Postdoc, long distance, am duchess family life


DUCHESS FAMILY= DISRUPT (postgraduate forum won't let me change it )

Has anyone tried negotiating with a postdoc employer to allow doing research from long distance? I am a social scientist so there I am no lab work at all. It's basically my own poject and requires very little supervision which also can be done through a biweekly Skype talk or I can visit for over a two week period on a regular basis. This postdoc I should only for two years and is temporary with no possibility to extend. In these circumstances, it makes it very difficult to disrupt family life of seven years.
My partner cannot join me as he I see in a stable job and we don't want a long distance relationship. How to negotiate with the institution that I will complete the postdoc by short-term visits but cannot stay put so as to not disrupt family life?


I did wonder about Duchess Family ;-)))

I would think there is absolutely no harm in asking and I would guess for the right candidate they would find a way to make it work. Certainly in social science there isn't normally a need for you to be in the office Mon-Fri 9-5. What is the distance? If you could travel there once every few weeks and stay overnight so you're there for two days to join in group events and meetings, that could make a big difference.

Things they might want to consider are how you would participate in the research culture at the university, i.e. attending and giving seminars, the sort of research development and support is often an expected part of postdocs.

Hopefully someone else will come along who has more direct experience of this.


Hi there,

I am on my 3rd long-distance postdoc so hopefully should be able to add something. I work in the arts & humanities and can do my research from anywhere (most of the time).

I live in Oxford and am currently working on a project in Edinburgh.

For my current postdoc, I helped write the funding application and so was able to build in regular meetings in Edinburgh.

My 2nd long-distance postdoc was in Norwich. The Norwich PI was very understanding - he told me that he didn't expect me to move to Norwich for a year and we had monthly meetings in Norwich and fairly regular email contact - our research partner was based in London so it was advantageous to be close to London as I travelled in regularly.

My 1st long-distance postdoc was also in Edinburgh - again, it was advantageous to be based near London, and I was working as a job-share with a colleague in Edinburgh on a mostly web-based project so location wasn't an issue.

So it can be done! You just need to a) have an understanding supervisor, and b) make a convincing case for why you should stay put.

- You don't have to move/disrupt your life

- It can be very isolating working so far away from your colleagues - Norwich wasn't so bad but sometimes I feel a long long way from Edinburgh ...
- Access to institutional facilities is often limited to when you are actually there (although you should hopefully be able to use the library of your nearest university)
- You probably won't feel part of the institution's research culture and it's difficult to make any impact remotely

I'm more than happy to ask any questions you may have.

Best of luck!