Productive in Publishing (guest post by Jason Brennan)


Jason Brennan received his Ph.D. in philosophy in 2007. Since then, he has authored or co-authored seven books, and has two more books currently in progress. He has also written a good number of peer-reviewed articles, reference entries, and pieces for popular consumption. He’s currently Robert J. and Elizabeth Flanagan Family Chair and Provost’s Distinguished Associate Professor of Strategy, Economics, Ethics, and Public Policy at the McDonough School of Business at Georgetown University. How is he so prolific? What follows is an outline of advice he presented to graduate students at Georgetown.


Productive in Publishing: Some Advice for Academics, Especially Graduate Students
by Jason Brennan

1. Meta: Make sure you have passion
a. “Publish or perish” is misleading
b. Publishing is not the price of being an academic. It’s the point.
c. Don’t become someone’s disciple or an ideologue. You’ll have more fun and energy if you’re pushing your own view

2. Don’t let the urgent take precedence over the important
a. Write first; prep second; answer emails third
b. Prep less. Don’t let teaching be your excuse
c. Never sacrifice research to get other things done

3. Write every weekday, 20 hours/week
a. Keep a log

4. Earn rewards, then take them
a. Do what it takes to keep yourself refreshed

5. Write, don’t read

6. Write first, edit second

7. Be able to explain yourself to your hairdresser in a way he’d find exciting
a. If you can’t explain yourself in 2 minutes, then referees won’t understand you
b. Write in 12th grade reading level or lower

8. Always have multiple projects at different stages
a. When you get stuck on one, move on to the next
b. Come back with a clear head in a few weeks

9. Have 3 things under review at all times from now until you have tenure

10. Write articles, not term papers

11. Don’t take on an advisor who doesn’t want you to publish
a. That person will kill your career and sleep soundly

12. You don’t work best under pressure
a. At most, you think you do because you don’t work when there is no pressure

13. Once you have a hammer, pound in multiple nails

14. Publishing in grad school is easy because you have people issue spotting for you

15. Book publishing is a catch-22

16. Read stuff other than philosophy
a. Philosophers often rely on mistaken assumptions about other fields; easy to spot once you know other fields, and then you have
an opening for new work

17. Don’t write like a grad student
a. Good writing: 2 pages of lit review, 28 pages of new ideas, not other way around

18. Read your papers out loud. Rewrite until they sound good.

19. Page 1 has to sell the paper

20. A good dissertation is a done dissertation and a done dissertation is a good dissertation

21. For our last job, we got 520 applications. I threw out all applications without good publications.

Jeremy May, ring made from the pages of a book

Jeremy May, ring made from the pages of a book

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Jason Brennan
Jason Brennan
4 years ago

Thanks for posting this, Justin. For number 15, “Book publishing is a catch-22,” what I mean is that getting a contract is difficult unless you’ve already gotten a contract before. So you have to somehow break into book publishing. That’s easiest if if publish a number of high level articles on a topic, or if somehow an editor discovers you. You’re much more likely to get a contract if an editor discovers you and takes interest in your work than if you cold contact an editor.Report

Chris Surprenant
Chris Surprenant
Reply to  Jason Brennan
4 years ago

I’ll add to this that one way to break in is to be a co-editor on a volume with someone who already has an in. That person connects you with the relevant editors, you take the lead in working with them, and then you know who to contact when you want to publish your manuscript. Report

Jason Brennan
Jason Brennan
4 years ago

Regarding 6, “Write first; edit second,”: Writers’ block often comes from perfectionism and from fear of path dependency. You worry you’ll write something that’s not quite right and be stuck with it. But the best thing to do is write something that’s not quite right and then trust yourself to come back to it later and fix it. The first sentence doesn’t have to be perfect. Further, for many of us, thinking happens through writing. It’s not that you figure it out and then write it down, but that you figure it out through writing and rewriting.

