I am an early career researcher about to finish my PhD in six months or so. My area ispolitical science, and I study a very interesting conjunction of a few research areas. I found a good post-doc position to apply to, and they are asking for a post-doc research project proposal. I want to extend my PhD research to the post-doc. Let's say I am working on centre-right parties, and now I want to include far-right parties, more cases, etc.

Is "extending" your own research a bad idea? Should I find a new focus? Also, maybe most importantly, if I can extend it, can I refer to my previous research? As in, "In my doctoral project, I did this and that, researching and analysing these cases, now I want to expand this to a larger perspective", and so on.

2 Answers 2


Couple of things here (even though I am from a different field, so customs may vary):

  1. What are your long-term goals? Do you plan to stay in academia for the long run (or hope/want to)? In this case, people will often advise you to switch topics so you can show that you're not a one trick pony - but also because it helps you to have a perspective from different fields so you can innovate. This is not a make it or break it issue, and the switch also doesn't necessarily need to be very big or occur during the first postdoc after your PhD, but it is something to take into account.

  2. If there is a position to apply for maybe the hosting group/institute also has an idea about the topic - can you first reach out informally to the contact person listed to gauge if you with your background would be a fit? This may help and inform how you approach the project proposal (or decide if it even would be worth it to apply).

  • Well, first answer is yes. The second, it does seem well fitting - I do have experience on things that they want, even beneficial skill they are looking for, also language, etc. But I think I get the gist. I want to keep utilising similar methods and "build on" my previous research with a greater focus. For example, my focus was environmental policies of centre-right parties, now focusing on right-wing parties with EU and environment, etc. As far as I understand that should take me beyond "one trick pony" aspect? Nov 13, 2023 at 9:59

Not quite an answer, but an anecdote that might be helpful. Mathematician Bob Solovay once told me he thought the most important piece of research in your career was the first one after your dissertation. In his case he moved from algebraic topology to mathematical logic.

That suggests that if you decide to continue the work of your dissertation, try to make sure you do more than just write another chapter.

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