Should I stay or should I go?


Alice and her friends answer questions that you don’t want to ask your preceptor, peer, or colleagues regarding your career in science.

Dear Alice,

I am in the final stages of writing my doctoral thesis. My professor would like me to stay on and work in his laboratory as a member of his permanent research staff. He has offered to pay me twice my current stipend. But I think I should move on to a postdoctoral fellowship. Am I being ungrateful?  I am also afraid that once my professor finds out that I am looking to go elsewhere, he will give me a poor reference. How should I handle this situation?

– I.M. Slavin, Boston

Dear I.M.,

It is unusual for a newly minted Ph.D. researcher to remain in the same laboratory, no matter how tempting the offer. Let him know that he has trained you to be independent and so now you would like to test your wings. If he really thinks highly of you, suggest he hire you back later as a tenure-track professor.

– Alice

Got a question for Alice? Send it to.

Exploring the frontiers of science in Western China

Fighting to study physics