Tag: academia (page 3 of 13)

Academic Parenting 101: parental leave erosion

Academics are generally pretty lucky when it comes to parental leave- at least on paper. Many universities provide more leave than the minimum required by governments (so more than nothing in the US), yet there are several aspects of our careers that cause parental leave erosion. I should say from the outset that I had a generally supportive and positive experience while on leave last year, but I’ve also found several sources of leave erosion. *I acknowledge that there are many different types of parents taking parental leave, and I’m mainly drawing on my experience, or those of close friends in the field. I’d love to hear other experiences.

1. Pre-leave ‘make up’ work: This is a typical scenario: parents learn they are expecting, figure out when they are taking leave, and start working overtime to get ‘extra’ things done before the leave. In some ways this is understandable; it makes sense to want to wrap things up, tick things off a list etc before baby arrives. However, the idea that we need to work extra hard so that the parental leave doesn’t ‘put us behind’ or give some kind of disadvantage places unrealistic expectations on parents. Doing more work before your leave also means you (and your colleagues) treat your parental leave as a reshuffling of work, rather than time away from work. This kind of extra stress is the last thing that parents-to-be need, especially since pregnancy can be really terrible. You might be flat on your back trying to hold down any type of sustenance rather than writing your opus in the 8th month- and that’s ok. Parents don’t need to ‘earn’ their leave- and working extra, taking on extra roles etc before baby arrives means you donate time to the university and treat the arrival of the baby as the ‘finish line’ rather than the starting gate.

2. Parental leave free labor: I blame sabbaticals for this. While on sabbatical staff that are ‘away’ are still expected to respond to emails (even if it is slowly) and somewhat maintain their visibility and roles in the department. But parental leave is, and should be, different: parents take it because they have a new baby, not because they are focusing more of their attention to one aspect of their job. Also, most parental leave involves a pay reduction- so from a purely economic sense, parents are not getting paid to do their job anymore, they are paid to be parents, on leave. But that’s not reality. Most parents on leave end up responding to emails, doing copy edits on articles/books that are in the publication pipeline, writing reference letters, providing annual reports to funders, giving advice or feedback to grad students, and maybe even reviewing. These are tasks that one is almost obliged to do in order to sustain a minimum lifeline as an academic, but it is UNPAID LABOR. Continue reading

Tuesday Linkage

Editor’s note: this post previously appeared on my personal blog. I’ve been doing links posts on Tuesdays over there for a while now, so I guess I might as well start cross-listing them.

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Translating Conference-Speak

I’m leaving for the Midwest Political Science Association conference this afternoon, a wonderful 3 days since I returned from ISA.  I’m a little (*cough*) “conferenced-out” – it wasn’t a good idea to do both conferences so close to each other.  I am excited, however, to see all the fabulous IO panels at Midwest.

As I finished up the last of my conference slides this morning, I was reflecting on the “conference-ese” we all use and what our phrases actually mean.  To the untrained participant, the phrase might not get noticed.  For the seasoned conference participant, however, it is obvious what the phrase really means.  Let me translate some of these:

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Imposters at the ISA?

Long ago, Dan Drezner posted about the imposter syndrome.  The basic idea is that many folks feel as if they will be found out, that there are other folks out there that are smarter, more informed and that one is just getting away with being less than that until eventually getting found out.

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Academic Family Tree


Almost exactly three years ago, Patrick Thaddeus Jackson blogged “Who’s Your Grand-Advisor? Crowdsourcing an IR lineage map” at the Duck. Patrick was searching for an academic family tree website with a focus on international relations:

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Some Personal Reflections on Social Media and Tenure

Editor’s note: this post first appeared on my personal blog.

As some of you may know, I’m up for tenure this year, and it’s not going to work out. I don’t want to get into the details of anything that ought not be discussed in public, but I thought I’d share some quick thoughts that some of you might find to be of interest.

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Tenure Letters: To Sling or to Shoot Arrows?

This piece has been making waves in the academic world (for a much better set of recommendations, see this piece).  It gets much attention because it both identifies a real problem and then suggests awful ways to handle it.  The latter is easier to deal with quickly.  However, first let me be clear–what I am talking about here are the letters that universities ask outside scholars to write as they evaluate candidates for tenure and/or promotion.  The basic idea is that these letters serve two purposes (at least):

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Ranking IR Journals

Editor’s note: this is a guest post by Brian J. Phillips, of the Center for Research and Teaching in Economics.

