I would say it is unusual to go back to a postdoc after a permanent lectureship. I think it would be rather awkward to go from full lecturer back down to postdoc but a temporary lecturer job might be less awkward. I have seen lecturers become research fellows, take research sabbaticals or get grant money to pay off their teaching time. So if you do get a lectureship you have more research options other than doing a postdoc
Have you been offered a lecturer job?
I concur with rewt, getting what is commonly considered a "real job" is the way to go and represents the expected academic career path. Postdoc positions can quickly become a dead end from which there is no escape. Of course, being a lecturer and trying to perform useful research at the same time can be very stressful. However, be aware that this is the life you are signing up for in academia anyway. This is NEVER going to end.
If the lectureship was a permanent post it would look odd. Not so if it were a one year temporary teaching post. However, in the latter case, what is sometimes difficult is keeping up your research agenda, while doing a lot of teaching, so that you remain competitive for research posts.
If you are choosing for next academic year between a temporary teaching post and a research post though, I'd stay on the research side. Teaching next academic year will be brutal for everyone and if you've not already got lectures written and existing teaching experience so you know how things work, it will be so hard. Teaching mainly online for more hours than usual (including at a growing number of places evening and weekend teaching looks likely), disgruntled and struggling students, working from home where possible so less mentoring possible and the physical risks of any face-to-face teaching. Everyone's dreading it. For a permanent post, it's probably worth it but less so otherwise...Although given all the redundancies being announced, permanent may not actually be permanent, but to be fair that's the case with most jobs at the moment.
Thanks all. This is really helpful Bewildered. I don't really want a permanent lectureship as my plan has been to build up my research profile before going into teaching or any permanent role. This is why I'm wondering if it's poss to go back to postdoc-ing if you do have a lectureship opportunity and step down that route. If I'm getting you correctly, you're saying (given what I've said about my priorities) it would be best to avoid unless it's a very short term kind of teaching role?
If you have the option of a 1 year lectureship or a 1 year post-doc, you'd need to think about it. If you get offered a permanent lectureship Vs a 1 year post-doc, you take the permanent, obviously. I'm a bit worried about your stated plan TQ. Deliberately signing up to casualisation or precarious temp jobs is not a great plan. Obviously if that's all you get, so be it, but don't plan to do that. Often the next job does not arise. Remember, the days of academics doing only research is over, you'll need to teach and research, you might develop a research profile but if you can't (prove) you can talk to a class of students you'll not get hired.
Edit: and obviously don't resign from a permanent job to do a post-doc, if that's what you were suggesting? Something like an ECR fellowship would be your best bet.
Thanks pd, the more input the better. I don't want to get into a debate about things like casualisation etc. I'm well aware of the importance of things like job security, but it's not actually a priority to me right now (we're all wired differently). My question is - if I take a lectureship am I sort of already on that path and can't go back to my goal of doing a few postdocs?
Yes the obvious move having gained a permanent lectureship is to apply for an individual fellowship for new investigators rather than going backwards to being a junior researcher on a research project as pd1598 points out. Precarity in academia is such that everyone understands switching between temporary teaching and research jobs as you need to pay the bills, but giving up a permanent role without a very obvious reason (e.g. family caring responsibilities mean you need to move area or your department is being closed down) will raise eyebrows.
Yes I see. But with a postdoc you get to spend a high proportion of time doing research, can produce more papers in a shorter time, and you get valuable supervision (although I guess this part can be true as part of a lectureship too). It's the norm in the US to do a few postdocs after your PhD - sort of like doing a second or a third PhD. And then you go for a lectureship. I like this model as I feel you get to really develop as a researcher - putting more time into that - before all the teaching and admin responsibilities that'll come later.
TQ, I think you need to pursue the path which feels more meaningful to you.
I don't think it is obvious at all that you would take a permanent teaching role over a postdoc.
I personally don't believe in getting all this way and then taking the safe option for fear of not getting another opportunity.
What would be the point?
You want to do pure research? Postdoc or fellowship are your options right now. Anything else will leave you with almost no time for research.
It's clear this is what you'd prefer to do.
What isn't clear is why you are even cobsidering a permanent lectureship when it isn't your plan A.
Are you struggling to find research posts or are you tempted by a bit more security?
Yep, that is exactly the case, pm133! What I'm currently doing is coming to an end, and I'm struggling to find the right next research role. I think it has a lot to do with the current climate, which might go on for a bit. There are lots of teaching opportunities available, but I am less attracted to these. So I guess I'm just trying to weigh up options and their implications, and be realistic.
Hi TQ. I think taking a teaching role is not a bad option if there are no research roles available. If the next potential employer thinks it is a bit weird to seek a Postdoc role, it is not the end of the world. They usually ask questions regarding career shift and this sort of stuff. They must have seen weirder so do not worry.
If I have stayed in academia, my dream job would have been 80% research and 20% teaching. Is there any information about research in these teaching jobs? or are they purely lecturing?
By the way, in my circle of academia there are several Postdocs who managed to secure a permanent research role after a few temporary Postdocs. It is not rare.
I understand TQ.
It's a difficult decision for you to make.
Personally, I would be trying to stay true to my gut for as long as possible. That's what I'm doing right now. I do have the luxury of being able to do that financially though so it's easy for me to do that.
My advice then would be to do everything in your power to remain on your research path. Try and find financial solutions for this, take up temporary work, marry a rich person (:-D), take on temporary roles, part time work, volunteer to do research unpaid in the meantime to stay in the game.
The worst thing you can do is get bogged down in a permanent job which sucks your energy and time and makes it more difficult for you to get back to research.
You have your whole life to get this right. Be careful not to give into fear or be lured by the safety of a solid pension (sigh! - just kill me now!) unless it's absolutely the only reasonable option.
For what it's worth, during difficult, weak moments I've found myself looking at lecturing and school teaching jobs. I can't recall the last thing I did which sucked so much of my soul into the spinning vortex of despair and misery :-D
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