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If I have a decent number of journal publications as per my area of research, is pursuing a post-doc after PhD worth it before searching for a professorship? Do faculty search committees give more preference to candidates with a post-doc over those who just finished their PhD, even though the number and quality of journal publications are comparable? Does the opportunity to work with a well know professor significantly boost the chances of getting a faculty position?

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    What field are you in?
    – ff524
    Mar 10, 2016 at 4:17
  • Robotics (Mechanical Engineering)
    – Cool Guy
    Mar 10, 2016 at 4:26
  • Highly field dependent. There was a survey published, which I cannot find right now. Mar 10, 2016 at 6:47
  • You have listed three questions that are all quite different. Could you please rephrase the question to focus on just one? (the answer to the third question is obviously yes) Mar 10, 2016 at 7:29
  • I personally only know one case of somebody who could skip postdocship to gain a professorship at a (highly reputable) institution. That person was extremely talented and wrote a series of high-rate journal publications during their PhD. Mar 10, 2016 at 12:36

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If I have a decent number of journal publications as per my area of research, is pursuing a post-doc after PhD worth it before searching for a professorship?

In many disciplines it is practically necessary to have done one or more post-docs in order to amass the research record needed to obtain a tenure track position at a research university.

In my discipline (applied mathematics) it is also common for a new PhD to use a mixed teaching/research post-doc or a primarily teaching visiting assistant professor position as a way to get teaching experience.

In my experience, many students apply for both post-docs and tenure track positions. Reasons not to apply for a more desirable tenure track position are if you don't have any realistic chance of getting the position or if you feel that you want to gain more experience through a post-doc before starting on a tenure track position (starting in a tenure track position when you aren't adequately prepared could result in your failing to get tenure.)

Depending on your discipline, applying for a tenure track position immediately after the PhD may be extremely unlikely to get you the job. On the other hand, if applying for a position (using a generic CV, cover letter, and research and teaching statements) takes less then a minute, then why not?

Do faculty search committees give more preference to candidates with a post-doc over those who just finished their PhD, even though the number and quality of journal publications are comparable?

The search committee will be looking at post-docs who had as many publications as you during their PhD and then continued to produce at that rate or faster over a couple of years as a post-doc. In my experience, someone who took longer after the PhD to amass the same number of publications and citations would be at a relative disadvantage.

Does the opportunity to work with a well know professor significantly boost the chances of getting a faculty position?

In my opinion, yes.

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  • Good answer (+1). However... you write "... and then continued to produce at that rate...". Does this phrase imply that current academic environment mostly equates research productivity as well as candidate's quality to quantity only rather than an IMHO more healthy and balanced metric of, say, inspired by Pareto principle 0.8 * Quality + 0.2 * Quantity? Mar 10, 2016 at 5:10
  • @AleksandrBlekh We don't have the phrase "publish or perish" for nothing. There are exceptions. If you legitimately prove the RH, then lots of places might be interested in picking you up no matter how much you've published. But not many people are that amazing (to date, no one is amazing enough to have proven RH, to be really literal). Mar 10, 2016 at 5:37
  • @zibadawatimmy: You're talking about an edge case - what about researchers of slightly lower than Nobel Prize level? BTW, what RH stands for? Just in case, if I decide to prove it... Never mind - I have already figured out that you're most likely talking about Riemann hypothesis. I thought that I more or less like math, but after reading Wikipedia article on RH, I'm already not so sure... :-) Mar 10, 2016 at 6:01

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