What are the best International Relations journals? How do we know if one journal is better than another? And how should this affect your decision about where to send a manuscript?

I recently worked on a ranking of IR journals at the behest of an institution, and this blog post shares some of the information I learned in the process. This might be helpful for graduate students and junior faculty still getting a feel for where to send manuscripts. A number of questions came up during the process, and while they perhaps can never be fully resolved, I’ll leave them here for your consideration.

Scholars publish in journals for a variety of reasons. Most fundamentally, it is done to communicate with the community for the purpose of advancing scientific knowledge.

Academic publishing is also a way, to a large degree the way, that a scholar shows her or his value – to the department, the university, and the discipline. For those of us hoping to keep our jobs, or move on to better jobs, where we publish is essential.

This post focuses on article publications, as opposed to books or chapters. How do our peers evaluate our articles? The content of an article might have certain intrinsic value – a genuine contribution independently of where it is published – but it is much easier for committees to evaluate an article based on the prestige of the journal in which it was published.

Surveys and citation indexes

There are two primary ways to order journals: surveys and citation indexes. Regarding surveys, the Teaching, Research, and International Policy project surveys IR scholars regularly to get their opinions on a host of issues, including journal prestige.

Below are the results of the 2011 survey, the most recent. Scholars were asked to list the four journals that publish articles with the greatest influence in IR (page 52 of the report). Other surveys rank Political Science journals generally, which often include IR journals, and some examples include McLean et al. 2009 and Giles and Garand 2007.

TRIPS rank Journal
1 International Organization
2 International Studies Quarterly
3 International Security
4 Foreign Affairs
6 World Politics
7 European Journal of International Relations
8 Journal of Conflict Resolution
9 Foreign Policy
10 Review of International Studies
11 Millennium: Journal of International Studies
13 International Affairs
14 Security Studies
15 Review of International Political Economy
16 Journal of Peace Research
17 International Studies Review
18 International Relations
19 Comparative Politics
20 Global Governance


One issue that might jump out at readers is the inclusion of non-peer-reviewed publications: Foreign Affairs and Foreign Policy. It’s not clear that FA and FP are directly comparable to double blind peer-reviewed journals because the publication process is so different.

An additional issue with this list is that because it is a global survey, some scholars might not be familiar with journals published in different regions. For example, some U.S. scholars might not be familiar with all of the European journals. This speaks to regional differences, and that scholars often communicate regionally more than globally.

(All of the journals discussed in this blog post are in English, and come from the developed world – important issues, but perhaps beyond the scope of this humble post.)

Regarding citation indexes, one of the most commonly used is the Thomson-Reuters Journal Citation Reports. There are various metrics, and the table below uses the two-year Impact Factor, which is basically the number of times the average article in the journal is cited in the following two years. (For a helpful Duck post on Thomson-Reuters rankings, see here.)

  Impact Factor Journal
1 3.916 American Political Science Review
2 3.025 World Politics
3 2.98 International Organization
4 2.756 American Journal of Political Science
5 2.333 International Security
6 2.237 Journal of Conflict Resolution
7 1.98 Journal of Peace Research
8 1.537 World Development
9 1.536 British Journal of Political Science
10 1.478 Journal of Politics
11 1.381 International Political Sociology
12 1.352 European Journal of International Relations
13 1.308 Journal of Common Market Studies
14 1.265 International Studies Quarterly
15 1.118 Review of International Organizations
16 1.11 Review of International Studies
17 1.097 Human Rights Quarterly
18 1.039 Review of International Political Economy
19 0.915 Terrorism and Political Violence
20 0.902 Cooperation and Conflict
21 0.864 Security Studies
22 0.826 Conflict Management and Peace Science
23 0.74 International Studies Review
24 0.7 International Interactions
25 0.691 Millennium: Journal of International Studies
26 0.65 Studies in Comp. and Intl. Development
27 0.613 Survival
28 0.533 International Relations
29 0.487 Studies in Conflict and Terrorism
30 0.435 Global Governance


The list above is ordered according to Impact Factors, but the decision of which journals to include was my decision for the purposes of this blog post. The list is probably incomplete, but it represents an effort to include many of the well-known IR journals. Some might argue that general journals (APSR, AJPS, BJPS, JOP) should not be on an IR list, but of course these journals contain important IR articles.

