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list of publications (lack of)

PostPosted: Wed Feb 02, 2005 7:19 pm
by Gio'
I have a problem, and maybe there's somebody out there who can give me a good advise.
I recently finished my first post-doc, and for a series of very unfortunate circumstances, mainly due to incompatibility with the PI, this time was ill spent (no publications came out of it). I am a good scientist, with a lot of creative thinking and technical skills, but I have applied both for another post-doc (I'd love to stay in academia) and for positions in industry, and I can't find anybody who wants me (or at least, reply to me). PIs don't want me because I haven't a good publication record, and HR think I am overqualified for technical positions (for higher positions same rule as for academia applies).
What kind of options do I have now? Do I have to keep trying (=believe in my scientific capabilities), or just give up and apply as clerk at the grocery store (assuming they'll hire me)???

Re:list of publications (lack of)

PostPosted: Wed Feb 02, 2005 8:22 pm
by Andy

Do you have publications from grad school? If so, you will probably be able to find another postdoc with some solid effort.

If you don't have any publications as a grad student or a postdoc, then you are similar to a friend of mine. If that's the case, then I personally would recommend thinking about a career away from the research bench. There are several posters here who have made that transition and done well.

Good luck,


Re:list of publications (lack of)

PostPosted: Wed Feb 02, 2005 11:03 pm
by Dave Jensen
Andy is right on target.

The best thing to do if you want a "science job without the bench" is to analyze what skills and techniques you are good at. Particular instrument? Certain types of protocols? Then, think of who the supplier companies are for that type of work, and put them on your contact list.

There are a lot of non-bench positions, Gio, that will keep you very active in the field of research. This is just one of them.

Dave Jensen, Moderator

Re:list of publications (lack of)

PostPosted: Thu Feb 03, 2005 6:17 pm
by Gio'
Maybe you're missing my point... I want to stay at the bench! This is why I thought I had chances at least as a tech/RA or something... I know my trade, and I haven't done any other job other than working at the bench. I can't sell anything to anybody, I do not like to fix other people's problems... But I suppose I need to bring some bread home, so maybe I should simply put on the side very good technical skills and apply at the grocery store...

Thanks anyway.

Re:list of publications (lack of)

PostPosted: Thu Feb 03, 2005 6:42 pm
by Dave Jensen
Hi Gio,

I don't think it helps to get sarcastic. And, I apologize for thinking that if you couldn't land a research scientist position, that you'd be interested in other kinds of science jobs.

Now that I see more of how you feel about things, I'd like to suggest to other posters that they provide some suggestions. If you want a job in industry, hiring managers will look to your "proven productivity" however. That means, publications. The only kinds of companies that seem to hire people without those are supplier companies, those that really don't do their own bench research. So, without publications, it is very hard to get employed in industry (and, I would imagine, in academia as well.) The problem with taking a job as an RA or technician is that HR people NEVER want to "over-hire." The folks that go into jobs like that are short-timers . . . they don't last, they get unhappy and leave, seeking more responsibility appropriate to their education. So, it's a real waste of time to keep expecting to get a lower-level job than a PhD post.

I've known of some who have taken the PhD off their CV in your situation, and got that BS or MS level job. But that sounds like a really lousy solution. There MUST be some way for you to pull a couple of publications out of your past work, or a way to work towards this in the next year. Gio, I don't have any other suggestions for you and hope that the readership has suggestions,

Dave Jensen, Moderator

Re:list of publications (lack of)

PostPosted: Thu Feb 03, 2005 6:59 pm
by Lora

Like anyone else, you simply need to look at what you can do with what you've got.

Is there ANY way you can drag a publication out of your previous work, even if you're writing a sort of popular science article for a magazine, publishing in The Annual Newsletter of the Middleofnowhere Biomedical Physical Chemistry Association for Better Treatment of Lab Techs, or even just presenting it at a conference, where the peer review requirements are minimal? There's oodles of low-impact journals to pick from.

If you are determined to stay in academia, that means teaching, and you can still do that at a large state school or a community college without any publications. You will have to be a part-time instructor and keep a day job, but this can get you contacts with PIs who might be looking for skilled bench scientists--once they get to know you better, and "click" with you on a personal level, they might be willing to hire you as a bench tech or for a second post-doc without a publication record.

Depending on how serious your falling-out was, you might wish to consider changing your focus a little: if your PI was well-connected and well-liked, do you think he's telling all HIS colleagues, "Don't hire Gio, I don't like him"? Hopefully it was professional enough that you won't have that problem. But many smaller, less-prestigious schools are looking for part-time instructors, and I know several industry scientists who teach on the side to keep up their academic contacts so they can keep up on potential collaborators.

Re:list of publications (lack of)

PostPosted: Thu Feb 03, 2005 9:41 pm
by Andy

I still am unsure whether you have every published anything. Like I said I have a friend in this situation. If you have publications from grad school, other opportunities will come about if you talk to enough PI's. If you haven't published in 8 or 9 years of trying, either have a serious talk about how you can improve your productivity with ALL your former bosses, or bail from the bench.

Not what you want to hear, but that's my 2 cents.


Re:list of publications (lack of)

PostPosted: Fri Feb 04, 2005 10:35 am
by Susan
I agree with Andy. It is unclear if you have any publications at all. Please update us on this. If indeed you weren't able to get any pubs in grad school either, then you may want to reevaluate your desire to stay in academia...Not to put a damper on your goal but there are people with pubs in high impact journals that struggle to get positions in academia.

If however you have published in grad school then there is no doubt in my mind that you should be able to get another academic postdoc...that is the easy part!
Good luck!

Re:list of publications (lack of)

PostPosted: Fri Feb 04, 2005 10:52 am
by Teresa

I knew someone in a similar situation and he only got another science job through serious networking and luck. He worked hard to get a lot of personal contacts...basically talked to people first _before_ the issue of a CV/publications was raised. This way people 'liked' him first and tended to sympathize with his situation once they heard the full story. In the end a friend of his got a job in industry and a few months later used their position to get him in the door for an interview.

It will be tough but if this is still what you want and you try to put a positive face forward you may have a chance. Take every opportunity you can. Beyond presenting the facts remember that bitterness will get you no where as future employers and co-workers don't want it in their lab. People fall into such holes in science all of the time and no matter the reason only you can turn the situation around.

Just my thoughts...

Re:list of publications (lack of)

PostPosted: Fri Feb 04, 2005 4:48 pm
by Gio\'
Thanks to everybody for their advice. I didn\'t mean to be sarcastic, but I already thought about the obvious; I needed help to think about the rest!
Anyway, your comments triggered some new ideas, maybe they\'ll work maybe not, but it\'s worth a try.
I come from a lab where it was nearly impossible to have authorship during grad school (not everybody graduated in North America!), so I have three papers from that time but none as a first author (even though I did most of the work). But I did get excellent reference letters, which granted me my post-doc. Why this wasn\'t successful, it\'s a long story...