Who Gets Tenure-Track Jobs?


This one is for all you adjuncts out there (I hope it’s not so bad):

A presentation by L. Maren Wood, PhD, of the Lilli Research Group, which you may (or may not) be interested in signing up with for occasional emails. This group is associated with “Beyond the Professoriate.” It takes the view, in  general, that most PhDs will need to find non-academic positions and that this is both a possible and fulfilling option.

The presentation appears to be a rather pessimistic assessment of data, suggesting that adjuncts have little chance of obtaining a tenure-track faculty position. But if the graph is correct (I admit, I haven’t had a chance to watch this through), many adjuncts will find hope in the possibility (25% for those in the humanities) of still making it.

But combine this presentation with the article from the Chron posted earlier and perhaps there are new careers awaiting scholars outside of or only partially inside the academy.



Patty Appelbaum’s Reflections on Hidden Scholars

Hi all you Hidden Scholars,

Patty has been so kind as to write up her reflections on the founding of Hidden Scholars, which she undertook back in 2012.

As I’m sure you are aware, Patty’s latest book is on St. Francis of America: How a Thirteenth-Century Friar Became America’s Most Popular Saint (2015). There are links to the book and author pages below.


If you are unable to read the pdf, just let me know and I’ll send you a copy in some other format.

Here are the book and author links:



Book page (which allows you to peek inside a little)


Author page





Thanks for all you’ve done and continue to do, Patty!


Fight For Your Long Day — a novel about adjuncts and today’s higher education

Hello Hidden Scholars,

I had meant to inaugurate my coordinatorship (not a word yet, but I’ll use it anyway) with a different type of post, one that focused simply on the Hidden Scholars organization itself, but yesterday I happened upon an article about adjuncts that some may find interesting. I myself have tried to leave the world of adjuncting behind to concentrate on my scholarship, but the issues still are important to me, as they are to many of you.

Most of what the author describes is more than familiar to anyone who has either worked as an adjunct in the past couple of decades or just been around adjuncts. So what’s in the article will not likely read as “news” to you should you decide to read the article. The structure of the work force in higher education is changing along the same lines that it is for other parts of the economy. The effects on higher education, of course, may be more dire than for, say, taxi driving because the nature of teaching changes under these new conditions, while driving pretty much remains the same as it has been, even if now performed under increasingly insecure conditions. Unless driverless cars make driving obsolete…. Maybe someone knows of a good analysis that compares these effects?

But the main reason I’m giving the link is not that the information about adjuncts provided in the article is unfamiliar, but that the author talks about a novel written by an adjunct faculty member about adjuncting and the novel seems to have garnered considerable praise.

The article appeared on alternet.org (a basically left-center news and opinion site): http://www.alternet.org/education/heart-breaking-stories-academia-america-treats-most-faculty-peons-and-results-are-not

The novel is called Fight For Your Long Day and is by Alex Kudera. It has just recently been reissued in a classroom edition, as I understand it, and is praised for its insights into contemporary higher education. I hope to read it soon.



Shared workspaces

I appreciated this article in the Northampton paper, the Daily Hampshire Gazette, about shared workspaces. There are several buildings in our region where freelancers and independent workers can rent space for a modest cost – “space” being anything from a shared desk to a private office. A great advantage to this approach is that you get to be around other people who are working in the same way you are, if not doing exactly the same kind of work.

Venues include Click in Northampton (right around the corner from the Roost), Co.Lab in Easthampton, The Commons in Williamsburg, Cultivate and Nest in Hadley, and the Writers’ Mill in Florence.

I once rented an unused office at a car dealership because our house was too small for me to have a quiet workspace. The need is there, and has been there for a long time.


A good meetup, and yet another article on adjuncts

We had a small group and a rich conversation last Wednesday. The struggle of being an adjunct and a freelancer, its successes and its discouraging side. Working with the academic world and with the general public. Finding a way back into the job market amid family responsibilities. How long the life of an independent scholar is sustainable. The meaning of scholarship. It’s good to talk about these questions with others on similar paths.
By chance, the Boston Globe recently published another op-ed about adjuncts. A lot of it isn’t news, but I did appreciate the writer’s observation that universities have “backed into” a business model that depends on contingent academic labor.

Meetup tomorrow

A reminder: Hidden Scholars meets tomorrow – Wednesday, March 23, 5:00-6:30 p.m., at The Roost, Northampton. Drop in any time. Have a beer or a cup of coffee and share your story. Hope to see you!




Spring meetups

We have a spring series of meetups for mutual support and networking. Want to discuss your work-life dilemmas? Want feedback on work in progress? Just want to get away from the computer? Please come.

We’ll meet on the fourth Wednesday of the month from 5-6:30 p.m. In February and April, the location is The Works in Amherst; in March and May, The Roost in Northampton. (Note that there are five Wednesdays in March. The meetup is on the fourth Wednesday, the 23rd.)

As colleges and universities move toward short-term hiring patterns, many scholars work as adjunct faculty or freelancers or have alternative careers. Hidden Scholars is a regional organization for scholars who are actively engaged in academic study, but who do not have a permanent institutional affiliation. Most have the Ph.D. or equivalent.  Founded in 2012, the group has been covered by the Chronicle of Higher Education and by Adjunct Nation. Follow this blog for further information and news.

Another approach

Thanks so much for the feedback! It is an interesting question. I’d love to hear from a few more people about it.

Meanwhile another independent scholars’ organization, the Ronin Institute, is approaching things from another angle: they are moving toward offering some online courses. This is still in the planning stages, but it is an intriguing possibility for independent scholars.

I’ll post more information as it becomes available.

In any case, it looks as though these two groups have different, perhaps complementary, approaches and agendas.