This indicates a central challenge of rankings with citation indexes: Which journals should be on a list of IR journals? Impact factors can help order journals, but not decided the contents of the list. Thomson-Reuters has a somewhat odd idea of IR, so individuals or institutions using their rankings might need to add or remove journals. This is discussed more in the Duck post mentioned above.

For an alternate take on citation metrics, see Google Scholar’s ranking of IR journals. This is their list of journals filed under “Diplomacy and International Relations” and one notices some overlaps with the lists above, but also some perhaps odd journals, and some absences. As with Thomson-Reuters and other databases, one can search for a journal to find its score, and create a new ranking of journals based upon one’s own criteria for inclusion.

The problems with citation indexes are many (for example, see this), but they are one way to attempt to sort journals. We can mitigate problems with these rankings by creating a hybrid ranking also using survey data, and inevitably some qualitative criteria.


Whether using surveys or citation indexes, a number of important questions arise. The answers to these questions are basically qualitative, and will depend highly on departmental norms, regional norms, and so forth.

How are general journals valued relative to IR journals?

For example, most of us would probably agree that it is better seen by our departments and the discipline to publish in APSR instead of a mid-tier IR journal. However, it gets muddier as we talk about other general journals vs. highly-ranked IR journals. Is it better to publish in JOP or ISQ? PRQ or JPR? PRQ or CMPS?

How are comparative journals valued relative to IR journals?

The line between CP and IR is blurry, especially for those doing research on political economy or subnational violence. CPS and CP have lower impact factors (1.186 and .711 respectively) than some IR journals like JCR and JPR. Of course it’s important for comparativists to have publications in top Comparative journals. It is less clear how an IR scholar will be evaluated for publishing in Comparative journals.

How do we compare (no pun intended) an article in CP with an article in ISQ, JCR, or other valued IR journals? For this question, the answer might depend on if the scholar is worried about being viewed as “not IR enough,” and in that case she or he might not want to submit to a comparative journal.

How are policy journals valued relative to more theoretical journals?

This question likely depends greatly on one’s department – policy school or political science? If a department values more policy-oriented research, it will likely give more influence to a publication in Security Studies or Survival than impact factor alone might dictate. Independently of department preferences, hopefully you know the fit of your manuscript, and this will help in deciding between International Security and JCR, for example.

This gets at a wider point: the value of an article in a journal depends greatly on what a department expects of its faculty, and how an individual scholar is trying to shape her or his profile. Overall, the rankings help identify important journals, but the final ordering likely hinges on many qualitative criteria.

Are there other important questions raised by these rankings? How else can we determine the value of article publications in a systematic, transparent, and fair manner?

Shouldn’t we call it the “having-a-husband” penalty?

As Jennifer Grose at Slate reported this morning, a paper by Wendy Stock and John Siegfried at the most recent AEA meetings, had some very disturbing – but not surprising – findings in regarding women academics and marriage.  The Slate article calls it the “wife penalty.”  I’d prefer it to be called the “having-a-husband penalty.”  In no uncertain terms, having a husband costs:

“For males, getting married within the first five years after graduation was associated with a 25 percent salary growth premium relative to other males. For females,however, getting married was associated with a 23 percent salary growth penalty relative to other females, perhaps reflecting compromises incurred in a two-career job search”  (Stock and Siegfried 2014, 14-15).

The paper is available for download at the AEA site.

One interesting thing I noted:  it also appears that marriage at time of degree could be a short-term boost:

“we found that marriage was significantly associated with salary growth, with those who were married at the time they earned their degree experiencing roughly 15 percent higher salary growth over the first five years of their careers”  (Stock and Siegfried 2014, 14).

I wonder if this is due to issues of age or self-selection, something previously discussed at the Duck

*Thanks to Justin Esarey for bringing this article to my attention.

Dear Kansas Board of Regents

Dear Kansas Board of Regents,

Greetings.  You probably don’t know me but I’ve been a long-time user of your services.  I started my college career taking dual-credit courses at Pratt Community College in 1996, I attended the Kansas Board of Regents Honors Academy in 1998, and I am a graduate of one of your fine institutions, Kansas State University.  After getting my PhD, I even returned to Kansas State for 3 years as an assistant professor.

