An informal, totally non-scientific survey

I’ve heard tale in the blogosphere and IRL that *nobody* is getting TT jobs at top-tier research institutions without money right now…that even K grant money isn’t gonna do the trick. That in order to get a faculty position at a top-tier med school, you need serious dough – like multiple R01s. Before I comment on this, I would like to find out how true this may or may not be using an incredibly inaccurate method for data acquisition – the blog poll!!

Question #1

Question #2

Question #3

Question #4 – ***NEW***

Question #5 – ***NEW***


30 thoughts on “An informal, totally non-scientific survey

  1. I can’t seem to vote…..
    1). No
    2). NA
    3) biomedical sciences
    In truth, of those that had K’s, none of them went to top-tier research institutions. Most went to up and coming research institutions (not a bad place to be frankly). For this reason, I don’t advocate job searches encompassing only ‘Tier 1’ positions. IMO, ‘Tier’s don’t matter as much as the support that you will get from admin (read start-up $$) and faculty development programs.

  2. Not necessarily ivy league, but medical schools with strong reputations, as well as some undergraduate/graduate research institutions with strong R01 funding. It’s not a very specific definition, but it’s also not a very scientific poll…

  3. I have a friend who got a TT position at a good research school (not sure what exactly is top tier) he didn’t have a big grant, although he has submitted a few and been rejected. I think the most $ he has gotten is ~$5K for a small side project. The university said they chose him because he had lots of potential. I know several other people who interviewed for the position and they are both in TT positions at other universities and both have had big grants come through. I very happy for my friend who seemed to be getting stuck in instructor land (no official post doc although he was still dabbling in research) but I was surprised that he was the top candidate given the lack of funds.

    I do know someone who got a TT position 1 year out of a PhD, but I’m pretty sure she was a spousal hire since her hubby is further along and has had some really “big and cool” paper come out in the last few years. not that she isn’t a good scientist, I just don’t know if she would have landed the position w/o the spousal hire (few papers, no grants…)

    A trend I have seen in recent faculty searches is that many of the top candidates have had 2 or 3 post doc positions and have been done with their PhD for 8-10 years. It’s hard to imagine (and a little depressing) to think of someone relatively fresh from their PhD competing with that.

    oh, this is in a non-biomed field, essentially microbial ecology but it can be spun in several ways depending on the project.

  4. Agreed completely that the best place for junior faculty is where they’ll get the support they need. My concern is that some of the larger R1 medical schools seem to not bringing in junior faculty sans R01 money, and when they do, they’re not given much support. I understand that’s the name of the game when your largely operating on soft money (up to 80% in many cases), and that things have gotten even tougher with the current NIH money crunch. But I’m not sure that’s the best model for building a research program. I’m really just thinking through this out loud right now, and I wanted some feedback from people who don’t hold back. 🙂

    BTW, added your votes in for you – sorry for the screwy polls!!

  5. I forgot ONE! I have a friend who got a job at Pitt, with a K99/R00…she is the ONE exception and did her post-doc there. So they basically created a position for her…….

  6. FWIW, one of the post-docs at my last institution (top tier) got a TT position at what’s probably a top 5 (def top 10) med school, without an R01. In fact, I’m not sure if he was bringing any money with him at all. AND, my department there interviewed several faculty candidates, none of whom had R01s.

  7. I think that some people might vote seeing “top tier” and ignoring “med school.” Medical schools follow the beat of their own drummers and may not be representative of the academic job market.

  8. True, I thought of this after I got the polls up (again) this morning. But many of the voters at this point appear to be biomed, so I’m guessing med schools are likely the dominating institution type.

  9. Your assertion that no one gets hired without an R01 is absolutely not true. I don’t know how you define “top tier”, but my MRU (a med school) is generally fairly high up on the list of who gets the most federal research $. We absolutely hire people without any money (notwithstanding my K99), and none of the last 5 people that we hired had an R01. This is true for all the other departments that I am familiar with.

  10. This is very good to hear IMO, especially from what I’ve heard. I wonder how much the experience varies from one place to another, as I’m betting the culture of the institution determines who they’re willing to look at. I think my biggest concern is that some of the med schools fed mostly off of soft money have been gravitating away from the “supporting junior faculty” culture. Not sure if this is a good or bad thing…and I’m not really sure how generalized this statement is.

  11. I myself never asserted that nobody gets hired without an R01 at these schools. I’ve just heard from several individuals IRL that it’s extremely rare, and the blogosphere has fed this theory with statements like “we only interview people with money/R01s/at least # R01s”. From what I’ve seen in my own institution, this assumption has held fairly true (only one hire out of 4 in the past 5 years without any funding, 2 of which had R01s.) I simply wonder how common this is, and I’m curious if there’s a trend toward or away from this model.

