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Author Topic: Lecturer hires -- entry-level or more experienced/expensive candidates?  (Read 11236 times)
pastafarian
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« on: March 22, 2012, 7:51:25 PM »

Hi All -- a US/UK hybrid academic, thinking of returning to England where there are actually jobs other than of the ink-still-drying-on-the-PhD US variety, could use a little advice/experience.

Obviously the UK Lecturer rank covers a lot more ground than the US Assistant Professor job -- perhaps, say, as high as intermediate Associate Professor standing.  My question is this: How much leeway do UK job search committees, working with HR, get when it comes to making Lecturer-level appointments?  Is there pressure to hire less experienced candidates, as they start lower on the salary totem pole?  Or, alternatively (and especially in the REF frenzy going on at the moment) is it all about simply getting the best qualified, most published, potentially more expensive person instead?  Does HR ever offer input about keeping costs down?  Do committees tend to veer towards the longer CV as it helps their department thrive?

Eyeing up a few (humanities) Lecturer positions at fairly ambitious up-and-coming research UK universities, I'd appreciate some commentary.  Thanks.
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babbinacara
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« Reply #1 on: March 23, 2012, 6:06:19 AM »

If the post is advertised as Lecturer, it would certainly be unlikely to be made into a Senior Lecturer post, but as you say, there's a wide range covered within "Lecturer'. At my univ (Russell Group), salary point/band is usually negotiated with regard to current salary, and there has been willingness to consider appointing anywhere in the full range of the Lecturer bands. We've looked at everyone from new-minted PhDs through people in SL-equivalent posts for recent Lecturer hires. And we've ended up, in each case, appointing somewhere in the middle (c 5-6 years post-PhD, but still early career), but with no HR input and no pressure from them.
 
The REF is driving some appointments, but if you are only in post, say, a year before October 2013, the regs allow you to submit fewer publications (such as 2 rather than 4). So appointments may be up to individual department needs and the usual "fit".
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scotia
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« Reply #2 on: March 23, 2012, 2:14:11 PM »

If the post is advertised as Lecturer, it would certainly be unlikely to be made into a Senior Lecturer post, but as you say, there's a wide range covered within "Lecturer'. At my univ (Russell Group), salary point/band is usually negotiated with regard to current salary, and there has been willingness to consider appointing anywhere in the full range of the Lecturer bands. We've looked at everyone from new-minted PhDs through people in SL-equivalent posts for recent Lecturer hires. And we've ended up, in each case, appointing somewhere in the middle (c 5-6 years post-PhD, but still early career), but with no HR input and no pressure from them.
 
The REF is driving some appointments, but if you are only in post, say, a year before October 2013, the regs allow you to submit fewer publications (such as 2 rather than 4). So appointments may be up to individual department needs and the usual "fit".


I think this is the case only for people who are immediately out of a PhD or in their first substantive post. Anyone who has been in an equivalent position - say an assistant prof for 5 years - will be expected to have 4 publications.

Also, I am not sure that the lecturer scale is equivalent to a high- or mid-level associate prof in the US: the high- or mid-level associate equivalent is senior lecturer (except at Oxford, where they have only 'lecturer' and 'professor', or at post-92 institutions, where the equivalent to SL in a pre-92 is principal lecturer).

I have never been on any search committee where HR have had any say in who is appointed, or where there has been pressure from anyone to appoint a 'cheaper' candidate. The aim is simply to get the 'best' candidate, irrespective of where on the advertised scale they would be appointed.
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doctorcat
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« Reply #3 on: March 23, 2012, 4:06:39 PM »

My experience of the UK (as someone who is also a hybrid) is that typically many junior UK based scholars in the social sciences have research fellowships post-PhD, these enable us to get many publications, typically a book and a few peer-review publications. These juniors are then taken on for lecturer posts.

I interviewed for a lecturer job in the UK last year - I lost the job to a PhD (who got her degree in 2007) whose book was published in 2009 by Oxford U Press. Mine was still (only) under review by a university press in the US. I'm not sure if you are in social sciences, and I'm sure it's field dependent, but if you are in anything like humanities, social science or education then the trend seems to be for publications, and certainly a book, for someone at lecturer level.

I'm sure many will write in to debate this, but I can assure you this is the case certainly for those of us who got our PhD after 2008.

More publications (i.e. good university press books) means higher REF which means more money for the university. They will take that over teaching experience any day.




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totoro
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« Reply #4 on: March 26, 2012, 8:02:09 AM »

Hi All -- a US/UK hybrid academic, thinking of returning to England where there are actually jobs other than of the ink-still-drying-on-the-PhD US variety, could use a little advice/experience.

Obviously the UK Lecturer rank covers a lot more ground than the US Assistant Professor job -- perhaps, say, as high as intermediate Associate Professor standing.

I'm surprised by that, because in Australia where we have 4 academic ranks too, lecturer covers less ground than US assistant professor. But I hear that the UK some places are dropping ranks between lecturer and professor... HR has no input into decisions here, just making sure the process is conducted properly.
« Last Edit: March 26, 2012, 8:04:15 AM by totoro » Logged
cayenne
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« Reply #5 on: March 26, 2012, 8:54:43 AM »

I'm not sure if you are in social sciences, and I'm sure it's field dependent, but if you are in anything like humanities, social science or education then the trend seems to be for publications, and certainly a book, for someone at lecturer level.

As another hybrid US/UK person in the social sciences, I would second this. The CV required for appointment to permanent lectureships these days seems to be what it would take to get tenure in the US.
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pastafarian
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« Reply #6 on: April 11, 2012, 4:09:21 PM »

Thanks for all these helpful responses.