Report

Ben
Ben
4 years ago

Thanks for this! All of it seems to be excellent advice. Report

recent grad
recent grad
4 years ago

This seems like good advice for publishing. But I strongly disagree with 1b. At the very least, it is in tension with 5. I don’t want to be a part of an academic culture that publishes and publishes and publishes without ever slowing down to understand other people’s work. I certainly don’t just want to be, at best, someone else’s foil.Report

Jason Brennan
Jason Brennan
Reply to  recent grad
4 years ago

What I mean by “write; don’t read” isn’t that we should never read. I read a great deal. What I really mean is “Right first, read second, then rewrite as you read.”

Many grad students say, “I’m going to write about X. First I’d better read everything on X. Then I’ll be an expert and will have something to say.”

Two problems:
1. You never run out of stuff to read. A year later, you’re still reading with nothing to show for it.
2. You’ll trick yourself into thinking your original ideas have already been published. On the contrary, had you written first, you would have probably come up with something pretty new, and then you could read to figure out how to situate it in the literature and just why it’s new. But if you read first, you’ll come to think that the nascent, undeveloped ideas in your head are already out there.Report

Jason Brennan
Jason Brennan
Reply to  Jason Brennan
4 years ago

Ugh, “write” not “right”.Report

recent grad
recent grad
Reply to  Jason Brennan
4 years ago

Fair enough. And I agree with you there.Report

Rick
Rick
Reply to  recent grad
2 months ago

Thanks for your advices. It always happens to me that I read stuff concerning a certain topic, then I come up with a seemingly innovative research question, and then when reading further I find out that it has been more or less already answered. This intimidates me! Could you adress this point, please? When I read your stuff, I’m always impressed by its innovativity and simplicity (in a positive sense).Report

Last edited 2 months ago by Rick
fellow academic
fellow academic
Reply to  recent grad
4 years ago

I work at a liberal arts college. According to my contract, 20% of time should be devoted to “research”, 20% to service and 50% to teaching. I (perhaps foolishly?) consider myself an academic. To say that the “purpose of being an academic is to publish” is, well, “questionable” to those of us who consider ourselves academics, yet lack the same sort of academic career as you. FYI, that is most “academics.”

It makes a lot of sense for you to care so much about publishing. Everyone reads your work. You get a very high return on investment. Me, and most philosophers, are not in the same boat. Maybe 10 people will read an article I publish. This does not mean research is not important to me. But yes, I admit, it is not as important to me as it is to you. And I devote way less time to writing than you do. And I think that is fine. I , and others like me, have no reason to pursue the publishing strategy that you pursue.

As for teaching, as someone who devotes most of my academic time to this endeavor, I find it false that spending a lot of prep time has little return, nor does it mean I am just not prepping right. I spend a lot of time trying to reach students from underprivileged backgrounds – the kind of students you rarely find at your university. This is hard. It takes strategies. It takes knowing each class and the individuals that make it up and how they differ from my last class. It takes time.

And so Jason, your advice is probably great for those who take your career path. Most “academics” are not so lucky. And most graduate students will not end up in a position like you. (And please do not tell them it is because they did not publish enough as a grad student. There is only so many R1 positions – it is a zero-sum game. No matter how much grad students publish, some will not get R! positions. Some will not get any position.)

Love,
Fellow academicReport

Jason Brennan
Jason Brennan
Reply to  fellow academic
4 years ago

That’s all true. But I was asked by the grad students to give a talk about how to publish at great deal, not a talk about how to succeed at a teaching-focused lliberal arts college.Report

Michael Kremer
Michael Kremer
Reply to  Jason Brennan
4 years ago

A talk about how to publish a great deal does not require any judgment about what the point if being an academic is.Report

Postdoc
Postdoc
4 years ago

‘Write, don’t read.’

I was astonished to see this!

It is basically what academia has become. Thousands publishing stuff that no one reads to put lines on a CV. LOL!

