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How To Get a Pharma Job

How Much Do Good Publications Count?

A reader sends along a question that has been on the minds of many a grad student and post-doc over the years. He’s working away on his project, and trying to get work published. And naturally enough, he’d like to see it in the best possible journal, but what if the best possible journals turn it down?

As someone who aspires to work in pharma someday, I wondered how much journal names on a CV really matter to those in the industry who hire chemists as opposed to the size of the body of work. . .

I may not be the best single person to ask, since I’ve barely been in on hiring anyone in years myself, which might say something about the industry right there. But I think you’ll get a range of opinions on this one. I’ll notice if the publication list is nothing but A-list stuff, because that stands out, and I’ll notice if it’s nothing but really low-tier journals, like things I’ve barely heard of, because that stands out. But in between, I don’t really care that much. For getting in the door, what group a person comes from (for example) is more of an influence than what proportion of their papers made JACS, because the reputation and judgment of a given professor is more dependable than the reputations (and judgments) of a bunch of unknown random reviewers for the journals.

This sort of thing divides into two parts: getting in the door, and getting a job offer. The big-name stuff is certainly helpful in the former, because an awful lot of CVs come in the door, but it does not seal the deal for the latter. A lot of intangibles make the difference there – if you’re having someone in for an interview, it means that you already can (in theory) picture hiring them for the position. Otherwise, why waste your time and theirs? But whether you make them an offer depends on things like “Does this candidate seem like someone I (and the rest of the group) can work with?”, and “Do they actually know their stuff, as opposed to seeming on paper like they know their stuff?” These are questions that can really only be answered in person, which is why we still fly people in and put them up in a hotel room for a night.

So the number of publications a person has, and what journals they appeared in, will generally affect just the get-in-the-door stage of things. And it’s not that that isn’t important, but there are bigger variables there, too. And once you’re in the door, you have to do the talking, not your publication list. No one every hires anybody while saying “Well, you know, this person’s kind of intolerable when you’re in the same room with them, and they couldn’t answer half my questions, but boy, they had four JACS papers!”

I look forward to hearing what the readership has to say on this one, so be sure to check the comments section for more. . .

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67 comments on “How Much Do Good Publications Count?”

  1. anonao says:

    It may depend of where the person wants to work.
    I have the impression that an academic career must have publications (lots of them, or if few, in very high impact journals). Which in a way makes sense since universities are usually ranked and reviewed based in publications output (numbers and citations).

  2. Curious Wavefunction says:

    I think it would depend so much on field, hiring manager, political aspirations of group and company. Some companies and fields place a premium on publications while others are neutral or even hostile to it since they may sense an incorrigible and constant urge to publish on your part. I am assuming that publications would naturally matter more for an entry level position since you are fresh out of graduate school, and less for more senior positions. I would also think that publications would matter more for early stage drug discovery and less for late stage drug discovery.

    1. Publish and Perish says:

      The day an “incorrigible and constant urge to publish” became a negative in Pharma was the day Pharma research began to die, and Valeant/Allergan/T*ring became inevitable.

  3. See Arr Oh says:

    At the risk of sounding vague and patently non-scientific, it comes down to “fit.”

    As Derek says, a solid publication list with 1-2 articles in top journals will get you past the initial screen. But, once inside, the interviewer needs to play the long game. Will this person work well in your group? Will she be self-focused or team-focused? Is he willing to learn? Does she communicate clearly? How comfortable is the candidate outside their domain knowledge? What does he value?

    This is one reason, among others, that diverse hiring committees are important. Everyone gives feedback, from the BS-level med-chemist to the Director to the HR staffer. If you want to be successful, you have to play well with all of them.

    1. Double Shelix says:

      Oh, the diverse interview committee is key. About a decade ago now my department was looking for a new Department Head. It was that company’s (and presumably still might be) policy to send BS and MS level chemists to lunch with candidates to assess a variety of non-chemistry skills. One memorable Dept Head candidate was so obviously insulted by being in a room with us that he could barely speak to us. Another one only addressed the males and utterly ignored the females.

      Neither of them got offers.

