10

Details are very important here:

I interviewed for postdoc positions at 2 labs (same university), and received offers from both.

I accepted the offer from lab "A", and when I declined the offer from "B", the PI told me that they were sorry about my decision, and that they would still like to invite me make a presentation for their lab. I thanked him for the invitation and agreed to make the presentation.

The two groups ("A" and "B") do not interact (they work on different fields), so this is essentially a matter of etiquette.

Is it ok if I make the aforementioned presentation now that I started my appointment with "A"? Should I inform the PI of "A" that I will go present with group "B"? Or should I just decline the invitation to present?

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    why wouldn't you give the presentation? Is there something hidden going on? why would you ask "A's" permission? This is not at all clear to me.. – PsySp May 15 '17 at 7:24
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    @PsySp "Ask permission" might be a little strong. But it's courteous to at least check that your boss is OK with something you plan on doing during work time. Especially right at the start of a job when you're not sure what the expectations are. – David Richerby May 15 '17 at 13:36
  • Nothing to hide, not at all. But group "A"'s people might wonder why I still want to interact with the competence, and whether I'm interested in joining "B" (which is not the case). – Elabore May 16 '17 at 0:46
  • 2
    @Elabore: By "the competence" do you mean "the competition"? – ruakh May 16 '17 at 2:00
  • @ruakh yes, that's what I meant – Elabore May 21 '17 at 4:31
44

Give the presentation.

There is no problem here (to be honest, I'm struggling to work out why you would think there is). Giving presentations is part of being an academic. Different groups can talk to each other. Different groups with close enough interested should talk to each other.

  • 1
    should I inform and/or ask for approval from my new group's PI? – Elabore May 15 '17 at 6:52
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    I don't know. That will depend on your group. What would you do if today you received an invitation to give a talk at another university (within a day's return travel)? What did you do before in that situation? – Jessica B May 15 '17 at 7:15
  • 1
    "Should" is a word that should warn you of exactly why the OP has a question in their mind. These two labs are obviously working on fields that, while different, are related enough that they are competing for resources (post-doc applicants at the very least), and are interested in the same topic (this applicant's prior work). Competition can translate into politics and ill feelings. Shouldn't, but far too often, it does. So to categorically say "there is no problem here" is not a prudent position. Better to err on the side of communicating more than expected. – user51808 May 15 '17 at 16:22
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    If your PI doesn't like you talking to to others, they have the problem, not you. It's possible you are working on something you can't share, but the acceptability of talking about what you've done before this position isn't affected by starting a new position. – Jessica B May 16 '17 at 6:51
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    @Elabore if you ever work in a group of someone who objects your giving a presentation to a group working on a different subject, run away. Fast. Presentations are an integral part of academia and while some people are indeed paranoid about others stealing their results, that's not relevant if the other group is working in a different field (and even when it is relevant, all you need to do is not give out all the details). – terdon May 16 '17 at 14:09
13

Giving presentations is not a conflict; it is a normal part of academia. Interviewing with a group does not alter this.

The only question of conflict that arises here is if the time when you are to give the presentation is after the start date for the your work at PostDoc A since this means that you are unable to fulfil your normal duties. In this case you should inform your new PI of when you intend to give the presentation and it would be extremely unusual for your new PI to object, especially as it is at the same university.

  • 7
    I would argue that giving seminars is part of the normal duties of any academic. So I completely agree that it would be very unusual for the PI to object, though it's definitely courteous to let them know what you're doing. – David Richerby May 15 '17 at 11:19
  • Absolutely, I don't think that the PI would object, but they might think that I want to jump to the other group. That's my main concern. – Elabore May 16 '17 at 0:48
  • Elabore, these two labs are obviously competing for resources - case in point, you. So your concern that your new PI might be worried about losing you to the other group is a valid concern. May turn out to be unfounded, but it is always best to check. Talk to your new PI, heck, even invite him/her to come to the presentation and when there introduce them there as your boss. This would show respect. Can't lose by keeping things clear – user51808 May 16 '17 at 21:53
6

I'd probably mention it to A's PI, mainly to avoid surprises if you bump into them or they see the seminar advertised in the department. They may well want to come to the seminar to hear more about that aspect of your work, or ask you to call meet up for a coffee while you're there.

  • "avoid surprises"... very well put. – user51808 May 15 '17 at 16:23
5

Unfortunately, the reality of Academia is that there is always politics in it, and you never know when that side of things is going to rear its ugly head. So, I would talk to your PI in group "A" and let him know the situation. If there are any political issues between groups "A" and "B", he/she can help you steer through them in a way that is acceptable to him/her. It will communicate respect and will make your life easier and give a better impression of you to your new PI.

Even if this turns out to be a non-issue to your PI, they will see that you communicate and defer to their authority. Goes a long way, in establishing trust in a new relationship, when you communicate at the least suspicion that something might be an issue. Seeing as how you are posting here, you have that suspicion. Even if turns out to be unfounded, the best way to deal with that suspicion is to, communicate. When in doubt about any problem in relationships with your team, boss, friend, wife, a big part of the answer is always going to be communicate, communicate, communicate, and when you are done with that, communicate some more.

  • seems a healthy way – Elabore May 16 '17 at 0:48

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