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    Want to become Adjunct Professor in Finland?

    The title of Adjunct Professor (dosentti) in Finland is a purely academic title, roughly equivalent to the rank of Associate professor in USA, but without salary. Several of my colleagues at the University of Helsinki are currently applying, or aiming to apply, for the position of Adjunct Professor

    When I inquire why they do this, the most frequent answer is that they want to be able to apply for research project grants that are intended only for professors. It is good to remember, though, that academics who are in the early stages of their careers and already have the title of Adjunct Professor can no longer apply for certain Young researchers’ grants.

    Another advantage that comes with the title of Adjunct Professor is the possibility to officially invite and supervise PhD students. This would be a dream come true for many research “slaves” (read: postdoctoral researchers). Moreover, Adjunct Professors may be invited to act as opponents to PhD theses abroad, which will undoubtedly lead to better integration to international research community.

    Still further, Adjunct Professors may officially organize and decide on their courses, as well as introduce and teach their personal research ideas to the students. They can also invite more advanced and talented students into selected groups where these ideas are applied to practice. In due course, an Adjunct Professor may become a full Professor after a couple of years of research and teaching.

    What does the process of applying for the position of Adjunct Professor entail? The faculties at the University of Helsinki have compatible, but not quite similar, rules for the applicants. The first question that surfaced when I started to contemplate applying for this title myself was whether those not speaking Finnish or Swedish can obtain it in Finland?

    Most of the faculty websites do not spell out this matter for international applicants clearly; these applicants may, however, find the following text: “Exemption from the language requirements for docents can be granted without a separate application in the cases specified in Section 52 of the University Regulations”, without further clarification. Active applicants will then consult their colleagues or peruse the University Regulations and find out that Section 52 contains information on the possibility for a foreigner to become an English-speaking Adjunct Professor and teach in English.

    One of the main requirements for the applicants is to be able to demonstrate their competence in independent research. Generally speaking, an applicant should have produced research publications 1) that altogether would be equal to one to three (depending on the faculty) doctoral dissertations and 2) that have been compiled without the participation of the applicant’s PhD supervisor. The latter requirement is not always met: among my colleagues there are Adjunct Professors who have not gained enough independence from or distance to their PhD supervisors.

    In these instances the applicant 1) should show proof of co-supervision of Bachelor’s or Master’s theses, and 2) should be in good relations with those assessing the application. Often the assessors will ask additional critical questions which the applicant should be prepared to answer without panicking.

    The second main requirement is the demonstration of teaching skills. It is advisable to take pedagogical courses because the applicant has to describe his/ her teaching approaches in the portfolio. I personally have not taken such courses yet, but I have examined several web sources that have helped me to create my own vision and to compile a teaching portfolio. In addition, a good applicant should have experience in organizing courses, delivering lectures, as well as supervising and mentoring undergraduate students.

    If you are not sure of meeting all the requirements, I would suggest doing the following: Ask your Faculty the name of the professor responsible for the chosen discipline and ask that professor “Am I ready enough”? I am? The next step: submission of the application and later the presentation of teaching skills by delivering a trial lecture. There is very detailed information about the trial lecture on the faculties’ web sites. Here are a couple of hints:

    1. Consider the time frame — do not make the presentation too long or too short, and do not proceed too slowly or quickly!
    2. On the first slides you should indicate the title of the suggested course, optional educational level of the students, speciality of the students, provisional time schedule and the topics of each lecture of the course, as well as the method of assessment of the students’ knowledge of the course, on the last slide. Do not forget the list of additional required literature towards the end, if applicable.
    3. Invite your colleagues to the occasion — you will need them when you demonstrate your interactive skills with the audience! Do not expect they will answer your required “questions to students”; they will not, although they very well could. However, their smiling faces will encourage you during the lecture.

    text Nina Karpova
    Adjunct Professor in Molecular Genetics, University of Helsinki

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