and funding organizations—should have a clear and mutually agreed-on understanding with regard to the nature and purpose of the appointment. Actions recommended for creating effective postdoctoral programs by the National Academy of Sciences, National Academy of Engineering, and Institute of Medicine (2000) appear in Box 3.4.

BOX 3.4

Guidance for Developing Successful Postdoctoral Programs

In order to enhance the postdoctoral experience, advisers, institutions, funding organizations, and disciplinary societies should

  1. Award institutional recognition, status, and compensation commensurate with the contributions of postdocs to the research enterprise.

  2. Develop distinct policies and standards for postdocs, modeled on those available for graduate students and faculty.

  3. Develop mechanisms for frequent and regular communication between postdocs and their advisers, institutions, funding organizations, and disciplinary societies.

  4. Monitor and provide formal evaluations (at least annually) of the performance of postdocs.

  5. Ensure that all postdocs have access to health insurance, regardless of funding source, and to institutional services.

  6. Set limits for total time of a postdoc appointment (of approximately five years, summing time at all institutions), with clearly described exceptions as appropriate.

  7. Invite the participation of postdocs when creating standards, definitions, and conditions for appointments.

  8. Provide substantive career guidance to improve postdocs’ ability to prepare for regular employment.

  9. Improve the quality of data both for postdoctoral working conditions and for the population of postdocs in relation to employment prospects in research.

  10. Take steps to improve the transition of postdocs to regular career positions.

SOURCE: National Academy of Sciences, National Academy of Engineering, and Institute of Medicine (2000).



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