    2. MaryK says:

      I wonder what role the authorship would play in this question. Will industry treat non-first author (2nd or 3rd) the same as academia?

  4. Peter Kenny says:

    I’ve not been involved in industry recruiting for almost 10 years although my comments may still be relevant. I was in a computational chemistry group and we typically recruited people with post-doctoral experience. If somebody had no publications after a post-doc then it would have been unlikely that they would have been selected for a screening interview. When considering publications, I would look for evidence that the applicant was able to create new ways of doing things (method development rather than running software) and I’d also take note of numbers of co-authors and diversity of topics. I’d take less notice of numbers of publications (comp chem can sometimes be a bit of a sausage factory) or the journals that they appeared in (the professor may have been one of the journal’s ‘in crowd’). I only considered at publications when deciding whether or not to recommend that the candidate be selected for a short screening interview.

    1. Curious Wavefunction says:

      It seems a bit unfair to prioritize those who do methods development as opposed to applications scientists; as you know, a healthy modeling group needs both kinds. My late PhD advisor never developed methods, but he was probably the best intuitive molecular modeler I have ever encountered, with upward of 300 high quality publications in leading journals. When considering a candidate in computational chemistry based on publications, I would probably rate the ability to interpret results from molecular modeling using chemical intuition, judiciously pick the right methods and know their limitations, and engage in molecular design at least as important. Unless of course there is a specific need for a methods developer.

      1. Peter Kenny says:

        Hi Ash, One important quality that I looked for in applicants was adaptability and an ability to create new ways of doing things is evidence for adaptability. When I say ‘method development’ I don’t necessarily mean ‘hard core coder’ or ‘theoretician’. Publications that suggested that the candidate (as opposed to his/her professor) was able to link molecular structure to chemical behavior would definitely have been seen as a plus although we didn’t see these too often . A series of publications cranking out QSAR models with half a dozen co-authors would carry less weight. We also used to have a questionaire as part of the recruitment process and this gave candidates with sparser publication records a chance to tell us more about what they would be able to offer. One of the exercises that we used in technical interviews was the ‘molecule session’ which involved discussing molecules that we had on a laptop. This is an effective way to find out quickly how much the candidate knows about molecules in a design context.

  5. Stuck-in-pub-limbo says:

    Here’s a question. I have a couple good publications from grad school, and I went straight into an industrial post-doc position. However, for one reason or another, the company cannot publish my work (yet). So it looks like I haven’t done anything in the past few years. How do scientists 3-4 years out of school deal with this?

    1. CMCguy says:

      Sipl I think what you wrote is pretty much the answer as most people are aware post-docs in industry can often lead to delay in publications so not unusual. If hopefully the work has already been drafted or captured for potential publication or better yet to file patents you can always make that point in a cover letter or as part of the post-doc description where you should be able to indicate generally areas of work. Of course as Derek points out such lacks may hurt one in the screening stage where someone less knowledgeable or electronic could reject a person out of hand. It is also vital IMO to have at least one reference form the industrial post-doc that can elaborate on work done and reasons not published.

      1. anon the II says:

        You mentioned electronic screening. My son told me that to avoid having the computer reject you out of hand, on the last line of your resume you put all known relevant buzzwords that the computer is looking for in white, 1 point font. You always make to the next level and nobody knows why.

        1. Mousey 23 says:

          Why not just make the text white instead of having something that will look messy when printed?

        2. Mark Thorson says:

          Set the font color to white?

          1. MTK says:

            Yes, presumably because the computer will read it, but a person won’t see it so therefore it will pass the computer screen.

            Sounds a little apocryphal to me though, since most times I would think you send a pdf.

        3. CMCguy says:

          Anon the II like MTK I am skeptical sneaking in “invisible” terms would really work to flag a candidate (thus interested if your son verifies doable) however other than knowing such computer systems to scan and priority sort resumes are out there in practice have no clue on how they really work. I remain undecided on whether I am in favor or against of such types of mechanism to ID job seekers because it obviously lacks a personal touch I feel people should deserve but at the same time having participated in narrowing probable worthwhile people for contact from 100s to 1000s of paper applications a computer is going to be more thorough than the quick eyeball reading we could do even upon iterative rounds of examining credentials to funnel to a few to review together as a group before hitting those to seriously follow-on.

