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Choosing a Cover For Your New Book

This is a guest post from Bear Braumoeller, Professor of Political Science at The Ohio State University. Follow him on Twitter @Prof_BearB

Graduate study in the social sciences is overwhelmingly oriented toward the process of researching and writing a dissertation that will become a book. We very rarely talk about any other aspect of publishing—how to approach an editor, how to design a book with a specific audience in mind, or how to (gasp!) market a book.

The latter topic came to mind recently when Professor Matthew Shugart complimented the cover of my forthcoming book and asked what the story was behind it. That question prompted enough discussion that Josh Busby asked me to go into in more detail in a post for Duck of Minerva, in case the answers are of use to other authors who are facing this question.

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Thoughts on making the most of APSA for the alt-ac attendee

Graduation Cap and Diploma on White with Soft Shadow.

C/o Bluestocking, 2008 Uyen Le

APSA is nearly upon us again, and I thought I should write something profession-related as I got back into blogging. My first thought was to make fun of annoying questions, but I already did that (six years ago…but still relevant). And there is a lot of advice floating around for grad students or others on the market. Instead, I thought I’d focus on an area where my experience is more unique: navigating academic conferences while working outside academia (or alt-ac*) and–in my case–trying to get back in.

For just a little context, I am currently in a tenure-track job but had always been on the policy-academia border. I worked in the defense industry in DC before grad school, and continued working part-time after I started (as I attended school in DC). I then switched to the think tank world (working part-time with the Pew Research Center). After graduating, I went on the academic job market but ended up getting policy jobs–first with the University of Maryland’s National Consortium for the Study of Responses to Terrorism (START) and then full-time with Pew. After a few years out, I decided to try the academic job market again, and got my current job.

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The Enemy’s Gate is Down

During my ten days this past summer on the El Paso border, some of the most interesting conversations I had were with the gate guards at a notorious detention facility, Paso del Norte.

These conversations reminded me of something I read as a teenager in a famous science fiction novel. In Orson Scott Card’s famous book Ender Game, in which squads of young boys are trained for battle in zero gravity arenas, protagonist Ender Wiggin realizes that fighting in a new situation (zero gravity) using conventional spatial perspectives could only confuse and disorient. Instead, Ender’s “army” takes advantage of others’ disorientation to achieve a tactical advantage. He has his men shift their perspective to think of “down” as wherever the enemy gate is. They launch from their own gate into the zero gravity arena feet forward instead of face forward, offering smaller targets. But more importantly, this shift helps them adopt a mental perspective of always owning the high ground.

Citizens aiming to combat Trump concentration camp policy need a similar shift in perspective to augment the many ways we already resist. First, much like a zero-gravity situation, the Trump administration has deliberately sought to disorient any resistance and knock the American public off balance, wondering how to resist. By creating and then constantly changing the rules and regulations, Trump makes it difficult for immigration attorneys to help their clients. By establishing and then abruptly closing facilities, Trump makes it difficult to track where detainees are. By unrolling a slew of human-rights-violating policies in drips and drabs, rather than all at once, they keep the opposition off balance.

Because Americans who believe in the rule of law are defending our Constitution in zero gravity, our standard rules of engagement are no longer enough. A combination of adversarial protests and court proceedings are important, and we all must keep calling our congress-people daily. But these strategies also maintain a safe distance from the guards – the actual foot-soldiers in Trumps concentration-camp-industrial complex. The ones whose resignation or refusal to carry out orders may be the one thing that could truly gum up the gears of Trump’s concentration-camp-industrial complex. Americans need to think about expanding our repertoire of direct actions.  

In my travels at the border this summer I found lots of efforts are taking place. But one thing I don’t see citizens doing enough is actually approaching these detention facilities and politely asking the guards to explain and justify themselves. In my new article in The American Prospect, I talk more about what happened when I did just this.

I discovered their definition of a “refugee” is a bit different from what’s codified in the Refugee Convention. “These people’s countries are not at war, so they’re not refugees,” one guard told me. “Maybe they’re fleeing ‘violence’ but there is violence everywhere. You could get murdered in your own community.” Most of all I learned what mattered to these guards: To be seen as upholding an oath to protect the nation, to be able to convince themselves and hopefully all Americans that they were on the right side of history.

