I am seeing that more and more people are attempting to leave tenure-track assistant professor positions 2 to 4 years after taking them with the intention of "trading up" for another job at a more elite university. This then creates a bottleneck of ABDs and postdocs who can't get jobs at top-tier universities because they have to compete with faculty from other universities trying to "trade up" from jobs they already have (and of course most universities can't immediately replace such faculty without a year or two delay which further contributes to the bottleneck effect). Those of you on search committees, is this something that you frequently run into? And in general is this as big of an issue (in your eyes) as I'm making it out to be in this post?
Date: 24 Oct 2015 06:04
Number of posts: 49
RSS: New posts
Not that big of a problem. Maybe 5-10% of total apps. However, that may be larger at the r1s. But remember, it's hard to trade up….so people are putting out feelers but may not be competitive, especially if they're at a regional/liberal arts.
I'm on an SC at a private R1 now and ~10% of our applicants are tenure track asst profs.
We're starting to form a long list and as of now, over half are these asst profs. So you might be on to something here. Also note that the remainder of long list folks are postdocs. We only have 2 ABDs on the list and they're both uber superstars
From the SC perspective, asst profs (and postdocs to a lesser extent) are safer. We know they can get funding. In fact, all but a few of our asst prof applicants have external grants. They've also demonstrated an independent research program away from their PhD advisor. We'd much prefer one of these applicants to an unknown ABD.
Most asst profs, though, aren't applying widely. It seems like all the people we got are trying to move to be closer to family/be in a better location. So I highly doubt the asst profs applying for our job would also be applying to other jobs in a different part of the country
In the grand scheme of things this doesn't reduce the total number of available jobs. This is a continuous process and the jobs other JFs left in prior cycles are available now.
Yeah but the larger question is whether this issue leaves the more desirable jobs less accessible to ABDs and postdocs. And it really does seem like this is the case.
ABDs making it into an r1 are tough anyways. This kind of thing happens all the time…it's not anything new.
And Name is correct. Asst profs do have that advantage of having already set up labs, are independent, etc., but sometimes they get passed over for other reasons.
Really, it's not anything to worry about. People move around in academia all the time.
You might be interested in this article from the chronicle:
It doesn't give psychology stats, but it does seem to show that most jobs in humanities and social sciences go to people pretty close to their PhDs.
I might also suggest that you're seeing an overrepresentation of assistant profs on the wiki. They are more likely to be comfortable with the wiki and have more job search experience, so will be more likely to post.
Seriously how is this not a cohort effect? Look at your advisors and colleagues. How many of them would have had the jobs they have now had they applied for them in the current job market (when they were ABD/postdoc in the 80's/90's)? The game has changed and that's what I was hoping to draw attention to with my initial post.
Anonvirgin are you suggesting more qualified candidates might secure the more desirable jobs? Shocking..
Also look at the number of PhDs being churned out now compared to the 80s/90s. Postdocs were not the norm back then and they are expected now and it's not so much about the competition as it is about establishing independence and maturing.
The tough market is not due to assistant profs moving around. That is a small minority of applicants.