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ENHANCING THE POSTDOCTORAL EXPERIENCE FOR SCIENTISTS AND ENGINEERS A Guide for Postdoctoral Scholars, Advisers, Institutions, Funding Organizations, and Disciplinary Societies Committee on Science, Engineering, and Public Policy NATIONAL ACADEMY OF SCIENCES NATIONAL ACADEMY OF ENGINEERING INSTITUTE OF MEDICINE NATIONAL ACADEMY PRESS Washington, DC
NATIONAL ACADEMY PRESS â¢ 2101 Constitution Avenue, NW â¢ Washington, DC 20418 NOTICE: This volume was produced as part of a project approved by the Governing Board of the National Research Council, whose members are drawn from the councils of the National Academy of Sciences, the National Academy of Engineering, and the Institute of Medicine. It is a result of work done by the Committee on Science, Engineering, and Public Policy (COSEPUP) as augmented, which has authorized its release to the public. This report has been reviewed by a group other than the authors according to procedures approved by COSEPUP and the Report Review Committee. The Committee on Science, Engineering, and Public Policy (COSEPUP) is a joint commit- tee of the NAS, the NAE, and the IOM. It includes members of the councils of all three bodies. Financial Support: The development of this report was supported by the National Research Council, the Burroughs Wellcome Fund, the Howard Hughes Medical Institute, the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, the National Institutes of Health, and the Sloan Foundation. The Howard Hughes Medical Institute does not assume responsibility for activities supported by the grant, for project results, or for their interpretation. International Standard Book Number: 0-309-06996-3 Library of Congress Catalog Card Number 00-106115 Enhancing the Postdoctoral Experience for Scientists and Engineers is available from the National Academy Press, 2101 Constitution Ave., NW, P.O. Box 285, Washington, DC 20055. (1-800- 624-6242 or 202/334-3313 in the Washington metropolitan area; Internet http://www.nap.edu). See www.nationalacademies.org/postdocs for further information. Copyright 2000 by the National Academy of Sciences. All rights reserved. This document may be reproduced solely for educational purposes without the written permission of the National Academy of Sciences. Cover illustration by Leigh Coriale. Printed in the United States of America
National Academy of Sciences National Academy of Engineering Institute of Medicine National Research Council The National Academy of Sciences is a private, nonprofit, self-perpetuating society of distinguished scholars engaged in scientific and engineering research, dedicated to the furtherance of science and technology and to their use for the general welfare. Upon the authority of the charter granted to it by the Congress in 1863, the Academy has a mandate that requires it to advise the federal government on scientific and technical matters. Dr. Bruce M. Alberts is president of the National Academy of Sciences. The National Academy of Engineering was established in 1964, under the charter of the National Academy of Sciences, as a parallel organization of outstanding engineers. It is autonomous in its administration and in the selection of its members, sharing with the National Academy of Sciences the responsibility for advising the federal government. The National Academy of Engineering also sponsors engineering programs aimed at meeting national needs, encourages education and research, and recognizes the superior achievements of engineers. Dr. William A. Wulf is president of the National Academy of Engineering. The Institute of Medicine was established in 1970 by the National Academy of Sciences to secure the services of eminent members of appropriate professions in the examination of policy matters pertaining to the health of the public. The Institute acts under the responsibility given to the National Academy of Sciences by its congressional charter to be an adviser to the federal government and, upon its own initiative, to identify issues of medical care, research, and education. Dr. Kenneth I. Shine is president of the Institute of Medicine. The National Research Council was organized by the National Academy of Sciences in 1916 to associate the broad community of science and technology with the Academyâs purposes of furthering knowledge and advising the federal government. Functioning in accordance with general policies determined by the Academy, the Council has become the principal operating agency of both the National Academy of Sciences and the Nation- al Academy of Engineering in providing services to the government, the public, and the scientific and engineering communities. The Council is administered jointly by both Academies and the Institute of Medicine. Dr. Bruce M. Alberts and Dr. William A. Wulf are chairman and vice chairman, respectively, of the National Research Council.