Americans can engage these guards and remind them of the Nuremberg principles. We can remind them they are vulnerable to prosecution if they follow orders, but have power—and moral courage—when they resist. Activists can laud heroes like former CPB agent-turned-activist Jenn Budd, who resigned her post due to the cruelty she witnessed and has been speaking out ever since. Citizens can consider the other kinds of assistance that would make it easier for people working in these places to speak out—or turn in their badges— rather than remain loyal to a regime bent on violating the human rights of civilians fleeing conflicts in their home countries.

The simple surprising truth is that these enemies of the people have their gates down. It’s disarming to them when people show up to talk respectfully, rather than protest. What you hear is that they want to be seen as law-abiding citizens, and that gives ordinary citizens room to maneuver.

“We’re just enforcing the law,” they might say.

 “Are you familiar with the Refugee Convention that the United States signed?” I asked. “Are you familiar with Article VI of the U.S. Constitution, that you swore to uphold, which says treaties are the supreme law of the land?” 

“That’s for Congress to decide. Our job is to follow orders,” one of them might say.

“My brother is a US Marine serving in a combat zone in Africa. He would resign or go to prison before obeying an unlawful order to violate a civilian’s human rights. I know you’re as brave as he is. I think you just didn’t know the law before. Am I right?”

“Well, I’ll admit I don’t have Article 6 of the Constitution memorized…”

“Well, I know you’ll check it out once I’m gone.”

This strategy of engaging gate guards, like Ender’s change of tactics in zero gravity, can use a change in perspective to create a tactical advantage. It seizes the moral high ground by turning their role as law enforcers back on them, reminding them they are also bound by law. Showing up for interpersonal dialogue rather than in a mass with cameras shrinks one’s targets space – like entering an arena feet-forward – making it harder for them to fire or arrest and easier for them to disarm. One guard said to me, “It’s pretty innocuous when you come in here with no camera and can just have a conversation as two human beings without yelling and screaming.”  

But when they lie, as I describe at TAP, it leads them into traps.

Above all, interpersonal dialogue with perpetrators works. It reminds them that America is a nation of immigrants who by and large wish to welcome refugees, whose grandfathers bled to defeat the Nazis. That even individual foot-soldiers have legal and moral responsibility. And that so long as there are concentration camps on our land, we will keep asking questions and insisting the law be followed. We’ll keep walking through the gate. 

Read the whole article here.

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Israel’s Un-Machiavellian Prince

This is a guest post from Ben-zion Telefus. He holds a Ph.D. from Bar-Ilan University (2015), where he researched the war on drugs in the US and the EU foreign and security policies. Follow him on Twitter @BenzionTelefus

When Israelis vote in the coming September 17th re-run elections the issue on the ballot will remain the same: Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s political and legal future. Netanyahu’s control over Israel for the past decade led many to describe him as a sophisticated “Machiavellian” politician who mastered every available means to ensure his political power. Yet using the term “Machiavellian” to describe Netanyahu is an injustice to Machiavelli’s political thought and creates a misleading portrait of Netanyahu, who is anything but the prince Machiavelli envisioned.

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A Call for New Guest Ducks

We are looking for you! The fall 2019 semester is upon us, and we’d like to bring on a new cohort of guest Ducks.

The Duck remains a unique blog in terms of our ability to cover a wide variety of topics from IPE to the environment to health to human rights as well as traditional IR topics such as security. We also have freedom to do more academic introspection on the discipline and higher education writ large.

As a guest blogger, you have the freedom to find your voice and the format and length that suits you without an editor. You are free to muse and use the platform to try out new ideas.

We want to privilege new voices and approaches. We would especially welcome more diversity on the blog, including gender, ethnic, and non-North American perspectives.

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Using Pop Culture in the Classroom: Footloose FTW!

I love this tweet as it puts the usual dynamics on their head:

Tip for students going off to college: study 80s/90s pop culture. Particularly Ferris Beuller, Princess Bride, Simpsons seasons 2-5. Your gen x/early millennial profs will try to connect with you through these, and will be confused/sad when you stare blankly at them. Not joking.

