Things you learn as department chair: Did you know departments pay to be listed in the ASA Guide to Graduate Departments? It’s $300–on top of whatever we pay to be a “Department Affiliate”–or roughly the cost of a fax machine for our graduate students. Does anybody use the Guide to Graduate Departments, or at least, does anyone use it in a way that might actually benefit our department, as opposed to like in studies of the history or structure of the discipline?

Of course, I suppose you can ask if anybody still uses a fax machine, but that’s a separate issue.

Author: jeremy

I am the Ethel and John Lindgren Professor of Sociology and a Faculty Fellow in the Institute for Policy Research at Northwestern University.

15 thoughts on “$”

  1. I like how that are becoming the WikiLeaks of the ASA. I did, in fact, use this guide when I was applying to graduate schools from another discipline and didn’t really know anyone in sociology.


  2. OK, well, Present-Trey better know to blame Past-Trey for why he doesn’t have a fax machine.

    (Kidding! I do not want e-mails from any NU grad students who may read this.)


  3. I often lend the Guide to undergraduate students who are wanting to apply to graduate school, but aren’t sure how to pick one. I think it’s useful for them to be able to see, all in one place, the lists of faculty and their interests, as well as the dissertation titles of recent graduates. Otherwise, they have to go to a million websites.


    1. Right. But, correct me if I’m wrong, part of the thing is that the guide itself is not online? Isn’t it only as a CD (or maybe as a CD and book)?


  4. Stay tuned as Jeremy learns that professors pay for their articles to be published in Discipline Journals. (Uh, maybe I need a better phrase than that…)

    Oh, wait. He already did.

    In answer to the “just the fax” question, the answer is, sadly, yes. There are several institutions (the IRS, TASC [which is used by many firms for Commuter/Parking/HC accounts], etc.) that still require documents to be received by facsimile.

    Of course, in many cases they are sent through the office copy machine’s “scan and fax” capability, but that’s another question and I do keep a ‘fax modem around Just In Case.


  5. Just to work through this: it costs $300 to be in the guide, and 224 depts participate, so brings in about $70K total. The only people who can see the guide are people and places who pay $15/$25 for the book. It’s important for departments to participate because it’s useful to prospective students. Of course, it’s not as useful as if it were online rather than in a printed book, but if it was online then it wouldn’t have the printed book revenues.

    Think it costs $70K to put together? It certainly doesn’t cost $15-$25 per copy to print and ship.


  6. I have never seen or heard of this guide, though it sounds like it would have been handy when I was applying for grad school.

    I use the fax machine at work regularly, but I’m not in academia.


  7. I didn’t use the guide, and don’t know anyone else who did.(I sent my inquiries by fax.)

    If just some of the schools listed in the guide instead put their money toward hiring a reasonably competent computer science undergrad to write code that gathers department pages and reformats the info in a single database, we’d have a resource that prospective applicants might actually use. Then, rather than pay another $300/year to be listed, pay a work-study (who could actually use the money) for a few hours of data entry to update the school’s listing.

    The total savings after 5 years could purchase several fax machines and a new 5.25″ floppy drive for that DEC Alpha box in the student lounge.


  8. I agree with Jeremy’s implication that generating and publicizing a guide to graduate departments of sociology ought to be built in to the cost of being a department affiliate. It is counter-productive to everyone for it to be an extra expense.

    I am more concerned about the state of the sociology employment bulletin. It is in the interest of sociologists as a body to have all possible jobs advertised there, and against our interests for the price of an ad to keep prospective employers from using it.

    If the ASA is going to sell our disciplinary soul to Sage for a cut of the journal profits, the least ASA can do is use the revenues to structure crucial outreach documents (like the Guide and the Employment Bulletin) that benefit sociologists and sociology departments.


    1. While we’re on the Sage thing… UNC has a weird gap between Sage and JSTOR’s ASR moving wall, so that 2008 is currently not available from either, until the JSTOR moving wall “flips” (at which point, presumably, Sage will stop serving us 2009 and that will be the new blank year). Why does Sage have to cut us off for the years JSTOR covers? Our library seems stumped by this.


      1. Nevermind. Apparently the Sage hole won’t move, so after the JSTOR flip we’ll be fine (except for the psychological scarring I experienced from not having instant access to one article for two days).


  9. “in a way that might actually benefit our department, as opposed to like in studies of the history or structure of the discipline”

    It doesn’t benefit your department to be included in studies of the discipline? That always seemed to me to be one of the reasons to pay the inclusion fee!


    1. Do you believe research resources should be open? I mean, if departments think it is important to sponsor a centralized resource about graduate programs, that’s one thing, but I don’t see paying $300/year for a resource that ASA also earns money by charging prospective students or their universities for and which, predictably, a large number of prospective students have no idea about.


    2. I do think the Guide benefits departments. My point is that such things should be the benefit of a departmental membership, not something you have to pay extra for on top of said membership.

      And in this job market, the ASA (in my opinion) should be running the on line employment bulletin with the goal of attracting as many advertisers as possible.

      I admit I have not pored over the budget to see just what the money DOES get spent on.


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