Kent Worcester, guest editor
While there are numerous “how-to” books aimed at academics in general—examples include The Chicago Guide to Your Academic Career, The Academic Job Search Handbook, and Overseas Research: A Practical Guide1 —few of these titles specifically target the political science market. When I typed “how-to books for political scientists” into Google, I was directed to links like “Best Sellers in Political Science” and “New Books in Political Science.” In contrast, the phrase “how-to books for historians” yielded “Getting Published by a University Press” and “How to Become a Historian.” The implication seems to be that political scientists become, and remain, political scientists by doing rather than by reading about doing. When it comes to field research, professional socialization, and teaching, there seems to be an unspoken code that assumes that the way to learn is to wholly immerse oneself into the field.
But even the most stoical among us can recognize the value of good advice.
Navigating the Profession isn’t concerned with MOOCs, precarity, student debt, funding cuts, or any of the other myriad challenges facing the social sciences and, more generally, higher education. Nor does it address perennial questions such as inequality, conflict, security, or policy making. This virtual issue’s remit is rather more limited—to bring together useful material fromthat can lend support to the actual work of our discipline. As longtime APSA administrator Rob Hauck noted in a recent e-mail, “mentoring the profession has been and should continue to be one of the most important missions of PS.” Since its inaugural issue, in 1968, the house journal of political science has published dozens, if not hundreds, of articles that tackle practical questions facing students of politics. As the journal approaches its first half-century of publication, this seems like a propitious moment to collect some of the most thoughtful contributions into a single volume.
PS has long played a distinctive role in the discipline. Before PS arrived on the scene the American Political Science Review
Since that time, the association’s “newsletter” has morphed into a formidable quarterly, complete with articles, symposia, book advertisements, and new sections such as The Teacher, which was added in 1993. Until recently, primary responsibility for editing the journal fell on the shoulders of successive APSA staff: Earl Baker (1968–1975), Walter Beach (1975–1980), Catherine Rudder (1980–1987), and Robert J-P. Hauck (1988–2014). From the outset, the journal’s editors were also able to draw on the support and advice provided by an all-volunteer editorial board. Now the journal is coedited by Phillip Ardoin and Paul Gronke, and the managing editor is Celina Szymanski at APSA. While it is a thicker, wider ranging, and much better looking journal than it was in the late 1960s, PS continues to provide a unique service. As Kirkpatrick promised in the journal’s debut editorial, an unusually broad “range of information about the discipline and profession of interest to political scientists” continues to be published in every issue.
The aim of this virtual issue is to recover and circulate some of this information in a way that scholars from across the discipline might find engaging and substantive. Toward this end, the issue is organized into five sections. The first explores the “ideas and debates” that are helping to shape the profession in the twenty-first century. Robert Keohane’s opening essay, “Political Science as a Vocation,” is addressed to “new generation of political scientists” and points out that the “continuing vitality of our discipline depends, as it always has, on the critical imagination, conceptual boldness, and intellectual rigor of successive cohorts of newly trained scientists.” The pieces that follow, by Gary King and Jeffrey Isaac, provide contrasting perspectives on the role of, and the relationship between, quantitative and qualitative approaches in contemporary political science. The section closes with Robert Maranto and Matthew Woessner’s exploration of how “conservative scholars can succeed in a predominantly liberal environment.” As it turns out, much of their advice, which they summarize under the heading “Nine Keys to Success,” also applies to nonconservatives.
The next section, “Nuts and Bolts,” shifts our attention from programmatic concerns to concrete tasks, from conducting literature reviews (Jeffrey W. Knopf) and peer reviews (Beth Miller et al.), to “Publishing as a Graduate Student” (Timothy S. Rich). It concludes with Beth L. Leech’s piece on “Techniques for Semistructured Interviews,” which is one of several articles contained herein that regularly turn up on PS’s list of most often downloaded articles. Professor Leech’s observations also provide a nice segue to the issue’s third section, on field research. While other sections feature standalone articles that have been grouped together by the editor, this section consists of a complete symposium, “Fieldwork in Political Science,” that was published in 2014. The editors of the symposium are to be congratulated for organizing a discussion that is insightful, pragmatic, and often quite entertaining.
The final two sections revisit the theme of “nuts and bolts,” albeit with an emphasis on “The Profession and the Public” (section four) and “Articles, Journals, and Books” (section five). John Sides and Robert Farley offer distinct approaches to how blogging can allow researchers to reach new audiences, while David Niven recounts his experiences as a “reporter for a Columbus, Ohio, newspaper” during the “midterm election year of 2006.” Kim Quaile Hill and Rebekah Myers then discuss the movement to “reform the teaching of scientific literacy in undergraduate education” and the ways in which political scientists could yet contribute to this ongoing effort. The final section opens with two pieces on journal metrics. The first is by James C. Garand et al., and it presents data on “journal evaluations, journal familiarity, and journal impact,” while the second, by Marijke Breuning and Kathryn Sanders, looks at “the presence of women authors” in “eight prestigious political science journals.” After that, David L. Leal makes the case for taking edited volumes seriously, while Michelle Boyd considers the “writing metaphor” and the ways in which political scientists are “skittish about exploring the act of writing.”
In 2013 APSA convened an Ad Hoc Review Committee on the Future of PS. Chaired by Michael S. Lewis-Beck, the committee was asked to prepare a report and make recommendations about the future of the journal, including its content, format, design, online presence, and editorial structure.3 The decision to create the committee was prompted by Robert Hauck’s announcement that he would be stepping down as PS’s editor and retiring from APSA. Having overseen PS for a full quarter-century, Hauck’s impending departure provided the occasion for stepping back and assessing where the journal had been and where it was going. In its report, the committee noted how much had been accomplished under Hauck’s leadership and offered a handful of suggestions for taking things to the next level, such as a stronger web presence. The committee also recommended that the association sponsor “a publication that honors Rob Hauck, in the form of a collection of selected PS articles.”4 This virtual issue is the result of the committee’s deliberations, and pretty much every article bears the imprint of Rob’s careful editorial guidance.
Robert J-P. Hauck served as the editor of PS: Political Science & Politics from 1988 to 2014. He is, as we have seen, one of four association staff members to have served in that role since the journal was founded. Before joining APSA’s professional staff in 1982, Rob taught at Vanderbilt University’s Institute for Public Policy Studies and was assistant director of Vanderbilt’s Center for Children and Families Policy. He had previously held teaching positions at Smith College and Holy Cross College. He received a BA in government from Colby College, and MA in East Asian Languages and Civilizations from the University of Chicago, and a PhD in political science from the University of Chicago. He is the editor of Alternative Careers for Political Scientists (APSA, 1984) and the author of numerous articles and reviews. In addition to his work as a teacher, editor, scholar, and APSA administrator, Rob is a talented painter. His piece “XO” provides the cover image for this volume.
In closing, I extend my warm thanks to the members of the Ad Hoc Committee on the Future of PS, as well as Phillip J. Ardoin, Mark Kesselman, Sean Twombly, and Barbara Walthall. This volume is—of course—dedicated to Rob Hauck.
1.See John A. Goldsmith, John Komlos, and Penny Schine Gold, The Chicago Guide to Your Academic Career: A Portable Mentor for Scholars from Graduate School Through Tenure (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2001); Julia Miller Vick and Jennifer S. Furlong, The Academic Job Search Handbook, 4th edition (Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania Press, 2008); and Christopher B. Barrett and Jeffrey W. Cason, Overseas Research: A Practical Guide (Baltimore: Johns Hopkins University Press, 1997).
2.See Evron M. Kirkpatrick, “Introducing P.S.” PS: Political Science and Politics 1 (1) (Winter): 4.
3.The other committee members were Kathryn C. Lavelle, Rose McDermott, Diana M. Owen, Mark Carl Rom, Jennifer Nicole Victor, and Kent Worcester.
4.See “Ad Hoc Review Committee on the Future of PS: A Report.” PS: Political Science and Politics 47 (3): 761.