Tag Archives: job prospects

Links: Grad School Pros and Cons; Job Search; Understanding Putin

He studied law, but seems interested in IR. (Source: Kremlin.ru via Wikimedia)
He studied law, but seems interested in IR. (Source: Kremlin.ru via Wikimedia)

In an article from 2011, Karen Kelsky (who works as a consultant to graduate students) criticizes academic supervisors. According to her, professors often fail to advise their grad students on planning publications and their career choices.

Another more recent piece introduces a new approach for university career centers. Basically, the idea is to break up the division between the job markets inside and outside of academia: “If graduate students are to maximize their efforts, then academic departments and career services need to pool theirs and work together”.

But should you even be working towards a PhD? Foreign Policy just published a very interesting discussion with people from American IR departments and foreign policy schools. The subtitle: “Do policymakers listen? Should you get a Ph.D.? And where are all the women?” It also has a fascinating graph on which IR scholars are valued by foreign policy practitioners, which reminded me of last year’s discussion about IR and the public sphere.

Dan Drezner wrote about whether to go to grad school in 2012. His piece focuses on women in academia, but also has a couple of interesting links to the discussion in the American blogosphere.

OK, so (against a lot of good advice) you have decided to pursue an academic career. The bad news is: from now on, your writing style will be terrible. The good news is: nobody will notice, since most papers are hardly read after publication. [Note that the article implies that the number of citations equals the number of readers, which is not fully convincing.]

Now, to something completely different. I enjoyed these two pieces about Vladimir Putin: First, Tyler Cowen offers four different ways to “model” Putin’s behavior, pointing out that “[a]ssumptions about Putin’s rationality will shape prediction”.

Second, Eric Posner analyzes the claims made in the Russian president’s speech to the Duma: “Vladimir Putin, international lawyer”. The crucial bit of analysis: Putin has signaled that “the United States claims for itself as a great power a license to disregard international law that binds everyone else, and Russia will do the same in its sphere of influence where the United States cannot compete with it”.

Links: New Blogs, New Crises, NSA Reform, Ethics in Academia

global-matters

Our colleagues from the Center for Global Politics (CGP) at Freie Universität Berlin have set up a blog called “Global Matters”. The idea is promising:

every two weeks the CGP posts a question related to an important topic in current affairs – and presents short but profound comments from distinguished International Relations experts and practitioners from all over the world

Good luck and have fun! The current post is on conflict in South-East Asia. (Also, there seems to be a tendency at our university to pretty grandiose names for blogging projects…)

Speaking of new blogs: Dan Nexon, of Duck of Minerva fame, now runs a personal blog called Hylaean Flow. Much of it will probably deal with insights from his role as editor for ISQ and the publishing process in general (via the Duck, where they also posted the new Game of Thrones trailer, just in case you missed it)

Tyler Cowen presents opinions from different people on “Which countries will have the next financial crisis?” If you’re a citizen, resident or investor in one of the following, now might be the time to worry: Denmark, Sweden or Norway (high private household debt), Singapore (a lot of loans), Malaysia or the Philippines (economic bubble), Ukraine (although Russia helped), Canada (real estate bubble), Thailand, Turkey, Greece, India or Indonesia (Tyler’s picks).

One key question is the relative worry weights you assign to private debt vs. bad institutions.

What about the rest of the world?  The eurozone is seeing ongoing credit contraction and perhaps deflation too.  Japan just announced a surprisingly large and apparently persistent current account deficit.  And the United States?  Things look pretty good, but in fact by the standards of historical timing we are soon due for another recession.

I’ll put my money on Turkey.

On cyber security and surveillance: Bruce Schneier has an excellent piece on how the NSA and other agencies threaten national (U.S.) security. The text is a commentary on the reform debate in the United States; let’s wait and see what President Obama will announce on Friday. Meanwhile, the tone in Germany gets angrier. As the “no spy” treaty seems to be canceled, now some people make the case for retaliation through the TTIP and other transatlantic negotiations.

PS. At the Monkey Cage, there’s a short interview with Peter Singer, whose book on cyber security and cyber war looks very interesting.

