Background: I read this Quora post where someone mentioned they TA'ed pretty much their entire PhD tenure and took up extra TA spots as well for the same because they really liked teaching. The person only ended up publishing 2 papers (very good ones) during their tenure because maximum amount of their time went in teaching (The person won multiple TA awards and Head TA positions).

Question: Is this something which is frowned upon?

Personally, I really love to teach and would love to devote some of my research time to teaching.

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    "Only" two papers? In some fields, even publishing one paper during a PhD is a big achievement. To publish two very good papers does not seem to be "publishing less and teaching more". Apr 3, 2021 at 20:18
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    I'm sorry, I mean't it to be relative. By no way do I mean even one paper is less. Relative to the context of getting teaching jobs.
    – Academic
    Apr 3, 2021 at 23:52
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    @astronat sigh. Some colleagues are phd students. They need to contribute to 8 papers and be first authors on 3 of them. And write a thesis. The requirements are getting completely ridiculous. "publish or perish" should perish. Apr 4, 2021 at 12:55
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    @EricDuminil reminds me of that "We're looking for a 25-year-old with 30 years of experience" meme. Not to mention Dilbert's "I have infinite capacity for more output, as long as you don't mind the quality of the output approaching zero". Apr 4, 2021 at 18:36
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    Question: is it ok for you? That's the answer ;-) F*** frowning upon ;-)
    – Tomas
    Apr 4, 2021 at 21:24

2 Answers 2


There are lots of good teaching-focused jobs in academia, for example faculty positions at small liberal-arts colleges, and lecturer-type positions in larger departments. It sounds like this kind of job would appeal to you more than a job whose primary focus was research. That’s great! Go and learn about those jobs, find people who have taken that career track and talk to them, and start doing what you need to make yourself an appealing candidate for those positions. Part of that last point is teaching, but it’s not really about teaching more, it’s about doing things that make your CV appealing to SLACs. You need to do some teaching, but it’s going to look better if you advise an REU student or run a directed reading program than if you just teach one more section of a class you already teach. See if you can find teaching assignments that add to your CV, eg if you have the opportunity to be instructor-of-record instead of just a TA, do that. Finally, even if you have teaching-centered career goals, you still need to graduate! So don’t overstretch yourself teaching at the expense of getting a solid thesis done. Research expectations are different at SLACs, but they definitely want you to be able to supervise undergraduate projects and they want you to have a PhD, so you can’t neglect that aspect of your program

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    Thank you very much for this answer! I actually really enjoy research as well, so I'll definitely focus on the thesis when I do get into a program!
    – Academic
    Apr 3, 2021 at 15:57
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    You just reminded me that some top R1 universities (Duke, CMU, Stanford, ...) have teaching track positions that they consider very important: Professor of the Practice. They don't usually carry tenure but long term contracts instead. The people that hold them do some research, but the focus is on teaching undergraduates. The ones I know are highly valued by the institutions. Most, but not all, have doctorates.
    – Buffy
    Apr 3, 2021 at 15:58
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    Or at Toronto it’s they’re “tenure track, teaching stream” and they have tenure just like the research stream. Apr 3, 2021 at 16:09
  • This information is actually extremely useful to me. Thank you so much!
    – Academic
    Apr 3, 2021 at 16:29

This might depend somewhat on the field and certainly on what you intend to do as a career. It is field dependent since different fields place a somewhat different balance on teaching v research.

But if you seek a career in an R1 or R2 then you want to focus primarily on showing good research "chops". For those seeking to (mostly) teach at a liberal arts college then teaching will be looked at closely.

But you also need to think about the number of jobs available and their specific requirements. Look in professional publications, for example, to get an idea of what is being looked for.

At some colleges and universities, research into the specific pedagogy of a field might be honored. Other places it would be discounted. Moreover, it is easier for a senior faculty member to focus on "out of the mainstream" research than it is for someone on the tenure track.

And also note that it is probably easier to move from an R1 (say) to a teaching oriented college than it is to move in the other direction, though getting hired and then tenure at an R1 is pretty tough. Very hard in some fields at the moment.

Finally, if you can manage to do what you love, then you will be happier overall, so think long term about goals and how best to achieve them.

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    Could you please tell me what R1 and R2 mean?
    – Academic
    Apr 3, 2021 at 15:29
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    They are first and second tier research universities in the US. See: en.wikipedia.org/wiki/….
    – Buffy
    Apr 3, 2021 at 15:31
  • Thank you for the link and answer! It cleared my mind!
    – Academic
    Apr 3, 2021 at 15:31

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