One question, following up: Are there situations in which Lecturer searches have been commuted into Senior Lecturer hires, if your existing salary is higher than the banded pay range for the posted Lecturer position?  That is, in exceptional cases (a department especially wants a candidate) will HR permit an SL hire, upgrading a Lecturer advertised position, if a job offer is extended and your current salary puts you in the SL pay range?
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scotia
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« Reply #7 on: April 11, 2012, 4:21:46 PM »

Thanks for all these helpful responses.

One question, following up: Are there situations in which Lecturer searches have been commuted into Senior Lecturer hires, if your existing salary is higher than the banded pay range for the posted Lecturer position?  That is, in exceptional cases (a department especially wants a candidate) will HR permit an SL hire, upgrading a Lecturer advertised position, if a job offer is extended and your current salary puts you in the SL pay range?

In my experience it is highly unlikely (as in, I have never known it happen). The argument I have heard - more than once - is that if the post had been advertised as an SL it would have attracted a different field, and therefore there is no way of knowing whether someone would have been best in that field. However, I have a couple of friends who were appointed at lecturer level on SL salaries with the suggestion of swift promotions (it happened in one case and not in the other - that friend was appointed at an SL at another, and generally regarded as better, university within a year of moving to the place that did not follow through on the promotion).
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totoro
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« Reply #8 on: April 11, 2012, 7:25:58 PM »

Thanks for all these helpful responses.

One question, following up: Are there situations in which Lecturer searches have been commuted into Senior Lecturer hires, if your existing salary is higher than the banded pay range for the posted Lecturer position?  That is, in exceptional cases (a department especially wants a candidate) will HR permit an SL hire, upgrading a Lecturer advertised position, if a job offer is extended and your current salary puts you in the SL pay range?

Here in Aus we would have to circumvent HR to do this and go direct to the "Chancellery" to make the request. On a recent search here we decided to readvertize rather than do this and then got "gazumped" by another school at this same university who went direct to the top for permission. There was a lot of outrage that they had done this.
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mleok
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« Reply #9 on: April 25, 2012, 6:41:32 PM »

I'm not sure if you are in social sciences, and I'm sure it's field dependent, but if you are in anything like humanities, social science or education then the trend seems to be for publications, and certainly a book, for someone at lecturer level.

As another hybrid US/UK person in the social sciences, I would second this. The CV required for appointment to permanent lectureships these days seems to be what it would take to get tenure in the US.

I think there's much more diversity in the US higher-education sector than in the UK higher-education sector. In particular, I'm not sure it's fair to compare the hiring requirements at a UK pre-92 university to the tenure requirements at a small regional liberal arts college in the US. However, for comparable research universities, I highly doubt that the hiring expectations at the lecturer vs. tenure-track assistant professor level are appreciably different in the UK and the US.

Last year, as a mid-level associate professor at a R1 in the US, I was offered a full professorship at a 1994 Group UK university, so even the conventional wisdom that a full professorship in the UK means more than a full professorship in the US is being slowly eroded.
« Last Edit: April 25, 2012, 6:46:29 PM by mleok » Logged
pastafarian
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« Reply #10 on: May 02, 2012, 11:50:07 AM »

Thanks for all the helpful responses to my posts.  If anyone else has anything to add, please do.  My research into this is ongoing, really, in the form of job-hunting for UK gigs suitable for a fairly recently tenured Associate Professor in the humanities, currently US-based.

From what I'm seeing, the top ten UK universities hire Lecturers that are equivalent to recent or mid Associate Professors: at least one book in print, usually another book well on the way, preferably in press or under contract, a sizeable research portfolio in the form of peer-reviewed articles.  Lower down the rankings, there's more flexibility for more entry-level candidates.  Until recently I hadn't realized how varied the different job titles were depending on the institutional context -- it seems more so than in the US.
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mleok
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« Reply #11 on: May 04, 2012, 1:38:57 AM »

It would probably help to calibrate the advice you receive if you let us know the tier of UK universities you're considering, are we talking top 10, or a more expansive list of schools, say Russell group, 1994 group, pre- vs. post 92's, etc? Also, what kind of US institution are you currently at, a R1, R2, SLAC, and at which tier?

If you're judging the seniority of lecturer hires based on Oxford, this will be rather skewed, since they eliminated the rank of reader and senior lecturer, and now only have lecturers and professors.

I can't speak to the humanities, but in STEM, I view lecturer and assistant professor as being a comparable career stage as long as we're comparing similarly ranked schools, and so long as the rank of reader/senior lecturer still exists in the UK university in question.
« Last Edit: May 04, 2012, 1:45:34 AM by mleok » Logged
realbusacad
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« Reply #12 on: May 04, 2012, 4:07:12 AM »

Last year, as a mid-level associate professor at a R1 in the US, I was offered a full professorship at a 1994 Group UK university, so even the conventional wisdom that a full professorship in the UK means more than a full professorship in the US is being slowly eroded.


The opposite is generally true in business - most full professors in (top) UK business schools would not meet the requirements for associate/tenure at a top US School... but then as the UK pays a full professor in business roughly half what a top US school does that's hardly surprising...
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mleok
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« Reply #13 on: May 04, 2012, 4:17:18 PM »

The opposite is generally true in business - most full professors in (top) UK business schools would not meet the requirements for associate/tenure at a top US School... but then as the UK pays a full professor in business roughly half what a top US school does that's hardly surprising...

That's an interesting point, there's much more uniformity in salaries across academic disciplines in the UK, which makes it an attractive place to be as a humanities scholar, but much less so in more lucrative fields like STEM and business, where one would command a far higher salary in the US.
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