I’m now officially a postdoc

Not that I wasn’t before of course, my time in Munich was a postdoctoral position, in addition to that in Beijing and technically I’m a lecturer in Dublin. However, in China there is a formal postdoctoral position so you can go from a BSc to MSc to PhD and then on again to, well whatever the acronym for this is supposed to be. Despite having left Beijing six months ago, I had kinda, never formally left.

The job in Dublin came up at such short notice that I had to leave fast and there was not time for me to complete the paperwork and jump through various hoops before I had to go. The fact that various senior people who needed to sign off on my time etc. were all in the field only made this more impossible. So my current return to Beijing was in fact mostly so that I could leave, properly this time.

I’m off on Monday back to the Emerald Isle and my ‘proper’ day job, but I’m returning with some kind of something that I didn’t have before. Like most academics I don’t really use any of my various degrees in any great way and it still sounds odd when people call me ‘Dr Hone’. Still I am proud of having a BSc, MSc and PhD (and yes, some of you may also be aware that I am a DIC and have the certificate to prove it) but sadly my Chinese postdoc doesn’t come with three obvious letters to follow on from these so this post aside, I’m not sure anyone will ever realise. Or care.

Self important though all this may sound, it is perhaps worth musing on the fact that there are lots of odd little qualifications out there and in the increasing international nature of research and people moving between jobs at a global level the fact that some have an MSc and others and MSci, or you have you Habilitation or whatever must cause at least a bit of confusion. Assessing candidates for positions when they are loaded with qualifications you have never heard of or are unsure how the rank with regards to the more obvious ones. Certainly I had huge trouble applying for a job in the US when their online system demanded I provide my GPA when we simply don’t have them in Europe, and a colleague of mine struggled to include a photocopy of her PhD certificate because hers was from Argentina and was about 4 times the size of a normal one and when shrunk to size lost the required resolution. Recruitment panels beware!

8 Responses to “I’m now officially a postdoc”

  1. 1 FoundOnWeb 12/03/2011 at 2:30 am

    Congratulations. As they say, it’s a great life, if you don’t waken. WRT the Chinese postdoc, perhaps you could simply use the appropriate Chinese symbol, and be:

    BSc, MSc, PhD, 儒 …or something.

    • 2 David Hone 12/03/2011 at 4:30 am

      Not a bad idea that, though I’m not sure it alleviates the problem of people not knowing what it is! I’ll have to see what it works out as first as well.

      • 3 FoundOnWeb 13/03/2011 at 8:12 pm

        It may not alleviate that immediate problem, but it looks impressive, is a sure-fire conversation starter, and is a leadin to some cool throw-away lines: “That, oh, you know, the Chinese government gave me that title for finding more fossils than Roy Chapman Andrews…”

      • 4 David Hone 14/03/2011 at 12:20 am

        Assuming I get that far in the review process of course…

  2. 5 Marc Vincent 12/03/2011 at 5:05 pm

    Congratulations Dr Hone. 😉 (Much as it might make you feel awkward, it IS only right and proper to refer to you as ‘Dr Hone’ when contacting you for the first time.)

    • 6 David Hone 13/03/2011 at 12:24 am

      Well I don’t begrudge it, obviously I’m proud of having earned it. But it does still feel odd even 6yearsd after the event I’m just not used to it.

  3. 7 Allen Hazen 12/03/2011 at 11:55 pm

    Americans really don’t believe in the rest of the world. (Remembering this makes some of U.S. foreign policy easier to understand.) So OF COURSE their systems don’t allow for un-American practices!

    When I was a student, I had a summer clerical job in the graduate admissions office of a major U.S. university, and applicants from places that didn’t have the standard U.S. four-point grading system were a major worry. For applicants from U.S. institutions with idiosyncratic grading scales, there was a BOOK: one of the secretaries had a 3 or 4 inch thick looseleaf binder with the rules for translating each idiosyncratic institution’s grades (as I recall, Princeton at that time had a truly weird one) into something from which a standardized GPA could be calculated. Applications from other countries went to another office before coming to the admissions office for translation and estimating (“An H2A from the University of Btzpflg in Utter Slobovia is roughly equivalent to a G.P.A. of 2.7” — that sort of thing). This office was slow enough that foreign students who had completed their applications well before the published deadline often missed out on scholarships: their applications didn’t get forwarded to the Admissions office until too late.

    Of course, there is an even worse problem from the other end. I was on a couple of hiring committees at the Australian university where I taught, and there the problem was the utter lack of uniform standards in the U.S.: you need to know the reputation of individual U.S. universities in order to evaluate their qualifications. Note that, at (I think) most U.S. universities, even Ph.D. theses are marked entirely in-house, so there isn’t even the control provided by external examiners in Australia!

    But… congratulations on whatever it is!

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