent findings from survey data on young adults’ digital media uses. The event will be webcast, which may be of interest to those who’d like to hear the talk, but are not in the Boston area.

Upcoming travel

Wednesday, October 17th, 2007

I’ll be on the road in the next few weeks, let me know if our paths might cross:

* Vancouver, BC – Association of Internet Researchers annual meeting
* Milwaukee, WI – Research Symposium on Mobility and Social Networks in Information Behavior (sponsored by SIG USE of ASIST)
* Ann Arbor, MI – Talk in the Communication Studies Department at the University of Michigan
* Cambridge, MA – Talk at the Berkman Center, Harvard Law School

Once all that is over, things might even pick up around here.