Are academic job adverts stitch-ups?

I’m assembling information for a blog post, in a few weeks time, on academic job adverts. I fairly frequently see adverts for musicology jobs whose specificity is so high as to inevitably lead to suspicion that the appointment committee has already decided who they want to appoint, and have written the job advert in such a way as to privilege their candidate.

What I am talking about here is permanent academic jobs, not associated with specific research projects, where the need for a particular kind of scholar does not seem evident from the department’s modular, research-led, even patchwork coverage of the discipline – in short, where the subject specified does not seem to respond to an objectively apparent hole in the department’s teaching provision.

Tweeting about this today has made me think that a blogpost dealing with this common phenomenon across a range of disciplines might be a useful way of thinking about the repercussions of this practice – which seems not to be illegal but, I would claim, is both unethical and unhelpful for disciplinary reasons – not least for the employment of recent PhD students. A related issue, which I would also aim to cover, is the appointment of senior academics without any advertisement at all.

I would be grateful if any academics (graduate students, full-time scholars) could provide me with information on job adverts of this kind they have encountered – anonymously if preferred – using the email form below.

Update (2 January 2013): thanks to those who have supplied me with information on this. I’ll be using some of them in a forthcoming post about academic jobs that discusses the appointment process alongside the treatment of lecturers just starting in the profession.

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