I am little bit of confused. I have completed my PhD, I do not have any prior postdoc experience. Let me explain my current situation. I got a draft contract letter from lab in China (say, Prof. A) a couple of month ago. I have started the process, I am expecting the VISA within a month. However, the research field does not relate to my current research work. Day before yesterday, I got one reply from another professor (say, Prof. B), who's work directly falls in my PhD research area. This person has a very strong background. I was dreaming during my PhD research to do some work with him. Anyway, he asked me to write an proposal, he told me that the fellowship will be ensured after a couple of month. I believe that the fellowship can be granted, assuming his positive response from his side.

Now, my concerns are as follows:

  1. I have heard that the contract in China a bit tough. It is not easy to break contract during the middle. My initial contract period is one year, then subsequently can be extended upto three years. My plan is to go China first, then after 6 months, once the proposal is granted, I want to move to 2nd guide (Prof. B). Is it feasible? How can I make sure there will not be any official problem during the process.

  2. It looks odd, if I want to leave any position after six months, then why should I join there? My point is, I don't want to loose current opportunity, I am uncertain about the future response and funding from Prof B. One point, the current funding in China is a huge amount almost double with respect to the funding assured by Prof. B.

  3. Is there will be any way out like, I may go to the Prof. B with the permission or collaboration with Prof. A. After all, everybody is looking forward collaboration. However, I am not sure about this. Is it normal scenario in postdoctoral research?

  4. Should I discuss the matter of collaboration to Prof. B, with Prof. A, or vice-verse?

  • Answer for #4: Yes, you should discuss the situation openly and honestly with both potential supervisors.
    – JeffE
    Aug 22, 2015 at 15:06
  • @JeffE Yes, I want to be in ethically right position. However, I think, there might be a risk in that. Can you please suggest some way to do so?
    – Mithun
    Aug 22, 2015 at 15:18
  • Yes, of course there's a risk, but there's a risk in any course of action. As for how to do it: First talk to your PhD advisor, who will likely more insight into your specific situation than some stranger on the internet.
    – JeffE
    Aug 22, 2015 at 15:27
  • @JeffE Thank you for your suggestion. I already discussed with my PhD supervisor. As he does not have any postdoctoral experience, he is not able to give the solution. However, after the discussion with him, we found that these are the main concerns and I look for some help from researchers having postdoctoral experience or persons who are closely related to postdoctoral related issues in this forum.
    – Mithun
    Aug 22, 2015 at 15:42

1 Answer 1


You should be as up front about the situation as you can --- with both parties. Prof. A needs to know that you are interested in a one-year deal but cannot currently commit to anything longer. Prof. B should know that you are interested but have another opportunity and will need to know about the funding. Worst case situation, you join Prof. B's team 12 months down the road. By that time he should know about the funding.

As to #1, you answered this yourself. Once you commit yourself for one year, you should stick it out. Of course it is always possible to get out of any contract, but at what cost? Seems that it would not be worth your while to antagonize Prof. A. What is not clear to me is who makes the decision to extend. If Prof. A does not want to let you go after 1 year, are you stuck?

As to #2 and 3, forget about it. Once you go to China, you will be there for 12 months, and you will work on Prof. A's project. Everything else is unrealistic.

  • Is it possible to suggest me some forum related on contract issues? It is tough to get hidden clause in a contract, although you have the draft copy in hand. After reading your answer, it looks unrealistic about collaborative work with both Prof. A and Prof. B. Thus, I want to make sure that there should not be any hidden issue that might be undetected by me, as I don't have any prior experience.
    – Mithun
    Aug 22, 2015 at 16:30
  • @Mithun - Great answer by user36. If you have any questions about the draft contract, for example, would there be a problem if you left after one year, ask the Personnel department ("Human Resources") at the Chinese lab. Aug 23, 2015 at 2:32

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