Thursday, October 28, 2010

Waiting season

I hate the competition. It's crazy and it's driving me nuts. Got this in my mailbox today (from one of my target schools, a Public Ivy):

Dear takchek,

Our faculty search committee is continuing to review applications, and I am pleased to let you know that you are one of our ‘semi-finalists’ for whom we have written references for letters of recommendation (about 30% of the total pool). It will likely be January or later when we invite the shortlisted ‘finalists’ for on-campus interviews. I hope to have the opportunity to meet you soon, and I wish you all the best in your continued professional development.

Best regards,

Chair, Faculty Search Committee

The worst part is how hopeless I am in the selection process. The whole recruitment exercise is a black box, and all I can do is to wait and hope for the best. Argh!

Edit (29 Oct): This article is so timely.

Maybe you're finishing your Ph.D. or wrapping up a postdoctoral appointment. The days are grueling. Writing up results, planning for a dissertation defense, or trying to get work published is not only intellectually exhausting but can also take a physical and emotional toll. Yet in the middle of one of the most challenging periods of your life, you have to go on the job market.

That means putting a smile on your face, tidying yourself up, and talking about your research as though it's the best, most exciting project in the world. It means pretending that you're not absolutely terrified. It's no wonder that going on the job market can feel like an ordeal; it's the equivalent of putting on a suit or a cocktail dress for the last mile of a marathon.

...But as one job candidate put it, the "storyline" you have to convey is, "I am an appealing candidate."

Hire me!

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Hits and Misses

The past 6 months has been a crazy one for me in my work. Supported by an army of serfs bright, motivated undergraduates, I collected enough *interesting* data to submit manuscripts to several different high-impact-factor peer reviewed journals. This is my most productive year so far. We got the first one accepted quickly after making the minor revisions requested by the anonymous reviewers. The second submission was to one of the Glamour Mags, and our manuscript was rejected.

Dear takchek:

Thank you for submitting your manuscript to Glamor Magazine. Because your manuscript was not given a high enough priority rating during the initial screening process, we were not able to send it out for in-depth review. Although your analysis is interesting and novel and your application represents a tour de force in (your sub-field), we feel that the scope and focus of your paper make it more appropriate for a more specialized journal. We are therefore notifying you so that you can seek publication elsewhere.

We now receive many more interesting papers than we can publish. We therefore send for in-depth review only those papers most likely to be ultimately published in Glamor Magazine. Papers are selected on the basis of discipline, novelty, and general significance, in addition to the usual criteria for publication in specialized journals. Therefore, our decision is not a reflection of the quality of your research but rather of our stringent space limitations.

We wish you every success when you submit the paper elsewhere.


Associate Editor, Glamor Magazine

This rejection, more so than most rejections in my life so far (love, job, scholarship, certain university admission applications etc)is particularly hurtful not only because it is one of the holy trinity of Glamour Mags in the vanity field of science but also because of the huge amounts of time, money, manpower, intellectual and physical efforts spent in generating, collecting and presenting the data and one which my advisor had high hopes on getting accepted.

You might then ask: Does it really matter where this manuscript is published? Why do I care so much?

This is the first reason. And the second: I have submitted my applications for tenure-track positions at two of the Ivy League schools.

There is always hope.

From Chemjobber.