Looking for career-strategy advice here. I'm a recent Sociology PhD (Computational Network Social Science), who took a 6 year leave during my PhD to work as a Software Engineer with a handful of successful startups in the Bay Area. I'm looking to return to academia as an Assistant Professor. Aside from a recently completed dissertation, I have only one or two articles from over 5 years ago.

My research interest and knowledge-set straddles CS and SOC. Given the high(er) demand for CS professors these days, should I be aiming my efforts at finding a CS professor position? If so, should I focus on increasing my publication output prior to application, or rest on professional experience within private industry?

In short, how should I treat the professional leave from academic research when it demonstrates domain competence, but leaves no research output ( articles, books )? Any advice would be appreciated.

  • 1
    Your professional experience would be seen as a plus by many search committees (sometimes even a requirement). But a list of jobs alone won't go very far to overcome a lack of accomplishments. You need real achievements you can cite such as awards and patents. Perhaps open-source or well-known products you produced. CS departments are pretty desperate but they sill get dozens to hundreds of applicants. And the average applicant has more than a couple pubs plus some software experience. Sep 13, 2019 at 16:05
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    The taste for your particular background will vary, but I can say with some certainty that there are schools who would be happy to have you apply, where the professional experience is valued and appreciated sometimes even more than publications. These places tend to value teaching (liberal arts or professional prep) over research, so you'd have to decide if you would be interested in that. For research-focused positions, you'd need to have recent and in-preparation drafts of compelling research to have much chance of being considered, including in a CS department.
    – BrianH
    Sep 13, 2019 at 18:32
  • Thanks BrianH, if you add that as the answer I'll mark it accepted. Sep 13, 2019 at 19:08
  • As BrianH suggested, look for the more vocationally focused institutions that would appreciate your experience. There has been extensive discussions about Professor of Practice type positions - academia.stackexchange.com/questions/135208/… Since you have recently graduated, you can also focus on post-docs as a slower entry point into a more tenure-tracked position.
    – Poidah
    Sep 13, 2019 at 22:20


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