I “did good” as a professor at Kansas State – I published a lot, won a big teaching award, and didn’t make waves.  Like a lot of people in my generation, I also had a Facebook account.  I proudly displayed my work information on the account – I wanted others to know that I was a K-State grad and professor.  I left K-State in the Fall of 2012 for a better position at a better department and university.  It was a good decision.  There really wasn’t anything wrong with K-State and I still keep in close contact with many of my friends and former colleagues in Kansas.

Last night – on Facebook in fact –  I learned that you just adopted a new social media policy.  I read the policy with great interest.  In many regards, I think it is completely reasonable.  Of course I know not to incite violence in my Facebook or blogging activities; I also know not to post confidential information about students.  It’s your other point that worries me: improper use of social media includes things that are “contrary to the best interest of the university.”  Wow.  Talk about scary.  As Philip Nel – a K-State English professor I actually took a class with in 2000 – wrote in his blog (also cited in the Inside Higher Ed article):

 “As faculty grade their last student papers and exams before leaving town for the Christmas holidays, the Kansas Board of Regents quietly — and unanimously — voted to revoke their academic freedom and basic right to freedom of speech.”

I didn’t start blogging until after I left K-State.  However, if this policy had been in place while I was at K-State or was in place at my current university, I don’t know if I would have.  I also don’t think I would risk posting anything on Facebook or Twitter as a professor at one of your colleges or universities.  “Best interest of the university?”  What does that mean?  I one time posted something on Facebook about how my office at K-State was never heated properly.  Is that in the “best interest of the university?”  Probably not – we wouldn’t want outsiders to know that facilities are sub-par.

“Best interest of the university” could also mean I should never post about my current research.  Let me give you an example – I study human rights and am working on a paper with Victor Asal and Udi Sommer on how advocacy concerning LGBT rights influences the rights for sexual minorities to marry.  This right is not in line with the Governor of the State of Kansas, Sam Brownback, who actually appoints your board.  So, if I write a post about my current research, would that be against the “best interest of the university”?  We all know that Brownback’s staff really likes to search for anti-Brownback tweets (even of high schoolers)– would a blog at the Duck on that subject get me in hot water if I taught in Kansas?  I sure hope not.

In short, I’m saddened by the potential misuse of your new policy.  I hope my former K-State colleagues also express their dismay.  However, if I was them, I’d be hesitant to express my dismay on any sort of social media.

Best regards,


The Good Old Days

When people lament about how broken academia is now (for example Higgs of Higgs-Boson), I am so tempted to generalize about the olden days:

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Academia, Drug Cartels, and Inappropriate Analogies

gangsta duckGiven the intricacies of our job and the cushy lifestyle most academics live in, it disconcerting when academics use improper and incorrect analogies to describe the intricacies of their job. The latest is the idea that drug cartels and academia are similar enterprises. While I understand the spirit of the idea, the basic assumptions are insensitive and damaging. They represent the the pondering of a privileged academic stuck in the ivory tower.

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The Holiday Boost: Why You Should Submit a Manuscript before Winter Break

What does any faculty member REALLY want for the holidays?  It’s not a Lexus, it’s not jewelry, it’s a brand new revise-and-resubmit (R&R) manuscript.  It’s really all that is on my list every year.  That and, of course, world peace.

How can one get an R&R manuscript?  So far, I think R&R decisions are the result of the following four conditions:

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Mixing Scholarly with Blogging Identities

[Note:  This is a guest post from Mira Sucharov and Brent E. Sasley.  Mira Sucharov is Associate Professor of Political Science at Carleton University in Ottawa, Canada. She blogs at Haaretz.com and at Open Zion. Follow her on Twitter.  Brent Sasley is Associate Professor in the Department of Political Science at the University of Texas at Arlington. He blogs at Mideast Matrix. Follow him on Twitter.]

Changes to our technology and to our scholarly norms present new challenges to scholars who engage in the public sphere. More and more academics in Political Science, and especially International Relations, are blogging, tweeting, and writing for online magazines like Foreign Policy, Foreign Affairs, and The National Interest, while many with specialization in a specific region or issue-area contribute to region- or issue-specific media.

