I’ve mentioned this before but the full report of the survey ‘Getting the First Lecturing Job’ is finally available. You can find it on the Association of Graduate Careers Advisory Services (AGCAS) website
The report details the findings from a survey of academic staff in the UK on what they look for when recruiting a new lecturer in their discipline. The findings were not surprising but provide some evidence to back up what we know from anecdotal reports.
So candidates for lectureships need to demonstrate:
- an independent research profile (shown by a good publication record and either evidence of securing funding or of the potential to do so)
- evidence of teaching, but this could include the necessity for experience or simply showing a willingness to teach
- personal attributes such as teamwork (collegiality), passion, commitment and enthusiasm were valued across all disciplines
Some differences emerged between academic disciplines which demonstrates the importance of knowing what is expected in your subject area. For example, for funding the quotes below capture discipline differences.
I think having successful funding applications helps, but is not a necessity for getting a lectureship. However, realistic ideas for projects and collaborations are very important. (Social sciences)
This is key; unless there is evidence of successful grant applications, there is little chance of being appointed a lecturer. (Biological and Biomedical Sciences)
And for lecturing experience:
Some knowledge and experience is VERY useful. (Social Sciences)
This will help if an equally good candidate is on the shortlist, but it won’t tip the balance in your favour if the other candidate has better publications or more grant money. (Biological and Biomedical Sciences)
There were lots of comments about the importance of attributes such as team working, enthusiasm and communication. Some of the comments on personal qualities looked for include:
Independence, collegiality and drive. Collegiality is the most important but lack of any and I am not interested. (Physical Sciences and Engineering)
Informed enthusiasm about the subject. (Arts and Humanities)
This is just a flavour of all the advice on academic careers found in the report. Academic staff responding to the survey also give advice about the impact of taking a career break or working outside academia for a time, and there are a lot of tips about how to prepare for and perform well at academic interviews. To find out more read the full report.