Have you seen anyone who got a postdoc job without a first-authored paper?

posted
21-Jan-20, 23:30
edited about 4 seconds later
by pm133
Avatar for pm133
posted about 3 weeks ago
sciencephd, several of my ex PhD colleagues have no first author papers and all of them had no issues getting postdoc positions in Russell Group universities across the UK. None of them were particularly gifted and none of them came from an RG uni so I wouldn't lose too much sleep over any of this.
Obviously a first author paper won't harm you but it's not the end of the world if you have good reasons for not having one. It is particularly difficult to get first authorship if you are a computational chemist working in a group for example unless you are either demonstrating the limits of a technique or testing a new method.

As with everything, it's about supply and demand. If your prospective postdoc position gains a lot of applications, you'll have some issues but there are plenty of academics in all universities who struggle to attract good candidates. Therein lies your opportunity and there are plenty of them.
posted
22-Jan-20, 13:58
edited about 28 seconds later
Avatar for Tudor_Queen
posted about 3 weeks ago
I think it must differ by field then. Maybe look at some relevant job ads and see what the expectations are.
posted
22-Jan-20, 20:52
edited about 38 seconds later
by pm133
Avatar for pm133
posted about 3 weeks ago
It will certainly differ by field I would expect.

There is also another factor where tons of students pursue perceived reputation first and foremost and the science is very much a secondary consideration. I wouldn't even want to guess how many applications arrive on the desk of a Nobel prize winner or a very well known researcher at Oxford, Cambridge or one of the Ivy League unis.

This happens with graduate jobs too. You get some companies receiving tens of thousands of applications from graduates simply because they have appeared on a "best employer" list somewhere, with other much better companies receiving none at all because they are smaller and off list. I must admit that I find this baffling behaviour because for me, the job is everything but I appear to be in a minority.

The symptom of this is that some people just struggle to get positions whilst other possibly less talented people seem to simply walk from one role to another, seemingly effortlessly.

It's up to people how hard they want to make things for themselves whilst balancing up the perceived benefits.
posted
22-Jan-20, 23:51
edited about 4 minutes later
Avatar for Jamie_Wizard
posted about 3 weeks ago
Quote From pm133:
There is also another factor where tons of students pursue perceived reputation first and foremost and the science is very much a secondary consideration. I wouldn't even want to guess how many applications arrive on the desk of a Nobel prize winner or a very well known researcher at Oxford, Cambridge or one of the Ivy League unis.


But achieving a Nobel prize means the science is good - it's outstanding and absolutely NOT secondary! I sense a whiff of the Fox and Sour grapes in what you're preaching pm133, and I've called it out before. [no offence intended]

For those that don't know it, story goes that the fox tries to eat grapes from a vine but cannot reach them. Rather than admit defeat, he states they are undesirable. The expression "sour grapes" originated from this fable.

The following list speaks for itself:
posted
23-Jan-20, 06:54
edited about 48 minutes later
by pm133
Avatar for pm133
posted about 3 weeks ago
Jamie if you calm down a second and re-read my post you'll see I did not call Nobel prize winning science "secondary". I was talking about the motivation of the student applying to those labs being about reputation first and science second. It's not the first time you've made emotional outbursts on here without taking the time to read what others are posting properly.

I come on this forum to help others who are struggling to get through their PhDs and secure postdoc positions. If I'm preaching, it's because people like you keep posting absolute nonsense about Russell Group universities such as having to be "on top of your game" to secure post docs. It's rubbish and potentially damaging to others. You are flat out wrong on this.

I'd be grateful if you could drop the metaphor and explain exactly what you mean by your sour grapes comment. Are you seriously suggesting I am in some way jealous? Of who and of what? After my PhD I was approached by two different supervisors and offered postdoc positions. Both were at RG universities and both were leaders in their fields. I didn't have to apply for either. They approached me. I turned them both down because I wanted to go back to running my own business. I have no interest in engaging in a public pissing contest with you over our respective achievements but I'm not going to sit back and allow you to make personal attacks on my motives without knowing who I am. You can challenge my view but cut out the personal crap please. That;s the second time I've had to ask that from you.

I should add that my ex-PhD colleagues who came from a non-RG background and secured RG postdocs were in the fields of Chemistry, Physics and Biochem. Two of them have now secured permanent positions within those RG unis. Perhaps it would be different if they were in the Humanities. I have no idea.
posted
23-Jan-20, 21:04
Avatar for Tudor_Queen
posted about 3 weeks ago
The thing is, sciencephd seems concerned that s/he does not yet have a first author publication... something must be causing this. Maybe others at the same level in the lab DO already have some papers? Facing up to it and trying to remedy it is probably the most positive thing a person can do if that is the case.
posted
24-Jan-20, 02:48
edited about 3 minutes later
Avatar for sciencephd
posted about 3 weeks ago

You don't need his permission to write a paper. Your rationale can be that you have already written it and you want his feedback before you publish. As you have taken the initiative he will have to give some reason for not wanting you to publish from which you can work with. He might tear your work to shreds and further dent your self confidence but he might decide to include other people's work in your first name paper.


Thank you, Tudor_Queen and rewt, for coming back and giving me further advice.
I've done 5 major experiments so far. The results from Experiments 1 & 3 have been inserted into other people's papers (not submitted yet). So now I have the results from only 2, 4 & 5, but these 3 experiments can't form a complete story. Experiment 1 is the most important one - later experiments are all based on it. Therefore, in order to write my own paper, I need to ask 1 & 3 back and use 1,2,3 & 4 to write a decent paper. But I've already agreed that my supervisor can use 1 & 3 for other papers. If I tell him I need them back, then there'll be scuffles. Another option is, let him publish the two papers, and then I still use 1,2,3&4 to write my own paper. But 1&3 are already published, so will any journals still accept my paper? I doubt it.
posted
24-Jan-20, 03:00
Avatar for sciencephd
posted about 3 weeks ago
Quote From Tudor_Queen:
The thing is, sciencephd seems concerned that s/he does not yet have a first author publication... something must be causing this. Maybe others at the same level in the lab DO already have some papers? Facing up to it and trying to remedy it is probably the most positive thing a person can do if that is the case.

Other students in my group all have at least two first-authored papers on top journals before the end of their PhD. My supervisor gave me a project that is very different from theirs. My project is very boring. Although it's relatively easy to get some results, the results are not impactful and cannot reach top journals. My supervisor thinks it's better to use my results to complement other papers and make those papers easier to get to top journals rather than publish my story on a mediocre journal.
And by the way, the other students have all secured a postdoc job right after their PhD, in a world famous group in this field. By comparison, my achievements look miserable and I don't think I can find a postdoc job so easily.
posted
24-Jan-20, 03:07
Avatar for sciencephd
posted about 3 weeks ago
After my PhD I was approached by two different supervisors and offered postdoc positions. Both were at RG universities and both were leaders in their fields. I didn't have to apply for either. They approached me.

Could you say more about this story? I'm wondering how a PhD student can get two PIs to approach them and offer them postdoc positions. How did the PIs get to know you? Did they know your supervisor? Was your supervisor famous? What did you do to impress the two PIs? I can't imagine any PI approaching me and offering me jobs. People other than my supervisor and co-supervisor simply don't know my existence. I've no idea how to make them know me. I would appreciate it if you could advice me on that.
posted
24-Jan-20, 08:48
Avatar for Tudor_Queen
posted about 3 weeks ago
Thank you for providing more context. How about asking your supervisor how you can get a first authored paper? It sounds as though he runs the lab and has a strategy about papers and projects. If he realises you aren't happy to take no as an answer, he may start to include your interests in that strategy. I think this would need a conversation where he saw that you were serious and not about to easily back down. But also I don't think it would help to say you want to use the existing results that he already has plans for. You could see what he says when you state your position about needing an opportunity to publish some first author papers during your PhD. I'd say papers plural, as then you're more likely to get at least one paper out of a negotiation.

Alongside this, I would look for other opportunities. I was in quite a fix during my. PhD and managed to start a collaboration with a researcher whose work I had admired for years. I simply approached them at a conference and told them which paper I really loved. They then said, oh I didn't get a chance to see your poster, could you email it me after the conference? That set up the communication between us. Then I saw funding being offered for short trips to work with a researcher abroad, and I asked them if they'd be interested in hosting me. They said yes. My supervisors agreed. And basically quite a few good things came out of this, including a paper. I think this is quite a unique case, but it's something you could try.