COMMITTEE ON SCIENCE, ENGINEERING, AND PUBLIC POLICY MAXINE F. SINGER (Chair), President, Carnegie Institution of Washington BRUCE M. ALBERTS,* President, National Academy of Sciences ENRIQUETA C. BOND, President, The Burroughs Wellcome Fund LEWIS BRANSCOMB, Professor Emeritus, Center for Science and International Affairs, John F. Kennedy School of Government, Harvard University PETER DIAMOND, Institute Professor and Professor of Economics, Massachusetts Institute of Technology GERALD DINNEEN,* Retired Vice President, Science and Technology, Honeywell, Inc. MILDRED S. DRESSELHAUS, Institute Professor of Electrical Engineering and Physics, Massachusetts Institute of Technology JAMES J. DUDERSTADT, President Emeritus and University Professor of Science and Engineering, Millennium Project, University of Michigan MARYE ANNE FOX, Chancellor, North Carolina State University RALPH E. GOMORY, President, Alfred P. Sloan Foundation RUBY P. HEARN, Senior Vice President, The Robert Wood Johnson Foundation BRIGID L. M. HOGAN, Investigator, Howard Hughes Medical Institute, and Hortense B. Ingram Professor, Department of Cell Biology, Vanderbilt University School of Medicine SAMUEL H. PRESTON, Dean, University of Pennsylvania School of Arts and Sciences KENNETH I. SHINE,* President, Institute of Medicine MORRIS TANENBAUM, Retired Vice Chairman and Chief Financial Officer, AT&T IRVING L. WEISSMAN, Karele and Avice Beekhuis Professor of Cancer Biology and Professor of Pathology, Stanford University School of Medicine SHEILA E. WIDNALL, Abby Rockefeller Mauze Professor of Aeronautics, Massachusetts Institute of Technology WILLIAM JULIUS WILSON, Lewis P. and Linda L. Geyser University Professor, Harvard University WILLIAM A. WULF,* President, National Academy of Engineering Staff RICHARD E. BISSELL, Executive Director DEBORAH D. STINE, Associate Director MARION RAMSEY, Administrative Associate * Ex officio member. v
PROJECT GUIDANCE GROUP MILDRED S. DRESSELHAUS, (Chair), Institute Professor of Electrical Engineering and Physics, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Cambridge PETER DIAMOND, Institute Professor and Professor of Economics, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Cambridge BRIGID HOGAN, Investigator, Howard Hughes Medical Institute and Hortense B. Ingram Professor Department of Cell Biology, Vanderbilt University School of Medicine, Nashville SAMUEL H. PRESTON, Dean, School of Arts and Sciences, University of Pennsylvania, Philadelphia MAXINE SINGER, President, Carnegie Institution of Washington, Washington, DC IRVING L. WEISSMAN, Karele and Avice Beekhuis Professor of Cancer Biology and Professor of Pathology, Stanford University School of Medicine, Stanford, California Principal Project Staff DEBORAH D. STINE, Project Director JAMES VOYTUK, Senior Program Officer, Office of Scientific and Engineering Personnel ELIZABETH HART, Research Associate VIVIAN NOLAN, Research Associate ELIZABETH SCHARL, National Academies Intern ALAN ANDERSON, Consultant Science Writer CHRIS FINDLAY, Editor REBECCA BURKA, Administrative Associate KEVIN ROWAN, Project Assistant vi
Preface T he Committee on Science, Engineering, and Public Policy (COSEPUP) has, for some time, been concerned with the many issues that surround the edu- cation and training of scientists and engineers in the United States. Its 1993 report, Science, Technology, and the Federal Government: National Goals for a New Era, emphasized the importance of human resources to the research enter- prise. A second report, Reshaping the Graduate Education of Scientists and Engineers (1995), urged institutions to offer graduate students expanded educa- tional experiences so that they would be better equipped to choose from among the broad range of careers now open to scientists and engineers. This report led to the development of one guide for students, Careers in Science and Engineer- ing: A Student Planning Guide to Grad School and Beyond (1996), and another for their mentors, Adviser, Teacher, Role Model, Friend: On Being a Mentor to Students in Science and Engineering (1997). In the course of its work on these reports and guides, COSEPUP became increasingly aware of the need to also address the experiences of those who undertake additional research training after completing their doctoral degreesâthe postdoctoral scholars, or postdocs. The present report is the result of the committeeâs intensive study of the postdoctoral experience. It is concerned largely with the personal and institutional settings of that experience. The core of a postdocâs world, the research effort that is at the center of the hugely successful US scientific and engineering research enter- prise, is of course of primary importance, but it is not the subject of this guide. During the past year, COSEPUP gathered information in meetings with a total of 39 groups of postdocs and advisers at 11 universities, seven national laboratories, and five private research institutes or industrial firms. In addition, vii
viii PREFACE the committee invited more than 100 postdocs, advisers, administrators, and others to a day-long workshop in Washington, DC (see Appendix D); conducted an electronic survey of research institutions (see Appendix C); met with the National Science Foundation (NSF) and the National Institutes of Health (NIH) staff; and consulted regularly with a 12-member External Advisory Group selected from institutions across the country. The informed and generous contri- butions of these groups are in large part responsible for COSEPUPâs ability to document the characteristics of the postdoctoral experience. Besides reporting the committeeâs findings, this report suggests actions that can be taken to enhance the postdoctoral experience. Although there is substantial variation in the experiences of postdocs from one field of science to another, certain elements are more-or-less common across the entire population. In the last 15 years, the number of postdocs has greatly increased and the nature of their experiences has changed in substantial ways. In some fields (e.g., life sciences), one or more postdoctoral experiences have become virtually mandatory for obtaining a regular position in academia or industry and the median time spent in postdoc positions has increased to 3.5 years. One reason for this is that graduate school programs cannot alone provide the broad range of knowledge and skills required for modern research. Another reason is that an extended postdoc period provides employment when regular positions are scarce compared to the number of students completing graduate degrees. A third reason is that postdocs want to accomplish work of substantial scope and significance in order to improve their chances of obtaining a desirable position. Postdocs have become essential in many research settings. It is largely they who carry out the sometimes exhilarating, sometimes tedious day-to-day work. Their efforts account for a great deal of the extraordinary productivity of the United Statesâ academic science and engineering enterprise. And yet the institu- tional status of postdocs, especially in academia, is often poorly defined. Conse- quently, although most postdocs value highly their experiences and the opportu- nity to engage in rewarding research without competing responsibilities, many of them are dissatisfied with their situations. COSEPUPâs analysis of the data gathered in this report indicates that the employment conditions for postdocs, especially in universities, need to be signif- icantly improved if the United States is to develop the human capital needed to assure a healthy research enterprise and global leadership in science and technol- ogy. In many university settings, postdocs have uncertain status; they are neither faculty, staff, nor students. Consequently, there is often no clear administrative responsibility for assuring their fair compensation, benefits, or job security. Post- docs often receive no clear statement of the terms of their appointment and have no place to go to determine appropriate expectations or redress grievances. Often the sole person to whom they can turn for assistance is the Principal Investigator (PI) who hired them and upon whom they depend not only for support in their
PREFACE ix current position but also for help in advancing their careers. Given this dependence, a reluctance to be perceived as a complainer is understandable. In contrast to the postdocs, university graduate students, faculty, and staff function under clearly stated assumptions, including: definition of expectations, rights, and responsibil- ities, defined pay scales, periodic evaluations, defined benefits, benchmarks for pay increases, and established procedures for consideration of grievances. Although the stipends of most postdocs derive from grants to their faculty advisers, major granting agencies, such as the NSF or NIH, provide few guide- lines on the obligations of advisers or their institutions toward postdocs. Indeed, these agencies were not able to provide COSEPUP with dependable data about the number of postdocs (in their nomenclature, Research Associates) supported by grants, or about their salaries, benefits, or length of service. There are several unfortunate outcomes of the rapid growth of the US post- doctoral population under these irregular conditions. The range of annual com- pensation for first-year postdocs spans tens of thousands of dollars per year, depending on field and type of institution. At the lower end of the rangeâwhich is typical of the life sciences in academiaâthe pay is embarrassingly low, espe- cially for postdocs with families, when compared to that received by profession- als in other fields at analogous career stages. There is no standard health benefit package for postdocs; some receive no health benefits for themselves, and many have no health coverage for their families. COSEPUP recognizes that part of the compensation for postdocs is the further education and experience they receive and their freedom from responsi- bilities other than research. The committee learned that many postdocs do indeed have stimulating and productive research experiences under the supervision of attentive, sympathetic, and thoughtful mentors. However, we also learned about postdocs who are neglected, even exploited inappropriately, while making cre- ative and fundamental contributions to the research projects on which they worked. The need to improve the postdoctoral experience has led some institu- tions to formulate policies to govern their employment. In other instances, post- docs themselves have formed organizations to promote their common interests. Other indications of serious dissatisfaction are the occasional discussions of unionization and even litigation; though rare, these more confrontational calls for action are at least a sign that reform is needed. Reform efforts will have to be collaborative. While the postdocs themselves must play a role, the major responsibility for change lies with those who have the most power: the advisers, the research institutions, and the funding organiza- tions. Disciplinary societies can play an important role in catalyzing and support- ing the reform efforts, especially because the needed changes vary by field. All these participants will need to confront difficult questions in addition to the challenges already mentioned. For example, if mentors have insufficient grant funds to improve salaries and benefits, should they consider accepting fewer postdocs to allow for larger stipends? Also, what is the optimal length of time to
