Call for Chapters: Strategies for Navigating Graduate School and Beyond 

Note: The book is intended for those pursuing graduate education and professional work in political science.

Call for Chapters: Strategies for Navigating Graduate School and Beyond 

Editors: Kevin G. Lorentz II, Daniel J. Mallinson, Julia Marin Hellwege, Davin Phoenix, and J. Cherie Strachan 

Pursuing a graduate degree in political science is the first step in pursuing an academic or alt-academic career.  Yet there is a large hidden curriculum in graduate school (pertaining to strategies, norms, and practices that, when implemented, can help students navigate graduate school) that can be difficult to learn and navigate, even for the most successful undergraduate students and early career professionals who are beginning their graduate career. Beyond gaining entry to graduate school, surviving, and thriving as a graduate student, success requires insights into academia and political science that most undergraduates, recent college graduates or early career professionals simply will not know. Additionally, lack of access to this hidden curriculum most disadvantages first generation and minoritized students, which maintains inequalities in the discipline. Presently, the APSA leadership is increasing its efforts to increase diversity, equity, and inclusion across the profession by addressing issues of climate, culture, and institutional and systemic inequality through a variety of measures: diversity and inclusion programming, presidential task forces and other council-backed initiatives. While this work is ongoing, this resource guide will attempt to fill the knowledge-gap for prospective and current graduate students, providing insights into everything from applying for admission and finding a mentor, to landing that first job – and everything in between.  Given that academia, like all workplaces, is still working to create inclusive learning environments and workplaces, “everything in between” includes implicit bias, discrimination, or even overt harassment and assault – especially for students with marginalized identities who remain underrepresented within the discipline. 

Our goal is to address these less frequently discussed experiences as well, to ensure graduate students not only know how to identify inappropriate behavior but also the array of choices and resources available to them as they respond. We want this to be a guidebook for students at all stages of graduate school and for them to keep as they move into alt-academic and faculty careers where they are mentoring the next generation of scholars. The guidebook will be freely available in PDF on APSA’s website and can be printed on demand (much like the Style Manual).  

The resource will have an encyclopedia feel to it. Each chapter will be relatively short, providing an overview of the importance of its topic and practical advice from political scientists. We are striving to have a diverse college of voices contribute across the chapters. Potential contributors can consider either signing up for one of the topics we list below, or propose one that they feel we have missed. We STRONGLY encourage co-authoring of chapters, as we want each of them, and the entire work, to speak broadly to experiences in academia. This may be especially true for sensitive subjects where authors may want to maintain some level of anonymity. We ask that you first indicate your interest in a topic using this Google Sheet. Do not shy away from expressing interest if someone else already has. This will help us facilitate matchmaking for those with a shared interest on a topic. That said, if you are interested in more than one topic, but one of them does not have any registered interest yet, consider writing on that topic. Final chapters should be roughly 2000-3000 words.  

Topics range from the mundane to the complex, and we recognize that some may prefer to write on the more complex and sensitive topics anonymously. We are open to this. If this is the case, please reach out to us directly at apsagradguidebook@gmail.com. 

All correspondence regarding the project should be directed to apsagradguidebook@gmail.com.  

Timeline 

  • Deadline for expressing interest: July 15, 2021 (Use this Google Sheet
  • Deadline for submitting a brief (150-300 word) abstract: August 15, 2021
  • Deadline for submitting a rough chapter draft: December 15, 2021
  • Deadline for submitting the final copy: February 15, 2022

In addition to the final full book, APSA is interested in publishing some of the chapters as they are finalized, including on the Association’s website and in Political Science Today the new member magazine. Your chapter is most likely to be highlighted this way if it is submitted earlier than the final deadlines provided above.  

Chapter Template  

We ask that each chapter follow a similar template: 

  • title that clearly communicates the topic 
  • What Do You Need to Know? – Provide a short introduction to the topic of the chapter 
  • Why Does It Matter? – Include a brief explanation of why the topic is important, including using relevant research to frame the problem being addressed (if applicable). We do not expect extensive literature reviews, just enough for context.  
  • What Should/Can You Do? – This is where the chapter provides advice and weighs potential options for students. Topics will not always have one clear recommendation. They may require students being aware of the trade-offs of different choices. Where possible, highlight on or off campus resources that graduate students can avail themselves of.  
  • References: Please include a diverse collection of evidence-based sources where possible 

All chapters must follow APSA’s Style Manual and should be 2000-3000 words.  

Themes and Chapters 

(To express interest in a topic, see Google Sheets here.)

