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Sunday, January 07, 2018

The Ph.D. Skill Mismatch | Inside Higher Ed

"Analysis of a year’s worth of MLA job postings -- most of them for teaching positions -- finds strong emphasis on alt-ac skills. Are doctoral programs providing the right training?" continues Inside Higher Ed
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Senior faculty members frequently tell doctoral students in English and foreign languages to "just do research all the time" and to "view everything else as a distraction," said the author of a study being presented today at the annual meeting of the Modern Language Association. 

That's a big problem for Ph.D. students and the institutions that may hire them, according to the author. The study analyzes the 1,658 job postings that the MLA listed in 2015-16 to look at the skills being sought by hiring departments. About three-quarters of the job listings listed at least one skill associated with what are called alternative-academic jobs -- skills like public outreach, assessment, administration and curriculum development. In fact, some of these skills were significantly more likely to be listed than were traditional skills such as advanced knowledge of British or American literature. 

Because the overwhelming majority of the jobs listed were for positions for which teaching and research are the stated priorities, the data challenge the idea that those coming on the market today are going to find traditional academic jobs and can best prepare with more and more research, says Beth Seltzer, the study's author. 

Seltzer should know. She earned her Ph.D. in Victorian literature. But her job at Bryn Mawr College (in which she's very happy) is as an educational technology specialist.

Seltzer said that she did the analysis because she hopes it will prompt discussion about the nature of doctoral training. Many new Ph.D.s in the humanities and other disciplines are exploring alt-ac careers in parts of academe beyond the faculty. But what her findings show, 
Seltzer said, is that those seeking teaching positions also need alt-act skills. And Seltzer said she doubted many were picking them up from those faculty advisers who are focused on traditional faculty jobs at research universities. 

Here are Seltzer's findings.

Source: Inside Higher Ed