how many people do you need to succeed in academia? i count 21 people.

How many people, exactly, do you need to succeed in academia? By success, I simply mean “get tenure at a degree granting program in your field.” Here’s how I count it, pre-tenure vote:

  1. Three letter writers for grad school.
  2. Probably two or three people on a grad school admission committee.
  3. Three dissertation committee members, who usually write job market letters.
  4. Optional: If your committee is dysfunctional, you may need to recruit a couple more people for the job market.
  5. Three people on a job hiring committee.
  6. Three peer reviewers at a decent journal.
  7. The editor(s) of the peer review journal.

That makes about 21 people. If you are at a competitive R1 you might need multiple publications, so add about 3-4 more people. Let’s call it 25 people.

Now, what about all those tenure committees and deans and stuff? If you get through steps 1 to 7, tenure is usually straightforward process. People write letters for tenure candidates with good CVs and avoid them for bad CVs. Deans only get involved when something goes bad (e.g. personality conflicts, border line cases, etc.) But even at that level, decisions at all but the most elite schools most often reflect the decisions of journal editors. Academia isn’t an easy profession, but when you lay it out in steps, it’s way more understandable.


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Written by fabiorojas

June 6, 2018 at 6:13 pm

Posted in uncategorized

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