    2. Sunny Serine says:

      As someone who did an industrial post-doc, I can say that the number of papers (if any) will not effect your chances for getting an industry job. Hiring managers look for that illusive “experience” over publications, and they themselves probably have not published since grad school. Working in the industry and understanding the industry lingo is an infinitely larger leg up to post doc-ing in academia and having a laundry list of publications.

      Then again, I work in development, not discovery…

      1. MaryK says:

        Hi Sunny S, as a grad student, I talked with few industry postdocs, and it looks like they were all having high-impact paper during grad school (like nature science.) So I can’t help making causal relation, which is quite frustrating. I wonder whether high impact paper is the determinant for getting a postdoc position in industry. Thanks.

  6. Anon says:

    While I generally agree with Derek’s comments (and I have been involved in recruiting for the last several years), I will say that having a first author publication in Science or Nature generally gave candidates a leg up over other, similar candidates who only published in JACS and the like. Not to say that a person who published in Science but gave a terrible interview would be given an offer, but usually we were contemplating several candidates at once and the Science/Nature people generally fared better all other things being equal.

    1. Sofia says:

      I feel that might be the case that the reason those people have a leg up is -because- they are better communicators (and presumably, have better understanding of what they are communicating); as is evidenced by their publication in high-impact journals.

      I am curious if an impressive presentation history at conferences or other institutions might have a stronger correlation with successful hires than merely impressive publication lists.

    2. Bagnar says:

      Thank you Derek for bringing this topic to discussion. This is one of my deepest fear as a Ph.D student and answers are scary to read.

      People publish more in catalysis than in total synthesis. (Except genius like Phil S. Baran… )
      Find a new catalysis, improve reaction conditions, exemplify, publish, repeat. (Caricature, of course)

      Can we judge papers from the work which has been done in it, instead of the journal it has been published in ? I know, it makes the task harder for the recruiter.

  7. JB says:

    This seems like a good place to mention that we’re hiring four medicinal chemists and a cheminformatics scientist. req numbers 2607 (2 junior positions), 2530 (2 more senior positions), 2595 (cheminformatics). Also the infectious disease group is hiring a chemist as well, req 2581.
    As far as initial screening, for experienced positions it’s much more where you’ve worked and what you’ve done, which is more believable if backed up by publications (especially older stuff) but not essential out of pharma. Junior positions out of grad school or postdoc again it’s relevance/novelty of your work but we’ll look at the articles more carefully. Plus who your adviser(s) were and in some cases if people here happen to know you or your program.

    1. Postdoc says:

      Very cool putting up current openings. I do have to say though, I’ve applied to a couple of med chem positions over the years that fit my background nicely and I was rejected immediately (e-mails came an hour or so after application submission). I appreciate a company sending a rejection at all these days, but I was taken aback at how quickly it happened since my skills were well in-line with the job description. That definitely made me wonder if some software had tossed my application out.

      1. JB says:

        Yes, I’ve definitely had that happen. Most common is mismatch of degree- if a position is listed as PhD or x years of experience, it tends to toss people with BS or MS + x years experience even if that’s a totally qualified applicant. Aside from that I’m sure there are other mystical keywords it scans for that I have no idea about even though I’m the hiring manager. Basically business software systems suck.

  8. MTK says:

    If the three most important things in real estate are location, location, location, the most important thing in getting a foot in the door, meaning an interview, in chemistry (IMO) is adviser, adviser, adviser.

    The rest is supporting evidence.

    Everything is generally viewed through the prism of the adviser. There are some known to publish like fiends, then those that don’t publish often at all, those that are known to give everyone a glowing recommendation and those that are more honest, those with a good track record in terms of producing good employees and those whose record is more spotty.

    As Derek notes, once you get the interview, then it’s on you, but just getting it is a different story. In short, the questioner need not overly worry about which journal his work is published in. In many ways, the die was, sadly, cast sometime ago. That’s why you do a postdoc. It’s another roll.