The Application Process 
  • Admissions – Letters, Writing Samples, GRE Scores, Personal Statements 
  • Graduate Assistant Positions and Funding Considerations 
  • Taking on Student Loans/Financial Concerns 
  • Selecting a Program – Programmatic Fit and Mentors, Location, terminal MA programs, applying directly to PhD program, Etc. 
On Campus 
  • Orientation and First Impressions 
  • Who are Chairs, Deans, Provosts/Chancellors, Presidents, and the Boards of Trustees? 
  • Other titles – Who deserves the title Dr. and who deserves professor? Women and marginalized faculty and first names (don’t do it).  
  • Professionalism – with professors, with peers, with undergraduate students, in emails 
  • Selecting an Advisor vs. Selecting a Mentor 
  • Choosing subfield specializations and committees 
  • Comprehensive Exams 
  • The prospectus 
  • The MA thesis and Doctoral Dissertation 
  • Things that can go “wrong”: Advisor leaves, changing your subfield/dissertation topic, changing your dissertation chair, transferring to a new program 
  • Balancing Family and personal responsibilities: Pregnancy, Family, and Care responsibilities 
  • Time management–especially after reaching candidacy 
  • Dealing with Cohorts, Cliques, and Hostile Peer Cultures 
  • Preventing burnout or the “floating” phenomena post-candidacy 
  • Deciding to leave graduate school 
Professional Development – Scholarship 
  • Upper-middle class norms – small talk over cocktails, networking, and more
  • How to Conference 
  • Reimbursement Culture vs. Funding support (i.e. do grad students have to pay out money for conferences, research expenses, and job market expenses and wait for reimbursement) 
  • Joining an organized section and attending section business meetings 
  • Identifying and Applying for Grants and Fellowships 
  • Publishing 
  • Peer Reviewed Journals 
  • Books 
  • Technical Reports 
  • Writing a Book Review 
  • Collaborating with faculty and/or other graduate students 
  • How academic writing is distinct from journalistic, literary & other forms of writing 
  • Finding funded positions and assistantships on campus and beyond (NSF, APSA, other fellowships, as much as possible) 
  • Public Scholarship and Dealing with Trolls 
  • To Twitter or Not to Twitter? 
Professional Development – Teaching 
  • Preparing for Your First Teaching Experience (e.g., writing the syllabus, pedagogical & curricular mentoring/resources, classroom & student management, dos and don’ts, etc.) 
  • APSA’s Education Section and TLC 
Professional Development – Service 
  • University Service – demonstrating commitment to “good department citizenship” 
  • Professional Service – opportunities for graduate student service in APSA, its section, and regional organizations 
  • Grad student organizations and unionizing 
Professional Development – The Job Market 
  • How does the market work? (the (inter-) national reach, timing, 1st and 2nd rounds, travel, reimbursement, etc.) 
  • Building a Supportive Network: Mentors and Peers (inc. supportive sections and caucuses) 
  • Preparing for careers at different kinds of institutions 
  • Community Colleges 
  • Liberal Arts Colleges 
  • Regional Comprehensives 
  • R-1 and R-2 
  • Independent Schools 
  • Differences between US and international colleges/universities 
  • Preparing for Alt-Academic careers 
  • Internships as a graduate student 
  • CVs versus Resumes 
  • Portfolios and Teaching, Research, and Diversity Statements/Philosophies 
  • Adjunct, Visiting, and Fixed-Term (or clinical positions) 
  • The Academic Interview/Marathon 
  • How to answer inappropriate questions 
  • Tips on avoiding implicit bias – (e.g., whether to wear wedding rings) 
  • Negotiating and accepting the offer 
  • Navigating the Discipline if you are not in a “top tier” program 
  • The Two+ Body “Problem” 
Climate and Culture in the Department and Profession 

What are the signs of a healthy, inclusive department? What Constitutes Hostile Learning/Workplace Environments? 

  • Implicit Bias and Microaggressions 
  • Imposter Syndrome 
  • Discrimination – Resources and options for responding and reporting 
  • Harassment – Resources and Options for responding
  • Assault – Resources Options for responding 
  • The Culture of Overwork in Academia 
Strategies for Addressing Implicit Bias, Harassment, Assault 

This section will provide group-specific strategies, resources, and advice for addressing various types of professional misconduct and finding support.  

  • Concerns for Individuals from Underrepresented Racial and Ethnic Minority Groups
  • Concerns for LGBTQIA+ Individuals
  • Gender Identity and Pronouns 
  • Concerns for Women 
  • Concerns for International Students 
  • Concerns for Religious Minorities 
  • Concerns for the Disabled Community 
  • Concerns for First-Gen Scholars 
  • Concerns for Contingent Labor Employees 
Mental Health and Wellness in Graduate School
  • Isolation, Depression and Anxiety 
  • Counseling and other resources
  • Accommodations for Classes 
  • The Value of Being Mediocre 

(To express interest in a topic, see Google Sheets here.)

[Note: The book is intended for those pursuing graduate education and professional work in political science.] 

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