I am working as a postdoc at a reputable university. The salary and funds are quite good, no less than an assistant professor at our university. However, some of my friends are saying that staying in a postdoc position for more than 3 years is a negative thing. Especially since I currently have an offer for a non tenure track assistant professor position from an average-rank university.

Is it correct that staying in a postdoc position for more than 3 years is a negative thing?

  • 1
    It might be dependent on the specific system. As well on the post doc age, and his/her feeling concerning an advancement at the current institution, as well as a multitude of factors linked to private life.
    – Alchimista
    Dec 1, 2021 at 9:52
  • It depends on the person evalutaing. Some will see this as negative, most will probably look at your scientific achievements and ability to aquire funding during this time.
    – Louic
    Dec 1, 2021 at 10:15
  • 2
    This will also depend on the field. For example, Biomed researchers seem to stay as post-docs longer than, say, engineering researchers.
    – atom44
    Dec 1, 2021 at 10:39
  • 1
    What's your career goal? Dec 1, 2021 at 15:22

1 Answer 1


This is a question which depends highly on specific circumstances, and thus cannot be answered universally in a reliable way. Some important parameters:

  • country (East Europe? Russia? USA? UK? China? India? Iraq?)
  • field of study: norms in your field of study? How competitive is your area? (Is it history or machine learning?)
  • More specific parameters: do you have better alternatives?
  • Etc.

That said, it is generally (read: on average, considered across all possible parameters distributed with uniform probability) correct, in my opinion, that staying too long as a postdoc is negatively correlated with getting a permanent academic position. This is because empirically "aged" academics are perceived negatively sometimes by recruitment committees.

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