  9. Kevin Foley says:

    The single best predictor of future performance is past performance (well, maybe not for mutual funds, but it is for scientists). For young scientists coming out of academia and trying to break into industry, their publication record is perhaps the most important thing I look at on their CV. The number of first author publications, not co-authorships/reviews, and to a lesser extend the quality of the journal. A distant third is whether they come from a lab I’ve heard of.

    But as Derek said, academic productivity as measured by publications will get you a phone or in-person interview, but it is not enough to get you a job. There are lots of productive postdocs looking for jobs, but only a fraction of them will have the right balance of technical skills and intangibles to convince me to hire them.

    As you move on in your industry career, publications matter less and less, obviously because industry publishes less than academia. But you will still have to find ways to demonstrate to hiring managers that you were productive (industry-style CV that focuses on accomplishments rather than techniques and publications, job seminar, industry references) and had an impact in your previous industry positions.

    (FWIW, I’m a senior director in biotech with ~18 years of hiring experience on the biology side in large and small companies.)

    1. Morten G says:

      “There are lots of productive postdocs looking for jobs, but only a fraction of them will have the right balance of technical skills and intangibles to convince me to hire them.”

      Nice to see someone being honest about this rather than whinging about how there aren’t enough STEM educated.

  10. Anon says:

    Big-name and good publications are pretty much the same thing. Big-names don’t publish in low-tier journals.

    Just look at the pharma hires and see the trend there. Advisor is the most important thing.

  11. Anon says:

    “As someone who aspires to work in pharma someday…”

    Well there’s your problem right there, you need to increase your aspirations and work for a bank. At least then you’ll make a bit of money to live on before you are made redundant.

  12. SomeGuy says:

    At our company, publications are very important to get your foot in the door. A candidate with a good publication record will more often get a phone screen than a candidate without. After that, it comes down to seminar, personality and fit.

    Also, a poor publication record from a lab with a good publication record is a general red flag. This is for biology, but it generally applies across all departments.

  13. Anonymous Researcher snaw says:

    When I am listening to a candidate seminar the number one question in my head is how well does this person explain their research? My number two question is what exactly was their contribution to the research being presented? Most research now is done in teams, so it’s important to explain both the big picture and how your work fits in. I don’t like to hear, I did XYX because they told me so. I like to hear, I suggested we try XYZ for these reasons and it got us this result.

    Translated into journal articles, some journals suggest or require a statement of which author did what; if your papers have those I will read them. If your papers don’t say which parts you did then your cover letter and CV should tell me that.

    1. d says:

      This is what I have wondered as well, as a graduate student soon looking to jump into industry. I only have one first author paper in an impact factor ~6 journal, so nothing particularly noteworthy. However, the paper was done almost exclusively by me. This included doing the chemistry and making the molecules, a whole barrage of in vitro assays and then into a cell based model to show the effect. I developed all of the assays and cell model on my own. Our only collaborator was an additional cell model right at the end that used some particularly infectious agents I didn’t want to touch.

      So my question is, how does this reflect on me? Should I have tried to get a larger group of students working on this and pushed it to a bigger impact paper? Maybe 10-14? Or does it reflect well enough on me since I drove the project and didn’t everything myself?

  14. Stuck in Pharma says:

    I’m having the opposite problem – how to get back into academic science after spending years in commercial pharma industry management? I have innovative ideas that I really want to try out, but no access to a lab anymore, and years since I last published.

    1. Frank Claire says:

      can you handle doing a postdoc? This is what people do often to reentry, salary sacrifice notwithstanding

      1. anon says:

        dunno about the US but in the UK a post doc salary (grade 7 27-37K and would be likely go up pay points every year) is competitive with or higher than an entry level industry position particularly in a smaller company ( prob 27-32K)

        1. Ed says:

          Sadly this is entirely true – and even more so for lab jobs at CROs where salaries for people with 10+ years pharma experience is lower than the start salary for a freshly minted PhD postdoc Position.

