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Chris Brooke

When my wife wrote a brief guide to writing a good cover letter in 2014, she had a similar thought:

*** For research, talk about what you’ve done, what you are going to do next, and, crucially, why it is all both interesting and important. Keep the ‘so what?’ question absolutely central: why does your research matter? How is it going to change the way that other people think about, research and teach Italian agriculture? the Roman economy? the ancient world? Don’t focus solely on your doctorate if you have (almost) finished it: that was your last project, what’s next? On the other hand, don’t risk looking like a dilettante: there should be some visible coherence between your various projects past and present, whether of topic, period, discipline or approach. Ask yourself ‘what do I do?’ and then tell them. ***


F. Contesi

That's excellent, Eric. Many thanks for writing this. The third to last paragraph on your own case is especially helpful. I come a bit late to reading this... but I wonder if talking, in the cover letter, about what makes one's research distinctive should, on your advice, extend to/include more general issues such as one's general view and practice of philosophical research and/or of philosophical academic practices---or if instead one should stick to the more local distinctiveness in one's particular research areas? Your advice would be greatly appreciated!

Eric Schliesser

Well, take everything I say with a grain of salt.
But (a) I think it's very important that one's CV and narrative fit and that readers can project a few years into the future from the in sensible ways. So, one's distinctiveness needs to be constrained by that.
Also, (b) it's good to stand out in interesting ways, but I would suspect that if one is distinctive in too many dimensions people will think you weird or risky. I personally have a bias against long stations about one's general view and practice of philosophical research and/or of philosophical academic practices, although they can be informative (often in ways that hurt a candidate)--we have needs as a department/unit and often these statements reveal the candidate is ill-suited for them or does not understand them.

F. Contesi

Very many thanks!

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Here's a link to my past blogging (and discussions involving me) at: New APPS.


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