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The joy of the interview
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muddling in mentoring
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I am starting my lab as an Assistant Professor at a Big Research University (summer 2010). I have a super partner and an adorable kiddo, Mini-G. I tend to rush into things and then figure them out as I muddle along. I'm sure that will be true here, too. I hope to use this space to maintain my sanity and share my perspectives on science and academia. These perspectives may sometimes qualify as rants. There will undoubtedly be some crazy times on the tenure track. Gmail me [at] primaryinvestigator

My posts are presented as opinion and commentary and do not represent the views of LabSpaces Productions, LLC, my employer, or my educational institution.

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Monday, November 22, 2010

I've been pretty busy this last week, mostly because I have spent a LOT of time reading job applications for the TT postion in my dept. I'm probably getting more sleep than Dr. O, but still. This has kept me from having time to come up with anything reasonable to post*. So, for your enjoyment, and because I can't help myself, I have compiled a list of some things that have stuck in my head from all this application-reading. Consider it an extra addendum to Odyssey's excellent advice on how to stand out in a pile of applicants (with a slightly more rant-y tone). My brain is a little too bruised and exhausted from the workout this past week to write coherent paragraphs. So, I am going to do this bullet-list syle.


  • Research statements less than 3 pages long. Trust me, your work is not so complicated that it requires 8 pg of single-space type to get the point across. All the best applications I have seen are ~2 pages.
  • white space
  • Links to pubmed abstracts of publications in the CV pdf. So handy!
  • Summary paragraph at the front of the statement.
  • reverse chronological order
  • judicious and logical use of bold


  • Two (or more) separate research plans. Choose one already!
  • A table of contents for your application. Why are you trying to crush my spirit?
  • Publications listed at the very end of the CV (or separate from the CV). Srsly, put the things I care about most first. For a basic bio/medical position like my dept., I want to know about publications and funding. There are no official rules about what has to be in here or in what order so use the space to put your best foot forward.
  • every other sentence in bold or italics.
  • unformatted CV. Are you even trying?
  • CV at the end of the 50 pg application.
  • comic sans for labels of figures in research statement. Really!??
  • cover letters that mention how you fit so well with the dept., then list examples from outside the dept. or school.



*If you don't think this is reasonable, well...I guess I don't care. If you want, drop me an email/comment with a "reasonable" idea. If CPP can ask for topic suggestions, maybe I can too?

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OK, when I wrote it there were bullets, but now it is just a list. Whatever. #DFS

Brian Krueger, PhD
Columbia University Medical Center
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Man, you don't even give me 10 minutes to fix stuff :P

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I figured I would give you a notice on twitter so you knew there was a problem. It was like a bat-signal. :-)

Dr Becca, Ph.D.
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This post is FTW! My only crime is not putting my pubs first, but my CV isn't all that long. I did add in the PubMed abstract links, though, which are so excellent. Question-- re: the bold, do you mean in CV or statement or both?

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Dr. Becca, I can be forgiving about CV format--there are no real rules. As long as pubs are easy to find and near the front, at least, I won't get all pissy. I think bold can have appropriate uses in the CV (to highlight the sections, for instance). But if you have a reasonable formatting attempt it is probably not necessary. The statement is where the bolding can really be super useful, IMO.

U. Albany
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I was advised to put funding/honours first; but pubs next, sure.  [What else are people putting first??]

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Awesome. Pubmed links here I come!

Comrade PhysioProf

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Use bold+underline to highlight your own name in each citation in the publication list.

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Comrade PhysioProf said:

Use bold+underline to highlight your own name in each citation in the publication list.

What CPP said. Unless all your pubs are middle authorships. In that case, don't bother applying.



Genomic Repairman
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Odyssey said:

What CPP said. Unless all your pubs are middle authorships. In that case, don't bother applying.

Hopefully they are applying for another postdoc position and not a faculty position if that is the case.


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Comrade PhysioProf said:

Use bold+underline to highlight your own name in each citation in the publication list.

Yes! DO THIS. Good catch, CPP. I can't believe I missed that.


Odyssey said:

Unless all your pubs are middle authorships. In that case, don't bother applying.

Second this!


Dr. O
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Love the pub link idea...adding to my CV tomorrow!

Guest Comment

That's different from the advice I was given regarding the order of things on a CV.  I've had friends who have successfully gotten tt positions who have advised me to have the following order

Academic employment


Teaching Experience

Honors and Awards


Would you suggest leaving everything as is but moving Pubs up to the top?


Thanks for the post.

Genomic Repairman
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I would move publications and honors/awards to the top.

Comrade PhysioProf

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List everything in the order of an NIH Biosketch. And no one gives a flying fucke about your fucken conference abstracts. They just get in the way, so leave them out completely.

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CPP, again FTW.

If you haven't written a Biosketch in a while the order is:
1. education
2. positions/honors (selected-please don't list crap from college I don't care about)
3. publications. Separate reviews from actual research papers from patents. Conferences are pretty worthless, but everyone lists them so it won't hurt you to put a few.
4. teaching (not actually on Biosketch). I put teaching at the end, but i'm at a research-intensive school. If you are applying to positions that care about teaching and you have some kick-ass teaching experience, then move this forward.

Candid Engineer
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Links to pubmed abstracts of publications in the CV pdf. So handy!


What a great idea. Will implement this next time I update my CV. Thanks for the suggestion.

Guest Comment

How much info should go into the "positions" section?  Should this just be a bulleted list of title and dates held or should there be some explanation as to what you did at that job?  Is this different when one is applying for a job vs a grant?


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CE- I wish I could take credit for coming up with this, but it never occured to me until I ran across it in an application that I was reading. It really was handy, though!

@guest: I think that you can just list positions. Your research statement and publications should be able to get across what you have done (IMO). For a grant especially, the pubs are the thing that matters-explanations are not going to get you anywhere. That being said, a lot of people insist on adding short descriptions of what they did in each position. If you insist on this, please make format your CV so these little bits are separable from the rest of it. And keep it short. Another monolithic page of text will not help you.


Guest Comment

I like the pubs at the end.

I don't know if anyone does this at the tt level but make sure you separate conference abstracts from papers! You're not going to look productive with 38 publications but 30 are abstacts. It's just annoying.

Love the pubmed links idea.

Def <2 page research statement. Use sections and/or bold to break it up.

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