What are sociology departments looking for?

Are you successful at and committed to research and teaching? If so, there might be a job out there for you. According to the ASA Job Bank, here is what departments are looking for from assistant professor applicants seeking tenure-track positions, based on the text of their ads:

The Data
I downloaded each of the last 200 jobs listed in the Job Bank. I kept only the descriptions that had the word “Assistant” and “tenure” in them, attempting to capture just tenure-track jobs. I also kept just the first three paragraphs because after that the listings seemed to focus on the mechanics of applying for the job. I also eliminated frequently used uninformative words (i.e. ‘sociology’, ‘applicants’, ‘candidates’, ‘college’, ‘department’, ‘university’, ‘applications’, ‘position’, ‘tenure-track’, ‘assistant’, and ‘professor’). Finally, I copied the resulting text file into Wordle, which eliminated the common words (e.g. ‘of’ and ‘the’) and produced the pretty graph.

Fun fact: While the ASA Job Bank requires you to log in to search, you don’t have to be logged in to see a specific listing. For example, anybody can view the University of Michigan’s recent job listing. It is pretty simple to loop through multiple job listings since it appears that ‘jobIDs’ are sequential, although there seem to be some duplicate listings. This also means that it would be trivial to create a Twitter bot that checks for new listings, scrapes the relevant information, and then posts the title and a direct link when new listings appear.

It looks like the data goes back five or six years–enough to do some really interesting analysis of changes in the job market over time. If you want to do some actual sociology with this dataset, my Python script might be helpful.

About Neal Caren

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