  15. PS says:

    In academia, having papers in high impact journals definitely helps to open the door. I have been on couple of recruitment committees and the sole focus during recruitment is “what are the chances of this person to get funded” (Yes, I know. This is a sad state matters). The publications are indicator of productivity and near absolute requirement for obtaining grant money. I would imagine in the industry the publication record will have the same significance – how productive is the candidate. Papers also give you some insight into the technical abilities and expertise of the candidate. During recruitment we look at other factors (summaries of past research and future plans written by the candidate, record of obtaining extramural funding, quality of the training environment etc.). We also keep in mind that there are research fields that rarely if ever get on the pages of high impact journals. So the impact of the papers gets somewhat dampened at the end of the process. My experience is that many candidates with high impact papers had little intellectual contribution to the publication list on their CV, meaning that they were just pair of extra hands on the bench.

    1. Mitch says:

      An aside related to above: My experience serving on academic search committees is that the single most important metric used to assess potential for future funding is past funding. If two candidates were head-to-head and one had 15 publications in mid-level journals and a K award and the other had 30 publications with some in top tier journals but no NIH grant, the guy/girl with the NIH grant would win every time. This was eye opening to me at first because I’ve always been idealistic in my views of academia. But the fact of the matter is that a university is a business just like any other (my view of academia as being a superior path compared to industry was absolutely pulverized by that realization), and at the end of the day they need to make money too. It also presents an imporant lesson that no one taught me when I was a student or postdoc: publications are important, but money makes things happen. Your ratio of time spent writing papers to time spent writing grant proposals should probably be about 1:1 as a postdoc, not 10:1 like I did.

  16. de gustibus says:

    I was part of a hiring committee that once rejected a candidate with solid credentials for a senior scientific role essentially because he chewed his food with his mouth open, and I mean *open*. That may sound silly, but we had many candidates with comparable backgrounds, and the staff simply did not want to have lunch every day watching specks of someone’s food flying across the table. The candidate was in his early 40s, and the staff was concerned that if he hadn’t learned elementary table manners by then, then there were likely to be a range of other behaviors that would similarly be unpleasant. If he were the only candidate, he might have been hired, but interpersonal skills count for a lot when you are just one of a dozen or more qualified candidates.

  17. MTK says:

    It’s interesting to see the difference between those on the biology side and the chemistry side.

    From the comments it definitely seems the biology folks value publications more than I ever remember happening from the chemistry side.

    As for once you’re in the door, oh yeah, the seminar is everything. If you can’t articulate a good story about your own research then what can you articulate well?

  18. NMH says:

    Lets see..needing a great publication record and working for someone famous in a top 10 university, to get even an industry job these days, which you are likely to lose after 50…..

    Why bother?

  19. Truth says:

    Publications are icing on the cake, but the only important factor is where you went to school and who you worked for (at least on the medicinal/process chemistry side of things). That’s what you need to focus on. I work for one of the illustrious Swiss pharmaceutical companies. All of our PhD chemists come from the same schools and labs. Baran, Corey, Danishefsky, Boger, Evans, etc. If you don’t come from this caliber of a lab, you will have a hard, if not impossible time getting into big pharma or big biotech.

    I have seen people who come from lesser schools with JACS and ACIE publications passed over for our name-brand labs. If you go to grad school at a non-Ivy league caliber school, do everything you possibly can to get a post-doc with a famous advisor. Someone from the University of Iowa who has 15 publications will still never be treated with the respect as a Dave Evans post-doc with 3 publications.

    We all know what I say is the truth.

    1. Uber med chem says:

      Corey, Danishefsky, Boger? The labs of yesteryear maybe……

      1. bad wolf says:

        Yeah, maybe we’re beginning to see why pharma has stopped making progress. Want the same tired ideas for 50 years? Hire the same people over and over again.

  20. Anonymous Researcher snaw says:

    Saw this on lots of office doors at Yale in the 1990s.

  21. BROLO says:

    If you want a job just tell them how hard you worked and how epic it was

    1. PhSH says:

      Hey, industry desks don’t sleep at themselves

  22. TheMadLibrarian says:

    Has anyone bumped into the problem with ‘journals-for-hire’, essentially vanity presses for researchers? You pay a fee and can get your name and project plastered across a semi-fictitious journal, often with a title that sounds really good to an electronic filter when attached to a CV. Does gaming the hiring process like this get anyone into an interview, or are filters (both electronic and real people) generally perceptive enough to toss those resumes out?

