Oisín Deery, Post-Doctoral Fellow, Philosophy, Florida State University

Oisín Deery, Post-Doctoral Fellow, Philosophy, Florida State University

BY: Catherine Nygren

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For his doctorate in philosophy at the University of British Columbia, Oisín Deery focused on free will, with a dissertation on the experience of free agency. A variety of positions during his doctoral studies—as a teaching assistant, research assistant, and lecturer—provided valuable experience. Oisín also published several papers during this time, which helped to support his applications for internal and external funding. Applying for fellowships every year was stressful and time-consuming, but he learned a lot about writing funding applications as a result.

His department was very community oriented, and grad students seemed genuinely important to the department. At the time, organized mentorship for teaching and other professionalization was useful, though spotty, although it was improving during his time there.

Oisín completed his degree in six years, which was the right amount of time to pass all the usual hurdles. He was on the job market in the last year, and, just as he was finalizing an adjunct position, he heard back from the Centre for Research in Ethics at the Université de Montréal that he had received a postdoc there. This began the next cycle of applications, and although a tenure-track job did not yet materialize, he received a SSHRC postdoctoral fellowship, which he took to the University of Arizona. The department of philosophy at Arizona explicitly cultivates a collegial atmosphere among both grad students and professors, and this atmosphere helped Oisín to develop his own research. He has now moved on to another postdoc, at Florida State University, and he is working on writing a monograph for Oxford University Press which develops a new compatibilist theory of free action.

Unpredictable things do happen while pursuing a PhD—for example, Oisín wishes that he had known beforehand how the job market would collapse in 2008—but grad students should be aware of other factors, as well. For example, choose your university carefully: even though your department may be very good in your subdiscipline, it doesn’t seem to mitigate the overall lower ranking of your institution when applying for jobs, especially in the United States. Picking one’s dissertation topic is also an important strategic decision: you should find it interesting, but also aim for something that is current and in-demand for the field. Departments are partly responsible for this, as well, and raising prospects through more professionalization—as well as how to leverage our training outside of academia—is important in the current job atmosphere.

 

For his doctorate in philosophy at the University of British Columbia, Oisín Deery focused on free will, with a dissertation on the experience of free agency. A variety of positions during his doctoral studies—as a teaching assistant, research assistant, and lecturer—provided valuable experience. Oisín also published several papers during this time, which helped to support his applications for internal and external funding. Applying for fellowships every year was stressful and time-consuming, but he learned a lot about writing funding applications as a result.

His department was very community oriented, and grad students seemed genuinely important to the department. At the time, organized mentorship for teaching and other professionalization was useful, though spotty, although it was improving during his time there.

Oisín completed his degree in six years, which was the right amount of time to pass all the usual hurdles. He was on the job market in the last year, and, just as he was finalizing an adjunct position, he heard back from the Centre for Research in Ethics at the Université de Montréal that he had received a postdoc there. This began the next cycle of applications, and although a tenure-track job did not yet materialize, he received a SSHRC postdoctoral fellowship, which he took to the University of Arizona. The department of philosophy at Arizona explicitly cultivates a collegial atmosphere among both grad students and professors, and this atmosphere helped Oisín to develop his own research. He has now moved on to another postdoc, at Florida State University, and he is working on writing a monograph for Oxford University Press which develops a new compatibilist theory of free action.

Unpredictable things do happen while pursuing a PhD—for example, Oisín wishes that he had known beforehand how the job market would collapse in 2008—but grad students should be aware of other factors, as well. For example, choose your university carefully: even though your department may be very good in your subdiscipline, it doesn’t seem to mitigate the overall lower ranking of your institution when applying for jobs, especially in the United States. Picking one’s dissertation topic is also an important strategic decision: you should find it interesting, but also aim for something that is current and in-demand for the field. Departments are partly responsible for this, as well, and raising prospects through more professionalization—as well as how to leverage our training outside of academia—is important in the current job atmosphere.

 

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