ADVANCE Weekly Roundup: Let’s exorcize academic “Ghosting”

The contemporary shift to online interactions has implications for the quality of academic relationships and experiences. One such pervasive yet troubling practice is “ghosting.” In “The Sad Humiliations of Academic Ghosting,” published in the Chronicle of Higher Education, ghosting is defined as a sudden cessation of response by one party in a digital communication relationship without explanation or apparent reason. This leaves the other party feeling not only uncertain but often humiliated and devalued. As one person in the essay asked: “Am I so valueless they can’t even be bothered to tell me to go away?”

Ghosting happens in a variety of interactions, however, the most hurtful forms of ghosting happen in relationships of vulnerability. For example, advisors may “ghost” advisees, undermining their self-confidence or department chairs or administrators may “ghost” requests from adjunct or temporary instructors thus underlining their subordinated status. Ghosting can thereby inflict damage on those most vulnerable in the academy and reproduce structured relations of inequity.

A common instance of academic ghosting is during position searches when a faculty candidate is not selected to advance and then “ghosted” instead of informed of the rejection. Successful communication between search committees and human resources can help ensure that candidates are notified of the outcome of their application in a consistent and timely way, thus eliminating one area where harm from ghosting may inadvertently occur.

Ghosting may seem like a mundane incivility but it is exactly these types of  incivilities that must be addressed  in order to enact integrity, accountability, and mutual respect as values grounding academic life.

Today’s feature was shared with us by the Advance PI Team. If you have an article you think we should feature, please email it to and we will consider adding it to the ADVANCE Weekly Roundup.

The ADVANCE Weekly Roundup is brought to you by ADVANCE at Michigan Tech, which is an NSF-funded initiative dedicated to improving faculty career success, retention, diversity, equity, and inclusion. These articles are available on the ADVANCE Newsblog. To learn more about this week’s topic, our mission, programming efforts, and to check out our growing collection of resources, contact us at or visit our website:

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