I'm trying to get into a research team that is focused on the area around which my research interests are currently focused. They have excellent experience and a wonderful facilities. In addition, they are located and work in a very picturesque place, which reminds me of my small homeland.

The most significant limitation for me now is financial, so the only possible way for me to interact with them is remote work with periodic visits.

They don’t have any open positions right now, but I decided to chat with the group leader to find out if there were any opportunities for cooperation (internship, preparing preprints, simple experiments, teaching students and leading their scientific projects, etc.) .

The response from the group leader was as follows (point by point):

  1. There are currently no vacant teaching opportunities or contacts with trainees.
  2. The content of the disciplines and areas of research of the scientific group weakly intersects with the topics of my old publications. This may become an obstacle when passing the selection process.
  3. Remote work with periodic visits is problematic. They have such experience. Regular and active participation of teachers and scientists in the activities of the group is required (classes with students and interns, research work, scientific events).

Do you think it is worth continuing the dialogue and if so, how? Or turn the page and move on? I don't have any alternative options right now.

  • 3
    The answer is a polite way of saying "no". Unless there is a major change somewhere, it's pointless to continue at this point. Maybe check back in 6 months or a year ?
    – Hilmar
    Apr 11 at 11:33
  • @Hilmar This means that I need to look for a place that will allow me to develop the necessary base. But it turns out to be a vicious circle. To build a base, I need to get into a suitable scientific group, and to get into a suitable scientific group, I need to build a base...
    – dtn
    Apr 11 at 11:48
  • 1
    Or you need to invest in academic training/research/publication in the new field.
    – keshlam
    Apr 11 at 13:34
  • 5
    "Dialogue" will be come "Monologue" if you constantly contact them for the next few weeks/months. This means they will ignore your messages (at least for the next few months). The reason is that they already say "No, Thanks" in so many polite ways. They will be too busy with other tasks. So, it's high time for you to move on. Apr 11 at 14:03
  • Don't. You will only ruin your reputation. Work on something you understand, build your skills, go elsewhere, and maybe - maybe, one day, you might return there. Or not. Apr 11 at 20:24

4 Answers 4


They've told you what skills you need before they can use you. Figure out how to develop them. Take/audit targeted classes, or find some other way to develop and demonstrate them. It doesn't necessarily have to be a full degree program, though if you want to be a researcher in the new field rather than assistant that might be worth considering. If you aren't willing/able to invest in it, maybe you don't need it that much... .

Or find some way to contribute to the new field that leverages your existing skills -- subject matter expert for an application of that technology, for example. We had doctors and data privacy experts advising Watson Health's AI and data reconciliation projects; maybe you can show them some way in which you do fit their needs and can grow that into more general involvement. Or find a different project in the same general area that can use you.

Unfortunately, with a PhD it's unlikely they'd hire you as an intern/lab assistant/code monkey and let you learn that way. Even if you were willing to work for RA wages.

  • Could you explain the last paragraph "Unfortunately, with a PhD it's unlikely..." in more detail?
    – dtn
    Apr 11 at 15:22
  • 1
    See discussions elsewhere about "overqualified". Many folks have trouble believing someone is really ready to do a deep reset after intensive specialization in another area. They worry that the work you can do at this s stage isn't worth what you think you should be getting paid and that they'll rapidly lose you if you ever come up short of cash, or that you may lose interest, or ... You may know you're making a serious long-term commitment to the new field, but they may have doubts and want to give the position to someone who they think is a better long-term investment.
    – keshlam
    Apr 11 at 16:45
  • academia.stackexchange.com/questions/191403/… unpleasant contradiction
    – dtn
    Apr 11 at 17:08
  • Yes, this is possible. But it is also possible to simply change scientific interests in the process of work, the emergence of new ideas and hypotheses. It seems to me that this is a normal phenomenon in the career of a scientist.
    – dtn
    Apr 11 at 17:50
  • 2
    This might be good advice, but it does not at all answer the question.
    – Vector
    Apr 11 at 21:45

Do you think it is worth continuing the dialogue

Summarizing your post: They do not have current open position. Even if they do have one, you are a weak match. Even if you were a strong match, they cannot accept remote work which is your preference.

So no, it is not worth continuing the dialogue.

  • Maybe you're right. I really don’t really suit them.. But I had a question about the continuation, because I’m used to the fact that when a new, previously unknown person comes, we don’t lay out everything at once and there are no guarantees that everything will work out the first time. Perhaps if we talked longer, we could agree on something.
    – dtn
    Apr 11 at 6:50
  • 6
    @dtn I think they've been as clear as can be - there's no job, and they've outlined things that would have to change before you'd be considered if there were one. Continuing now would only serve to waste your time.
    – motosubatsu
    Apr 11 at 7:33
  • 1
    @DTN: responded to that in my answer.
    – keshlam
    Apr 11 at 15:05
  • 2
    @dtn And I am used to putting people I have told no to thrice on a do not under any circumstances bother with this person again list... If you want to a chance to do work with them you have to do something that shows that you have entered their field/have expertise that they could use. Be irritating enough and they will block you.
    – Questor
    Apr 11 at 17:18
  • 3
    No means no. It doesn't mean I want you too keep trying but I don't want to say that I want you to keep trying.
    – Questor
    Apr 11 at 17:19

It depends.

I can see two viable options:

  • Do some research in the field of study that intersects with the facility, publish and get attention. Chip in your application or even be requested when a position opens.
  • Move on and research and publish in the field that you are already researching on.

In academia publications are a key performance indicator. Scientists are rarely hired in facilities because of their social skills, social network or motivation.


Turn the page and move on.

I know it is difficult, it seems like a dream opportunity, but it sounds as if you have been politely and explicitly told NO - for three very specific reasons.

IMO you risk becoming an annoyance to them if you continue the dialogue: They have quite clearly told you that there is no dialog to continue - there is no indication in their response of anything suggesting a desire for further interaction.

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