Caleb T. Carr, Ph.D.

Professor of Communication











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Information for Prospective Graduate Students

An open letter to prospective graduate scholars interested in working with me in some capacity (beyond enrolling in a class) during their graduate studies:


To begin, thank you for your interest in working with me as either an advisor, committee member, or research team leader during your time in the School of Communication (SoC) graduate program at Illinois State University. There are many paths to success in the SoC's graduate program, and many unique faculty with whom to work. The following is offered to provide initial information for those scholars interested in working with me, laying out details on expectations, workflows, and timelines. Of course, interested scholars should contact me directly to express interest; but this page can provide an initial source of information, answering some initial questions and helping you make an informed choice about our fit.


At this time, I'm not taking on advisees. The last few years have seen the resources available at Illinois State University, the College of Arts and Scieince, and the School of Communication constrained. We have no lab space, meanigful subject pool, or other means through which to readily conduct rigorous, quantitative work employing either survey or experimental design. As such, many of the things I can do as an advisor are limited--I cannot meaninguflly guarantee opportunities for research collaboration, presentation and publication, or exposure to the greater field. I hope that resources may eventually become available; but for now I cannot do you for you the things an advisor needs to do that would situate you to be successful upon completion of your MA.


With that said, other graduate faculty may be able to serve as stronger mentors with alternate opportunities that are currently available at Illinois State UniversityI really like to serve on committees and work with engaged and interested students who want to really understand and engage with communication science. To that end, I work to serve on committees where I can offer meaningful scholarly insight and contributions: theoretical, topical, or methodological. I'm primarily a post-positivist scholar who typically asks questions best-answered through controlled lab experiments and surveys; but I'm always happy to be involved in projects that take other approaches, provided they intersect with other areas of my work. If I say, "No," to serving on your committee, please know it is likely not about you or your scholarship; but rather than (a) I am already overcommitted and cannot give you the time and emphasis you deserve; and/or (b) there is not a meaningful fit between your work and mine that would allow me to contribute and help your work and achieve your intended goals. In all cases, I recommend you form your committee as soon as you are comfortable doing so, as each faculty's timeline can be different.


Information for Scholars


Questions for You to Consider

You can get a good sense of who I am and the type of work I do by going through my CV, and taking a look at a few articles--particularly if there are some in your area of interest--before we chat. Additionally, there may be some questions to ask yourself about why you want me to be on your committee and what role you see me serving prior to our chat.

What is your primary research interest and how does it intersect with mine?
What are you curious about studying? More than a broad technology (e.g., "social media") or area (e.g., "interpersonal communication), what are you particularly interested in exploring? It may be a particular theory, communication phenomenon, application of communication, or problem/issue you've seen. Consider how you think that interest may relate to my scholarship.

What do you see me doing in your committee, and why?
What is your goal or desire for my involvement? What contribution do you see me bringing to the table? What are your goals for us working together?

What would the ideal committee member do for you?
What are you looking for from me? Do you need someone to bounce ideas off of? To complement strengths from the rest of your committee? To serve as a guide to the "hidden curriculum" of graduate studies? Think about what your goals are and how I may be able to help you achieve them.

Are you self-motivated and independently driven?
I work with my students in almost whatever capacity they need; but ultimately the thesis (and, to a lesser degree, Master's degree) is driven by the students. If you need biweekly meetings to keep you accountable, I'm happy to do that. If you would benefit from sending me outlines or paragraphs to read and iteratively assemble, I can do that. I'm certainly here to provide a safety net and support system to let you achieve your potential. However, be aware I do not micromanage, and ultimately it is up to you to manage workflows and deadlines. Let me know if there are concerns or problems, but if you need daily check-ins or a constant steering hand, other faculty members may be more complementary.

Do you want to do a thesis, 39-hour option, or documentary?
I primarily work with theses. I have no documentary knowledge or experience. I can often serve as a second committee member on 39-hour options; but my strengths lay in conducting and guiding original scholarship and research. To that end, I do not often work with 39-hour options.



Concluding Thoughts

As a graduate faculty member, I seek to draw out the best of what my graduate students are capable. This does not mean the best that you think you are capable of; but rather the potential that I see inside of you. While I do not take myself terribly seriously, I take my work and my students very seriously; and strive to put into your studies as much as you do. I want to foster an environment for smart, clever scholars to grow as social scientists, engage in the communication discipline with their peers, and nurture their burgeoning scholarship. For those who seek such an environment, I'm eager to meet and chat with you more.


Caleb T. Carr, Ph.D.
School of Communication, Illinois State University



This page was inspired and heavily influenced by a similar open letter from Dr. Elizabeth S. Parks.


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