2

Let's consider that you are a "Senior Researcher and Lecturer" in a University that is ranked in the 100-150th position range, and you have a fix-term contract (around 2 years). You are doing your duty and it looks like that everyone is happy about you and your research.

Also, during your employment your line manager (professor who is co-head of the Lab together with other 2-3 other professors) proposes you to apply for an "Assistant Professor" position in a higher ranked University, writing you a very nice reference letter, strongly recommending you for that position.

Then, unfortunately you do not get the position, and towards the end of your contract your line manager tells you that there is not funding anymore to support you.

However, you learn that another supply of funding is coming to the whole Lab to eventually "feed" the entire Lab for 4-5 other years. However, they tell you that the money is destined to other people, as new PhD students, and nothing is there for you.

Reading between the lines, is the funding really allocated for other projects or new students, or it is a "nice" way to tell you that "you are not good enough to stay in this University"?

In other words, is this a common practice in the Universities not to fund you anymore (even though your are doing your duty/what they expect from you) as an unpleasant way to say "you did not pass our evaluation", or, for real, there is not funding anymore for an expensive Senior researcher as you (in comparison to PhD students)?

3
  • 12
    Limited term positions come to an end. Not all grants fund all types of positions. Don’t read too much into things, particularly the supposed motivations of others.
    – Jon Custer
    Apr 12 at 14:46
  • 5
    A third possible reason: in my country, there is legislation that says, once someone has served a total of more than 4 years for the same employer on successive fixed-term contracts, they gain certain extra employment rights. When this legislation came into force, some universities responded by adopting an explicit policy of "we will never extend a researcher's fixed-term contract beyond 4 years". Apr 12 at 17:12
  • 1
    Sounds like a false dichotomy. There's a large area in between where they could use the funding to continue your contract, and your performance is satisfactory, but there are other people or projects which they simply think are a higher priority. Apr 13 at 17:37

1 Answer 1

10

Funding to support research staff is less common. Funding to support PhD students is the most common, and makes the most sense because the role of the university is to educate students and confer degrees.

Congratulations on doing a good job and earning the respect of your supervisor, and their support in growing your independent career. However, you are in a temporary contract position and your support has run out. Such positions are by nature temporary and you should have been using this time to secure your next, permanent position. Growing comfortable in a soft-money temporary position is not a good career move. Time to move on.

10
  • 2
    Indeed. Finding a new position takes time. At the very least, a solid multi-prong job search should have started by the end of the first year. That may have included trying to extend the temporary position, find some other temporary position, as well as applying for multiple permanent positions at multiple institutions.
    – Jon Custer
    Apr 12 at 15:09
  • 1
    If OP wants to be upset about something, they might be upset if the people in a position to mentor them did not ever point out the importance of looking for a next job while holding a temporary position. However, it's unclear whether that's actually the case or whether OP simply didn't hear them; it does seem that they encouraged them to apply for at least one job. Maybe that was the only thing they ever said, maybe they had been nudging it for months and finally gave a specific suggestion after no movement.
    – Bryan Krause
    Apr 12 at 15:55
  • 1
    The first discussion I have with a new post-doc in my group covers (1) the job of a post-doc is to find a job, and (2) here is how we will set you up to start looking for that job within 12 months.
    – Jon Custer
    Apr 12 at 16:35
  • 2
    @DanielHatton Shocked and upset that their fixed-term job is fixed-term and ends at the end of the contract?
    – Bryan Krause
    Apr 12 at 17:24
  • 2
    Shocked and upset that, at the end of their fixed term contract, the employer makes no attempt either to offer a follow-on contract or transfer it to a permanent contract. That's fairly unusual outside academia. It probably makes a difference that here, employers are required to provide severance pay if they don't renew at the end of an FTC just as if they laid off a permanent worker. Apr 12 at 18:53

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged .