Tenure Chasers works predominantly with tenure-track researchers, not PhD candidates and postdocs. But, that doesn’t mean we can’t help, or that they shouldn’t communicate their work.
There are several good reasons why this is the case, but PhDs and postdocs often ask for my advice on communication, so it’s worth sharing here.
What I tell them seems counter-intuitive – it has to do with the differences between tenure-track positions and ‘training’ positions. Most of it isn’t new information. In fact, the first 3 are the reasons I left academia. That doesn’t mean it’s not solid advice.
1. Focus on the key metrics
Research performance is measured on number of papers (and citations), amount of grant money and number of students supervised to graduation. The best thing you can do is focus on raising your numbers in these areas through whatever means possible.
2. Then, focus on papers
When I was involved in recruiting postdocs, the key metric for me was always papers. That’s because, in my opinion (and as much as I hate to admit it), it’s the best measure of performance. The easiest way to get more papers is to get other people to write them for you. This means expanding your network, which takes time, but is worth it.
Research – science in particular – rewards people who identify a niche and stay in that niche, building a profile and giving themselves the opportunity to get to the forefront of that particular nano-field. Personally, I think this is one of the biggest problems with what we call academic ‘success’, and it’s one of the reasons why I wasn’t ‘successful’ in science, but it’s the truth.
4. Create an online presence
Instead of building a skinny website, work on your LinkedIn profile. This is a great platform, used by recruiters – it has everything you need and nothing that you don’t. You can keep building your page through your early career and take it with you when you move between universities. While you’re at it, get your Google Citations and Twitter accounts sorted. Make sure you use a good profile picture!