1. Limited time only! Sign up for a free 30min personal tutor trial with Chegg Tutors
    Dismiss Notice
Dismiss Notice
Join Physics Forums Today!
The friendliest, high quality science and math community on the planet! Everyone who loves science is here!

Who to use as references for physics faculty applications?

  1. Aug 29, 2013 #1
    Hello,

    I am a post-doc in condensed matter theory (about to finish my 3rd year of my first post-doc) who is about to start applying for faculty positions. I am not sure who to use for my three references. Of course I will use my current adviser. Is it typical/ok to use my PhD adviser as well? For my third I consider using an experimentalist from my current department who I have collaborated with some.

    Any guidance would be appreciated.

    Thanks.
     
  2. jcsd
  3. Aug 29, 2013 #2

    Vanadium 50

    User Avatar
    Staff Emeritus
    Science Advisor
    Education Advisor

    I think you should be having this discussion with your present supervisor. There is not a one size fits all answer: it depends a lot on where you will be applying. You need to stand out from your peers, but the way to do that varies enormously from department to department.
     
  4. Sep 13, 2013 #3
    Just an honest question: do you really think it is worthwhile to spend time applying instead of trying to get a job outside of academia?

    One of my colleagues has spend a year applying everywhere, and no replies so far. He is also a 3d year postdoc, got his personal external funding for both PhD and postdoctoral research, has 40+ high impact papers, of which about 10 are in Nature/Science/PRL, he also initialised a new scientific subfield (as a single author) and has solid teaching experience.

    Another of my friends has just finished his PhD with 40+ high impact papers of which 5+ are Nature/Science/PRL. He has many postdoctoral years ahead of him to get much better results, but even HE is worried about his academic future.

    Do you think it's worthwhile to apply for faculty positions, when there are 1000+ applicants, of which 30+ are awe-inspiring research powerhouses?

    p.s. I did not mean to sound aggressive, it's just an honest question :)
     
    Last edited: Sep 13, 2013
  5. Sep 13, 2013 #4

    Vanadium 50

    User Avatar
    Staff Emeritus
    Science Advisor
    Education Advisor

    You sure sound bitter.

    There are not 1000+ applicants per position. Knock off a zero and you're closer.

    Furthermore, while the odds of getting a job you apply for are small, the odds of getting a job you don't apply for are smaller.
     
  6. Sep 13, 2013 #5
    Sorry, my bad =) I guess I've just got demotivated by stories from my friends, as I was really aspiring to become a professor myself.

    As for 1000+ applications, that can sometimes be the case in leading universities. No so well-known universities have about 100 applications, I concur.
     
  7. Sep 13, 2013 #6

    Choppy

    User Avatar
    Science Advisor
    Education Advisor

    Are you sure about that? 40+ high impact papers after having just finished a PhD? Even if he spread that out over 7 years that's over 5 papers per year... coming from a student.

    I even find 40+ hard to believe for a 3rd year post-doc.

    There are people who do publish this prolifically, but they are usually professors/principle investigators who have an a small army of students and post-docs under their direction.
     
  8. Sep 13, 2013 #7
    It's not like it would take that much time to apply to all academic openings. A classmate of mine has applied to every High Energy Physics postdoc position in the last year... which, is, like, 15 openings. Granted, CV applications are a bit more complicated, but 15 applications is what you can expect to send out to industry jobs on a Saturday (or full weekend). Even if you're taking the time to contact the company first, to talk with or meet with someone before you submit your application, you'll still be able to submit vastly more non-academic openings than you will for academic positions.

    Basically, there are orders of magnitude differences between the number of academic jobs for physicists compared to non-academic jobs that potentially include physicists. If you're interested academic jobs, then there is nothing to lose applying to academic openings as long as you're supplementing that with non-academic applications.
     
  9. Sep 13, 2013 #8

    Vanadium 50

    User Avatar
    Staff Emeritus
    Science Advisor
    Education Advisor

    Can we get back to the OP's topic please?
     
  10. Sep 15, 2013 #9
    On-topic:

    I would like to apologise for intruding on this discussion. I agree with Vanadium 50 that asking a supervisor about the references would probably be the best solution.

    Off-topic:
    7-9 high impact papers per year every year starting 1 year before he started his PhD. I'm not sure if it works, but you might be able to check it here: http://apps.webofknowledge.com/Cita...dPmNrgRUNO&page=1&cr_pqid=12&viewType=summary



    I am sorry for the confusion, he only applied for tenure track faculty positions, and only in USA/Europe. I am sure he could get a different job if he wanted. The OP however seems to ask about faculty positions as well.
     
Know someone interested in this topic? Share this thread via Reddit, Google+, Twitter, or Facebook