— David Mimno (@dmimno) August 2, 2019

Each summer, profs are reminded how much younger the students are and then the onus is on them to update their references.  This tweet nicely makes fun of profs by suggesting the reverse.

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Resistance in an Age of Concentration Camps

Erica Chenoweth et al had a great article in the Monkey Cage yesterday about the Lights For Liberty protests. On June 12, Americans turned out in nearly 700 cities to protest the complex of detention camps along the souther border in which migrants, many of them asylum-seekers from the most dangerous countries on Earth, are being arbitrarily detained without due process and in inhumane, over-crowded facilities, with children illegally separated from caregivers and held in deliberately traumatizing conditions perhaps indefinitely, in violation of both the Constitution and international refugee and human rights law.

As Chenoweth et al note, this movement is only likely to get stronger between now and the election. In fact, it continues apace: in El Paso just last weekend another major inter-faith protest occurred, led by Reverend William Barber, a man sometimes compared to Martin Luther King Jr, and leader of the Moral Mondays movement to spotlight poverty and other great causes. This past Monday Barber lent his voice and inter-faith convening power to the cause of these concentration camps, with a sermon delivered at First Christian Church in El Paso, a peaceful march / direct action at a local detention camp, and a powerful video calling others to the cause:

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Academic (S)mothering Part III: Conferencing

Ah, the sweet time your baby becomes a toddler and maybe lets you sleep for more than 5 hours a night. Your teaching is sort of kind of on track, your scant article submissions get a steady number of rejections so why not try to venture back into the world of academic conferencing? Something not too far away and not too expensive, because as a parent you are too responsible to spend your hard-earned money on conference fees and hotel “discount rates”. So, you dust off your formal clothing (all carefully selected in accordance with the misogynist ideals of appropriate female academic attire) and click with a trembling finger on the “submit” button for your abstract. Lo and behold, the program chair deemed the submission passable, so you double check with partner, in-laws and daycare and soon fly towards your first time away from the baby for more than 9 hours. 

When you have babies no one really tells you that you might have separation anxiety as well. So, you are grateful to the technological progress that allows you to obsessively watch your baby sleep on a monitor or even get him to smile to you on FaceTime for a second because their attention span hasn’t evolved beyond half a minute. You revel in discussions on post-structuralism and post-positivism, delight in the opportunity to discuss that latest methodological article that you managed to read at 3 am, and enjoy not carrying a single wet wipe in your bag. In a whirlwind of presentations and round tables you see your friends whom you haven’t seen since your last conference two years ago (because that’s how you see people), but no late-night cocktails – you cherish your opportunity to actually sleep through the night for the first time in a year and a half too much. 

After abysmal (not the Joey kind) anxiety over your child you start to choose the conferencing opportunities careful: 

  1. Do I need a visa? Because an extra trip to the consulate can make it or break the desire to enjoy “more of a comment than a question”. 
  2. How far away is it? I bet Honolulu is nice, but travelling for almost 24 hours adds extra away days that your partner may not be able to do without you.
  3. Can you or your department afford it? These days you can’t shamefully justify the out of pocket expenses for a conference as “investments into your career”. Nope, your mommy brain does not buy it anymore and would rather put it away into the baby college fund. 
  4. How helpful is this conference for your career and how much of a guilt trip on top of the conference trip the escapade will involve? I don’t know whether it’s the same for all moms, but pretty much every activity is weighed against “I could be spending this time with my child and instead I am doing this” scale.  

Another option is, of course, taking the baby with you. But as I learned the hard way, most toddlers can’t sit still for more than 10 min and most academic presentations last longer than that.  Usually only the bigger conferences offer on-site daycare (thanks, ISA!), but given (1) they require a visa and (2) that they are far away and most often (3) very expensive, there is no way I would go there in the foreseeable future. Thus, it’s really hard to get back to jet-setting times of pre-baby. 

But let’s finish on a brighter note. Thank you, people who live-tweet the panels and snap photos of the slides! I love you all very much and I will see you back in 2 to 3 years!

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Remembering Andrew Price-Smith

This is a guest post from Jeremy Youde, Dean of the College of Liberal Arts at the University of Minnesota Duluth. Follow him on Twitter @jeremyyoude.

