Off the ladder

September 5, 1997

This academic life is fraught with difficulty - jobs are scarce, insecure and increasingly clogged up with teaching and administrative duties that prevent our brightest minds from pursuing their first love - research

Paul Honess has a degree in zoology from the University of London (Royal Holloway) and a PhD in primate behaviour and speciation.

He has discovered two new species of primate, been closely involved in raising some Pounds 140,000 in external funds for research, and has several years' teaching experience in anthropology, primate biology and animal behaviour. Having received his PhD from Oxford Brookes University more than a year ago, Dr Honess's current research focuses on looking for a full-time job.

He sees his problem as being his lack of publications.

"I have no paucity of research experience, and masses of teaching experience," he explains. "The one thing I see as limiting my job-getting ability is publications.

"The structure of my thesis didn't really lend itself to publishing by chapters. I was aware of this at the time."

Dr Honess's situation has since been exacerbated by his postdoctoral experiences: "In order to keep earning, and to keep active in academia, I've been doing (part-time) teaching. But most teaching requires an enormous amount of preparation - I don't have time to write papers.

"It seems never-ending," he continues. "No one will give you a job until you get publications and you can't get publications 'till you're in a stable setting."

Dr Honess has applied for more than 80 posts, including lectureships and contract research, at "new" and "old" universities, both in the UK and elsewhere. So far he has not had an interview.

"I'm going to sign on tomorrow," says Dr Honess ruefully.

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