Theoretical High Energy Physics Groups
Common Deadline for Postdoc Offers
In recent years, we have seen a growing number of early offers with
short deadlines for high energy theory postdoctoral positions.
This year, the practice has become too widespread to be ignored.
An open letter to the theoretical physics community
June 1, 2007
We are worried that this practice is preventing young researchers from
making a free and fair choice among their job opportunities. And,
while there may be some short term advantage for the institutions which
do this, we believe it will have serious negative effects in the long
We should keep in mind that most of these positions are funded by
agencies for the purpose of promoting the training of young scholars in
theoretical physics. That is, the positions are primarily for the
benefit of the young researchers, rather than that of the institution
that hires them. From this point of view, it would be hard to
defend any policy which denied to postdoctoral candidates the maximum
possible choice among fellowships. Note also that the problem is
not with early offers per se, as long as the deadlines are reasonable.
Thus, we commit to make no postdoctoral offer for the fall of a given
year, whose deadline for acceptance is earlier than January 7th of that year. We
urge all of our colleagues at other institutions to follow the same
Please urge all institutions you are in contact with to join our pledge
to set deadlines no earlier than January 7.
Simons Center for Geometry and Physics
Rutgers, the State University of New Jersey
Michael E. Peskin
SLAC Theory Group
LPTHE, Universite Pierre et Marie Curie, Paris 75005
Igor R. Klebanov
Center for Theoretical Physics, MIT
Theory Group, CERN
Osaka University, High Energy Theory Group
LPT of the Ecole Normale
Universidad Autónoma de Madrid
Institute for Advanced Study
Racah Institute of Physics, The Hebrew University
Jerusalem 91904, Israel
University of California at Santa Cruz
C.N. Yang Institute for Theoretical Physics
Stony Brook University
University of California, Berkeley
and Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory
Yukawa Institute for Theoretical Physics,
Dipartimento di Fisica & Sezione INFN
Universita' di Roma "Tor Vergata"