    1. Carl says:

      You might get past an initial screen that is done by software or a non-scientist in HR, but once a scientist looks at it, those types of publications might as well say ‘Do not under any circumstance hire me’ in giant red letters. My guess is a good amount of the software used HR people can recognize the sham journals as well.

  23. bacillus says:

    The main problem with junior people from bigshot labs is that it was the bigshot’s name on the paper that got it into C/N/S in the first place. Once they have to stand on their own two feet many of them just wither on the vine. At the end of the day, substance and character are what really count, but they’re difficult to convey on a piece of paper. How many of you have been disappointed by the actions rather than the words of bigshot offspring you’ve hired? When you look at the likes of “American Idol” you realise just how many incredibly talented people there are who’ve never had a chance to prove themselves. I’ll bet there’s many a candidate from Podunk U who would have been as good a fit or better than the person being interviewed based on their boss’s pedigree. Back in the day, you could get entry level positions straight out of undergrad and work your way to the top by dint of hard work and productivity. IMO credentialism has probably done more harm than good for those companies and universities that lack cachet.

  24. ADCChemist says:

    I not sure if it’s mentioned but I typically look for author placement too. I’d much rather bring someone in who has a bunch of first author papers in decent journals then someone with a few JACS/Angew type articles if they are third or fourth author.

  25. Druid says:

    The Reader’s question gives some insight on his or her nature – clearly not a “psychopath” type because already not committed to academia and not yet committed to industry. Some companies only want driven people and they can see the drive of applicants in their first author papers in prestige journals. They will also demand that you carry on writing first author papers in your weekends. However, even if you manage to get into a company like that, someone there will eat you alive, steal your ideas and gain from your effort. If you want to work in a company where everyone counts, and bigger contributors count more, get lots of transferable skills out of your research and a good story to tell in a presentation at interview. Good communicators are very desirable in industry.

  26. Jay Bradner says:

    Good to see this widespread anxiety considered here. As most above have more throughly covered many of my own thoughts, I might offer a personal experience. When I went out for academic jobs, I had no big papers. I have always felt badly about this, oddly not for myself as much as for my mentor. An unpaid debt to an amazing and generous lab (sorry Stuart). But I was brand new to chemistry and chemical biology, and it took me some time to get oriented to the leading strand of a wholly new field of study. I applied to three academic centers, and two apologetically declined as I didn’t as yet have a big paper. One offered me a position, I now know, based more on the quality of training, perception of fit and the ideas pitched at the chalk talk. A friend has said in science you have to believe you have more tomorrow than yesterdays. Forward-thinking institutions, and their leaders, who can spend the time getting to know applicants hopefully have more intuitive criterion as predictors of success. I count NIBR among them.

    1. Andre says:

      “Forward-thinking institutions, and their leaders, who can spend the time getting to know applicants hopefully have more intuitive criterion as predictors of success.”

      Jay, I liked your comment above very much and it gives me hope for innovation at your institution. Being a tenured professor at a leading German University and Medical School, I would very much like to see more of this type of attitude than the bean-counting tallying of publications. Unfortunately, this is the norm and results in the hire of people that have been optimised to publish a lot (and muscle themselves onto publications with minimal or no personal contributions). Nobody seems to asks about their creativity, look for unconventional thinking, or value novel approaches to key scientific problems.

      I did a postdoc in the early 90’s in one of the top labs in Cell Biology at UCSF & HMS. Typically, the postdocs spent 4-5 years with my supervisor and left for a job with usually just one publication. This one publication was however based on their own original work fostered in an environment that valued independent thinking, trial, and error. Interestingly enough, my colleagues landed positions at institutions such as Caltech, Stanford, Yale, ETH Zurich, just to mention a few places. I attribute this success largely to the fact that they had a story to tell that promised they would be creative for years to come. Sadly enough, I believe these days, their CVs with one publication out of their postdoc time would not even make it through the computer-based selection process….

