My Paper Road to Academia

I would like to become a professor of mathematics. How can I get to academia? I was told that applicants are measured by the number of papers they write. They expect about 3 papers per year starting after the Ph.D. I got my Ph.D. 20 years ago. I published 6 papers after my Ph.D. papers. That means I urgently need to come up with 54 papers.

There are several problems with working in industry and trying to publish at the same time:

  • Some results derived at work you can’t publish because they are proprietary.
  • Some results derived at work are classified.
  • Journals want simulations; that means you may have to depend on colleagues.
  • If your project is closed before your group finishes your simulations, you have to put your paper on hold.
  • Also, if your paper is not directly a part of your project, you can’t use your official work time to write your paper.

Because of these obstacles, the papers I have started at my job are on hold. It’s unlikely that I’d be allowed to finish them during work hours.

So I started writing non-job-related papers on my weekends. I started doing this seriously a year ago. It goes very slowly and I hope to publish three papers soon, but my speed needs to be much higher than that to catch up with the 54 papers I didn’t have time to write while being a single mom and providing for my family.

So, I came up with this idea: to quit my job and write papers. I do not have enough money to support this idea for very long. Certainly, not enough time for 54 papers. We probably can survive on my savings for half a year. My goal is to write as many papers as I can in half a year and see what my real speed is. This way I can at least prove to myself that I am a mathematician for real.

The only problem is that my savings were meant for a down payment on my first house. I’ve been asking myself for awhile: What is more important− a dream job or a dream house? I just realized today that I will never be happy if I am not happy at my job and I am quite happy with the apartment I am renting now. I guess this is it − I just have to take the plunge.

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  1. Tanya Khovanova’s Math Blog » Blog Archive » My Paper Road Block:

    […] you remember, in my previous essay My Paper Road to Academia, my big plan was to write lots of academic papers. So far I have written eight papers this year […]

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