I am considering the pros and cons of two types of postdoc positions I have come cross:

  1. The most common is 1-3 years of work on an established project for which a supervisor PI typically won a grant.
  2. Some departments ask for a 'research plan' and the postdoc who wins the position works alone or with a local supervisor on the project he/she proposed.

The pros of 1 are clear:

  • In my field, these jobs are usually offered in stronger departments (though not always).
  • Likely more publishing output with a team and/or invested supervisor.
  • Contacts.

I was wondering about the pros of 2 and how it is perceived because the independent work is attractive to me.

  • Do you have your own research plan that you are more interested in working on than joining what existing groups are doing? And will the department provide sufficient funding for your project? – Kimball May 1 at 20:13
  • Kimball that's a fair question - I haven't seen projects like that with funding that exceeds the salary itself, but I have some data that I am allowed to use and I think publications are feasible. Still, it will be a test. I think if I can do it then professorship won't be harder (I have plenty of teaching experience) and if not, maybe it's not for me. Yet I don't know if this approach will be appreciated. – Barillio192 May 1 at 20:31

Your second option many not even have a "supervisor" as such. It might just be an opportunity for an aspiring academic to work with a small research group on questions of mutual interest. This might be especially true in mathematics, for example. It is a way to get some experience, possibly even including teaching a bit.

I've been in a department where a post doc was hired specifically to work with a junior faculty member to boost their mutual CVs and experience.

Another situation involved a person who had an interesting (to some of the other faculty) research program so they hired him to work with the others, bringing new ideas into a research group. It was mutually beneficial as was my other example. In this case the long term intention was to offer the postdoc a permanent position later if possible.

There are hardly any disadvantages as long as the postdoc works well with others as a colleague and both gives and accepts help.

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