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I am submitting my PhD for assessment in the next fortnight, by the end of the year, it will be complete. Currently, while studying (and to pay the bills), I am a high school teacher. Getting into a postdoc or lecturing tenure is quite difficult in Australia (particularly in my field - Physics). So, what is likely to happen is that I'll be high school teaching next year as well.

However, while teaching, I intend writing more papers (3 already published, 4th submitted) - my current supervisor (=advisor) has indicated that he is more than happy to collaborate on these ongoing projects, post-PhD (but is not in a position to offer a postdoc position).

So, generally speaking, beyond writing more papers and building up the research profile, what other benefits are there to stalling entering academia by a year?

In my case, it would be almost like an academic-gap-year except, I will need to be still full time employed.

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    I hope you don't believe you need to default into teaching. This is completely false. – Jase Aug 21 '13 at 9:48
  • @Jase I don't, I have been a teacher for far longer (14 years) than I have been studying my PhD (2.5 years) – user7130 Aug 21 '13 at 9:55
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I would say that this is one time when taking a year off is not recommended. You are at your peak right now in a number of ways:

  1. You have very recent publications and just received your degree. Both have a discernible half-life when it comes to being hired in academia (particularly for the first time).
  2. You know the most people in your field, including your advisor and other professors who can write you up-to-date recommendation letters.
  3. You have the most current knowledge of your field, and although it sounds like you're going to continue to publish, you won't be as able to actively learn (then again, I know from your previous posts that you were full-time employed during your PhD, so that may not be an issue).

I'm assuming that the timing is different in Australia, but in the U.S. there are generally key times of the year that academic hiring happens -- you put together applications in Nov-Jan and hope to land interviews and talks in the Feb-April time frame. If there is a similar time-frame in Australia, I would make sure you have the time available to put together applications and go on interviews, whether it is this year or after another year.

I assume you'll still be allowed to publish under your previous school's affiliation post-PhD defense, but if that isn't the case, I would urge you to figure out a way to work that out.

Finally (and I'm not really in a position to comment directly on this) is the question about how your job applications will be received with a year gap from academia. My feeling is that an extra paper will help you but that the time away won't help you (even though it isn't technically away it will be noticeable that you got your PhD a year prior), and it may be a wash. You'll have to consider this when you write your cover letters and research statement. I would think about how (if at all) you justify the extra year of high school teaching post-PhD in a cover letter. You've already got plenty of teaching experience under your belt to prove your teaching credentials, so an extra year in the classroom won't be beneficial from that standpoint.

  • Good points, in Australia - the new academic year starts in January - so, I am applying already for jobs in academia. – user7130 Aug 21 '13 at 9:09
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    Got it -- good luck with the applications! Here's to hoping that this thread is overcome by events soon! – Chris Gregg Aug 21 '13 at 9:11
  • My CV is nicely polished and several applications have already been sent. – user7130 Aug 21 '13 at 19:01

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