In a different thread the question of whether more/fewer basic cognitive positions will be posted this year came up, so here's a new thread with hiring in basic cognitive as the main topic. As a basic cognitive person it would be great to hear from search committee members current or previous, about the discussion around hiring basic cognitive faculty. A few years ago it was tough to find more than a slim few desirable basic cognitive positions. Most postings emphasized cog neuro. Is basic ok only as long as you've got computational/modeling chops? What's the word on the street this year?
Date: 19 Jun 2015 14:18
Number of posts: 6
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I have two friends who obtained basic cognitive positions at R1 places within the past 3 years; one of them does some computational modeling. According to what they heard from the search committees (after they were hired), they got the jobs because they had strong track records of conducting and publishing behavioral experimental research. Neither place was apparently interested in people who did cognitive neuroscience.
That said, as noted in the original post, a lot of cognitive jobs in recent years have emphasized cognitive neuroscience. I don't know what it'll be like this year.
From what I've seen, there are very few non-neuro cog jobs these days. Many jobs that don't explicitly mention neuro in the ad are nonetheless neuro positions. I've heard more than one discussion among faculty as to whether there is still such a thing as a good cognitive psychologist who doesn't do neuroscience. I was one of the few who opined there are, though I had to admit that there aren't many.
Is != ought. But if you do cognitive research and don't do any neuro or modeling — or better yet, neuro *and* modeling — you might start thinking about a post-doc in one or both of those areas. Or switch to developmental or social, which have less strong of a neuro bent.
I know of a number of superstar cognitive graduate students who do not do neuroscience, but I have seen some people fitting this profile go on to get neuro postdocs. Also, some of these people do still do computational modeling even if they aren't actually scanning brains in any way.
An interesting aspect of this conversation is that this trend is absolutely true for R1s and a lot of R2s, but it is not really true of SLACs. The most elite liberal arts colleges might want you to do neuroscience research, but a lot of somewhat less elite ones don't have the $ to hire someone to do this kind of research (except maybe EEG). So if you're a basic cognitive person, definitely think about your priorities. If you want an R1 job, get a neuro postdoc. If you want a more teaching focused position, you can probably go straight to the market and be more competitive than someone who has done primarily fMRI work.
^^ good call asstprof! I'm at a regional liberal arts, and for my position, they were looking for someone who did behavioral work, but could teach phsysio/brain&behavior and cog neuro. Not only is it difficult for a small school to pay for neuro research, the heavy emphasis on research it would require just isn't in the mission. They like research that can involve undegrads "from start to finish," not just running subjects but the whole process. So, I'd say read up a bit and feel comfortable teaching a basic foundation neuro classes, but you don't have to do that kind of research to get a good job.
I suspect that I applied to that position, got an on-campus interview, and didn't get the position. Either that or a number of other regional liberal arts places are looking for the same stuff. My recent focus has been in cogneuro, even though my dissertation was all behavioral. I think I was too "research" for them, even though I was super enthused about getting back into teaching and doing strictly behavioral research (or maybe eventually EEG or NIRS, rather than the expensive MRI research).
So, I would say right now it is probably bad to be totally ignorant of neuro (or deny its existence or importance like half of my grad school cog area). I would say being strictly Cog without a program in neuro can be an advantage in certain circumstances though, and being cog neuro can limit your options. Look before you leap into neuro.