I recently signed a pledge with the aim of being more respectful toward my colleagues and of trying to uphold a culture of respectfulness in our profession. Following conversation over a previous post, I have come to the belief that I should provide a safe space for people to discuss departmental rankings in philosophy. When I made critical comments at the Leiter Blog on the inclusion of women among the rankers of the PGR in 2011 as a graduate student, I felt shut down. My comments were edited without permission in a way that made me appear less reasonable, while the original post and other comments were edited to make my interlocutors appear more reasonable. I think that it is healthy to evaluate ranking methodologies critically and openly and I think that there must be a public space for this. Since I have already earned the ire of those who appear to be opposed to a public discussion, I am a good candidate for putting forward a post that will allow for discussion. I will thus allow anonymous postings and will aim to respect that anonymity both privately and publicly (except when required by law or conscience to do otherwise).
I will start with some of my own thoughts: I think that reputational information is helpful and important, but that it would be better to combine this information with data on placement, publications, and other such objective measures. (With this in mind, I sent my original findings on the job market to Brian Leiter and Kieran Healy in April 2012 without response.) An ideal ranking, in my mind, would be customizable. The viewer would have to choose metrics before a ranking would be created. I am open on what the relevant metrics might be. This is where you come in. Should we have rankings at all? What metrics do prospective graduate students care about (a variety of voices is of value here)? How should this work be completed, and by whom? Comments that appear to violate the norm of respectfulness will not be admitted as is, but anonymity is both welcomed and encouraged. Update: commentators should feel free to leave off their email addresses when posting comments.
Update: Creating (or updating) a ranking of this kind, with multiple objective values, is beyond my current capabilities. I fully and wholeheartedly welcome someone with more time and competence than me to take on this task. Better yet, I think, would be a task force involving those familiar with the PGR, since they already have lots of expertise. I am welcoming discussion here not because I plan to create a new ranking, but because I think it is important to have a discussion about all such rankings in the open. I am limiting my personal contribution to the placement data for now.