Monday Open Question: what did you need to do to get a neuroscience job in 2018?

See last year’s post. As always, if you are a postdoc looking for a faculty job I maintain the neurorumblr with crowdsourced information on open jobs + helpful information. You should also add yourself to The List which lets faculty search committees contact you. If you are on a search committee, feel free to email me (with some evidence that you are a faculty member on a search committee…) to access The List.

First, I put up a poll on the neurorumblr twitter account to see what conceptions people had about being hired in neuroscience. I’m going to give answers a bit out of order. First, what percent of faculty job applicants do you think are male?

The median was 50-60% (roughly even) with a heavy tail toward 60-70%+. On the List last year, there were 65 postdocs of which 28 were female and 37 were male – so ~57% of the applicants (in my dataset) were male last year, a little lower than the year before (62%).

How about faculty HIRES? The estimate was about the same, but weighted more toward the hire end (60%+). Last year, 57% of the people on my hired list were male. This year it is a tick larger at 61.6%.

One of the big surprises in last year’s analysis (to naive me) was how geographically clustered that got hired were.

I expanded the analysis this year to look at where faculty hires got their PhDs from. This is much more geographically dispersed compared to postdocs. In a subset of 69 faculty hires where I was somewhat confident of PhD-granting institution, only four institutions had more than two people hired – with UC San Diego (go Tritons!) and UPenn having the most at four. I’m guessing a lot of this is statistical noise and will fluctuate widely from year to year, but that will take more annual data.

How about postdoc institutions? Again, it shows an absurd NYC+ area dominance (institutions located in and around NYC, NYC+ category below includes people in NYC category).

Alright, now on to specifics. Which model organisms did hires use? There were (roughly):

(23) Mouse
(15) Human
(12) Rat
(4) Monkey
(2) Drosophila

In terms of publications, successful faculty hires had a mean H-index of 11.1 (standard deviation ~ 4.4, statistically no different from the previous year).

How many had Cell/Nature/Science papers? 22.6% (14/62) had a first- or second-author CNS paper, 53.22% (33/62) had a first- or second- author Nature Neuroscience/Neuron/Nature Methods paper, and 64.5% (40/62) had at least one of either of these.

If you look at the IF through time, you can see a bump in the year prior to applying, suggesting that applicants get that “big paper” out just before they apply.

There’s a broader theory that I’ve heard from several people (outlined here) that the underlying requirement is really the cumulative impact factor. I have used the metric described in the link, where the approximate impact factor is taken from first-author publications and second-author publications are discounted 75% (reviews are ignored). Here are the CIFs over the past 8 years:

Note that postdocs from NY+ area institutions do not have significantly different H-index (10.42), cumulative IF (36.6), or CNS (3/19), NN/Neuron/NM (7/19), or both (9/19).

What about comparisons by gender? There appears to be a slight cumulative IF difference that is largely driven by differences in grad school publications – but I would need more data before I say something definitive here.


People seem to think that there are tons of internal hires out there but the data definitely does not bare that out. I found only 3/62 instances of someone who was hired by the university they either got their PhD from or did their postdoc at. However, there is some local geography at stake: I looked at all the hires made by NY+ area institutions and of these hires (6) every one either came from another NY+ area institution or a Philadelphia institution.