Last but not least, two items reflecting on academic practice. First, Megan MacKenzie has written on the ethics of adjunct professors and other “casual” posts in (U.S.) departments. She presents four reasons to be careful about taking these jobs and four ways for permanent staff to improve the situation. A lot of this probably also holds for the European context.

Second, Burcu Bayram on how to tell MA students that pursuing a PhD might not be the best option for them: Should you be the blunt “dream-crusher” or try a more empathetic approach?

Links: Elections, Constitutions, PhDs, Instability, and Teaspoons

The teaspoon population in the author's research center
The teaspoon population in the author’s research center

Mark Kayser and Arndt Leininger sum up the results of their German election forecasting model and compare it to others. They had predicted a share of 47% for CDU/CSU and FDP (very close to the actual 46.3%). But they also point out that it’s much harder to predict the stability of coalitions…

Our model drew on previous election outcomes, characteristics of the government and of voters and, most originally, the relative economic performance of Germany in comparison to the two other most important economies in Europe (…). Our model fared at least as well as traditional polling, making us optimistic about the future of forecasting elections in general and forecasting German elections in particular.

The Comparative Constitutions project has launched a great new website called “Constitute” allowing everyone to get to know constitutions from all over the world. You can browse by country or by topic, but it seems that older versions are not included (via Monkey Cage).

Henry Farrell compares the controversy about the analyst Elizabeth O’Bagy to the case of former German defense minister Karl-Theodor zu Guttenberg, who had to resign in Germany (for plagiarism in his dissertation), but now works at a respected D.C. think-tank:

O’Bagy’s academic credentials were crucial to her status as an ‘expert.’ When these credentials exploded, so did her career. Zu Guttenberg’s value rests not on his purported academic training, but on his past political role and current political connections.

Jay Ulfelder argues that we live in a time of systemic instability, which is only inadequately captured by observers that stick to a perspective where “countries are a bit like petri dishes lined up on a laboratory countertop”. So we ought to think harder about connecting the dots between state failures, increasing piracy, the financial crisis, food prices, and long-time cycles of social unrest (which look slightly esoteric to me)…

…and since it’s Friday: Please make sure to read this research paper on the fate of teaspoons placed in the communal rooms of university research labs (via MR).

56 (80%) of the 70 teaspoons disappeared during the study. (…) The half life of teaspoons in communal tearooms (42 days) was significantly shorter than for those in rooms associated with particular research groups (77 days). The rate of loss was not influenced by the teaspoons’ value. (…) At this rate, an estimated 250 teaspoons would need to be purchased annually to maintain a practical institute-wide population of 70 teaspoons. (…) The loss of workplace teaspoons was rapid, showing that their availability, and hence office culture in general, is constantly threatened.

Links: NSA, Brazil, Tenure, MOOCs

Plötzensee, Berlin (Wikipedia)
Plötzensee, Berlin (Public Domain, Wikipedia)

Over at Bretterblog, a colleague has noted (in German) that many IR blogs seem to take a summer break. Might that have been directed at us? Well, here are some links to prove that not all of us are swimming in a lake right now… (I wish!)

PRISM / NSA surveillance, even though you’re sick and tired of it:

In other news:

  • Nauro F. Campos analyzes why people are protesting in Brazil, using a dataset from 1870 to 2003. The list of factors he and his colleagues have identified for the current wave of protest doesn’t sound too surprising: “corruption and inefficiency in public services delivery, political ineptitude and the electoral cycle.” Another interesting finding: The number of riots is decreasing over time, but there are more peaceful protests.
  • There’s a great post at Scientific American by computer scientist Radhika Nagpal, who decided not to stress too much about tenure and instead treat her job as a “seven-year postdoc”. This means: don’t spend all your energy networking and sucking up to important people, but rather enjoy life and get good work done. Probably works best if you’re very smart and hard-working anyway; she’s now a professor at Harvard. Steven Saideman offers his comments at the Duck of Minerva.
  • Are MOOCs (massive open online courses) a game-changer, or are we just being fooled by the “hype cycle”? Dan Drezner contrasts the two perspectives and ends up in the skeptical camp [Foreign Policy account needed].