We really have become a joke! Report

Chris
Reply to  Postdoc
4 years ago

You’re perhaps being too literal. Jason already responded to this above.Report

David
David
Reply to  Postdoc
4 years ago

I found that puzzling and dubious as well, but reading his explanation I think he’s correct. In fact, not heading this advice probably added years to my dissertation and very nearly caused it to not be completed.

Recently I wrote and published a paper that makes argument X about topic Y. Around the time I finished my first draft, a book came out making a broadly similar argument (X1) about Y, using different methods and sources than I. I think the fact that I was able to flesh out my own argument before I saw this book increased the likelihood I had something original to say. I situated the new book’s argument with my own, of course, and reading it when I did improved the final version of the paper. If I’d read it before I worked out my own idea through writing, I might have simply been unable to figure out what I could add to this (really quite excellent) book. I suspect if the book had come out a year sooner I would have read it before trying to write, because I haven’t fully embraced Jason’s advice here.

Of course sometimes it works the other way. Sometimes there’s a paper on a topic that clarifies what I want to say, either in opposition or correction, or through And it’s hard to know in advance which will be which. So Jason’s moderate approach–write and read simultaneously–strikes me as wise.Report

R.
R.
4 years ago

Reading this makes me want to die.Report

Pablo Hubacher
Pablo Hubacher
4 years ago

I as a student find it horrifying to read “Prep less. Don’t let teaching be your excuse”. I think people with this attitude shouldn’t be teaching at all.Report

Jason Brennan
Jason Brennan
Reply to  Pablo Hubacher
4 years ago

Interpret it as follows:

“Many grad students over-prepare for class and are far to the right on their diminishing marginal returns curve. If they are bad teachers, it’s not because they are spending too little time preparing, but because they are preparing badly or don’t know *how* to teach.”Report

lmoon
lmoon
Reply to  Jason Brennan
4 years ago

Some graduate students also prepare a great deal for different reasons. One is that people receive information differently from a grad student who is brown and a woman, than someone like you. Students, often male, raise tangential issues, try to give counter-example after counter-example, try to challenge them in a way that is not directed at critical engagement with the pieces of philosophy they are teaching etc. Receiving these student contributions in a fair way that crystallizes how it relates to a discussion or material you are covering takes training and preparation. A slip up by me is much more damning than a slip up by you. Also, may I just remind you that Grad School is a learning experience; it is not a “coming in knowing” experience and many topics that you may be assigned to TA are not in your specific research plan. Of course, one should be preparing very much in those cases. One reason is to understand it and enrich your own understanding of a philosophical topic and this is key in doing the topic justice as an educator.Report

lmoon
lmoon
Reply to  lmoon
4 years ago

(Apologies: there is a redundancy in my last couple of lines.)

Overall, this is good advice for many. The fact that it cannot be practiced by everyone is a seperable issue; but still worth noting. 🙂Report

David
David
Reply to  Pablo Hubacher
4 years ago

Something I figured out around my 5th or 6th independently taught class–overprepping is a thing. I was responding to insecurity/imposter syndrome by doing way too much course prep (which also doubled as an unassailable excuse to procrastinate on my dissertation) and it was hurting the quality of the class, in two ways–I was trying to do too much, and I was cutting off room for spontaneity.

There’s a habit in academia to signal to our peers how much we care about teaching by how much time and energy we pour into it. I think we end up fooling ourselves some of the time. Report

Jon Light
Jon Light
4 years ago

I’m a huge fan of Jason and his work, but I’d take pause on some of these. First, there’s a substantial worry about *overpublishing*. Once something’s out there, you can’t take it back, and you could end up lowering the “average” quality of your paper (e.g., I’d rather have one JPhil than twelve Southwest Journals). Second, there are lots of reasons to be conscious of the institutional setting in which you’re working. Jason’s not in a philosophy department, and so the norms and expectations are completely different. There’s less of a preference for rigor, and more for volume. He’s also an endowed chair at an R1 university, and that carries certain norms and expectations.

