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I'm research faculty (early career scholar, with more extensive professional background) with a lab at a major R1 and the PI is moving the lab to a recently upgraded R1 in a major metropolitan area. The PI has already indicated that everyone in the lab will be extended a job offer with the new university, but that there may be a pay cut due to the salary bands permitted by the receiving university. Even if the pay stays the same, it would be a higher cost of living with higher taxes, and a less generous retirement package.

Presently I'm within a fairly niche, but extremely computational field so my skills are easily transferable to industry, so moving with the lab is not mandatory but I do enjoy the type of research I do. As such, what sort of things are negotiable for research faculty? Could this move be used to justify an early promotion to associate research faculty or would that be too much of an ask?

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    Is remote work an option? Something to consider as well. Not matching salary while moving to a higher cost area is really poor form, frankly.
    – Jon Custer
    Jun 14, 2023 at 17:30
  • @JonCuster I think remote work might be an option, with the caveat that the PI doesn't like 100% remote work. So coming into the office at least once a week might be a requirement.
    – anonymous
    Jun 14, 2023 at 18:19
  • I am confused by what your position is. You are not the PI but you are "early career scholar". Since you're moving I assume you're not a faculty member of the current university. But you are asking what is negotiable for "research faculty. Might be helpful to clarify. Jun 14, 2023 at 19:28
  • @user2705196 Early career scholar is based upon the number of years past the PhD, less than five years post PhD seems to be a good rule of thumb. That matters for some grants (i.e., my window for ever applying for them is closing), but not too much beyond that since I was in industry before going back for my PhD. My position is soft-money research faculty, so my paycheck is tied to the grants that the lab's PI has.
    – anonymous
    Jun 14, 2023 at 19:32

2 Answers 2

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Lab is moving to a new university, what's negotiable for research faculty?

Think beyond money (which is important because you need to live, but hands may be tied by policies). What else do you like or want to change about your jobs?

  • Vacation? You might be able to negotiate to keep vacation seniority (e.g., if you get more vacation after 5 years of service, you might be able to negotiate that seniority).
  • Remote or telework (see your comments with Jon Custer)?
  • Hours per week (either expected or actually worked)?
  • Look at university holidays for your current versus future employer.
  • Any type of tuition reimbursements?
  • Position type. Sometimes universities have different classes of workers beyond staff versus faculty. Also, what series are you in the system? A research support staff may be different than an IT support staff. Perhaps you could be considered IT support and get more money or other perks.
  • Sports tickets. I've seriously heard about faculty who either include these or try to include these in their start-up packages.
  • Computer resources (e.g., perhaps you can get access to advanced computing resources at the new university through negotiation).

Go through this list and brainstorm other things. Priorities what you want and then ask. Depending upon how badly your PI wants you, you may be some yes.

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    Sounds like the old adage that everything is negotiable will apply, but honestly the money might be a big one. From what I've been able to find on Glassdoor the median pay for my title would be a 24% pay cut and there's at least a 7% cost of living difference.
    – anonymous
    Jun 14, 2023 at 19:51
  • @anonymous not always, but seldom* hurts to ask (*within reason and politely). But, yes, looks like money is the big one. Also, if the PI really, really, really wants you, they might be able to do something. Jun 14, 2023 at 20:59
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Pretty much anything can be negotiated in the sense that you or your PI can ask for it. Whether the hiring institution is able to provide what you are asking for, is a different question; the same applies to whether it is willing to do so.

I think it is not unreasonable to tell your PI and/or the hiring university that it is difficult for your to justify the decrease in salary/buying power that would come with such a move. And that consequently, you would like to see whether their salary bands are flexible to make you whole, or whether there are other options (such as the promotion) are a way to make you whole. These are reasonable questions to ask, and nobody will bat an eye. The point is that if you don't ask, you won't get. Of course, whether they can or want to say "yes" is an entirely different question -- but if they say "no" you always have your Plan B.

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