I would like to continue with my academic path but, the last year, I've been conducting mainly research activity with no teaching assignments. I would like to build up my portfolio to gain some teaching experience eventually thinking for a Lecturer/Assistant Professor position but, on the other hand, I would not like to hamper my outward mobility and compromise my research output. What would you suggest?

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    Do you do your research at a university? You could simply ask your department to let you teach a class or two. This is pretty common and generally encouraged by departments who care about their postdocs’ future job prospects. – Dan Romik Aug 22 '19 at 1:24
  • This question is too broad. I don't see how you can get a good answer from someone who has not seen your CV. And even then, you would only get opinions. I suggest you read the CVs of people who have the job you want. – Anonymous Physicist Aug 22 '19 at 9:40

In part to forcefully disagree with @Buffy's remark that it's generally easier to move from research to teaching roles... my own and others' PhD students from my "R1" university in math in the U.S. have encountered disbelief about their sincere interest in teaching at an undergrad institution... Indeed, given the way computerized job applications often work (mathjobs.org), it's nearly effortless to apply to any place listed on mathjobs.org. In particular, making such an application is absolutely not a proof of sincere interest, beyond not wanting to be unemployed.

I suspect significantly for that reason, some (I don't know what fraction...) of non-research-fixated math depts in the U.S. simply do not list themselves in mathjobs.org, so that "the bar" to apply to them is set higher than clicking boxes.

So far as I can tell, "sincerity" (or its appearance, ack, ...) plays a significant role. I see this, and am not entirely opposed to it, in graduate admissions, postdoc applications, and tenure-track applications. So, if one intends to "game" the system (well, why not?) one needs to do so well enough to fool a certain number of people.

Depending on your personality, it might be less stressful to just follow the direction you want, rather than having your day-to-day life determined by some dubious long-term strategy.

  • What do you mean by "gaming" the system? I'm just asking a sincere point of view of which is the best way in the academic path. I was not able to read between the lines of your post: could you please elaboarte on that? – jackb Aug 21 '19 at 21:56
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    @jackb, I meant "gaming the system" as a somewhat extreme version of "optimal strategy". There is a range of personal-sacrifice-versus-self-indulgence... One point is to not by-accident delay doing-what-you-want tooooo long, so you end up living your life as though waiting for something else. – paul garrett Aug 21 '19 at 22:03
  • Now I see, thanks. – jackb Aug 21 '19 at 22:23
  • I think you are mistaken. Almost all of the professors at teaching colleges, those who hold doctorates, earned them at R1 and R2 institutions. Most, however, also had some "teaching" experience as TAs and such. In fact, those graduates find a hard time getting jobs at other R1 institutions since the numbers don't add up. There are more PhD graduates in a given year than there are openings at top research universities. Imagine if UMN could only graduate as many PhD students next year as it had faculty openings. – Buffy Aug 22 '19 at 10:34
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    I work at a liberal arts college that has an emphasis on teaching, and it's definitely true that to get hired by my college or one of our peer institutions you need to make a very convincing case that a liberal arts college environment is what you're after. If you've never studied at a liberal arts college and have done several research postdocs then you've got your work cut out for you in order to convince the hiring committee that our college isn't your back up option. Not that it's impossible, but you'd definitely have to say something that comes across as genuine in your cover letter. – user109454 Aug 22 '19 at 14:00

This would depend on your overall goals. If you want a primarily research path for the long term, don't do anything that takes you away from research. It is much easier, I think, to move to teaching from a research track, if you so choose, than to go the other way.

The more research oriented the institution is (R1, R2) the more important it is to have a solid research portfolio.

But if you really want to move to a primarily teaching institution, of which there are many excellent ones, then some teaching experience, even as an advanced TA, would be the way to move forward.

  • Thanks for your reply. By the way, what do you mean with R1/R2? How do I know whether the institution is a primarily teaching or not? – jackb Aug 21 '19 at 19:46
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    See this list for the US: en.wikipedia.org/wiki/…. If an institution doesn't offer doctorates it is likely a teaching institution. – Buffy Aug 21 '19 at 19:47
  • Totally got it, thanks. – jackb Aug 21 '19 at 19:50

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