Finally, I’d propose one desideratum he doesn’t have on his list; ironically, since he’s such a strong case for it. Have *interesting and controversial* views. So much of what people write and publish is completely boring. Or is too far down in the weeds. Or just echoes things other people have already said. You’ve got to find a way to stand out. Being a conservative in a liberal field is a great opportunity, though surely there are others.Report

Critilo
Critilo
Reply to  Jon Light
4 years ago

I second everything you’ve said here, and would add that something doesn’t have to be familiarly opposed to the norm to be controversial. Philosophers still have ample room to consider *implicit* norms and unconsidered within their profession as well. Consciousness-raising efforts have shed much light on–among others–many middle-class presumptions, hidden (and not-so-hidden) race and gender issues, and questionable attitudes toward professional life, but much less on, for example, on how these ways of thinking actually shape our approaches to philosophical problems in other areas. (Though it’s unintentionally grown into a personal hobbyhorse of mine on this site, it’s a relevant point to make that one of these is certainly Americans’–including philosophers’–frequent equation of certain forms of skepticism with negativity, and negativity in turn with cynical self-absorption and unacceptable abandonment of social progress. When was the last time you saw any dimension of sincere pessimism given more than a nonchalant and flippantly dismissed hearing?)

Revealing, describing, and addressing these intelligently (no matter what view you ultimately take) is a likely path to becoming controversial, but if it’s done well and not merely to inflate one’s portfolio, the dividends can be great. (Whatever your response to Susan Haack’s views, I think she has expertly steered her ship through numerous controversial waters with general civility and accessibility.)Report

guy
guy
Reply to  Jon Light
4 years ago

I want to say I especially appreciate the comment about people too often writing “too far down in the weeds.” I’m doing major re-prepping of my Intro Phil course, and it’s sorting out “down in the weeds” papers from the “interesting and controversial” papers [ones that are especially accessible] that is *adding* to my course prep time.

I realize some people are concerned to have their papers published, but perhaps if they want wide student exposure to their papers, they should avoid starting with an argument three dialectic levels deep. I realize I probably have different concerns/aims than others, though, since I am not even close to an R1 institution, but at a teaching college with a 5/5 minimum load for full-time faculty but where most faculty opt to teach 7/7 loads.

If the commentators above are correct that most academics are in institutions more like mine than like R1 jobs, then students-as-a-potentially-significant-part-of-the-audience might be something to consider while writing. Some of Brennan’s advice seems to lend to these considerations–keep reading level low, the “read-it-aloud” test, and the write first test as well.Report

Postdoc2
Postdoc2
4 years ago

I see why one would write such a list and it makes sense individually. Collectively it can lead to a rat race mentality that really takes out the fun of what we are all in for, and leads to far too many papers. The hammer-nail-thing seems opportunistic in a way I find a bit disgusting. I wonder how many of the books and papers written in this way will stand the test of time (I’m including my own here). Report

Jason Brennan
Jason Brennan
Reply to  Postdoc2
4 years ago

Postdoc2,

I am not a religious person, but I see being an academic as a blessing and a responsibility.

Publishing is a not a negative- or zero-sum game, as you seem to put it. I see it as a positive-sum game where we are charged with creating more knowledge. As we create more knowledge together, we become better and better equipped to understand the world. That’s our ultimate goal–to create new knowledge, not just to teach it others.

If you get to be a professor, especially at a research university, you have an incredible opportunity and an obligation to expand the frontiers of knowledge. It’s not a rat-race. It’s a buzzing beautiful hive. Make some honey!Report

Lauren Brennan
Lauren Brennan
Reply to  Postdoc2
4 years ago

Many smart academics have been given all the resources and talent to create new knowledge for our world through their research. I believe that they are obligated to use their deep understanding of each hammer they are given to hammer in as many nails as possible. It’s not a rat race because there is a real distinct goal and opportunity for each individual to excel. You are not just competing against each other in a pointless competition. Of course some work won’t stand the test of time, but that doesn’t mean it doesn’t serve a purpose to get it out in the world. Academics should recognize that you have been given many gifts that allow you to create knowledge. It’s your opportunity to take your ability to reason, think, write, and teach and create a disciplined plan to bestow your knowledge onto others.Report

