I’m a PhD student in statistics in Europe, but I’m looking into the possibility of applying for jobs in academia in the US once I finish.

I am wondering what the job market looks like, generally speaking.

  • Is there a lot of competition for every position, or is it fairly “easy” to find a position somewhere?
  • How does the answer to the previous question change by type of position (tenure, assistant professor, lecturer, etc)?
  • How difficult is it for a European to get a position?

I know that the questions are very general, but it’d be very helpful to hear from anyone with experience from statistics departments.

I am a senior math student at a top 20 program in the U.S (UIUC). I will be applying for the Fall 2018 semester. As the title stated, my overall GPA is about 3.3, and my math GPA is about 3.9 (Mostly A and A+ in all of my math courses). I have taken roughly 50 credit hours of mathematics beyond Calculus, including 3 graduate level courses (with other Ph.Ds at my university) in Topology, Commutative Algebra, and Modern Algebraic Geometry (Scheme theory; Covered Chapter 2 in Hartshorne’s), some research and reading courses in Homological Algebra. I will be taking the GRE subject test this October. I am a little worried about my overall GPA. I am worried if my overall 3.3 GPA might hurt my chance of admission to some decent programs? I am not looking to apply for any top 10 schools. Thanks

I recently got a short (and mildly insulting) referee’s report on a paper I submitted. They made superficial remarks concerning notation and writing style, and then admitted that they did not even read the main result! Is this acceptable for a referee?

The editor took their recommendation and rejected the paper.

As an aside, I once reviewed a paper with my advisor for many months. It was very difficult to read, and some of the proofs were wrong (though the results were not). Nevertheless we trudged thorough it. Eventually the author, who has a big name in his field, ignored our input and submitted it to a different journal (a journal with very good reputation). It was published almost immediately without revision!

So did I work too hard, or was my referee too lazy? How frustrating!!!

As a new researcher, I am in the following situation in mathematics research:

I read paper X, a short paper published in a low-mid tier journal, and found a way to improve and extend the result. The technique I used to extend the result is a different approach to the problem, but not that mathematically technical. However, even though the mathematical extensions are (arguably) trivial, the extensions open the door to a much broader approach to my field. They also open the door up for interesting simple examples that were previously unable to be produced.

I am currently writing up my findings of the original extension in a paper. In this paper, I correctly reference paper X when necessary. From an ethical point of view, it is crystal clear what I did and didn’t do.

1) Is it bad to compare to one single paper often in a paper?
2) What is a good way to tell whether a result is incremental or not?
3) Some of the arguments in paper X need slight modifications under my extension. Is it okay to repeat some of their ideas in my proofs (with clear citation/credit of course)?

Another problem arising from 2): I have another, much more interesting result because of this extension that I have not published. However, this result moves in a different mathematical direction and therefore, I sort of want to write a separate paper on it. I am faced with the following dilemma. I could reasonably do one of the following:

I) Write a longer paper and work to bring the ideas together.
Pros: My separation from paper X is much more obvious and seen as less incremental.
Cons: I mix two different ideas and risk the paper telling too many stories.

II) Vaguely hint at the second result in the first paper. If I do this, the problem is that if my hint is too vague, it will make my first result seem uninteresting. If it is too specific, I risk showing someone else my idea and having them “beat me to the punch.”
Pros: Sticks to one story, but provides additional motivation.
Cons: May make the first result seem too weak.

I apologize if this post is nonspecific, but I imagine others have faced this problem in their relative fields. How did you resolve this dilemma? I realize I have to figure out the answers myself, but how did you figure out the answers to these questions when you were facing this dilemma yourself?

Thank you.

I have submitted a mathematical-physics manuscript to Journal of Mathematical Physics, and I am in a situation similar to the one described here: It has been two months since I submitted, and the editor still cannot find reviewers. I have asked the editor what happens if he/she keeps trying and will still be unable find any reviewer, but he/she refuses to answer me.

The manuscript is in the field of celestial mechanics and is quite specific. However, two months seems a pretty long time to me, and I am incline to think that this is the journal’s fault, i.e., the journal or editor is not known enough, he/she does not have a good network of referees, and I feel that I am wasting my time and should withdraw my submission and submit it to another journal.

Do you concur with this? According to your experience, what is the best decision to make sure that the manuscript is published in a reasonable time in this journal, or in another journal with similar impact?

Background

I’m an American who will be starting a pure math PhD at a relatively prestigious US public university later this month (I realize that it might seem pointless ask a question about a program I haven’t yet begun; however, I think that my question is basically independent of these concerns.)

Moving to Europe is one of my goals in life (just to clarify, it has been since before 2016), and while applying to grad schools I seriously contemplated studying in Germany. However, friends and former professors, as well as professors from my current PhD program, with whom I spoke while visiting, advised me that it would likely be much easier to find a research job if I completed a PhD from an American university. Based on this advice, I accepted the offer from my current program.

It seems to me now, however, that this advice is likely false—while I have heard that German academia is considered to be quite closed to outsiders, it seems that there are quite a few mathematicians with PhDs from German universities who have acquired desirable research positions outside of Germany, and my impression is that a PhD from a well-regarded German university is quite competitive on the international and the European job market. Moreover, it seems questionable to me that a PhD from a moderately/relatively prestigious American university would give one an edge in the academic job market outside the US (perhaps I’m wrong, here, though).

Given this situation, I am considering applying to a Master’s program at a certain German university which is quite strong in my area of interest, and
which also seems to have some connections with my current program (in terms of research collaboration), with the intention of completing a PhD at the same university afterward. In terms of personal preference, I would (based on prior experience) much prefer to be residing in Germany, so continuing on at my current program doesn’t seem appealing if it’s not likely to be more advantageous in terms of finding a job in Europe after finishing my PhD.

Questions

  • Is it likely that leaving my PhD program for a Master’s in Germany after a year would damage my career prospects?
  • In this or a similar set of circumstances, is it possible to leave one’s PhD program without burning bridges completely?

I did my Phd in mathematics in Europe and am at the end of my second year of postdoc in Europe too. I plan to apply for jobs in the US in the fall (ideally tenure track, but I wouldn’t mind too much doing a second postdoc, as I finished my phd early). I think it’s the best place for me, as most of the researchers in my field are in the US. But I’m not familiar with the american system at all, so I would be happy if you could help me answer a few questions:

  • I know most applications go through mathjobs.org and that there are hundreds of applications for a every position. What is the best technique for an application not to be overlooked? Is it common in the US to email a professor at the university which offers the job and let them know that you applied/tell them that you would like to work with them? If yes, is it even ok to email a professor that I don’t know personnaly but who I think knows my work or would be interested in it? In Europe it is very common and even necessary, at least in the countries I know, but I wouldn’t want to do something that is weird or unethical in the US.

  • Someone told me that US universities tend to favor people who are already working in the US, especially for tenure-track positions (something about not wanting to pay a flight from overseas for the interviews). Is that true? Is it the same for postdocs?

  • Is it weird to apply for both a tenure-track position and a postdoc position at the same university? If I did so, would they automatically think that they’d rather give me the postdoc as I’m ok with both, and give the tenure-track to someone who applied only to tenure-track?

  • Are the chances of getting hired in an university where no one works on the same things as I do very low? Of course I would prefer to be in an university with nice collaboration opportunities, but just in case I was thinking of applying to others too.

Thank you very much in advance for your replies!