Download icon

A survey-based analysis of the academic job market

  1. Jason D Fernandes
  2. Sarvenaz Sarabipour
  3. Christopher T Smith
  4. Natalie M Niemi
  5. Nafisa M Jadavji
  6. Ariangela J Kozik
  7. Alex S Holehouse
  8. Vikas Pejaver
  9. Orsolya Symmons
  10. Alexandre W Bisson Filho
  11. Amanda Haage  Is a corresponding author
  1. University of California, Santa Cruz, United States
  2. Johns Hopkins University, United States
  3. North Carolina State University Graduate School, United States
  4. University of Wisconsin-Madison, United States
  5. Midwestern University, United States
  6. University of Michigan, United States
  7. Washington University School of Medicine, United States
  8. University of Washington, United States
  9. University of Pennsylvania, United States
  10. Brandeis University, United States
  11. University of North Dakota, United States
Feature Article
  • Cited 1
  • Views 7,118
  • Annotations
Cite this article as: eLife 2020;9:e54097 doi: 10.7554/eLife.54097

Abstract

Many postdoctoral researchers apply for faculty positions knowing relatively little about the hiring process or what is needed to secure a job offer. To address this lack of knowledge about the hiring process we conducted a survey of applicants for faculty positions: the survey ran between May 2018 and May 2019, and received 317 responses. We analyzed the responses to explore the interplay between various scholarly metrics and hiring outcomes. We concluded that, above a certain threshold, the benchmarks traditionally used to measure research success – including funding, number of publications or journals published in – were unable to completely differentiate applicants with and without job offers. Respondents also reported that the hiring process was unnecessarily stressful, time-consuming, and lacking in feedback, irrespective of outcome. Our findings suggest that there is considerable scope to improve the transparency of the hiring process.

Article and author information

Author details

  1. Jason D Fernandes

    Department of Biomolecular Engineering, University of California, Santa Cruz, Santa Cruz, United States
    Competing interests
    Jason D Fernandes, Member of the eLife Community Ambassadors programme.
    ORCID icon "This ORCID iD identifies the author of this article:" 0000-0002-8625-1796
  2. Sarvenaz Sarabipour

    Department of Materials Science and Engineering, Johns Hopkins University, Baltimore, United States
    Competing interests
    Sarvenaz Sarabipour, Member of the eLife Early-Career Advisory Group.
    ORCID icon "This ORCID iD identifies the author of this article:" 0000-0001-5097-5509
  3. Christopher T Smith

    Office of Postdoctoral Affairs, North Carolina State University Graduate School, Raleigh, United States
    Competing interests
    No competing interests declared.
    ORCID icon "This ORCID iD identifies the author of this article:" 0000-0002-8212-7886
  4. Natalie M Niemi

    Morgridge Institute for Research, Department of Biochemistry, University of Wisconsin-Madison, Madison, United States
    Competing interests
    No competing interests declared.
    ORCID icon "This ORCID iD identifies the author of this article:" 0000-0002-5174-4005
  5. Nafisa M Jadavji

    Department of Biomedical Sciences, Midwestern University, Glendale, United States
    Competing interests
    Nafisa M Jadavji, Member of the eLife Community Ambassadors programme.
    ORCID icon "This ORCID iD identifies the author of this article:" 0000-0002-3557-7307
  6. Ariangela J Kozik

    Internal Medicine, University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, United States
    Competing interests
    No competing interests declared.
    ORCID icon "This ORCID iD identifies the author of this article:" 0000-0003-2322-4085
  7. Alex S Holehouse

    Department of Biochemistry and Molecular Biophysics, Washington University School of Medicine, St Louis, United States
    Competing interests
    No competing interests declared.
    ORCID icon "This ORCID iD identifies the author of this article:" 0000-0002-4155-5729
  8. Vikas Pejaver

    Department of Biomedical Informatics and Medical Education & The eScience Institute, University of Washington, Seattle, United States
    Competing interests
    No competing interests declared.
    ORCID icon "This ORCID iD identifies the author of this article:" 0000-0002-1943-0284
  9. Orsolya Symmons

    Department of Bioengineering, University of Pennsylvania, Philadelphia, United States
    Competing interests
    No competing interests declared.
    ORCID icon "This ORCID iD identifies the author of this article:" 0000-0003-2435-4236
  10. Alexandre W Bisson Filho

    Department of Biology, Rosenstiel Basic Medical Science Research Center, Brandeis University, Waltham, United States
    Competing interests
    No competing interests declared.
    ORCID icon "This ORCID iD identifies the author of this article:" 0000-0002-5940-7230
  11. Amanda Haage

    Biomedical Sciences, University of North Dakota, Grand Forks, United States
    For correspondence
    mandy.ridd@gmail.com
    Competing interests
    No competing interests declared.
    ORCID icon "This ORCID iD identifies the author of this article:" 0000-0001-6305-440X

Funding

University of North Dakota (Start-up funds)

  • Amanda Haage

National Institute of General Medical Sciences (F32GM125388)

  • Jason D Fernandes

National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute (T32HL007749)

  • Ariangela J Kozik

Midwestern University (Start-up funds)

  • Nafisa M Jadavji

Washington Research Foundation (Fund for Innovation in Data-Intensive Discovery)

  • Vikas Pejaver

University of Washington (Moore-Sloan Data Science Environments Project)

  • Vikas Pejaver

The funders had no role in study design, data collection and interpretation, or the decision to submit the work for publication.

Ethics

Human subjects: This survey was created by researchers listed as authors on this publication, affiliated with universities in the United States in an effort to promote increased transparency on challenges early career researchers face during the academic job search process. The authors respect the confidentiality and anonymity of all respondents. No identifiable private information has been collected by the surveys presented in this publication. Participation in both surveys has been voluntary and the respondents could choose to stop responding to the surveys at any time. Both 'Job Applicant' and 'Search Committee' survey has been verified by the University of North Dakota Institutional Review Board (IRB) as Exempt according to 45CFR46.101(b)(2): Anonymous Surveys No Risk on 08/29/2019. IRB project number: IRB-201908-045. Please contact Dr. Amanda Haage (amanda.haage@und.edu) for further inquiries.

Reviewing Editor

  1. Helena Pérez Valle, eLife, United Kingdom

Publication history

  1. Received: December 3, 2019
  2. Accepted: June 3, 2020
  3. Accepted Manuscript published: June 12, 2020 (version 1)
  4. Version of Record published: July 14, 2020 (version 2)

Copyright

© 2020, Fernandes et al.

This article is distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License permitting unrestricted use and redistribution provided that the original author and source are credited.

Metrics

  • 7,118
    Page views
  • 664
    Downloads
  • 1
    Citations

Article citation count generated by polling the highest count across the following sources: Crossref, PubMed Central, Scopus.

Download links

A two-part list of links to download the article, or parts of the article, in various formats.

Downloads (link to download the article as PDF)

Download citations (links to download the citations from this article in formats compatible with various reference manager tools)

Open citations (links to open the citations from this article in various online reference manager services)