I know that many years ago, PhD graduates without first-authored papers could be accepted to postdoc positions. But now the academic job market has become tighter. Have you seen anyone who finished their PhD in recent years (2017-2020) that became a postdoc without publishing any first-authored papers? Especially in science?
My concern is, currently I don't have any first-authored papers, and my supervisor isn't planning on making me write one. I'm in my third year, and I'm very worried about this. I hope I will become a postdoc right after I finish all my PhD work and three years later become a PI in a prestigious uni (Russell group level).
I haven't, but then I haven't seen every successful application ever made by a postdoc. I am sure it has happened before, but chances are lower. In my field at least. If you don't mind me asking, why is that you don't have a publication yet? Do you have any interesting results that you could publish? Even if you have one or some submitted manuscripts on your CV, this will look better than nothing at all. I'd say have a think about what you could publish from your thesis and ask your supervisor for their feedback and co-authorship.
Can you explain your part in each publication? I agree having no first name papers doesn't look good but you can still get a post-doc with zero publications. I know a few post-docs in Science & Engineering who had no publications from their PhD due to some reason or another, so don't worry too much. There was also a lecturer at my uni in microbiology who had no first name publications when he originally got his lecturer job but had several second name papers in Cell and other high profile journals. So working as part of a large isn't frowned upon. Though I would still ask your supervisor about getting a first name paper.
I am in a similar situation due to an issue of an author on my paper that should be first name. I am applying for postdocs and have had 4 interviews, my lack of publishing has never openly been said as a reason I did not get a postdoc. I can think of quite a few people I know who got postdocs without a first author publication in science.
It's good that you're ambitious but I think you need to align your attitude with your goals, because when you say "currently I don't have any first-authored papers, and my supervisor isn't planning on making me write one.", it appears as if you think it's your supervisors PhD and career, especially when you use the phrase "making me write one".
I read your later reply about your supervisor using parts of your data for other peoples papers. A good supervisor should be able to balance their own research goals with keeping plan to guide the PhD student to develop and have enough peer-reviewed material for their PhD and viva. When this doesn't happen, the PhD student/candidate should ensure the supervisor is reminded of this and is not jeopardising their PhD. I think your supervisor has let you down in this regard, but then I also think you have let yourself down for not challenging this and standing up for your PhD -- believe me, unless you have very easy-going examiners, you'll need to stand up for your PhD in the viva!
After the first year(s) up until the upgrade to PhD-proper (usually 1-2 years) and when one becomes a PhD candidate, really it doesn't make sense to not take full responsibility for your own development and publishing, even if that appears daunting. Ideally, PhD candidates would have gotten a feel and developed a bit of confidence in their first 1-2 years submitting to and presenting at conferences, and submitting papers (even if they are reject or have significant amendments) - it's part of the learning and development process.
By the sounds of it, you've been fortunate with your experiments and results - as you know, in the sciences experiments can go wrong - your supervisor is making use of those results to compliment others work. I think you need to be more proactive, especially now that you're approaching the end.
As for aiming for a prestigious institution (Russell group or others) for post-doc, you'll usually need to demonstrate that you're at the top of your game, and more importantly, have something significant to contribute to that research group. One doesn't necessarily need to go to such a prestigious institution to do good quality, impactful research. That said, it is usually the most impactful research that is carried out at these institutions.
All the best,
Thank you so much for your advice and encouragement, Jamie!
My supervisor cares only about his own career but not my development. His indifference to my needs has made me lose my confidence. I've already reminded him that I need more advice on my development, but he couldn't care less and just told me to follow his instruction. Well, at this moment, his instruction is that I have to tailor my data to other people's papers. I'm struggling to find enough rationale to convince him to give me a chance to write my own paper.
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