There is a small but expanding literature on how these changes do and should affect the scholarly enterprise. Often hidden beneath such discussions is how all this affects the scholar herself. There is an inherent assumption that scholars are just that—dispassionate analysts who can look at a set of evidence and draw objective conclusions from it. Continue reading

The Token Woman on Hiring Committees: time for a change

Policies and practices set up to avoid discrimination in the past have a tendency to expire. Remember, ‘Don’t Ask Don’t Tell’ was originally set up to protect gay service-members within the US forces. Similarly, the often unofficial rule of having one woman on hiring committees has reached its expiry date. Primarily as a result of effective equality and diversity campaigns in the 1980s and early 1990s, many departments instituted either an explicit or informal policy to include ‘at least’ one woman on each hiring committee- usually after finding that most hiring committees included no women, and most hires were men. The result- in many cases- has been that there has been one woman on hiring committees in academia for nearly 3 decades. The problem is that while the number of female PhD graduates increases, and the number of female applicants increases, the lonely- token- woman on the hiring committee remains standard practice at many institutions. Sure, there is evidence that women can be just as sexist as men when it comes to hiring practices; however, there is also evidence that women offer a different perspective than men (particularly in terms of ‘what constitutes-good/real- political science‘). Changing the makeup of hiring committees could be an opportunity to change a hiring culture in academia in which men are not only more likely to be hired, but will also be paid more and promoted faster than their female counterparts.

Let’s focus on tokenism. The one-woman policy constitutes tokenism for at least three reasons: Continue reading

Why I Didn’t Quit Academia

There have been a spate of posts about why folks have quit academia…. so much so that Dan Drezner issued this challenge:

The power of mentorship: a reflection

In the Monkey Cage’s recent symposium on gender and political science,  David Lake writes how important it is that our scholarly networks become less gendered, how male scholars must make an effort to mentor women in the field.  In my view, the importance of mentorship cannot be understated.  Without the support of several scholars in security studies, not all but many of them men, I may have indeed decided that this field was not for someone like me.

In my first year of graduate school, I was beginning to see myself as more of an “IR theory” than a “security studies” student (yes, whatever that means).  But in May of 1997, our department administrator called me into her office to talk teaching assistant assignments.  “We’d like you to be a T.A. for Warner Schilling’s class,” she said.  I was thrilled, but terrified.  The course was “Weapons, Strategy, and War,” and if there was one thing I was absolutely certain about, it was that I did not know enough about weapons, or strategy, or war to be teaching anyone anything about those topics.  And, having taken this course with Schilling, I knew that this was not for the faint of heart.  I would have to guide undergraduates through the basics of shot and pike, of column and line, of counterforce and McNamara curves.  I very simply was not qualified.

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Citation Counts are Like Democracy

There is much gnashing about citations of late.  This tweet inspired the ensuing spew below:

But also this series of posts at the Monkey Cage last week on gender bias in citations (the link points to the final piece in the series, so it has links to the rest of the posts) raises questions about using citations as a metric of success.   If the numbers are problematic, what should we do?

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Gender and Inclusion in the Profession

duckThe Monkey Cage has launched a symposium on the gender gap in academia. Jane Mansbridge, Barbara Walter, Sara Mitchell, Lisa Martin, Ryan Powers, Daniel Maliniak, Rick Wilson, Ashley Leeds, Beth Simmons, and David Lake will explore a range of issues over the course of this week.

I know that this symposium will lead to a productive discussion that will move us forward. My political psychologist side would like to see this as well as other conversations about diversity and equality also touch upon perceptions of inclusion. Social and organizational psychologists have long highlighted the importance perceived inclusion-exclusion. Institutional safeguards to prevent discrimination, for example, may not always help minorities “feel” included. “Women and minorities are especially welcome to apply” is a boilerplate we see in job ads in our discipline. Does this really make women feel included? And sometimes inclusion can feel like exclusion. A female scholar may feel like she is being included to fill a quota. Research indicates that female graduate students are more likely to drop out. What is the role of individual beliefs about exclusion in their decision-making? These are not easy questions, but I think confronting explicit and implicit exclusion requires taking perception seriously. Continue reading

PhD or Not a PhD

It wafake ducks perhaps appropriate that yesterday’s tale of a young pundit’s career unraveling due to falsely claimed PhD coincided with the first meeting of the Doctoral Research Seminar I am teaching. Elizabeth O’Bagy had given the impression that she had finished her dissertation, but apparently not so much.  After tweeting about it, I got some push back–how big of a sin is this?  Do academics have a role in gate-keeping/outing those who lie about their credentials?

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