Post-PhD Researcher Resources

Resources for university-based researchers are divided into two sections:
Published Resources: useful papers with brief abstracts
Online Resources: strategies and tools with brief descriptions


Published Resources

McAlpine, L., Turner, G., Saunders, S., & Wilson, N. (2016). Becoming a PI: Agency, persistence, and some luck! International Journal for Researcher Development, 7 (2), 106-122.
This study examined the experience of gaining research independence by becoming a principal investigator (PI). It documented how 60 PIs from a range of disciplines in one European and two UK universities experienced working towards and achieving this significant goal. Regardless of the length of the journey to getting their first grant, more than a third noted the role that luck played in getting the grant. Luck was also perceived to have an influence on other aspects of academic work. Overall, luck provided a means to sustain a belief in themselves and be persistent in managing the challenges of the journey.    

Bentley, P.J. & Kyvik, S. (2012). Academic work from a comparative perspective: a survey of faculty working time across 13 countries. Higher Education, 63 (4), 529-547.
This study is based on data about the allocation of working time between academic tasks at research universities in thirteen countries. It showed working time patterns differed significantly across countries. This suggests that conditions of academic work remain heavily dependent on national higher education traditions. Faculty members holding the highest professorial rank share more in common, with generally stronger interests in research and a greater time dedication to research over teaching. However, in countries with comparably steep academic hierarchies, professor positions typically entail significantly fewer teaching hours and more administration. (See also Jones et al, 2012 below)

Jones, G., Weinrib, J., Metcalfe, A. S., Fisher, D., Rubenson, K. & Snee, I. (2012). Academic work in Canada: the perceptions of early-career academics. Higher Education Quarterly, 66 (2), 189-206.
This paper examines work patterns (ie time spent on various activities) and satisfaction of tenured, and tenure track faculty in Canada through a national survey. Contrary to the initial expectations of the authors, little difference was found between the groups. This paper also provides a good overall description of the Canadian higher education structure and labour situation.

McAlpine, L. (2010). Fixed-term researchers in the social sciences: Passionate investment yet marginalizing experiences. International Journal of Academic Development, 15 (3), 229-240.
This paper revealed the intersection between the personal and the academic in early career researchers’ experiences. It found that the researchers in the study had strong intellectual passion for their work, yet their commitment resulted in sacrifice of personal lives and constant relocations. The paper recommends strategies for graduate programs and academic development units to address this issue.

Akerlind, G. (2009). Postdoctoral research positions as preparation for an academic career. International Journal for Researcher Development, 1 (1), 87-96.
This paper explores the four commonly held assumptions about the nature of postdoctoral positions. These are 1) postdoctoral researchers want an academic career, and postdoctoral positions provide 2) a stepping stone to academic careers, 3) an opportunity to become independent, and 4) an opportunity to concentrate solely on research. The findings of the study challenge our beliefs about the nature of postdoctoral positions.     

Henderon, S. G. (2008). Staying sane on the tenure track. Proceedings from Winter Simulation Conference. Piscataway, NJ: Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers, Inc. [download]
This short article outlines a tenured faculty member’s advice on getting tenure. The author provides thoughts and reflections on research, teaching, services, how to get tenure, and how to survive after getting it (time management and balancing work and personal life). Of the many insights is a suggestion that a postdoctoral position should be taken as a starting point for getting tenure. 

Hopfensperger, K., Soykan, C. & Lookingbill, T. (2008). The quest for an ecological post-doc. Frontiers in Ecology and the Environment, 6, 49-50.
This two-page article summarizes the experiences of three PhD graduates’ search for postdoctoral positions and provides suggestions for science doctoral students. Some of the insights are PhD students should think about their future goals before their final year in the program, one may “create” a postdoctoral position through networking, and works “in prep” may do harm to a postdoctoral CV. 

Online Resources

Job seeking after the PhD: job placement resources
European University Institute - Job and Funding Resources.
UK-based website aimed to help early career stage researchers to acquire, develop and make use of their research skills by helping them find vacancies for research jobs, such as postdoctoral fellowships.
Higher Education Recruitment Consortium for national job searches; there are regional affiliates as well (metro New York, greater Chicago, mid-Atlantic, etc.). The regional websites are listed on the home page.
Links internationally (US & Canada) to human resources sites for colleges and universities. Users can go to a geographical listing, search for schools by name, or by discipline.
Canadian job search engine.
Search engine for positions (Chronicle of Higher Education).

Particular focus
Women in higher education.
Helps science PhD grads to prepare for the changing demands of today's job market and to provide a voice for early career scientists, includes job listings, career info, info on finding employment.
Career resource for Arts and Humanities PhD graduates.
Job listing from Science.
Job listings from Nature.
Job board and career service for life sciences graduates.
Career basics.

Networking, communicating
Designed to encourage researchers to share their research collaboration interests and find others within and beyond their institutions.
Social media guide for researchers.
Guardian’s Higher Education pages for early career researchers to ‘share ideas, inspiration and practical advice’.
A networking site which has job postings, and facilitates networking and communication with other researchers.