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I noticed during my application process for post-doc jobs that several say "1-2 year appointment" or "possible renewal for second year". I understand from this answer that it is in everyone's benefit to not be "stuck" in a postdoc situation for too many years for fear of starving oneself.

My question is, if not mentioned, what is the general criteria for a renewal of postdoc appointment to a second year (or perhaps to a third)? Most of the applications I have put in to labs/univs. are not clear at all on renewal criteria. Is it based on need? performance? Mutual understanding? Does anyone have examples on some of these situations?

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Have you asked your postdoctoral advisor(s) about their evaluation criteria? I would think that it varies from person to person. –  Irwin Feb 26 at 23:18
    
My feeling is that unless there are funding issues, there would be some resistance to firing a postdoc unless there were real problems: the startup cost/time for a new postdoc can be high. –  Suresh Feb 26 at 23:40
    
@Suresh Your answer does make sense considering that some of the post-docs offered have a long-ish (~2 month long) security clearance type situation. –  drN Feb 26 at 23:45
    
Maybe I'll convert to an answer. –  Suresh Feb 27 at 0:15

1 Answer 1

My feeling is that unless there are funding issues, there would be some resistance to firing a postdoc unless there were real problems: the startup cost/time for a new postdoc can be high.

Having posted ads like these myself before, I can say that one non-funding-based reason to mention a 1-2 year postdoc is to allow for a hedge in case the hired person turns out to be really bad. In that case, you have the option of doing a first-year review and dismissing the person (i.e the default bit is set to NO and some activation energy is required to make it a YES)

In the reverse case of a two-year postdoc, the default bit is now YES and significant activation energy is required to make it a NO. If not done right, this could even lead to charges of unfair dismissal and so on.

So since there's a glut of postdocs and a short supply of positions, the "buyers" have some power to shape the position to suit their needs.

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