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The Chicago Guide to Your Academic Career

A Portable Mentor for Scholars from Graduate School through Tenure

Is a career as a professor the right choice for you? If you are a graduate student, how can you clear the hurdles successfully and position yourself for academic employment? What’s the best way to prepare for a job interview, and how can you maximize your chances of landing a job that suits you? What happens if you don’t receive an offer? How does the tenure process work, and how do faculty members cope with the multiple and conflicting day-to-day demands?

With a perpetually tight job market in the traditional academic fields, the road to an academic career for many aspiring scholars will often be a rocky and frustrating one. Where can they turn for good, frank answers to their questions? Here, three distinguished scholars—with more than 75 years of combined experience—talk openly about what’s good and what’s not so good about academia, as a place to work and a way of life.

Written as an informal conversation among colleagues, the book is packed with inside information—about finding a mentor, avoiding pitfalls when writing a dissertation, negotiating the job listings, and much more. The three authors’ distinctive opinions and strategies offer the reader multiple perspectives on typical problems. With rare candor and insight, they talk about such tough issues as departmental politics, dual-career marriages, and sexual harassment. Rounding out the discussion are short essays that offer the "inside track" on financing graduate education, publishing the first book, and leaving academia for the corporate world.

This helpful guide is for anyone who has ever wondered what the fascinating and challenging world of academia might hold in store.

Part I - Becoming a Scholar
* Deciding on an Academic Career
* Entering Graduate School
* The Mentor
* Writing a Dissertation
* Landing an Academic Job
Part II - The Academic Profession
* The Life of the Assistant Professor
* Teaching and Research
* Tenure
* Competition in the University System and Outside Offers
* The Personal Side of Academic Life

Read Chapter Two: Entering Graduate School.

272 pages | 8 tables | 6 x 9 | © 2001

Chicago Guides to Academic Life

Education: Higher Education

Reference and Bibliography

Table of Contents


Part One: Becoming a Scholar
1. Deciding on an Academic Career
-The advantages and disadvantages of academic life
-Academic salaries
-Academic freedom
-The personality traits of successful graduate students

2. Entering Graduate School
-Differences between undergraduate and graduate training
-Preconditions for a graduate education
-Questions to ask yourself
-Financial considerations
-Picking the right school
-Knowing whether you’ve made the right career choice
-The Inside Track: Financing Graduate Education
Thomas Thuerer

3. The Mentor
-The role of the mentor
-Finding a mentor
-The mentoring commitment

4. Writing a Dissertation
-The dissertation requirement
-Choosing a topic
-How long it takes to write a thesis
-Becoming discouraged and persevering

5. Landing an Academic Job
-Preparing to enter the academic job market
-Presenting a paper at a conference
-The job search
-How to read job advertisements
-Assembling the dossier
-Application letters
-Letters of reference
-The c.v.
-Interviews at national meetings
-What should be avoided
-Applying as a couple
-The short list
-The campus visit
-The job talk
-How long to keep trying
-Receiving and evaluating offers
-Negotiating the terms of the appointment
-The "two-body" problem
-Multiple offers
-The Inside Track: Leaving Academia for the Corporate World
Ami Kronfeld

Part Two: The Academic Profession

6. The Life of the Assistant Professor
-Beginning the first job
-Juggling responsibilities
-Sorting out priorities
-Committees and commitments
-Keeping tenure in view
-Getting along with colleagues
-The institutional bureaucracy
-Departmental politics-BGetting involved in institutional change
-Long-term goals
-Family considerations
-Job satisfaction

7. Teaching and Research
-What teaching is all about
-Expectations at research universities
-Expectations at teaching institutions
-Preparing a syllabus
-Learning how to teach
-Exams and writing assignments
-The first day of class
-Evaluating students’ work
-Evaluating your own teaching
-Teaching at the graduate level
-Plagiarism and other ethical issues
-Making life easier on yourself
-"Publish or perish"
-Beginning to publish
-Finding the right journal
-Submitting the article
-The editor’s decision
-Referee reports
-Publishing a book
-Getting grants
-Surviving writer’s block
The Inside Track: Publishing the First Book
Colin Day

8. Tenure
-Why tenure exists
-The tenure-review process
-Evaluation criteria
-Attacks on tenure
-Being denied tenure
-Opportunities outside academia

9. Competition in the University System and Outside Offers
-The forces of competition
-Mobility and loyalty
-Junior and senior hires
-Outside offers as a way to move up
The Inside Track: Consulting and Intellectual Property
Pierre Laszlo

10. Family, Gender, and the Personal Side of Academic Life
-Effects on family
-Shared appointments
-Discrimination in academia
-Sexual harassment and consensual relationships

11. Conclusion

Appendix 1 The Administrative Structure of a University
Appendix 2 Policies on Parental Leave and Shared Positions
Appendix 3 Tables


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