ACTION POINTS

Advisers, institutions, funding organizations, and disciplinary societies should:

  1. Award institutional recognition, status, and compensation commensurate with the postdocs' contributions 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 as a postdoc (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 postdoc's 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.

COSEPUP considered several other action points, but chose not to recommend them. These include measures to limit the postdoctoral population, to establish formal benchmarks for postdoc salaries, and to permit postdocs to obtain their own grant funding during the postdoctoral term. Because of the rapid pace of change in research institutions and the diversity of settings where postdocs work, the committee chose to avoid such fixed limits or measures. In addition, there is recent evidence that the postdoctoral population may be stabilizing in response to better information and opportunities in the nonacademic job market. Instead, COSEPUP urges graduate students, postdocs, advisers, institutions, funding agencies, and disciplinary societies to consider the following recommendations as they develop and apply their own policies.



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