Aside from this, finishing the PhD is something in itself and it isn't the end of the world if you don't publish a paper from it. As I mentioned in my first reply, it might take longer to secure a postdoc because of the competition. And you might need to settle for an RA job where you can publish first.
posted
24-Jan-20, 11:13
edited about 3 seconds later
Avatar for Jamie_Wizard
posted about 3 weeks ago
I was also approached for a post-doc with a famous Russian professor in the UK in a specialist field - Machine Learning. He and his colleagues made some pioneering contributions that transformed the field (they invented conformal prediction in ML). In my case, towards the end of my PhD, which was going really well, I wasn't very proactive in searching for the next position until the last moment, rather focusing on getting it all completed and finishing my publications. The downside to this was that I heard of others having organised their post-docs and jobs before they completed and I felt I'd left it a bit until the last minute.

Although I achieved 3 full papers and presented at 5 conferences before I finished, I wasn't as proactive and as enterprising in creating collaborations as Tudor Queen.

That said, the professor I mentioned ran a seminar for staff and post-graduate students where he invited his previous PhD students who ended up working in companies such as Microsoft, Google and Facebook . Our department was small and everyone had an idea of what area others were working on. I sometimes attended the seminars, and there were drinks afterwards where he got to ask me more about my work - in particular he was interested in my background in Chemistry and my PhD in distributed computing.

As I was submitting, I was approached by the professor who encouraged me to apply for his post-doc position in Machine Learning for Drug discovery. I interviewed for it and got the position.

I'm currently working in a consulting role in a medical research institute, but now I'm leaving there now to start a post-doc in Imperial college.
posted
24-Jan-20, 11:21
edited about 43 seconds later
Avatar for Jamie_Wizard
posted about 3 weeks ago
pm133, didn't mean to offend. I've seen load of your posts where you offer good advice. I did, however, notice some bias in a few - to paraphrase your opinion "Oh yeah, I know loads of dumb people who've got into those top 'RG' universities, they were nothing special. The whole prestigious university thing is bullshit. Just my opinion of course!" In my view that's not particularly helpful. Just my view of course ;-)
posted
06-Feb-20, 14:02
Avatar for sciencegirl3456
posted about 1 week ago
Quote From sciencephd:
Quote From sciencegirl3456:
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.

Hi sciencegirl3456
Thank you for letting me know there are postdocs who didn't have first authored papers. You said 'my lack of publishing has never openly been said as a reason I did not get a postdoc', but what did they openly tell you? What's the reason for their refusing to give you the job? I'm wondering what I need to show them to convince them to hire me if I lack good papers. Do you know how those postdocs who didn't have first-authored papers got their postdoc job? What do the PIs seek from applicants?


Sorry for the very late reply. The reason I was given varied but was quite often was along the lines of we found someone who we get on better with or we have someone who has more experience in the lab than you.

If it is any comfort to you I just accepted a postdoc at a very good uni without publishing. The panel said they chose me over other candidates who all had had postdoc jobs already because they liked me and that I fitted in well with their team. It wasn't an easy process but I got there. My 3 main tips for this are: 1. ace the presentation of your thesis work, 2. emphasis you want to learn and 3. read up on all things related to the project. Also they love the question: where do postdocs in your department go on to do? If you can get any experience teaching project students or demonstrating they loved that.
posted
06-Feb-20, 14:46
Avatar for Jamie_Wizard
posted about 1 week ago
Congratulations Sciencegirl!
posted
06-Feb-20, 18:09
edited about 1 second later
Avatar for sciencegirl3456
posted about 1 week ago
Quote From Jamie_Wizard:
Congratulations Sciencegirl!


Thanks :)

Postgraduate
Forum

Copyright ©2018
All rights reserved

Postgraduate Forum

Masters Degrees

PhD Opportunities

PostgraduateForum is a trading name of FindAUniversity Ltd
FindAUniversity Ltd, 77 Sidney St, Sheffield, S1 4RG, UK. Tel +44 (0) 114 268 4940 Fax: +44 (0) 114 268 5766