Anyone who studies global health security has a copy of Andrew Price-Smith’s 2001 book, The Health of Nations, on their shelf. It’s a staple of course syllabi in global health politics, and its argument helped to cement the importance of recognizing the complex interplay between international security and infectious disease. Sadly, Price-Smith, the David Packard Professor of International Relations at Colorado College and leader of its Global Health Initiative, died July 11, 2019. He is survived by his wife Janell, their two kids, and scores of scholars around the world whose work was profoundly influenced by his research.

It’s hard to catalog all of the contributions Drew, as he was known to his friends, made during his career, but let me highlight a few. First, Drew helped to make global health security a legitimate area of academic research. His first writings on the topic appeared in the late 1990s, years before the United Nations Security Council held its special session on the security implications of the HIV/AIDS epidemic–the first time it had ever devoted such attention to a public health issue.

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We Are a Bad Guild: Tenure Letter Writing Edition

A key part of the tenure process is for outside experts to evaluate the candidate’s research (hard to evaluate their teaching and service from outside).  These letters can be quite handy for getting a less biased perspective that a department might have (in either direction).  It is especially useful for providing insights in cases where the candidate’s subfield is under or unrepresented among the senior faculty evaluating tenure (a real life example:  no tenured political theorists and the candidate is a theorist). 

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Embargo My Eggo!

Today, I learned that I am out of touch. Ok, that is old news. I got into a twitter conversation about embargoed dissertations. A friend was trying to access and then cite a dissertation that has been out for a few years, and she could not because the dissertation was embargoed. I then raised this on twitter, and got a whole lot of push back. So, let’s take a look at this.

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Forget the 800-pound gorilla: the United States is the 300,000-pound blue whale of IR scholarship

This is a guest post from Cullen Hendrix, Director of the Sié Chéou-Kang Center for International Security and Diplomacy and Professor at the Korbel School of International Studies, University of Denver.

International relations and international security scholarship have a U.S. bias problem—or so we are told. Ido Oren has argued the modern discipline of political science generally—and international relations specifically—was shaped by U.S. economic and security interests during the World Wars and the Cold War.

Writing in the 1970s, E.H. Carr went so far as to say “the study of international relations in English-speaking countries is simply a study of the best way to run the world from positions of strength.” And we can certainly add to these criticisms a host of critiques from non-Western scholars, especially those from the Global South who approach and critique IR through a postcolonial lens.

In a new special issue of Journal of Global Security Studies edited by Jeff Colgan, we interrogate this bias and what it means for both the conceptual frameworks and worldviews held by IR scholars to widely used datasets used by IR scholars. One seeming manifestation of this bias: IR scholarship can look an awful lot like “mesearch” as conducted by US-based academics, with the United States being the most oft-discussed case.

As Jon Vreede and I argue in our contribution to the special issue, this is undoubtedly numerically true: the United States receives much more attention than other cases. We ultimately conclude there are very practical reasons for this outsized emphasis: the United States has played an incredibly outsized role in international affairs in the 20th and 21st centuries.

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A War On … Something?

This is a guest post by Linda Monsees who works as a Post-Doctoral Researcher at Goethe University Frankfurt and is the author of Crypto-Politics.

After wars on drugs, Christmas and everything in between, it seems that we people tend to call everything a war – everything despite a real war. But really, we are now in a ‘war on truth’? Politicians, companies, and countries start disinformation campaigns and lots of stories are shared that do not qualify as journalism.  And this spread of fake news got us in a ‘war’? I get it, we are still in the process of overcoming the shocks of certain elections that did not end the way many of us would have liked. Combine this shock with a natural technology-angst and this thing called fake news becomes a real threat.

But isn’t the task of a social scientist to take some distance, anaylse, explain and – dare I say? – even give guidance? So what about the ancient wisdom of ‘Don’t Panic’? I get the feeling that much of the academic debate reproduces assumptions about the impact on fake news rather than investigating them. A closer look at empirical research shows that the impact of fake news isn’t that big – fake news do not really seem to change people’s voting behaviour. And well, do I need to tell you that spreading false information for political or economic gains isn’t such a new phenomenon either? If you think about it, fake news are a form of propaganda. Of course, networked technology makes it possible that these news items spread faster than ever before. I am not denying that fake news are a thing, the public discourse might just overrate its impact. So, fake news are widely shared and it certainly shapes current political debates – but maybe not in the way most people think? 

