When I started as a post-doc I felt that this was the period in which it needed to happen: get at least one high-impact paper. I had the experience from my PhD, and thought that I knew what to do and how to do it. I knew that this is the period during which you can dedicate most of your time to research, because after this (with which I mean if I get a tenure track position) a lot of time will go to teaching and managing other people. So this is the time in which it needs to happen: I felt like I needed to get at least one (but preferably more) high-impact papers. And this idea was reinforced by talking to more senior people around me. A couple years ago I talked to a PI in my home country who basically said: “Don’t bother coming back and think about getting a TT position unless you have at least 4 papers in journals such as Nature Neuroscience or higher”. ‘Alright’, I thought to myself: ‘ I’m on it!’
So I started off like crazy: learning a new technique, trying to get stuff going as fast as I can. But as I’ve written before; I started to feel a bit unhappy about the whole thing. And now I don’t know if it is going to happen: am I getting data that are interesting and sexy enough for that high-impact paper? Or are they going to be ‘just’ decent data that are going to go in a well-respected but lower-impact factor journal. And is that going to make or break my career?
So I was going to end this blog post by saying that I had just decided to enjoy doing experiments, not worry too much and just see what kind of data would come out and how that would turn into a (couple of) paper(s). And then I heard back from a post-doc grant that I wrote a long while back, that finally notified people today. I didn’t get it, and this was already grant #4 that I applied for and didn’t get. And now I don’t know if just enjoying doing experiments and being in the lab is going to be enough…
So what do you think: do you NEED one or more high-impact papers from your post-doc to make it?