Caveat emptor

Hugo Cardoso hugoccardoso at GMAIL.COM
Tue Sep 17 12:22:08 UTC 2013

... On the other hand, there's an imbalance in the distribution of (good)
PhD programmes in Linguistics around the world. I'm sure some countries
have a surplus of Linguistics graduates, while others could do with a bit
more attention to the discipline. If it's felt that an educational system
has too much offer, wouldn't a solution be to come up with more stringent
rules for accreditation? Less programmes would make the cut (which would
reduce student intake), and the average quality would improve.


2013/9/17 Amitabh Vikram <amitabhvikram at>

> I agree with Dan. Additionally, a graduate with a technical hand generally
> gets a job at the age of 22-23 but a Ph D candidate makes his/her mark
> around 30 in the rat-race of getting a job. There is a chasm between
> someone 'gets' a job and on the other hand someone 'enters' into the job
> market. But at the same time I think this thing may remain in the mind of a
> person who is entering into a research programme. And to my best knowledge
> any such programme only offers a good research, and it doesn't offer a job
> security.
> Yours,
> *Amitabh Vikram Dwivedi, Dr*.
> Assistant Professor
> Department of Languages & Literature
> Shri Mata Vaishno Devi University, Katra
> Jammu & Kashmir 182 320
> ---------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
> Amitabh Vikram Dwivedi
> amitabhvikram at
> amitabh.vikram at amitabh[dot]vikram[@]smvdu[dot]ac[dot]in
>   ------------------------------
>  *From:* Sebastian Nordhoff <sebastian_nordhoff at EVA.MPG.DE>
> *Sent:* Tuesday, 17 September 2013 4:23 PM
> *Subject:* Re: Caveat emptor
> On Tue, 17 Sep 2013 12:35:42 +0200, Everett, Daniel <DEVERETT at>
> wrote:
> > Absolutely correct, Sebastian. But we all know that most people do not
> do PhDs in typology in order to do accounting, etc.
> in my (Dutch) PhD program, we were told from the beginning that only about
> 1/3 of us would find a job in research, and that we should get used to the
> idea of working elsewhere.
> > A PhD is normally seen as the way into an academic career.
> This is the basic misconception I think. It is true that this belief
> exists, but it does actually not correspond to what people with a PhD do do
> in the end. I therefore very much appreciated the University of Amsterdam's
> approach of dispelling this myth from the outset.
> > And I see far too many unemployed and underemployed  PhDs in the
> humanities.
> Do you have some numbers for your PhD students? There might be a bias in
> that you are unlikely to meet PhDs who have left academia. The people who
> remain are the few lucky ones with a good position, and the unlucky ones
> still trying.
> > To give an example, adjunct faculty in the business disciplines usually
> have full careers, well-compensated, and do teaching as a satisfying way to
> interact with future professionals. Adjuncts in the humanities are either
> retired or, most commonly, underemployed folks trying to piece together a
> career from the leavings of full-time faculty. They wanted the
> tenure-track/permanent position. And they still do. And it is wrong to
> overproduce in this way.
> I agree that the ratio of applicants per tenure position is too high. One
> should try to either get more tenure positions (unlikely) or discourage
> people from pursuing this career option. But this is logically independent
> from people getting a PhD in linguistics.
> > Saying that there are other things they can do would be fine for BAs or
> MAs in linguistics. But a PhD is overkill for positions not in or even only
> tangentially related to  the field of study.
> I know a couple of PhDs who now work outside of the research circus. Maybe
> they have acquired too much specific domain knowledge and scientific skills
> for their new job, but it certainly does not hurt. And, after all, it is a
> great pleasure and privilege to investigate uncharted scientific terrain
> during your PhD.
> tl;dr
> No need to cut PhD positions, but curtail expectations to follow a
> research career afterwards
> Best
> Sebastian
> >
> > Dan
> >
> >
> >
> > On Sep 17, 2013, at 5:59 AM, Sebastian Nordhoff wrote:
> >
> >> On Mon, 16 Sep 2013 18:59:24 +0200, Everett, Daniel <
> DEVERETT at> wrote:
> >>
> >>> I am posting this because linguistics is one of the disciplines I
> think needs to consider this seriously. There are too many academics in the
> liberal arts with no chance of full-time, secure employment in the area in
> which they have done their PhD.
> >>
> >> I might note that there are job possibilities outside of "the area
> where they have done their PhD". Getting a PhD in Typology does not
> necessarily mean that the only career opportunities are within the, indeed
> restricted, field of academic linguistics.
> >> Best wishes
> >> Sebastian
> >
> >
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