Crimlaw
Crimlaw
4 years ago

Is this meant to be advice for philosophy graduate students seeking jobs in philosophy departments? Or is it meant as advice for philosophy graduate students on how to publish lots of work? Or both?
Report

Matt McAdam
Matt McAdam
4 years ago

I think this is all very good advice, and I also think those who find it off-putting or impossible to put into practice should really ask themselves whether academia is for them. As a university press editor, I work with lots of authors, and it’s clear to me that the most successful ones do some version of what Brennan describes. Perhaps more importantly, the _happiest_ authors I know follow some version of Brennan’s plan. In particular, productive and happy academics, in my experience, write everyday, vigorously guard and prioritize their writing time, write shitty first drafts that they edit later, and read the secondary literature only after they’ve written something. Sure, there are other ways of making it as an academic, perhaps most commonly being just productive enough by squeaking out work under intense pressure, but these often involve near constant anxiety. This is why I say that Brennan’s suggestions here are a good prompt for the question of whether one really wants to go into academia. Report

Skef
Skef
4 years ago

Taken in total, to me this sounds like a recipe for likely success in political philosophy, one way among several in ethics, and a recipe for likely disaster in, say, metaphysics or philosophy of language. Can those who are stating their approval clarify whether they see this as sound *general* advice across the discipline? The barrier between the present and one’s authoring a well-regarded paper doesn’t always amount to a big volume of words. Report

Nathaniel Goldberg
Nathaniel Goldberg
Reply to  Skef
4 years ago

While I can’t state that it is *general* advice across the discipline, I can state that it is advice in metaphysics and the philosophy of language. (I would also add that it is good advice.)Report

Kenny Easwaran
Reply to  Skef
4 years ago

I would at least think the hammer/nail thing is quite relevant in metaphysics/epistemology/language. Just look at Hilary Putnam’s stuff about brains in vats, and the model theoretic argument, which is arguably just a repurposing and extension of the tools of semantic externalism.Report

Puzzled
Puzzled
4 years ago

I’ve a quick question about:

“3. Write every weekday, 20 hours/week
a. Keep a log”

I know later on you say ‘write don’t read’, but do you really do 4 hours each weekday of *writing*, that is producing text? Or are you using this in a slightly broader sense, to include reading and taking notes on an opposing paper to one that you’re working on, etc. Because I think I’d quickly ‘run out of material’ if I wrote at this pace.Report

Jason Brennan
Jason Brennan
Reply to  Puzzled
4 years ago

I literally write for 4 hours each day on average. I including editing material as writing. But I don’t include reading and taking notes per se, except when “taking notes” = “write original responses to what I’m reading”.Report

Puzzled
Puzzled
Reply to  Jason Brennan
4 years ago

That’s very impressive!Report

upstate
upstate
Reply to  Jason Brennan
4 years ago

A quick follow up to that:

How do you structure your writing time? Is it 4 hours of whatever comes to mind? A half hour of free writing followed by bursts of more sustained writing? Do you tend to spend the whole session on a single piece?Report

Alex Howe
Reply to  upstate
4 years ago

I’d also be curious for insight on this question.Report

HumanitiesProf
HumanitiesProf
4 years ago

I can see that I’m not the only one who looks at the entirety of the list and thinks it sounds positively miserable. It sure looks this is a list of advice for someone who solves the old work-life balance by not having a life. Who is your best friend? Work. Who is your family? Work. What is your hobby? Work!

And 2c…really? Nothing should get in the way of your research and writing? Nothing? Sorry, kids, I can’t attend your parent-teacher day at school because it is during my scheduled writing time! Maybe when you are 18 and going off to college I’ll take a spare moment to say good-bye!

