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I am currently considering offers for non-tenure track teaching-oriented positions (full-time, multi-year contracts) and wanted to get advice on whether to take the offer now, or wait another cycle to apply again for tenure-track positions. My ideal job would be a tenure-track position with a better balance of research and teaching responsibilities.

When I graduated from my PhD program two years ago, I had a tenure track offer but decided to decline because I wanted to experience what it was like to work in industry. However, I quickly found I missed academia (the agency, the ability to contribute new knowledge, working directly with students) and decided to try to return to academia after working for a year.

However, I think my lack of recent publications during the time I was working in industry hurt my job prospects, and the only offers I currently have are for non-tenure track (all worse offers in terms of both salary and start-up package than the tenure-track offer I had two years ago). The industry job I currently have is not research oriented and would not afford me the opportunity to publish the work that I do day-to-day.

I worry that the teaching responsibilities of a non-tenure track position (6 classes a year) will make it difficult for me to devote time to doing substantial research. At the same time, being in a university will provide facilities as well as students to be in a better position to do research in whatever time I may have outside of teaching. I'm also concerned that staying in my current industry position will not improve my chances during the next application cycle as I am not doing publishable work.

Should I take the teaching position and just do my best to publish and keep my eyes out for a future tenure track position? Or is there another option I haven't thought of?

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    We are not able to say what you should do, as that is an opinion. Perhaps focus your question on something a bit more factual: Am I more likely to obtain a TT research/teaching position from industry or from non-TT teaching position? – Dawn Mar 11 '18 at 11:58
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    I worry that the teaching responsibilities of a non-tenure track position (6 classes a year) will make it difficult for me to devote time to doing substantial research. -- Even tenure-track positions at more teaching-oriented schools will have this sort of teaching load. – Mad Jack Mar 11 '18 at 14:11
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    What about a postdoc? These are usually 100% research-oriented. If you land on the right group and project you can get a few publications in little time. If you were competitive for TT already out of you PhD, one or two years of postdoc could improve your chances. – Miguel Mar 11 '18 at 16:56
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    You can look at your potential peers' CVs to get a sense of your likely research output in the non-TT job. While doing so resist the urge to think you are smarter than they are and so will do more research than any of them. – Dawn Mar 12 '18 at 4:12
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    @curious_academic I can tell you from experience (decreased research productivity when having to teach) that you won't be able to do anywhere nearly as much research while teaching. The way typical productive professors do research is by supervising PhD students and postdocs who are the ones that work on the details. Since you don't have a research group (yet?) you need to work out the details of your research yourself, and this takes time. IMO, there's no such a thing as doing world class research (productively) in your spare time or as a side from your main occupation. – Miguel Mar 12 '18 at 4:44
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Sorry to say this, but if this is an adjunct position, I'd advise you to run like hell from it if you have indeed set your sights on a future TT position in a research university.

No matter what they say publicly, there are many who view a history of adjuncting on an applicant's c.v. as the mark of Cain when it comes to hiring for a TT position, at least in science and engineering.

I suspect people might be a bit more reasonable in the liberal arts and at teaching focused institutions.

  • good points. my offers are full-time, multi-year contracts, not adjunct positions – curious academic Mar 11 '18 at 18:36
  • @curiousacademic, IMHO they still count as adjunct positions, just not "visiting" positions. Maybe you should tell us the title of the positions you're being offered. – Matteo Mar 12 '18 at 0:18
  • @Matteo it is an Assistant Professor, Teaching Stream position in Canada – curious academic Mar 12 '18 at 1:59

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