Who can haz job?Posted: September 4, 2012
Dr. Isis asked a question about how many pubs you need to get a job. This varies by field, of course, where you publish, etc. I’m a bit skeptical that publications are the key determinant of getting shortlisted or an offer relative to pedigree/connections and maybe unstated goals of the search committee regarding subfield/organism/methods. I’ve been told that publications are what matters most by people who, when actually on search committees, shortlisted several well-connected applicants with no or mediocre postdoc publications. These same individuals have assured me that my single CNS paper will be enough to at least get me some interviews, but I know this is far from a sure thing.
I’ve developed some theories about why the advice I get seems out of step with my observations. The main one, I think, is that some of the faculty I’ve spoken to “grew up” in pedigree bubbles. The influence of their prominent mentors on every stage of their career – fellowships, publications, job opportunities – is essentially invisible to them. Contests always seem meritocratic from the winner’s circle: as far as they can tell, all the hard bench work just kinda paid off. So when I’m trying to get them to help me strategize about my search, I get responses like “You know who has a great neuroscience program? Columbia. You should email someone there.” Thanks a fucking lot.
Anyway, I was thinking of how to represent the multivariate nature of trainee publications graphically. Because I hate bubble charts most of all, I went with that. I have taken data of a fictional postdoctoral fellow who is going on the job market. x = time, y = IF (not an endorsement), area = citations. For scale, the biggest bubble = 55 cites, smallest = 1. Obviously IFs and years are estimates for the unpublished ones, and they are represented with a single fictive cite.