And I’m more than a bit unsettled with 1b. How is being a professor somehow exclusively about publishing? Couldn’t one publish without being a professor, perhaps working at a think-tank somewhere? It seems to me that the unique part of our jobs is that we get to teach young adults in our classes.Report

Jason Brennan
Jason Brennan
Reply to  HumanitiesProf
4 years ago

I work only 40 hours a week or less, have a hobby, am just shy of having a regular rock band, play with my kids daily, have a loving wife whom I’ve been with for 16 years, play guitar daily, work out daily, make dinner most nights, go to my kids’ plays, read with my children daily, etc.

Thanks for suggesting otherwise, though. I appreciate your cruelty and condescension.Report

Jason Brennan
Jason Brennan
Reply to  Jason Brennan
4 years ago

Also, while I assume most philosophers are not as dense as our humanitiesprof above, by “never” I don’t literally mean “never”. If your mom dies, take a day off. Write 8 hours one day and 0 the next if you have to. But the default is 4 a day.Report

Lauren Brennan
Lauren Brennan
Reply to  HumanitiesProf
4 years ago

I can absolutely 100% vouch that my husband is not a miserable workaholic. His disciplined approach allows him far more time with his family than the majority of my friend’s husbands (consultants, lawyers, etc, etc)Report

Bottlenose
Bottlenose
4 years ago

Very solid advice here. Some of the things on the list I’ve seen reflected in books about how to write productively, but others are quite original and interesting to reflect on. A couple of points to maybe address some of the complaints from readers.
(1) Nowhere does Jason say that productive writing is incompatible with good teaching. In fact many things he says would also translate well into teaching: being able to make your research in an exciting way to non-philosophers, being able to explain your main point concisely, incorporating stuff other than philosophy, having original views rather than derivative ones, and so on. My impression from the list is that in all likelihood Jason’s courses are really interesting.
(2) 20 hours a week may sound like too much given the workloads some of us have, but what I take from this is that if I spend only 5-10 hours a week, all else being equal I should be able to produce 25-50% of the research that Jason is producing, which would still be pretty impressive. The point is that you don’t need to spend a lot of time to write productively. The stuff about writing, then reading a bit, then writing some more is also just right on the money in this regard.
The only significant thing missing from the list, in my opinion, is to cultivate a network of bright peers who will read your work. It’s much easier to get objections and criticism from other people than it is to think of them on your own. If Parfit had about 400 people read drafts of various parts of On What Matters, you should try to have at least 3-4 people to read your work in advance of sending it out. Producing good philosophy is a whole lot easier with a network or peers to bounce ideas off of.
In any case, thanks Jason!Report

Sam Douglas
Sam Douglas
4 years ago

“11. Don’t take on an advisor who doesn’t want you to publish”
Sound advice indeed.Report

Adam
Adam
4 years ago

Suppose that this advice also applies to graduate students. My program involves a lot of teaching. So, n this list this is the best case scenario for my being productive:

20 hours a week writing.
20 hours a week (at minimum) for teaching (lecturing/ course prep/grading) to earn my stipend.
I also have to take 9 credit hours of courses. I have to spend three hours per week per credit hour. So:
27 hrs a week in doing coursework.
Total: 67 hours a week without factoring in life outside of graduate school.

Is it the case that if that seems unmanageable or impossible that I’m not cut out for academia, as it has been suggested? I hope not.Report

Jason Brennan
Jason Brennan
Reply to  Adam
4 years ago

Some advice:

1. If you are a TA, spend the time you sit in on the professor’s lectures prepping for your discussion sections and also prepping for any future lectures you might give on that topic. Feel free to grade as well. If you do that, you cut your prep down to 2 hours a week at most.

2. Write and study during office hours. Stop when a student shows, then resume

3. The way you study for classes and for comps is by writing. As you read, *write* objections, arguments, criticisms, and new stuff. Don’t write outlines. (If you study for comps by writing reaction pieces rather than outlines, you’ll find them easy.)

4. The modal amount of time you should spend on teaching as a grad student is about 5 hours. (As a TA: 2 hours with prof and 3 in your discussion section; as an independent instructor, 3 in your lecture, 2 hours prep.) On weeks you have to grade, it will be more.