Research on fake news has shown that people really do not seem to care too much about the veracity of the stories that they share. In the UK, more than a third of people sharing news admit sharing inaccurate or false news, an insight corobroated by other sociological research. While it surely is a problem when people (and I include myself here) cannot distinguish between ‘real’ and ‘fake’ news, people seem also be fine with sharing non-true stories. Acknowledging these insights then also means that ‘media literacy’ is not really a solution to the problem. danah boyd actually made this argument in a much nicer way, so check out her article over here. Focusing on media literacy does not acknowledge the underlying political and social problems that might be the source for the spread of fake news. Media literacy is considered to be the right tool to educate people about which kind of news they need to read. But this focus on education makes the problem of fake news one of young and uneducated people. According to this view, media literacy will help people who cannot distinguish between fake and non-fake news to become more educated.  Fake news is thus only a problem of ‘them’  – the young and uneducated. The underlying political economy, the importance of clickbait and legitimate political protest are covered up by such a focus on media literacy.

Fake news, post-truth, disinformation will probably just become part of our political vocabulary. This reflects changes in technology and the media culture and even though we feel uncomfortable about this we should maybe listen more to people who have actually done empirical research on this rather than repeating panicked judgements. 

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Protecting Civilians Through Responsible Scholarly Engagement (Vacation Planning Edition)

Recently I highlighted Korbel’s new Responsible Engagement Institute, an important innovation in our profession. I shouted this out in the context of my own concerns with survey experiments that (perhaps irresponsibly) inflate the appearance of American support for targeting civilians abroad. However make no mistake: just as humane treatment involves more than providing toothbrushes and soap, protecting civilians involves much more than forebearance from reigning fire upon their cities.

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Seeing Israel and Palestine Up Close


I just came back from eight days in Israel and Palestine, as I participated in a program, Academic Exchange, that has already taken something like 600 scholars (mostly IR but also other political scientists, lawyers [including my brother-in-law], and some economists) to learn more about the place, the conflict and the politics. The experience was pretty intense, so I blogged my daily experiences at saideman.blogspot.com starting with this one (go to my blog for pics since blogspot is cludgy for pics but wordpress–the system here–is far worse). I am blogging here to write about the larger issues–what was the purpose of this trip, what are the take home lessons, and what can we make of this very problematic place.

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Will Republican voters punish Trump for a trade war with China? It depends.

This is a guest post from Shana Gadarian and Dan McDowell, both Associate Professors at the Maxwell School at Syracuse University.

Earlier this month, after Chinese authorities reportedly backtracked on a set of economic reform promises as part of ongoing trade discussions, President Trump announced that existing tariffs on $200 billion of Chinese goods would increase from 10% to 25%. China responded with new tariff hikes of its own on American products.

The costs of the escalating trade war are most acute in rural areas where Trump has enjoyed strong political support. While it is possible that economic pain from the dispute will erode the president’s popularity among his base, our research suggests that Republican support for the trade war depends less on how much pain the US endures and more on how much it hurts China. 

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On Responsible Scholarly Engagement

Rob Farley has posted a Lawyers, Guns and Money podcast discussing my new research with Alex Montgomery on why reports of Americans’ willingness to target civilians have been greatly exaggerated.

One theme we discussed that bears emphasizing are questions of why we do the survey research we do, and how we decide what findings to publicize, where, how and for whom. Do we truly need poll data on the precise conditions under which Americans would tolerate war crimes? Is this truly a public good? Who does this serve? Who does it enable? When the results come out (if they include clues as to what policymakers must do to drum up support for war crimes), who is served or enabled by allowing journalists to run with findings, legitimized by major univeristies, that Americans would support terror bombing of foreign innocents? Who bears the risk of harm if such findings are misinterpreted – those in power or without it? Would it not be better to study the conditions under which Americans can be best inoculated from willingness to go along with terrible war crimes than to provide a recipe book for the powerful on how to chip that resistance away?

