I'm not contractually obligated to teach in my postdoc position, but she just asked me as a favor... I don't mind of course, but I'd rather be formally acknowledged as co-teaching on the syllabus, etc. It's good for my CV, etc.

Is it expected that I comply with my supervisor or am I within my rights to expect formal acknowledgement?

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    What exactly are you being asked to do? Teach the entire course? Teach a class session or two while your supervisor is traveling? Teach half of the class sessions while your supervisor teaches the other half? Something else?
    – ff524
    Feb 17, 2016 at 7:11
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    If you do it, you can put it on your CV. Future employers are not going to ask for a copy of the syllabus. They might ask you about your experience teaching the course. Feb 17, 2016 at 7:23
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    If you would teach the entire course some form of recognition is un-avoidable in several universities, as you need to be formally accepted by the department / faculty / school as an examiner. Teaching is one thing, being the responsible examiner is another .. Feb 17, 2016 at 7:33
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    I am being ask to deliver lectures that collectively add up to 1/3 of the entire course. I suppose my supervisor can still be the examiner, formally... Yes, I am being paid for this (though less time for research), no tutoring, contributing original material, yes.
    – Teusz
    Feb 17, 2016 at 12:30
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    if you're delivering 1/3 of the lectures, then the course outline that they hand out at the start of semester will have your name on it. it's essentially unspoken that you'll be acknowledged, so it's a tad peculiar that you ask "or am I within my rights to expect formal acknowledgement?" ... it's not an either/or type scenario.
    – faustus
    Feb 17, 2016 at 18:00

7 Answers 7


This already has too many answers, but I can't help myself: academia entirely runs on people doing stuff they are not contractually obligated to do. This generates a lot of problems along the way, but that is how things stand. "It's not a formal requirement that I do this" is not likely to be a satisfying answer for your supervisor. If the amount of lecturing is not a huge burden, and you feel like it will not make a huge dent in your productivity, then it is probably a worthwhile thing to do (if only as a favor to your supervisor); if you feel like the amount asked is a large burden, see if you can negotiate to reduce it. I also agree that you want to get something in writing. I would phrase it as "I want to be sure I understand what needs to be done for the class. If it's writing, it's less likely I'll forget or misunderstand," rather than making it seem like you are suspicious.

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    +1 for de-emphasizing "formal requirement." The professor is likely not just lazy, but expressing trust in and appreciation of her Postdoc. It's a lot of extra work, but another step in seeing the Postdoc as "ready to join the ranks." Feb 17, 2016 at 16:07
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    For people who like teaching, this is a great opportunity. Having teaching experience can be the selling point in a job interview that will make you stand out from the others. However, if it is really research you want to do and do not really enjoy teaching enough to be confronted with it before you become a professor, then you might concentrate on doing good research. But if you do not, in principle, mind doing it, go for it - experience is best gained early. Feb 22, 2016 at 10:40

If you have an interest in academic positions this is a golden opportunity that you should not pass up. You will have actually taught some reasonable portion of a class in your field and will be able to discuss with the interview committee how it went, what you would change, how you would teach such a class at your prospective institution. It will go a long way in helping you write your statement on teaching philosophy. It also will let you know what you are in for - preparing lectures the first time through is an incredibly time consuming task.

If you have no desire to be in academia, well, that is something different.

Frankly, I think your adviser is being very nice to you.


The answer to your questions depends: First what does your supervisor asks you in specific? Teach an entire term or just one or two sessions when she is unavailable? Has the course already started?

I would see it this way. If you just have to substitute her for some sessions, do it. A helping hand is always welcome. If she asks you to lecture an entire course, mention it in your CV -- even if you don't have any obligation to give classes at your current position. It has been stated (imho orrectly) that there is a difference between teaching and examining; you should definitaley check back with exam regulations what your role will be. A last thing: If you are to give an entire lecture, be sure that it counts towards your working time (the actual course, preparation and follow-ups) -- or is compensated adequately. I work in academia and (in Germany) there is the habit of giving out lectureships that pay absolutely nothing for your efforts.

  • This does not provide an answer to the question. To critique or request clarification from an author, leave a comment below their post - you can always comment on your own posts, and once you have sufficient reputation you will be able to comment on any post. - From Review
    – enthu
    Feb 17, 2016 at 11:54
  • I know. However, I cannot yet comment under questions/other answers. Above that. The question is in my opinion very complex so that other persons cannot give a final answer to it, only provide input so that the person who asked, can make up his*her mind. Feb 17, 2016 at 15:35

I've seen before that a professor was listed on the syllabus, but someone else was actually teaching in the classroom, so it's not unheard of. If you're a co- teacher, list it on your CV as such. If you're the sole teacher, list it on your CV as such. Just 2 things to consider:

  • Get your exact role confirmed in writing, either in a letter or an email. If only one person can confirm you did teach and that person gets hit by a bus, we're now down to 0 people.
  • Make sure you can balance the additional workload somehow.

My two cents: you should totally do this; it's a great experience and good for your CV. It could be just slightly better if you were correctly acknowledged.

Don't be hung up on who gets the credit. Besides, you are already getting paid for the work you are doing.


Why shouldn't you? You will get great experience and learn a lot while you are preparing for the class. In my mind, I don't really care what kind of benefits the professor or the supervisor is getting. This is a great opportunity for you. On the other site, if this really bothers you, you may follow the University rules but not recommended. :-)


Don't do it. From own experience and colleagues' experiences: Some universities don't consider your teaching experience if you don't show a student evaluation. If you don't get credit for teaching, the only thing what remains is to show your productivity with publications. (Since for proposal writing you won't get any credit as well as postdoc). Focus on your research or negotiate that you get credit for your teaching (student evaluation etc), because good teaching will take a lot of your time, if you do it for the first time.

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