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Postdoc and time spent on research

  1. Aug 14, 2011 #1
    How tough is competition to become a perma faculty member at a third tier uni or better? Are there tons of brilliant postdocs to compete with? How many, 2, 5, 10, 50? How brilliant, just good or very good?

    Also, how much time in % do you estimate is spent on doing non-research as a postdoc? Such as lecturing, teaching grad studs, administration, grant writing? I imagine you get like 80% of the time to research, the rest goes to other stuff? Is math particularly different in this regard compared to other fields such as CS, theoretical physics, etc?

    Furthermore, it the academic landscape likely to change for the drastically worse in 5-10 years time? You know, increased competition from China and India, national budget deficits, faculty retiring...

    Also, what's a staff scientist exactly? Does he get to do real research? How large % OF time spent on non-research activities? Permanent or not? Bad or good pay?

    Reason for asking is I'm considering going into research.
  2. jcsd
  3. Aug 14, 2011 #2
    You know, it's an interesting question because I'm not very clear on my research prospects once I leave grad school whether or not I get on as a prof somewhere. I'm not sure what other jobs allow for research. An obvious choice would be a research oriented non-profit or a think tank, or maybe somewhere like the NSA if that's your thing.
  4. Aug 14, 2011 #3


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    According to:

    In 2007-2008 among approximately 800 physics and/or astronomy departments (presumably limited to the US) there were 561 new faculty hires (including part-time and temporary appointments):
    241 in PhD-granting departments (200 were tenured or tenure-track positions)
    62 in Master’s-granting departments
    259 in Bachelor’s-granting departments

    The physics PhD classes of 2007 and 2008 consisted of 1,460 and 1,499 PhDs, respectively.

    You can sort these data into tiers if you want to. I don't know too many non-brilliant post-docs.
  5. Sep 5, 2011 #4
    And also, when researching in theoretical mathematics, since you don't have a lab, do you still have duties such as administration, grant writing, etc? Do you end up spending more time on teaching due to the absence of lab? I really would like to know this.

    Also, anyone got an opinion on working as semi-perma postdoc and staff scientists? I wonder if they're worth it or not. Again I would like to know if such positions exist in theoretical mathematics. Any information on how it is to be working as a theoretical, or heck, even applied mathematician would be great. I really need to find facts on it to decide for myself if I really want to commit to it or not. I also appreciate if you can estimate how much time (In %, if possible) is spent on miscellaneous and boring things like doing paperwork and other forms of busywork. I would love to avoid that to the greatest possible degree. Does theoretical computer science really differ alot from theoretical mathematics in these regards? What about theoretical physics?

    Finally, where can I find information on becoming a logician? Is it even a field to do research in? I'm also curious as to how much time is spent on busywork and the like.
    Last edited: Sep 5, 2011
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