Say I have finished my PhD and I would love to just write a few papers and do some research before getting a job at a university which will also involve teaching & administrative things. Also, assume I would have the money to do just that for a year, or two (I am in the Humanities & have access to a library, no need for a lab)

How would this look on my CV, how would this affect my future chances of getting a teaching position? If I don't publish anything, it will be horrific for my CV I'd assume. What if I would actually manage to publish a few good papers (and more or better ones than I would have been able to with a teaching position)

  • 5
    What you are planning sounds pretty much like a postdoc. Are they a thing in your field?
    – Davidmh
    Commented Jun 12, 2016 at 15:19
  • 1
    Can't you get a post-doc or an adjacent prof. position?
    – The Guy
    Commented Jun 12, 2016 at 15:20
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    Can you get some kind of unpaid visiting research position at a university so you can put it on your CV? If you know a professor at a nearby university moderately well, they may be able to arrange this kind of thing. (At some universities, this costs the professor a relatively small amount of money in administrative fees, but at other universities I believe it may be free. Some universities may not allow it at all.) Commented Jun 12, 2016 at 18:13
  • I'm am not sure about the post-doc situation in the Humanitites - do things like these exist? @PeterShor so the thought is that it will look better on the cv to have some affiliation? how would i introduce something like this / ask for this? I am worried it will sound bad to say that I basically have the money and can afford something like this. Commented Jun 13, 2016 at 20:53
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    If you have not actually finished your PhD yet, one thing to do would be to delay your graduation by a year. On the other hand, if you can get a job, it's possible to negotiate for some things like deferral or leave without pay, or lowered teaching/administrative duties at the beginning.
    – Kimball
    Commented Jun 13, 2016 at 22:29

1 Answer 1


This sounds like an incredibly poor decision to me:

  1. the job market in the humanities is very bad, even compared to the rest of academia, and very "lumpy." There are relatively few jobs, and they tend to have fairly specific concentrations. You are taking a huge risk by passing up a year of chances to apply; the set of jobs in your specialty, even the set of cities where jobs in your specialty are available, will likely be totally different next year. The opportunity cost is enormous.

  2. It will look bad on your CV. Some people will just find it an amusing eccentricity, but many people will not really believe your unemployment was voluntary, and some may wonder what sort of person they'd be hiring into their department (most academic departments feel they have enough odd characters as is). Discussing the matter will just emphasize that you feel like teaching and service are a burden, which doesn't make you sound so appealing as a colleague.

  3. There's a much better solution! Get a job (if you are so lucky), and find some excuse to take an unpaid leave. I'm sure attitudes about this vary from department to department; in my field (mathematics) this would be very easy to do, and indeed in many cases you could arrange a visit somewhere that might pay some of your expenses. I don't think this is the same in every field, but it's still surely much better to be in a position first, rather than waiting.

  • Your reasoning on #1 is most accurate for the potential pitfalls of this situation. The best advice for the poster (and anyone in this situation) is to apply for any and all jobs after graduation while realizing that the poster may require a full year (or more) to find a suitable position and that the original poster should definitely fill this time by publishing as much as possible. Commented Jun 14, 2016 at 0:58

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