I am concluding my Ph.D. in the UK, and currently I have two postdoc offers one from the US and one from France. I am not a British/EU citizen and would like to take on an academic path preferably in an English speaking institute. Both projects that I managed to get a postdoc offer for are very interesting, and the PI's are well-known academic in the field.

Given that becoming an academic in France requires fluency in French, I was wondering what would be a wise choice here? What are the general qualities that are important for a lectureship position? I am under the impression that for STEM fields, USA is a no brainer, but acquiring a visa might be difficult for me!

Any advice is really appreciated.

closed as off-topic by MJeffryes, scaaahu, user3209815, Richard Erickson, gman Oct 1 '18 at 13:38

This question appears to be off-topic. The users who voted to close gave this specific reason:

  • "The answer to this question strongly depends on individual factors such as a certain person’s preferences, a given institution’s regulations, the exact contents of your work or your personal values. Thus only someone familiar can answer this question and it cannot be generalised to apply to others. (See this discussion for more info.)" – MJeffryes, scaaahu, user3209815, Richard Erickson, gman
If this question can be reworded to fit the rules in the help center, please edit the question.

  • 1
    The less you move, the easier it should be, so one supervisor/advisor knows the "next" and can do strong recommendations (including the informal ones). So I'd say, personally, go for the one where you aim to stay, so the next transition is easier. – Fábio Dias Sep 29 '18 at 23:13
  • "becoming an academic in France requires fluency in Frence," you've got a temporary position (postdoc), not a permanent position, so you needn't be fluent. – user2768 Oct 1 '18 at 7:52
  • @NajibIdrissi The question (according to the title) is about a postdoc position, not about an academic position. – user2768 Oct 1 '18 at 13:00
  • @NajibIdrissi The OP wants an academic career. They seem to think that a postdoc in France is a barrier to that career, because a lectureship in France requires fluency in French, but the two are disconnected, as per my comment: there's no need for fluency during a postdoc. – user2768 Oct 1 '18 at 13:06
  • @NajibIdrissi That might be your opinion, it isn't the opinion I've formed. – user2768 Oct 1 '18 at 13:27

I would say prestige-wise, the actual supervisor is more important than the location: A well known supervisor in France will be just as good for you as a well known supervisor in the US, there are just more of them in the US. Of course, you'd choose an unknown at Princeton over an unknown in Grenoble, but you said both are well known. And all this only works if you are trying to stay in the same field when you move on, if you want to move on then prestige of institutions counts more.

Research in the US is likely to be better funded than in France, and you'll likely have more chance to interact with other top researchers other than people in your own group.

There will be far more opportunity for faculty positions, long-term, in the states than in France.

On the flip side, employment conditions will be better in France: max working times and compulsory breaks are observed: everyone takes a proper lunch and is home in time for tea, and it would be almost impossible to sack you. For the breaks and work/life balance, its is possible find this in the US, but you have to be selective about the culture of the group you join. Unfortunately no amount of selectivity can mean that the boss can't just sack you if they don't like you in the US.

  • 1
    My point was that there is likely to be a higher density of people you want to interact with at a top US institution. – Ian Sudbery Oct 1 '18 at 12:17
  • @IanSudbery Thank you very much Ian for your thorough and helpful comment (as always!) – RJF Oct 1 '18 at 12:29

For better or worse, US institutions are usually considered more prestigious, so that argues in favour of the US. Also salary, taxes, language, your future plans all seem to point toward the US.

  • 2
    I wouldn't say US institutions are more prestigious. There are a lot of top institutions in the US but one reason for that is that the US is very big (and most institutions aren't that prestigious at all). And after all, the supervisor is more important than the university. – DSVA Oct 1 '18 at 2:49
  • Thank you for bringing up the role of supervisor. How important is the role and significance of supervisor for future success in Academia? My PhD supervisor once told me your first post-doc pretty much determines your future career? I am sure this is very true, but how important is this? – RJF Oct 1 '18 at 11:47
  • @sander: Thank you for your comment. It is always really helpful to have the opinion of someone who has been on the same road and now is an academic! – RJF Oct 1 '18 at 11:52

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.