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I am currently a PhD student in the mid of my PhD. I have seen many of researchers in my field have published just one or two articles. My research more precisely is related to designing algorithms for problems related to polynomial factorization. This field requires two three years of background for research work or even more for some people. I am very much interested in this field, but worry about the future of my research. Here are some problem which I think may be problematic after my PhD:

  1. Getting a post-doc seems quite challenging as my field is purely theoretical.

  2. Suppose I join some institute as an Assistant professor then it will take longer for me to become Associate professor. Because the rate of publication is slow.

  3. Funding also seems also quite problem

I am only motivated by theory and not that much interested in practical aspects.

Question : Is there any way to avoid above mentioned problems to some extent?

The above information I have collected by searching online and talking to few researcher who works in the field mentioned above.

One solution that comes directly to my mind is try to relate my research to some practical side but that does not seems to be solution in my case.

  • This is also true for those who works in pure mathematics. – ffffref54 Apr 30 '18 at 12:09
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    Suppose I join some institute as an Assistant professor then it will take longer for me to become Associate professor. Because the rate of publication is slow. -- This is generally not true in the US, where all assistant professors are on a fixed tenure clock regardless of whether they are theoreticians or not. For which part of the world is your question valid? – Mad Jack Apr 30 '18 at 12:50
  • What country? I'd answer from the perspective of a US mathematician, but wouldn't dare answer for other countries. – Alexander Woo Apr 30 '18 at 20:36
  • @ Alexander Woo Asia. Please answer as a US mathematician. I might get some idea from your answer. – abaa May 1 '18 at 5:51
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Here are some problem which I think may be problematic after my PhD:

Your first course of action is to find out if your worries are actually true. Talk to your supervisor(s), who are presumably also working in theory, and find out if they share your concerns. Some countries and universities are more amenable to highly theoretical work than others. For instance, I work at Chalmers University of Technology which prides itself on industry impact, so doing purely theoretical teaching and research is not of highest priority here. However, if I look at some other research universities, things appear to be quite different.

In general, you may see things too pessimistically. It is true that, by and large, researchers in theoretical fields publish less than in applied fields. However, faculty search and promotion committees are usually aware of that and factor this in when making decisions. That is, they will not put your CV next to a person in software engineering and conclude that the SE person is better than you just based on publication or citation numbers. Generally, you will be compared against people in your own field, and your achievements will be measured against the standards of your field.

However, specifically when it comes to funding, your stance that you are entirely disinterested in applications may in my experience indeed become a limitation at some point. There are funding agencies in most countries that focus purely on foundations, but competition tends to be stiff as all theoretical researchers compete for the same funding. Applied funding is often more plentiful and also more varied, and simply due to there often being more diverse avenues to get your research funded, competition is often less intense.

That said, I have seen many theoretically minded researchers develop some interest in applying their theory at some point in their career, so just because you are not interested in applications right now does not mean that you will remain entirely disinterested forever. The other question is how much funding you really need when you are only interested in theory: given that you will not have much need for infrastructure and staff programmers, often a little funding can go a long way in theoretical fields.

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