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How to secure postdoc position without publications in PHD

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How to secure postdoc position without publications in PHD

Postby Vamsi » Mon Nov 02, 2015 5:48 am

Hi all,

i have completed my phd in computational biology but no publications yet out, currently working as data scientist. I want to apply for post doc positions in computational biology. Please advice me how can i proceed to convince prospective supervisors, as i have all requisite skill set and knowledge?

Thank you,

with best regards,
vamsi
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Re: How to secure postdoc position without publications in PHD

Postby Rich Lemert » Mon Nov 02, 2015 12:15 pm

Not having any publications published yet is not necessarily a problem. Some projects are just better served by waiting until you can put together the big picture. What's more important is that you can show that there are papers on the way. You can do this by listing them as in prep, in review, submitted, etc. You can also offer to make available preprints to give them something tangible to consider.

I'm curious, though, about what you mean by being "a data scientist" and why you're looking for a post-doc? Your comments suggest that you've already found a 'permanent' position - which is really what the goal should be, and that taking a post-doc would be a step backwards.
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Re: How to secure postdoc position without publications in PHD

Postby Dave Jensen » Wed Nov 04, 2015 2:49 pm

Thanks Vamsi for joining the forum. We would all greatly appreciate it if you could post in standard English, and not texting language. This is a professional career discussion forum and while I'm pleased to edit and help out speakers who are not English-language born, I'm not willing to edit posts where someone can't hit the Capitalization button for their I's.

Thanks,

Dave
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Re: How to secure postdoc position without publications in PHD

Postby P.S.R. » Wed Nov 04, 2015 5:55 pm

Hi Vasmi,

Just let you know that you are not alone. I am in the same situation that no publication and desperately want to find a postdoctoral position or a job.

My field is photochemistry by the way. An extra information, number of the positions for photochemistry in this website is 3. So, I try to apply for other fields such as electrochemistry and spectroscopy. Still, no result. The worst part of it is that PI or company never tell you why you don't get the job but a big "No" with a lot of sugarcoating. Sometimes, they don't even reply. This really makes me frustrated.

If you read through this forum, you will find that no reply and difficult to find a job are normal. You should keep you faith in finding a job and do your best to networking to find a job. However, it is controversial to any advertisement of a job. They always want someone with a STRONG publication record. This means no publication is not acceptable, presumably, even that you have someone's strong and personal endorsement. Yet, Rich gave an opposite opinion.

Get to my real question. What the PI or company is looking for? Is true that they looking for someone with a strong publication record and 100% match with their advertisement? Are they looking for someone can solve the problem right away? I assume this is the reason to put a strong publication record as a requirement.

Wish you good luck.

Hung Cheng
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Re: How to secure postdoc position without publications in PHD

Postby Rich Lemert » Wed Nov 04, 2015 9:28 pm

P.S.R. wrote:Get to my real question. What the PI or company is looking for? Is true that they looking for someone with a strong publication record and 100% match with their advertisement? Are they looking for someone can solve the problem right away? I assume this is the reason to put a strong publication record as a requirement.


What a hiring manager or PI is looking for is someone who will help the company or lab accomplish its goals and objectives efficiently and effectively They want someone who can be productive quickly and who will require minimal supervision and training. The smarter one's also look for 'fit' with their existing staff because they know few things kill productivity as quickly or as thoroughly as major interpersonal conflicts.

Publications come into the picture because they are a (semi)objective indicator of productivity and knowledge. When you get a paper published, it's generally because you've accomplished enough work to justify the effort and you've convinced an independent entity of the 'value' of that work.

When you don't have any publications, the typical assumption is that it's because you haven't accomplished enough to justify a publication. This may be a poor assumption, but most people don't want to take the risk. From the job seeker's perspective, this means that you have to put in extra effort to overcome this bias. If you don't have any papers in progress, you're going to have to come up with some other way of convincing a hiring manager of your skills, abilities, and productivity.
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Re: How to secure postdoc position without publications in PHD

Postby P.S.R. » Thu Nov 05, 2015 3:40 pm

Rich Lemert wrote:What a hiring manager or PI is looking for is someone who will help the company or lab accomplish its goals and objectives efficiently and effectively They want someone who can be productive quickly and who will require minimal supervision and training. The smarter one's also look for 'fit' with their existing staff because they know few things kill productivity as quickly or as thoroughly as major interpersonal conflicts.


Is this 'fit' with their existing staff the reason that hiring manager or PI prefers to looking for candidate by the networking?

Rich Lemert wrote:Publications come into the picture because they are a (semi)objective indicator of productivity and knowledge. When you get a paper published, it's generally because you've accomplished enough work to justify the effort and you've convinced an independent entity of the 'value' of that work.

