Institute reputation?

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Institute reputation?

Postby Kevin Foley » Sat Feb 05, 2005 11:02 am

Whether you are looking for a postdoc or a real job in academia/industry, the relative levels of importance are something like:

Your publication record is 70%.
Your mentor's reputation is 25% (the old boys/girls network is alive and well).
Your institution?s reputation is 5%.

(Your mileage may vary, but you get the idea.)

In looking for a job in industry, ?what? you know becomes important, but your publication record is still the #1 guide we use for separating the good from the also-rans. But this can also be true in academia. University departments are always looking to hire someone from the latest hot field (zebrafish, systems biology?whatever).

If you have two first author Cell/Science/Nature papers, the other two criteria won't matter. Coming from a famous lab will help in making up for a weaker publication record (more so in looking for a postdoc than a real job). But if you don't have either of the first two, you might be better off leaving bench science, since "Harvard" on your CV will only impress non-scientists.

As far as the reputations of academic institutions, after the top 5 (10?) in a field, that 5% probably drops to 0% as long as you are still from one of the top 100 or so "research universities." When someone looks at a candidate from Northwestern (where I went!), no one thinks ?NU has a better Department of X than Chicago, so I?ll go with the NU candidate.? They are going to look at the publication record first and lab?s reputation second. The university won't even enter into it.

If you are overseas and looking to move to the US, the school might be more important since it is not as clear to many of us which are the "top 100? (but this is not a problem for Weitzman, which is well known). But publications and mentor's reputation are still the most important. It?s possible that who your mentor is might be a bit more important, as taking advantage of the old boys/girls network will make it easier to look for a job from overseas.

But focus on publishing. A great publication record opens all doors.

Kevin Foley
Posts: 1196
Joined: Tue Jan 10, 2012 11:28 pm
Location: Boston, Massachusetts USA

Institute reputation?

Postby Joel Knopf » Sat Feb 05, 2005 1:23 pm

Thanks a lot,everyone, for your responses.

From what I understood here, the general feeling is that although the reputation and standing of the graduate institution is important and may help (especially if it is a good one), the most important factor seems to be a good publication record. This makes sense since your publishing record demonstrates best your abilities as a scientist (a bench scientist anyway...).

I have another question but I think it belongs in a new post.
Joel Knopf
Posts: 9
Joined: Tue Jan 10, 2012 11:30 pm

Institute reputation?

Postby Madison » Sat Feb 05, 2005 4:35 pm

I just found something cool:
This website asks prominant scientists to rank and score individual papers. (mine got a 9.6 - cool!)
You can look up WHO is in the Faculty, and you can also have it list all the Faculty members at a given institution. This would be a great resource for someone looking for a postdoc lab, since you will know that you are going to a well-respected lab.

I imagine that this relates directly to school reputation - in that if an institution has many faculty in this list, then it will have a higher reputation.

Institute reputation?-Faculty of 1000/finding a postdoc

Postby Kevin Foley » Sun Feb 06, 2005 12:06 pm

Hi Madison,

I highly recommend Faculty of 1000 to keep up with the literature, which is obviously getting harder and harder, what with the proliferation of new journals. I am starting to hate all these Cell and Nature spin-offs (there was a new one announced at a Keystone I was at last week?Cell Metabolism?one more dang thing to read!). My colleagues often wonder how I stay so well informed, and Faculty of 1000 is one of my secrets (Shh!).

Your paper must have been pretty hot to get a 9.6 rating. I?m not surprised your job search is going well. Congratulations! Please keep posting to this board. I am sure your experiences as a young PI will be very valuable for others to hear about.

As far as using Faculty of 1000 to brainstorm about where to do a postdoc, this is a great idea. One caveat, however, is that it the Faculty has a significant percentage of "young turks" who are not well known yet but came out of top labs. Personally, I favor the idea that it is best for a recent Ph.D. to postdoc in a major lab, given the career benefits that you can gain by taking advantage of the old boys/girls network. I think you?ve expressed similar sentiments before on this board. Not surprisingly, the big shots in a field are less likely to volunteer for something like Faculty of 1000, since it takes time to read journals and write reviews and is as yet not a particularly prestigious appointment. In my experience, a lot of PI?s become very dependent on their postdocs, networking and meeting attendance to stay informed, and therefore tend to read the primary literature less and less. So when they are asked to join, many of them probably decline but recommend a former postdoc for the ?honor.? Several of my former colleagues got on the Faculty this way. Of course, there are also potential advantages to postdocing with a ?hot young turk,? and this may be one way to find a few to consider.

A related option, which I?m sure has previously been discussed here, is to look up in PubMed the members of the editorial boards of the major journals in fields that you are interested in. This is what I did. Obviously, you?ll probably know a few candidates already, but probably not all the good names in a field unless it is the field you are currently working in (which I think is not the best choice for a postdoc). Being asked to serve on an editorial board is a sure indication that one is very well established and respected in the field. Despite all the work involved, PI?s are much less likely to turn down editorial board memberships because of the prestige associated with these appointments.

When I applied for a postdoc, I selected 8 PIs, some whom I already knew through my advisor or from my own knowledge of the field, and some whom I found through the above method (looking at ~5 or so major journals). Funny thing, at the last minute I decided to make it a even 10 applications, just for the heck of it. One of the 2 PI?s I added had published a seminal full article in Science that I remember being very impressed with, but I had never associated his name with the paper until I found him on an editorial board and did a PubMed search. As is often the case, by the time I finished interviewing, the lab I was originally most excited about no longer interested me, and I went off in a different direction. Well, I?m glad I added those two extra names, since his was the lab where I ended up postdocing!

Kevin Foley
Posts: 1196
Joined: Tue Jan 10, 2012 11:28 pm
Location: Boston, Massachusetts USA


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