Lectureship v postdoc - advice please


Thanks for all the replies. And yeh I think you see where I am coming from pm133. Thanks for the encouragement and ideas. Yes, I think I will stick with my original goal and strategy for now. I'll only go for teaching roles that are temporary/short term. For now. The great thing about a plan is you can always change it if it isn't working. Have a great day everyone :)


Hello TQ,
I'd like to know what you decided to do it the end and how it worked out. It seems I'm exacy in the same dilemma nowadays ha e read this thread with real interest!


Here's a lengthy, complex, but at least experienced, response.

It's based on the UK situation. From my experience on EU projects, it's not limited to the UK, but my own experience is reflective of the UK.

A lectureship is stable employment. Unless your course collapses (which does happen, but is unlikely if it's not a niche subject); you have a job for life barring exceptional incompetence. This is often equated to tenure in the US, except...

...You should not expect to have research time on a UK lecturing post. The University will likely be using you to max the TEF statistics for 'teaching staff with a PhD', whilst actively trying to exclude you from research as 'non-research active' for REF purposes (fewer returns = better quality per return). Unless you're bringing in substantive grants, or producing REF-able articles without any funding support. If you ask at interview, they will probably 'blah' about the research opportunities, but unless that's a clear commitment from them in time - and resources - it's basically saying you're teaching unless you want to do extra work and get a grant, in which case we'll take the money, thanks, and you can do the work.

A postdoc, on the other hand, is absolutely not stable employment. It's probably a job on a funded project for ~3 years, and that's it. Less experienced professors or academics at a similar level employing postdocs often make mistaken promises that they will extend the post if funding permits. Always hear this as that the post will not be extended. It's not that it won't be, but that the person making the promise is basing that on future grants, which they have no guarantee of getting, no matter how talented they are. The benefit of a postdoc is you will have little or no teaching workload, and can focus on knocking out the REF-able publications. This may well involve herding cats on an 'interdisciplinary, intersectoral' consortium of people who, quite rightly, have much less interest in skiing through the slalom of UK REF criteria flags than you do.

In general, I would say if you have a genuine, work till 2am ~5 nights a week, passion in your area and what you do - do a postdoc. It is the route to traditional academic professorship based on field reputation. If you see an academic career as a fairly relaxed job for life, with long summer holidays, have a vague interest in furthering the field, and can value future promotion to an academic middle-management, rather than professorial role, accept a lectureship. Because of how the REF, league tables, and process shape academia, the logical middle-ground career - where you do a healthy balance of teaching and research - is incredibly elusive.


Abababa - if you're in a lecturer post and you don't have significant research time in your contract, you are at the wrong place. I'm a lecturer in a post 92 and roughly 40% of my time is research. There are pinch points where it doesn't happen of course, but not sure your experience is true across the board.