      Over the years, I have come to the conclusion that hiring staff on the basis of a lengthy publication record is the easy and safe way for most institutions at least in Germany. If the candidate fails, the search committee can always argue that the past performance justified the hire. It takes lots of self confidence and vision to hire a candidate with a thin publication record but a potential for creative and innovative work in the future. Most institutions are not led by visionaries but by bureaucrats. As a consequence, innovation goes down the drain.

  27. Kelvin says:

    While the past is usually one good indicator of future success, the biggest problem (and mistake) is that everyone always assumes that it is fully reliable as the only one, so they rnd up competing and overpaying for the past, rather than spotting opportunities in the future that others haven’t seen. And ultimately, that is how *all* value is created. It’s kind of sad that we are so judgemental rather than opportunistic, as we would create a lot more (and waste a lot less) value than we do.

  28. mikeb says:

    Heh, the first mistake people are making is looking towards science for employment. Get your PhD from a university and go into management consulting or equity research and you can make $200k. No one cares about your publication record anyway, they just want to see university X on your resume.

  29. TheEdge says:

    I’ve been involved in a number of searches over the years, and I’ve always put more stock in a research summary than a list of publications. A research summary does two things that a list of publications doesn’t: it highlights the applicant’s contributions, as opposed to a final, polished story from a larger group, and it is representative of the candidate’s ability to communicate science clearly and concisely. I won’t say the caliber of the journals on the CV doesn’t matter, but a well written RS about an interesting area is a lot more important than a lengthy list of publications.

  30. salve says:

    selection based on publication record make no sense. If a scientist is involved in confidential research, for instance towards patentable discovery of the drug, and cannot publish anything until patent if filed, this scientist would have a gap in publication records for several years.

  31. Li Zhi says:

    It’s interesting to note that NONE of the responses from those who have actually hired have included what they tried and found did not work. So, seems like most of the posts qualify as non-evidence based opinion. I suppose that the hiring managers who excel at “picking the “”Right”” candidate” (supposing there is such a thing), have a obvious confilict of interest in explaining what does and doesn’t work. Last I heard, there’s little difference between choosing at random and using any set of “criteria”. My 2 cents is: for academia, a record of funding proves candidate has “staying” if not “star” power – a valuable bit of information. I also note that no one commented about the importance of the number and reputation of the co-authors. That seems strange to me. But I agree with the proposition that the past is the best (although lousy) predictor of the future. So, what is needed in a job “should” predict what is needed on the CV to get the candidate in the door. By “needed” I mean “believed to be needed”; my experience is that most jobs are customized by the employee after a few years, and that the ones that aren’t, aren’t “professional” jobs requiring advanced degrees.

    1. Li Zhi says:

      Would a sample size much less than N=100 be significant?

  32. anon forever? says:

    Well, I think Jay Bradner is inspiring me, if that’s really him posting. Think I’ll email HR and find out what the deal is. I’d use my real name but I always assumed it come back to haunt me with my work.

  33. DirectArylator says:

    Pedigree does seem to be more of a factor in the US than Canada. I would say # and quality of publications and/or advisor (both really, since we typically won’t bring in someone not recommended by PI) are important to get an on-site. The trouble with using publications or research summary alone is you risk of hiring a brilliant asshole. Most large pharma have active recruiting efforts on campus which means you rarely get asked for an on-site without first meeting an ambassador in person or virtually.

    In our on-site interview we evaluate the scientific communication & acumen, but also soft skills, passion for job and fit. There is typically 5-7 interviewers and the decision is made by committee, not just the hiring manager. A common question during huddles is “would you want this person on your team?” What typically doesn’t work well is when a single person is accountable for the hire and makes a unilateral decision. Then hires are more susceptible to unconscious biases.

  34. ethics says:

    Some people get many publications just by putting their name on others hard work. This is especially true in industry where the director or VP of a department has made no physical or intellectual contributions but has only authorized the bill payment.
    I know of cases where a VP, a director and others from the group got at least 20 publications but couldn’t answer a single question on how the work was done or explain the technology behind the publication. Sad! Even worse when it comes to patents.

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