Social Media for Academics

Some in the audience were applying lessons on-the-fly... #wzbhypo
Some in the audience were applying lessons right away…

This morning, I went to a talk (#wzbhypo) by Mareike König and Sascha Förster – who are involved in the European blog portal hypotheses.org – about social media for academics: How can we use Facebook, Twitter and blogs?

The session covered some introductory stuff about social media as well as concrete tips for academics seeking more exposure online. I will focus on those points that were new to me. Obviously, we share the general opinion that more academics should consider blogging, tweeting etc.!

  • Germany is a developing country when it comes to producing content online, but also with regard to using social networks and blogs as a source of information. (Yes, there was a #neuland joke.)
  • König convincingly argued that beginners should consider joining an existing portal like hypotheses.org, scilogs.com or scienceblogs.com, since those will help you find readers. (Yup, it’s really hard to build an audience from scratch!)
  • Instead of using a couple of platforms half-heartedly, focus on one or two! You should consider, however, that Google+ might increasingly matter for Google web search. (Addendum: Did you know that you can ‘claim’ your Google scholar page?)
  • This is not really news, but: Twitter accounts that do little more than post links to their own stuff will have a hard time attracting followers. Human interaction is key. (We’re working on it.)
  • Some data on German-speaking academics on Twitter: There are (at least) two interesting sources of data in that regard. Marc Scheloske has a list of academics and institutions, and Beatrice Lugger collects data on institutions and media covering scientific topics. Both were last updated in 2012. (I’m working on a list of German IR/polisci scholars…)
  • Depending on the topic and the selection committee, you might not get invited to a job interview if you have no professional social media “fingerprint”…
  • On Twitter, links that are positioned in the middle of a tweet apparently achieve more clicks/attention than links at the end. I did not know that but will give it a try!
  • Even if the visitor and commnets count is low, don’t give up: It’s very likely that some people will comment on your contributions once you meet them in person, and reaching the right audience is more important than ‘big’ numbers…

Overall, it was a stimulating session. You can find Mareike König’s slides online (in German). I was glad to see a very interested and mixed crowd at the event. Many thanks to the WZB press people for organizing it, and of course you should all follow @WZB_news, @mareike2405 and @sascha_foerster!

IR and the Public Sphere – The “Cult of Irrelevance”?

walt
Stephen Walt

“I thought scholars like me were going to discover timeless truths about world politics, a grateful policy community would eagerly embrace our results, and then of course follow our advice… needless to say, I was dead wrong. In fact, there is a widespread sense that university-based scholarship is of declining practical value.” – Stephen Walt
 

Last September, Stephen Walt gave a talk at Brown University on lamenting the discipline of IR’s lack of engagement with the public sphere, and put forward some suggestions on what could be done to increase the relevance and impact of university research. (He also repeatedly blogged about this topic.)

We’d like to summarize his major points here and add our view on the debate.

Continue reading IR and the Public Sphere – The “Cult of Irrelevance”?

Links #2: Governance measurements, job prospects, IR theory, regionalism

Francis Fukuyama’s commentary “How should we measure governance?” has provoked a series of replies at the governance blog, inter alia reactions from Bo Rothstein, Thomas Risse, and Shiv Visvanathan. This might be a good starting point if you want to think about governance as such or the quantification / measurement problem in IR.

An article about desperate grad students who turn to external career advisors in order to improve their job prospects in academia has upset Steve Saideman. So, just don’t do it and go to your supervisor instead, is what he’s advising.

Over at Theory Talks, New Lebow is interviewed “On Drivers of War, Cultural Theory, and IR of Foxes and Hedgehogs”. Also, he certainly doesn’t mince words:

On the American side of the pond, positivist or game-theoretical behaviorist or rationalist modeling approaches dominate the literature; it’s just silly, from my perspective. It’s based on assumptions which bear no relationship to the real world. People like it because it’s intellectually elegant: they don’t have to learn any languages, they don’t have to read any history, and they can pretend they’re scientists discussing universals. Intellectually, it’s ridiculous.

OK, let’s turn to the regionalism stuff.

Continue reading Links #2: Governance measurements, job prospects, IR theory, regionalism