I've been doing my PhD in a research centre for four years with a contract, and abroad from my hometown. My contract finished 3 months ago and I recently defended my thesis (consider the economical effort from my side for that period).

Now I am looking for a postdoc and my supervisors are pushing me to publish some results and to write additional manuscripts. However, I have no contract anymore. No income. How could I politely let them know that I require a contract for at least 1-2 months in order to finish that work? I cannot live much longer without income, as my savings will be seriously affected (I have already lost money).

I have a fairly good relationship with them, but I think they are taking advantage on me in an unethical manner, but they may believe I owe them this because I have been their PhD student so far and very proactive. So I think it's complicated.

I do not want to be impolite and to keep a good relationship, but just to let them know that they have to pay me if they want my work now because it's money and time that I'm losing.

Sorry for the long text and thanks for any help that you can provide.

Some remarks:

  1. My supervisors always complaint about the difficult economical situation due to the crisis (Maybe I'm wrong, but the crisis was 10 years ago?).
  2. They have recently made another contract for one year to a postdoc who has been here for 6-7 years already.
  3. Last year the 5 permanent positions of the group (and any PhD student) went to 1 or 2 conferences in US for a whole week, with the results of the students. Considering the overall expenses of those conferences, that is more than a whole year salary of a PhD student here.
  4. I achieved the highest mark possible in the dissertation defense. I have also published several manuscripts in peer-reviewed journals with high impact factor and Q1 in my scientific field. So I think that I have been highly productive.
  5. I consider that some of the works that they push me to publish have been delayed by them because they claim to be "busy". I do not complaint about their organization skills, but their delay is our delay.
    1. I have also made administrative tasks which do not correspond to PhD students during my PhD.
  • 1
    Wouldn't publishing additional work benefit you in your search for a postdoc position? Maybe they are encouraging you to do this for your own benefit.
    – ff524
    Jun 17 '19 at 17:44
  • 1
    I don't think that it is impolite to ask for a contract. Simply asking if there is any money budgeted for a contract is understandable. I too am often afraid of communicating with professors on this topic but I'm certain they very much understand where you are coming from. If you do not get a contract, you may have to find some other form of work, but you certainly should not work for free. Maybe they believe you are still under contract?
    – Kraigolas
    Jun 17 '19 at 18:00
  • At least where I am from, professors do not pay from their pocket: it is typically grant money used to fund students. I assume it is the same case here. You're not begging them to give up any money that is actually theirs, and you will be doing good work for them. The money is set aside for instances just like this. Do not overthink the situation.
    – Kraigolas
    Jun 17 '19 at 18:03
  • I see your point @ff524 and that's way I will finally do it, and publish my work. I like to conclude everything what I start. On the other hand, the postdoc may be a different topic, and the time I spend producing manuscripts is time that I do not use for postdoc/job-seeking.
    – Jr.
    Jun 17 '19 at 18:04
  • 5
    IME it is not uncommon for PhD students or postdocs to work "for free" between jobs, to get manuscripts finished, and so forth. Many would argue that it shouldn't happen, but it's not uncommon. It's entirely reasonable for you to explain that you can't afford to do this, and ask if they can help. It's also possible that they'll say no.
    – Flyto
    Jun 17 '19 at 20:10

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