The right place for postdoc: 2 alternatives

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The right place for postdoc: 2 alternatives

Postby Pete C. » Tue Aug 25, 2015 1:43 pm

Dear colleagues,

I have 2 options for Postdoc. First is Cambridge in the UK, but this group publishes usually in journals with impact factor <5. Other option is also in the UK, but not at so famous University. However it is still in the top 10 in the UK and top 50 in the world. The level of research in this group seems to be higher than in Cambridge as well as the impact factor of journals where they publish their results. PI in Cambridge is Associate Professor, whereas PI at the other University is full Professor.

So, basically what is considered to be better for CV? Cambridge with low impact factor papers or not so famous University but higher quality of papers which I potentally can publish?

Kind regards,
Pete C.
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Re: The right place for postdoc: 2 alternatives

Postby AKG » Tue Aug 25, 2015 4:44 pm

I believe the work speaks for itself. Both places are good. Which of the two labs are you most interested in? Other things to consider are: How well are alumni from both labs placed? How do the two labs do in terms of collaboration? What other career development opportunities would you have in each lab? There are many other things that you might consider based on your situation.
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Re: The right place for postdoc: 2 alternatives

Postby Ana » Wed Aug 26, 2015 3:54 pm

Pete C. wrote:So, basically what is considered to be better for CV?

That depends: what do you want to do after that postdoc?

If you want to compete for academic positions, then you need strong publications and a project that you can take forward as your own, to start your lab. Which of the labs fits that profile better?

If you are interested in drug discovery you need a project that will be relevant for industry, ideally one with patent/drug potential. Ideally a university with good technology transfer office, in a good location for meeting people.

Also, which PI is more well-known and better connected? and do they help their trainees or do they expect the postdocs to stick around for 5+ years as if they didn't have their own career aspirations?

Depending on who you are, and where you want to go, the choice of the group will be different.

Alice: Would you tell me, please, which way I ought to go from here?
The Cheshire Cat: That depends a good deal on where you want to get to.
Alice: I don't much care where.
The Cheshire Cat: Then it doesn't much matter which way you go.
Alice: ...So long as I get somewhere.
The Cheshire Cat: Oh, you're sure to do that, if only you walk long enough.
― Lewis Carroll, Alice in Wonderland
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Re: The right place for postdoc: 2 alternatives

Postby Pete C. » Thu Aug 27, 2015 4:11 am

Dear Ana and AKG,

thank you for you comments.

Maybe my question was not very clear. I will try to shape it in a quite simple way.

Is it worth to go to Cambridge just because it is Cambridge? Let's say I don't like the topic there and I don't think that I manage to publish any good papers there. But would the name Cambridge in my CV have any kind of advantages for the future career (likely academic)?

To make my question even simpler: would you favor somebody with Oxbridge in his/her CV, but without good publications over somebody who did postdoc in let's say Sauthampton but showed higher productivity?
Pete C.
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Re: The right place for postdoc: 2 alternatives

Postby Rich Lemert » Thu Aug 27, 2015 7:28 am

Who would someone be hiring - you, or the school you worked at?

Having a big name place on your C.V. is probably going to catch people's eye, but it's what YOU have done that's ultimately going to get you the job.

Something else to consider; if you really don't like the project you're liable to be even less productive than you would be otherwise, making your eventual job search even more difficult. And consider how you might wind up typecast as a specialist in the project you don't like, so the positions you do find are asking you to do the same kind of work.
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Re: The right place for postdoc: 2 alternatives

Postby AKG » Thu Aug 27, 2015 9:27 am

As Rich said, I think it is your work that will speak for you and not the name of the university you will be working at.

Only if you do extremely well at Cambridge would Cambridge shine with you, else it won't. If you do well at the other university it will be your name that will get you to the next position.

Ultimately, it is about the work you will be doing at either of these univs that would matter. Choose something that you would be more passionate about working on. You will surely excel in that.
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Re: The right place for postdoc: 2 alternatives

Postby Craig B. » Thu Aug 27, 2015 9:42 am

There is so much more that should go into selecting a postdoc than evaluating the impact factor of publications and notoriety of the institutions, especially if you are trying for the academic track.

Is the lab respected in the field? While the name of an institution may add flare on your CV, people who seriously consider hiring you will dig a lot deeper into your track record and it is likely more important who you worked for than where you worked.

Does the PI have a track record of placing postdocs in academic jobs or appropriate permanent positions elsewhere? Some PIs do a fantastic job helping their mentees develop truly independent projects and advocating for them during the job hunt, while others treat postdocs as a set of hands.

Are the labs both well funded for the next few years to do work that you think will be impactful? It doesn't do you any good to start in a new position if there is no financial stability.

And as the previous two posters alluded to, do you want to do the work in a given environment? If you hate your project, don't fit with your mentor, or are otherwise miserable, you are a lot less likely to be productive and succeed.
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