SUMMARY POINTS

  • Since the 1960s the performance of research, especially in universities, has relied more and more on a growing population of postdoctoral scholars.

  • The size of the postdoctoral population has increased without a parallel increase in the number of academic faculty positions.

  • Postdoctoral experience is now seen as a virtual prerequisite for academic careers and many other research positions in the life sciences, physics, chemistry, and some other fields.

  • The postdocs themselves do not always achieve recognition, status, or compensation commensurate with their experience and skill.

  • Many postdocs remain in their positions for an indefinite number of years, beyond the five years or so during which they are reasonably considered trainees.

  • Many postdocs report frustration at not finding the employment positions they anticipated in return for their years of intensive effort.

  • The demographic characteristics of postdocs are changing. Many postdocs are in their middle to late 30s, with families that include children, and their medical and family support needs have increased.



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