Physics Department, Technion
Theoretical Physics Department, Fermilab
Michael B. Green
High Energy Physics Group
DAMTP, University of Cambridge
University of Toronto Physics
Wojtek J. Zakrzewski
MATHS-CPT, Durham University
Theoretical High Energy Physics
Vrije Universiteit Brussel
String Theory Group, Hamburg
Institut fuer Theoretische Physik
Universite Libre de Bruxelles
International Solvay Institutes
High Energy Theory Group, Brown
Antoine Van Proeyen
K.U. Leuven, High-energy Physics group
Institute for Theoretical Physics
SISSA - Elemntary Particle Physics Sector
School of Mathematic, University of Edinburgh
Ivan Todorov, Emil Nissimov
Bulgarian Academy of Sciences, Sofia
todorovinrne.bas.bg - nissimovinrne.bas.bg
CPHT, Ecole Polytechnique
Bernard de Wit
Inst. for Theoretical Physics, Utrecht University
Hans Peter Nilles
Physikalisches Institut, Universitaet Bonn
Theoretical Physics Group, Imperial College London
Newman Laboratory, Cornell University
Niels A. Obers
Theoretical Particle Physics and Cosmology Group
Niels Bohr Institute, Copenhagen
School of Physics, Monash University
Melbourne VIC 3800, Australia
Nikhef Amsterdam Theory Group
Physikalisches Institut University of Bonn
Mark Van Raamsdonk
University of British Columbia
Potsdam, Max Planck Institute
Perimeter Institute for Theoretical Physics
Bengt EW Nilsson
Dept of Fundamental Physics
Chalmers University of Technology
University of Colorado
School of Physics, IPM, Tehran
Centre for Research in String Theory
Queen Mary, University of London
Quantum Field Theory Group
UC at Santa Barbara/Kavli Institute
University of Washington
Theoretical Physics, Swansea University
Ctr. for Particle Physics/Phenomenology, UCL, Louvain
Boston University Particle Theory Group
School of Physics
University of Edinburgh
Elizabeth H. Simmons
High-Energy Theory Group
Michigan State University
University of Michigan
University of Southern Denmark
INPP, Ohio University
Weizmann Institute of Science
Mirjam Cvetic/Burt Ovrut
Dept. of Physics and Astronomy, University of Pennsylvania
Alexey A Petrov
Wayne State University
Theory Group, University of Hawaii
University of Oregon
Department of Physics and Astronomy
Institute for Theoretical Physics
RWTH Aachen University
Alfonso V. Ramallo
String Theory Group
University of Santiago de Compostela
University of Wisconsin, Madison
University of Arizona High Energy Theory Group
R. Sekhar Chivukula
Michigan State University High Energy Theory Group
Syracuse University Theoretical Particle Physics Group
Southern Methodist University
University of Massachusetts, Amherst
Paul H. Frampton
Department of Physics and Astronomy,
University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill
Director, Max Planck Institut fuer Kernphysik, Heidelberg, Germany
Physics Department, Virginia Tech
Martin Fisher School of Physics, Brandeis University
Particle Theory Group, Oxford University
Christopher D. Carone
Physics Department, College of William & Mary
Theory Group, DESY, Hamburg Site
1. Who should sign this letter?
2. How can we sign?
3. Why choose January 7, and not some other date?
4. What if our job starts before September?
What if our job covers several fields, not just
theoretical physics, and we have to compete with earlier deadlines in
other fields? What if external
considerations (say a funding agency deadline) force us to set an
5. Can we give a suggested response date in
advance of January 7?
6. What should I (a candidate) do if I am given
an earlier hard deadline?
7. Why not use a centralized matching system?
1. Who should
sign this letter?
Researchers in theoretical physics who hire postdocs. This
agreement was originally proposed by theoretical particle physicists,
but we are happy to have others join as well.
Of course, the proposal could be of interest beyond these fields.
However, to keep the discussion and signature list to a manageable
size, and because some of the details (such as the date) might be
different in different fields, we would ask others to start independent
It is only necessary to have one person sign per group, meaning either
a typical size department in a university, or a group with a coherent
hiring policy within a larger department, lab or other
institution. Of course, that person should be authorized by the
group, and willing to take responsibility for the agreement.
2. How can we
Send an e-mail to
stating the necessary information, including contact information.
Of course, you can also ask to be removed from the agreement.
3. Why choose
January 7, and not some other date?
First, we would like to maximize the time available for candidates to
publish their work and submit their applications. This rules out
deadlines in December and earlier. The holiday break also
provides a natural interval in which candidates can consider offers,
get information, and in some cases make decisions.
On the other hand, all other factors being equal, an earlier date would
be preferable, to speed up the process.
One argument for a somewhat later deadline is the following. Once
some candidates have accepted offers, they will turn down others,
freeing some groups to make early second offers. This will enable
other candidates to switch to these offers, freeing up more
institutions to make early second offers. This procedure can
iterate and we do not want candidates to be forced to accept jobs as it
is taking place. Thus, for the process to be fair, we must allow
some time for this process to converge, before enforcing a hard
deadline on the first round offers.
The holiday break ends on different days, depending on the institution
and the vicissitudes of the calendar. CERN, for example, is
closed the first week of January, and so might not re-open until the
8th. Even for those with more flexibility, if January 1 falls on
a Thursday, it could easily be January 5 before a group could hold a
meeting to make second offers.
Then, allowing several days for the early second offers to complete,
brings us somewhere between January 7 and January 15. We have
fixed on the earliest date in this range.
4. What if
our job starts before September? What if our job covers several fields, not
just theoretical physics, and we have to compete with earlier deadlines
in other fields? What if
external considerations (say a funding agency deadline) force us to set
an earlier deadline?
Although we believe that every effort should be made to follow this
agreement, there are a variety of special situations which are
legitimate reasons for a nonstandard deadline.
To avoid confusion, we are providing a public "opt-out" list, in which
groups can register the fact that a particular position has a
nonstandard deadline, and state the reasons. This can be done by
sending e-mail to
(the same address as above), we would hope at the time the position is
5. Can we
give a suggested response date in advance of January 7?
Yes. This agreement applies to hard deadlines, beyond which an
offer is withdrawn, and perhaps offered to another candidate. An
earlier response date can be requested, for any reason. But if
the candidate asks for an extension until January 7, this must be
should I (a candidate) do if I am given an earlier hard deadline?
Ask politely for an extension until January 7.
If this is refused, let us (any of the signatories) know.
7. Why not
use a centralized matching system?
In some comparable situations, candidates are assigned to institutions
using a centralized matching system. The example that we know
about is the National Resident Matching Program (NRMP) for medical
residencies, described at
In rough outline, candidates and institutions provide rank ordered
lists to the service, which then makes binding assignments attempting
to maximize the preferences of all involved, essentially simultaneously
(over one week).
Candidates and institutions are allowed to informally communicate their
general preferences to each other in advance, so the system allows for
some degree of human contact and maneuver at that stage.
It seems likely to us that, because of the many differences between the
professions and institutions in the two cases, adapting this system to
our situation would require a great deal of work.
And as is evident from their website, the system requires a great deal
of administration to run, and to enforce the agreements on the parties
involved. But this may be an interesting direction to consider
for the future.
No exceptional deadlines listed.
(This page was last edited Dec. 2, 2013. Send comments to postdoc-agreementinsti.physics.sunysb.edu.)