I started my first permanent academic position as a Lecturer at at UK university in Autumn 2019. More than one of my senior colleagues seems very eager to get me promoted to a Reader as soon as possible, looking out that I tick the right administrative boxes to make this happen and encouraging me to apply for promotion this month. This seems premature to me as I don't even feel like I know the my way around the university yet, and with Covid I haven't accomplished much in my research since joining the university.

My question is: Are there any reasons not to pursue a promotion? A promotion is a great thing, right? But are there any downsides? E.g. it might make it harder for me to move to a different university in a few years if I want to, or I might get saddled with more administrative responsibilities? Are there any other downsides I haven't thought of?

  • 2
    Are there consequences of not being promoted? The main question may be a purely local question that can only be answered by someone at your university.
    – Buffy
    Commented Nov 27, 2020 at 15:36
  • Without knowing any specifics, I'd say that the main downside is how much additional effort is required to obtain the promotion: usually "ticking administrative boxes" means taking more responsibilities, which could mean work that you don't want to do now if you have other priorities.
    – Erwan
    Commented Nov 27, 2020 at 16:02
  • Reason: the title of a 'reader' or Professor has no value or prestige at a given university. There are many mickey mouse professors, and you do not want to add to the tally. Commented Nov 28, 2020 at 20:47
  • Regarding mobility: If you take on more admin tasks, you will have less time for research, which might be reflected in less output and make you less hot from the perspective of a hiring committee. Some people find ways out of this dilemma, others don't. Commented Nov 29, 2020 at 14:19

1 Answer 1


Not really. Promotion is primarily about pay (though sometimes the pay increment is small) and recognition of your achievements to those who are not already aware of them.

You are unlikely to get more duties after promotion because you are expected to take on the duties of the higher rank in order to get the promotion. It's seeking a promotion, not receiving one, that causes you to get more duties.

As you already have a permanent academic position, a change in rank will not make much difference to your mobility; it is already very low.

  • Can you explain why the mobility for a permanent staff member would be very low per se? In my field, there's much movement of tenured faculty, both within-country (towards more attractive positions) and cross-country (especially to flee from countries that are demolishing their academic system). Commented Nov 28, 2020 at 21:01
  • @lighthousekeeper Opportunity cost. "In my field, there's much movement of tenured faculty" To be honest, I do not believe you. Maybe more than academics in other fields, but not compared to, say, retail workers. Commented Nov 29, 2020 at 6:51
  • Might depend on where the retail store is. The supermarket in my hometown has had the same staff since ages. A previous department I worked in had three tenured faculty quit and move on in 2020 alone. Commented Nov 29, 2020 at 7:51
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    @lighthousekeeper To put this a little into perspective, LinkedIn puts the average yearly staff turnover across industries at around 10% (business.linkedin.com/talent-solutions/blog/trends-and-research/…). I doubt that many UK universities have anything close to that kind of churn among their permanent staff, so I think it's fair to say that OP's mobility is already very low, statistically speaking.
    – xLeitix
    Commented Nov 30, 2020 at 9:58
  • @xLeitix Thanks for that pointer, statistically speaking you and AnonymousPhysicist are surely correct. I guess in the context of this question, there is an important distinction between whether the low mobility is self-imposed (which it might be in the majority of cases; a tenured position is generally considered an "end-goal" in academia) or comes from a lack of alternatives (which might be what OP has in mind). If more people were willing to switch jobs, there also would be more openings for other people to switch to. Commented Nov 30, 2020 at 10:15

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