The amount of work required to apply for grants and jobs in academia seems unnecessarily endless. Both for permanent and (even worse) short-term positions one needs to prepare a bunch of hogwash that really makes you wonder: does anybody have the time to actually read this? Out in the real world, a CV and a cover letter are quite enough most of the times, but in academia? Nope! Let’s have everybody waste their time on loads of extra codswallop! DEI statements (why?), teaching statements (why??), lists of main conference presentations (but why??????) publication lists (never heard of Google Scholar, have you?), research statements (ok, I can get this one…). Fortunately, some of the required balderdash is relatively easy to sort out. One such thing is the list of your ‘top 5’ publications. Still, it seems that even the most trivial things get scientists confused. Kaya, for example, asks:
How do you choose your ‘top 5’ publications for a job application?
First of all, since you are asking this, I take it you have more than five publications to choose from. Congratulations! You already have a respectable number of papers out there. Your ‘top 5’ should come as a natural compendium to the research statement. If you have a couple of publications that nicely highlight your past research, put them in the list. If you have one or two publications that supposedly build the foundations for your future work, they also made the cut.
Some choices are no-brainers. Do you have papers from side project that don’t really fit the description of the job you are applying for? Sorry guys, you are out! Do you have a Nature or Science publication? That one goes in, no questions asked. Do you have more than 5 Nature or Science publications? As an early career scientist?
What sort of clickbaity, paper-mill enterprise are you running over there? You chose your supervisor very wisely and you clearly don’t need any help in getting your next job!
Finally, if after careful selection following my invaluable suggestions, you still have a list of 6 or 7 papers you have to choose from, you can always roll the dice.
The Sassy Scientist
PS: My job application always includes my top 5 ‘‘Ask the Sassy Scientist’’ posts. Is that way I struggle finding my next gig?