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Navigating an Academic Career: A Brief Guide for PhD Students, Postdocs, and New Faculty





Navigating an Academic Career: A Brief Guide for PhD Students, Postdocs, and New Faculty

Jeffrey J. McDonnell

ISBN: 978-1-119-64210-7 December 2019 American Geophysical Union 128 Pages



Navigating an academic career is a practical career guidebook aimed to provide mentoring advice to early career scientists and engineers from a personal perspective. While the scope of the book is aimed at demystifying the academic career path for those starting out, mid-career faculty are also targeted with sections that cover the years leading up to tenure, and beyond. The target audience is PhD students, post doctoral students, and untenured Assistant Professors. There are 184,000 PhD students in 2019 alone in the USA and this number is growing. There are another 64,000 post doctoral students at present in the USA in science and engineering (data from NSF’s Survey of Graduate Students and Postdoctorates in Science and Engineering). Data from 2015 shows that there are currently 1.6 million faculty at degree-granting postsecondary institutions in the USA, and an estimate is that more than half of this number are Assistant Professors. Currently, no self-help books like this one exists. Author sees pent-up demand for a concise book that is easily reachable by doctoral students and post doctoral students and speaks to the personal side of an academic career. This is based on his experience with the Science magazine Working Life series, where he is a contributing author and weekly reader of material by others. His own short courses on early career mentoring in a dozen plus countries has given him perspectives that he hopes to realize and communicate within this book to a wide and varied audience.


About the Author



The Grad Student and Post Doc Years

Chapter 1: An academic career

Chapter 2. Traits of successful scientists

Chapter 3: Avoiding a PhD in anxiety

Chapter 4: Getting your first academic job

Chapter 5: Interviewing and the academic humble brag

Chapter 6: Negotiations for non-negotiators


Surviving and Thriving in the Tenure Track

Chapter 7: Hard sciences; soft skills

Chapter 8: The perfect department

Chapter 9: Ethics in the real world

Chapter 10: Research brand identity

Chapter 11: The 1-hour workday

Chapter 12: Orchestrating a powerful research group

Chapter 13: Paper writing gone Hollywood


Tenure and Beyond

Chapter 14. Mentoring the middle

Chapter 15. Research visits and academic growth spurts

Chapter 16: On leadership

Chapter 17: The sustainable professor

Chapter 18: A scientist looks at 60



Further Reading