If a mathematics postdoc's publications are all co-authored with established senior co-authors (e.g. advisors), could it be a problem when applying for tenure-track jobs? I wonder in particular if hiring committees discount candidates who do not have either sole-authored work or work co-authored with peers. If this is a problem, to what extent can it be mitigated by letters from the senior co-authors?

Edit: I meant to ask about pure rather than applied mathematics.

  • 1
    Is this pure math or applied? – Buffy Nov 4 '19 at 11:23
  • 2
    It also matters a lot whether it's a single senior co-author, or whether you have multiple collaborations with different senior co-authors. The former is a little dangerous, but the latter situation is more neutral or maybe even a plus, since several leaders in the field want to collaborate with you. – Noah Snyder Nov 4 '19 at 17:06

It can be an issue, but it is doesn't have to be a large one. If all of your work is joint with senior people, many people will wonder to what extent you contributed to these projects, and to what extent you were just following others. Particularly at top schools, people want to hire leaders in their field, and certainly people who will be productive without mentors/advisors alongside them.

Who you're collaborating with (the very top people or virtually unknown people, just your grad school/postdoc advisors or people at other institutions, etc) and what the results are also play a role in how this is viewed.

However, this can definitely be addressed in letters, and thoughtful letter writers should address this issue. Another thing that is helpful is if you go forth and talk to many people about math (at conferences etc) so that at many places where you are applying someone will be able to address how well you "know your stuff."

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service, privacy policy and cookie policy

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