A study of 181 recently hired faculty members shows that to be competitive in ecology and evolutionary biology, the requirements are stiff as hell.
The authors report numbers at the time of hire for the survey respondents in four categories:
- age at time of hire (mean = 33.54 years)
- years as postdoctoral scholar (mean = 2.92)
- total number of publications (mean = 11.75)
- total number of grants received (mean = 4.20)
I am one of those who will be seeking faculty jobs in the future, and these data do scare me. I am a good way over the mean age at time of hire already (and am only just about to finish my PhD), but that really doesn't bother me at all. Rather, my suspicion is that the age distribution is an effect of those who end up in faculty jobs are mostly people who know what they want early on, and pursue that from the beginning. I didn't, but now I do pursue it, and I think that's all that matters.
What scares me is also not so much the number of publications (except that the data suggest that one first-author publication in a journal with impact factor greater than 10 is required), and not at all that the average number of years as a postdoc is about three at the time of hire, but rather that the number of grants received is 4.2. But, looking at carefully at the data, it turns out that this breaks down to about 2.20 grants of less than US$10 thousand, 1.20 between $10k and $100k, and 0.75 over $100k. That's still tough, especially in these financially hard times, but at least one can get about half of those grants as travel grants and other awards of any value. But, it is an eye-opener for me, how much the grant-issue means. I shall keep it in mind.
Marshall, J., Buttars, P., Callahan, T., Dennehy, J., Harris, D., Lunt, B., Mika, M., & Shupe, R. (2009). Letter to the Editors Israel Journal of Ecology and Evolution, 55 (4), 381-392 DOI: 10.1560/IJEE.55.4.381