These kinds of questions form the motivation for a terrific new program at Sie Center at the University of Denver’s Korbel School of International Studies. According to their announcement at Political Violence at a Glance:

We plan to move beyond the mechanics of engagement to address the following types of questions: How and when should knowledge be shared with policy actors of different types, if at all? What are the promises and pitfalls of such policy engagement—for the academic, but also the policy community and other affected populations? What are the different ethical dilemmas that arise from engaging with government, versus civil society, versus private sector actors? How can scholars communicate findings most effectively (and what does that mean)? How might these findings be used by policy makers? Who has ownership over final research products? How do differing institutional pressures shape the types of engagement and the challenges that might arise? And many more.

We plan to start tackling these types of questions through activities that build both a knowledge base and network that can assist policy-interested academics when engaging with both governmental and nongovernmental policy actors. A key component of the program will be an “Issues in Responsible Engagement Institute” to help early career scholars navigate the challenges of engaging with different sets of policy actors at all stages of the research and dissemination process. Recognizing that PhD students and early career academics receive little formal mentorship on professional ethics and have few places to turn for advice, this multi-day institute will serve as a complement to existing Bridging the Gap training programs and provide a forum to discuss issues around responsible policy engagement as well as a support network for participants. Just last week the Sié Center faculty were fortunate enough to work alongside a group of invited scholars and practitioners with experience in this field to start planning the curriculum for the workshop. Stay tuned for more on the application process next year.

This looks like just the type of initiative our discipline needs, particularly with so many scholars conducting research that not only measures but interfaces with citizen attitudes just as our democracy is most fragile. I wish this had been around early in my career, and I commend the organizers.

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Why Do Opinion Leaders Misjudge Public Attitudes?

Last week, Dina Smeltz, Jordan Tama, and I had a piece in the Monkey Cage on the results of our 2018 survey of 588 foreign policy opinion leaders. We found that these opinion leaders misestimated public attitudes on (1) US engagement in the world, (2) support for trade, (3) support for military intervention, and (4) support for immigration.

I did a thread on the results, which I’ll summarize below, but I wanted to follow up with some thoughts based on a thoughtful critique from Ken Schultz that focused on our finding that elites thought the public less supportive of military intervention than our public survey results suggested.

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So Call Me Maybe

A recent IR Twitter flare-up occurred on a seemingly innocuous topic illustrated by the flow-chart above: what should I call my professor? A PSA from Prof. Megan L. Cook recommended students to address their professors as Professors or Dr., avoiding references to their marital status or first names. Prof. Raul Pacheco-Vega tweeted the following:

I also delete every email that first-persons me on a first email. Them’s the rules. You can decide how you want to be addressed, but I’m the one who decides how *I* want to be addressed.

Dr. Jenny Thatcher and several others disagreed, pointing out that taking offence at an “improper” address is elitist, disrupts collegiality and can potentially push out first-gen scholars or people from backgrounds that do not share the same culture of academic etiquette. For that intervention, Dr. Thatcher endured insults, digs at dyslexia, and threats of getting reported to the police by random Tweeps.

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The ULTIMATE Academic Job Market Guide

The following is a guest post by K. Anne Watson, a PhD candidate in Political Science and International Affairs at the University of Georgia’s School of Public and International Affairs.

The academic job market is incredibly stressful. This is at least partly because so much of the process tends to be opaque. (The rest, of course, is because you will be asked to handle all of it while juggling your day-to-day life and feeling a vague—or not-so-vague—sense of existential dread settling in around you.)

Leading up to my first applications, I asked question after question of my committee members, other graduate students, and Google. I really struggled to get a complete picture of the market. With that year behind me, I decided to gather together the resources and advice that most helped me prepare for the market and some of the experiences my peers and I had on the market, in the hope that graduate students coming after me will be able to find the answers to their most pressing questions in one place.

The guide is posted on my website. It’s broken into five sections: general information and advice, application materials, phone and video interviews, flyout interviews, and practice interview questions. I hope that you’ll check it out and that you find something inside that eases your job market concerns.

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