I am a graduate student at a decent but not Leiterrific department. I am in the early stages of a dissertation on a topic that is really important to me, but the AOS that the dissertation places me in is not one of those popular ones that gets high representation among the job openings even under the best circumstances. Last year there were maybe five job ads that mentioned my area. I am worried that this year there will be fewer, maybe zero. I have ways of packaging myself which place me in a more popular AOS, but it's obvious that this is a slight stretch, and thus I take myself to be uncompetitive for the best jobs in that other AOS.
Here's my question. Is it wise to change my dissertation topic (and AOS) in light of what is in the JFP? I think I can formulate another dissertation project in one of the more popular AOS's. It would require me to assemble a new committee with a new director, and that would certainly be awkward but not impossible. The new project would be on something I'm far less invested in personally, and it would require me to start basically from scratch so far as research goes, but I am certain I could follow through with it.
Others I have discussed this with claimed that it's unwise to switch projects on the basis of JFP trends. They say that the job market changes from year to year, and that my current AOS could become more popular. (It would be great if it did, but I just don't see it happening.) Others tell me that my dissertation should represent what's most important to me, and that changing projects is some kind of "sell out" or failure of "integrity", but I don't know about this. Any advice?
Tuesday, October 11, 2011
JFP Eve Advice Sought
A reader writes: