The following is the conclusion of an essay entitled "Is there abuse and corruption in musicology?," which originated as a response to a discussion on the AMS-L e-mail list in May 2009 regarding an essay by Ilias Chrissochoidis in The Chronicle of Higher Education (8 May 2009). My essay was not published by AMS-L at that time, and this is its first publication. For contextual background, see the Introduction; see also Parts 1, 2, and 3 of this essay. A pdf of the complete essay, including the introduction, is available here.
What steps can be taken to combat the problems that I’ve outlined here?
First and foremost, every musicologist (and ethnomusicologist and
theorist) who is involved with graduate education can (and should, on
ethical grounds) make every effort to reverse the overproduction of
Ph.Ds. This will not be easy for those of you (a large proportion, I
expect) who are under strong pressure to have at least a few graduate
students to protect your department and faculty lines from the
depredations of administration. The AMS, for its part, can make a very
clear public statement about the problem, which is the structural basis
for all the other issues that I’ve introduced here.
Second, it is essential to provide opportunities for those who believe
they have been wronged or who have witnessed abuse to have a forum
where they can speak out without fear of reprisal or destroying their
own careers, and procedures must be developed to allow those who have
been wronged to take appropriate action, again without fear of
reprisal, both through institutional and legal channels. I have
recently pondered whether it might be possible to set up a website
similar to Wikileaks(which,
as many of you will know, provides an outlet for the online publication
of documents that vested interests wish to suppress). Perhaps this is
something AMS can consider, or perhaps it is best set up as an
independent entity. Various obvious problems would need to be worked
out: most importantly, it is essential that such a site not become an
outlet for anonymous unsubstantiated accusations. But it is
nevertheless essential that those who are afraid to speak out be
provided a voice.
Third, ways must be found to allow more accountability and transparency
in hiring and review. This will be difficult, because the current
system is very deeply entrenched and its secrecy jealously guarded, at
least in part out of fear of legal action. Most of you reading this
will probably feel that you do your best to maintain integrity and
objectivity when involved with searches. But if you look deeply into
your hearts, I think you will realize that perhaps you, too, sometimes
put applications in the reject pile because of the applicant’s age, the
school the applicant graduated from, or unsubstantiated rumors you may
have heard over cocktails at national AMS.
Fourth, it is high time that someone or some organization began to keep
objective and comprehensive statistics about graduate education and
employment in the field. How many students are entering graduate
programs, how many become candidates, and how many complete their
Ph.Ds.? What is the employment state of graduates after six
months? After two years? After five? As with the legal profession (see
note 2 in Part 1 of this essay), it should be a requirement for departments to provide accurate
and timely information on the employment of their graduates to a
central authority on a regular basis. Perhaps this central authority
could be AMS, or perhaps a new independent organization.
A rumor has gotten back to me that I have “left the field,” which came
as a surprise to me; I’ve never said it (and frankly, no one has
asked). It’s true that I feel that the field has left me, and it became
clear that it was foolish (as well as economically impossible) for me
to continue to make scholarly and intellectual contributions to the
field for free.
But I have a very large basket of relevant skills and experience, and
I’m still more than happy to entertain any and all reasonable offers.
This is the concluding part of the essay "Is there abuse and corruption in musicology?"
 This essay was written long before Wikileaks unleashed a media firestorm by publishing a large cache of documents on the Iraq war. As of the date of publication of this essay, Wikileaks is offline, "under[g]oing scheduled maintenance."