When you don't have any publications, the typical assumption is that it's because you haven't accomplished enough to justify a publication. This may be a poor assumption, but most people don't want to take the risk. From the job seeker's perspective, this means that you have to put in extra effort to overcome this bias. If you don't have any papers in progress, you're going to have to come up with some other way of convincing a hiring manager of your skills, abilities, and productivity.


So, the dissertation is not an indicator of productivity and knowledge? For a PhD just graduates from the school, the dissertation may be the only publication. Does this mean that a fresh PhD will have difficulty of convincing hiring manager or PI of his/her skills, abilities, and productivity?

For long time, I have an impression that the publication record only counts those publications that you are the first author. Is this wrong? I have some publications that I am not the first author. Do these publications count as my publications? Will these publications be an evidence that I am productivity and skillful?

From Rich's suggestions, it seems that a perfect candidate is the one with strong publication record and fit with the existing staff. However, when the hiring manager or PT only can find candidate with only one of these qualities, which one is more important to them? Could you share some thoughts, Rich?

Thanks,

Hung Cheng
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Re: How to secure postdoc position without publications in PHD

Postby Rich Lemert » Thu Nov 05, 2015 5:52 pm

P.S.R. wrote:Is this 'fit' with their existing staff the reason that hiring manager or PI prefers to looking for candidate by the networking?


That's part of it. The other part is that when someone is referring you for a position you become more of a 'known' quantity. That person is to some extent putting their own reputation on the line, and if they're willing to do that it carries more weight in the hiring manager's mind.

So, the dissertation is not an indicator of productivity and knowledge? For a PhD just graduates from the school, the dissertation may be the only publication. Does this mean that a fresh PhD will have difficulty of convincing hiring manager or PI of his/her skills, abilities, and productivity?


It can be an indicator, but depending on the program it may be a very weak indicator. It may just indicate that you were able to get your PI to agree to let you graduate because you've been in the group too long. External publications show the hiring manager that you've convinced an independent individual of the value of your work.

If you go back to my first post in this thread, I believe I did acknowledge the fact that many students do finish their studies without an external publications. In some cases it's because the program emphasizes generating results and getting your out over taking the time to write up what you've found. In others, it's because you really need to have the whole project complete before you have a coherent message. In either case, you should aim to get those publications out as soon as you can.

For long time, I have an impression that the publication record only counts those publications that you are the first author. Is this wrong?


If you put in the work and can identify and explain your contribution, then yes - non-first-author publications count. They might not count as much as a first-author paper, but they still demonstrate productivity.

Don't get too hung up on publications, though. They are an easy way for a hiring manager to get an idea of what you can do, but they aren't the only way. The burden is still on you to demonstrate your abilities.
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Re: How to secure postdoc position without publications in PHD

Postby P.S.R. » Fri Nov 06, 2015 3:55 pm

Rich Lemert wrote:Don't get too hung up on publications, though. They are an easy way for a hiring manager to get an idea of what you can do, but they aren't the only way. The burden is still on you to demonstrate your abilities.


If the hiring manager and PI just want to evaluate a PhD by the publication record, what I should to do to demonstrate my abilities?
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Re: How to secure postdoc position without publications in PHD

Postby PG » Fri Nov 06, 2015 8:38 pm

Generally academia put much more emphasis on first author publications than industry. Industry is looking for someone who is skilled and productive but maybe most importantly a team player. I would probably hire someone with 10 second author papers with mutliple authorslisted than someone with three science papers as the only author.

Having said that finding a postdoc in academia is usually either about finding money or about convincing someone that you will bring value to their laboratory. I mention finding money since we have sources of financing from which you can apply for funding for your own salary and potentially also some money to spend on reagents etc and obviously if you have this type of grant actually finding a position becomes easy since you work for free and have already proven that you can attract funding. Having first author papers in high impact journals usually go a long way when trying to get this type of funding.

However for finding a position with a company or as a postdoc what you need to do is convince someone that they want to hire you because of the fact that you will bring value to their laboratory in some way. This can be that you know a method that they want to set up, that you are attractive for grants, that you have shown that you are productive, that you are a nice funny person or something else. Networking is usually the best way of sending this message especially for everything that isnt listed in your publication list.
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Re: How to secure postdoc position without publications in PHD

Postby D. Martin » Sat Nov 07, 2015 7:26 pm

Honestly, it will be very high to get a postdoc position w/o papers (at least in academia). First author papers are the main indicator that you can work on a project and get results. However, if your PI knows someone and calls that person, then it will be a different story. The people I have hired were all recommended.
PG suggested to get funding, even when that makes sense, I do not think it is very easy to get any funding w/o papers. If you are an international postdoc trying to do a postdoc in the US, it will be very hard to get funding. There are few opportunities and they are every competitive.

I will recommend you to try to publish some first author papers, somehow, if not it will be very hard. I do not want to sound pessimistic but that is reality (at least on my field)
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