The reason you get 67 hours is that you spend too much time on teaching and you’re making studying/office hours/writing separate.

The first 2 years of grad school are hardest because you have to take many classes. The last 2 years are easy because you just have to write (and maybe teach).

40-45 hours a week is reasonable if you do all this.

Report

Zara
Zara
4 years ago

Jason Brennan, with a 2007 PhD, has eight books and 43 papers. That’s an astonishing amount: one book and five papers per year. He advises people to write 20 hours a week. Here’s the thing: zero books and 2 papers (or fewer) per year are often enough to get tenure at top twenty Leiterific institutions (a claim easily checked). That’s like one fifth of Brennan’s output. And it’s quite respectable. It’s not goofing off or wasting your opportunities. And it does not require 20 hours per week of writing.

This is not to disparage Brennan’s output and his impressive drive and ability to have it all: a rock band, time with his kids, etc. It’s just not a necessary condition for academic success. Not nearly.Report

Jason Stanley
Jason Stanley
4 years ago

Jason –

Thanks for this. I am a fan of your work, and found this description of your process fascinating. I came away with the impression that, as David Enoch noted, it is a description of how *you* work. It reminds me of how Scott Soames once told me about his habits. You and Scott clearly have an enormous amount of focus and discipline. Those of us who lack those qualities, or have different bundles of qualities, need different instructions. Using myself as a clear contrast; I’m very motivated to write by reading. I am always reading, but not always writing. So reading and writing are not disconnected for me. And every bout of writing is preceded by hours of reading, which is often what inspires me to write (though more often I read without reading, whenever I write it is accidental and follows long bouts of reading). And I never intend to write, indeed I often intend not to write. When writing happens, it just happens, and when it does, reading and writing about that topic is uncontrollable and does not follow any schedule (though almost everything I have written has been written between midnight and five am, which is why I am up now). And if I’m not writing, it seems like I will never write again. So the idea of writing four hours a day is incoherent to me. Nevertheless, if I had to do it all over again, and had the choice, I would come back with your set of qualities. It sounds great to work out every day and have hobbies (I do spend a ton of time with my kids, but Kant would assign me no credit, because I fear I only do so because I love them so fiercely). Personally, when I work, it is always because I become convinced I will die the next day, and so that night is my very last chance to compose something that leaves the world slightly better for my children. This is not advice I pass on to my students, though I do often tell them for some of us a creative life interferes with other things. Your advice reveals what a caring advisor you are, because it is actually advice about how to be productive *as well as* being healthy and happy. And it struck me while reading this that too often as advisors we forget that our advisees are human beings as well. You clearly do not forget this, and that shines through in your post and this thread. Report

Jason Brennan
Jason Brennan
Reply to  Jason Stanley
4 years ago

Thanks, Jason, I really appreciate this.Report

Instructor Gadget
Instructor Gadget
4 years ago

Dear Jason B.,

Thanks so much for this advice!

I’d be interested in hearing what you take to count as a good publication. I see that you have a number of papers in high ranking journals like AJP, PQ, Ratio, and Ethics. But I also see that you have a lot of papers in journals that don’t usually make the Leiter top 20 lists. Would you say that a good publication must be one that typically makes the Leiter top 20 lists? Or do you use some other standard to determine what counts as a good publication? Also, do you think it is only worthwhile to have good publications. Or do you think a file with n good publications plus some not good ones is better than a file with only n good publications but no publications that are not good.

Thank you!Report

Paul Cairney
4 years ago

I endorse the write-then-read idea (although not the write shitty first then edit; write pure gold from the start!). The initial writing helps us sharpen up our research question and limit our reading to the most relevant publications and most relevant sections within them. It’s a brilliant aid to focused reading.Report

guy
guy
4 years ago

While I can partly relate to the “makes me want to die” comment above, I found this list to be excellent advice and very encouraging–especially when the new year is just days away. Thanks, Jason.Report