So-Called “Non-Academic” Work, Public Musicology, Ph.D.s, Jobs, etc.

Why should earning a Ph.D. have to mean that one is qualified only for conventional, university-based “academic work” consisting of advanced research plus teaching? There are lots of Ph.D.s in other fields—such as elsewhere in the humanities—who do interesting, so-called “non-academic work” outside of such contexts, but sometimes still within universities.

George Mason University’s Center for History and New Media (1994-, added a Ph.D. program in 2001 that includes not only a typical combination of academic faculty and graduate students, but also a staff of dozens of information technology specialists who develop and support software tools for history/humanities teaching, learning, and research (used by over a million people) and over one hundred project websites (with over 20 million visitors each year).  Meanwhile, according to a recent newsletter of the American Musicological Society (AMS), it seems that musicologists are supposed to be satisfied that they are doing “public musicology” on the basis of the occasional newspaper critic taking note of one of their conferences.
In 2010, I developed the AMS’s new, modernized, web version of Doctoral Dissertations in Musicology (DDM  However, despite the many improvements (and the fact that it is the AMS website’s most popular page), it still relies almost entirely on self-reporting.  I’ve crunched the numbers and done people-tracking research for Ph.D. graduates in musicology from one selected year (2006) and for their subsequent employment situations.  The number of Ph.D.s in DDM suggests an eventual tenure-track result of 54%.  However, cross-referencing with the much larger music literature resource RILM, though, shows that DDM is missing hundreds of Ph.D. musicology dissertations just from that one year.  So, 54% is much too high, and other evidence suggests a tenure-track outcome in musicology of not more 20%.  For example, information on the musicology job wiki corroborates that much lower number.  In any case, DDM needs to become much more widely used.
Musicology needs to enable new ways for Ph.D.s to find work that does not throw people either out of the loop entirely or else into terminal adjunctivitis.  Public initiatives that can also support academic teaching, learning, and research (perhaps to include partially-monetized, premium web content) could be one way to go.  The success of “digital history” suggests that a “digital musicology” would be advised to include such things.

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