    As for the term “top-tier” – I kept this vague on purpose, since there are so many factors that can make a school “top-tier” IMO. In general, though, I’m thinking mostly med schools, but also some research-intensive professional and undergrad institutions with a large portion of their faculty funded by NIH.

  12. The 2-3 postdoc model is scary, although I’ve seen some people with multiple postdocs in a shorter period of time (maybe two 2-year postdocs), all fairly close to each other in location, who then ended up broadening their research strengths and landing a great position. When it turns into a way to a 8-10 year wait for a spot at a big-name institution, I think the idea loses its appeal, for me at least. I know there are individuals out there who don’t mind moving around all over the place during their 30s; I just don’t happen to be one of them.

  13. Where in the blogosphere is it being said that med schools only hire folks w/ an R01? And also, when it comes to support for jr faculty that is highly dependent on culture from Dept. to Dept. Unless you mean start-up? And then who would go somewhere that gave them a crappy start-up if they already had an R01?

  14. I’ve seen commenting threads (I can remember a couple from DM’s blog specifically) that included the “I was on a search committee recently and we only considered faculty with R01s”. I can look for the commenting threads, but it may take me a while at work to find them. I also have definitely heard this sentiment from several faculty I know at my MRU and at other institutions – generally referring to larger Top-20 med schools.

    By support for junior faculty, I mean start-up $$$ and mentoring – both obviously more important for a newly-minted asst prof than someone who has landed several large grants. The idea I’ve been given is that most/several/some/a few of these institutions are more interested in attracting high-profile established investigators versus mentoring new investigators into high profile established investigators (although I’m certainly not privy to the conversations or thought processes of these decision-makers). I’m sure this is HIGHLY dependent on the department, chair, dean and upper echelon of the institutional ranks.

  15. At my department, at a top tier medical school in biomedical sciences, we are requiring funding of at least a K to get an interview. It sucks and is a very bad policy. I directly asked the dean of our med school about this when he visited our faculty meeting and he said that in the current funding climate they couldnt take the chance to invest in someone without a proven track record of funding.

  16. FWIW, a dept down the road in another state does not recruit post-docs looking for tt jobs. They only recruit asst profs or higher with R01 in hand. In the biomedical field, I don’t think that this is very prevalent, but I could be way off base.

  17. I would be curious to see the poll if you exclude those who are bringing K99’s. I know folks at a couple schools that would be considered Top 10, and although they are hiring junior faculty without R01’s…I can only think of one in the past 5 years that didn’t have a K99. (n=6)

  18. The year I got hired was 2008 and though things were much better, I competed against many asst profs, who had some funding already. At 2 different universities, everyone else who interviewed was already an asst prof somewhere else. I was a postdoc with only postdoc fellowships, nothing I’d be bringing. (I did not get those jobs, though one search failed).

    I am at a public research university. My research has biomed component but I am in a basic department and part of my research is more NSF. I did get my job without any funding in the last 5 years, though I hear things are worse nowadays than 2-3 years ago. I hear you need at least a K to get a job these days in my area. I don’t have an R01 and am not worried too about getting tenure even without an R01, but I don’t think I could get another job in today’s market. But it could also be that people are making everything sound really worse than it is, which does tend to happen.

  19. I know someone with two R01s who is going up for tenure at Large U and who will likely get an offer from Postdoc U but not in a tenure-track position as his science is not considered to be strong enough for them.

    I was hired for my TT gig in 2008 with a buttload of potential (apparently) but no history of funding and I just landed my first non-R01 NIH grant. There has been much rejoicing from the big wigs. For the next hire, they’re looking at someone with funding. I find that change in mindset interesting as the dept isn’t strong enough to attract an already-funded peep.

  20. Pingback: Getting a fancy TT job without big money – it can happen!? | The Tightrope

  21. Two R01s and his science isn’t strong enough? Yikes.

    I just found out that one of the searches I was in last year hired someone with THREE R01s. Yeah, I don’t think that one was EVER gonna happen for me…

  22. I was hired in 2008 in a med school in the top 50, and I had no history of funding: not even a small postdoctoral grant. I know at least 3 assistant professors that were hired at my institution, and all of us with no funds. I guess they trusted our potential, as our searches were very competitive (over 150 candidates applied for the position I took). Well, the three of us were able to get an R01 within our first year, and other additional funds, so things went well. Things may have changed after 2009, though, and I have heard it is even harder now to secure a tenure-track faculty position for a young person with no funds. But things must get better, or it will be the death of science in the US.

  23. Pingback: Sink or swim | Balanced Instability

What say you...

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s