x PREFACE be spent as a postdoc? Many are tempted to remain in their positions for five or more years because their experience and skill promise exciting breakthroughs and high productivity. Advisers may encourage long stays for the same reason, as well as because senior postdocs are particularly valuable in facilitating the education and training of graduate students and new postdocs. Junior researchers need to weigh the advantages and disadvantages of remaining overly long as postdocs against those associated with alternative opportunities. COSEPUP sug- gests that postdocs who remain in their positions for more than five years be reclassified as regularly employed researchers. Aside from personal consider- ations, there may be costs to the research enterprise itself if relatively junior researchers postpone their independence and are unable to apply their energies in the pursuits of their own original ideas. Excellent postdoctoral experiences for new scientists and engineers are crit- ical to the health and productivity of current and future research. High school, undergraduate, and graduate students need positive messages about scientific and engineering education and research careers if they are to continue pursuing their scientific and engineering interests. There are many marvelous aspects to the present system. It is essential that this highly productive relationship between research and education be continued under optimal conditions. Maxine Singer Chair Committee on Science, Engineering, and Public Policy
Acknowledgements A guidance group consisting of Mildred S. Dresselhaus (Chair), Peter Diamond, Brigid Hogan, Samuel H. Preston, Maxine Singer, and Irving L. Weissman supervised the preparation of the guide. Valuable feedback was provided by an external advisory group composed of: â¢ Patricia Bresnahan, Molecular Dynamics and recent postdoctoral scholar at the University of California, San Francisco; â¢ Jerry Bryant, Director, United Negro College FundâMerck Initiative; â¢ Joseph Cerny, Vice Chancellor for Research and Sam Castaneda, Post- doctoral Programs Director, University of California, Berkeley; â¢ Michael Cowan, Office of Student Services, Stanford University; â¢ Susan Duby, Director, Division of Graduate Studies, National Science Foundation; â¢ Jean Labus, Senior Personnel Representative, Postdoctoral Programs, Eli Lilly and Co.; â¢ Trevor Penning, Associate Dean for Postdoctorate Training, University of Pennsylvania School of Medicine; â¢ Patricia Roth, Abbott Laboratories and recent postdoctoral scholar; â¢ Walter Schaffer, Research Training Officer, National Research Service Awards Program, National Institutes of Health; â¢ Marion Thurnauer, Director, Chemistry Division, Argonne National Laboratory; â¢ Letitia Yao, Postdoctoral Scholar, University of Minnesota; and â¢ Michael Zigmond, Professor, Department of Neurology, University of Pittsburgh. xi
xii ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS This group of experts consulted regularly via conference call to provide com- ments on drafts of the guide and the survey. The committee extends special thanks to the informed and enthusiastic par- ticipants at its day-long workshop in Washington, DC; to participants in its work- shop with disciplinary societies who provided a better understanding of how the postdoctoral experience varies by discipline; and to the several hundred post- docs, faculty, advisers, administrators, and federal agency staff who generously offered their opinions, critiques, and personal experiences at 39 focus groups held around the country. These individuals and organizations are identified in appendixes C, D, and E. We would like to express a special thanks to administrators at the institu- tions listed below who took time out of their busy schedules to carefully respond to our electronic survey: Academic Institutions Arizona State University Columbia University Cornell University Harvard University Indiana University Iowa State University Massachusetts Institute of Technology Stanford University Tennessee State University The University of Michigan The University of Texas at Austin University of California, Berkeley University of California, Los Angeles University of California, San Diego University of California, San Francisco University of Cincinnati University of Colorado, Boulder University of Minnesota University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill University of Washington University of Wisconsin, Madison Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University Washington University Yale University Medical Schools Johns Hopkins School of Medicine New York University School of Medicine
ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS xiii University of Medicine and Dentistry of New Jersey University of Pennsylvania School of Medicine University of Toronto, Faculty of Medicine Yeshiva University, Albert Einstein College of Medicine National Laboratories Los Alamos National Laboratory Environmental Protection Agency National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration US Army Research Laboratory Industry Eli Lilly and Company Microsoft Corporation Parke-Davis Research Institutes Chemical Industry Institute of Toxicology Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center Rowland Institute for Science This guide has been reviewed in draft form by individuals chosen for their diverse perspectives and technical expertise, in accordance with procedures ap- proved by the National Research Councilâs Report Review Committee. The purpose of this independent review is to provide candid and critical comments that will assist the institution in making the published report as sound as possible and to ensure that the report meets institutional standards for objectivity, evi- dence, and responsiveness to the study charge. The review comments and draft manuscript remain confidential to protect the integrity of the deliberative pro- cess. We wish to thank the following individuals for their participation in the review of this report: R. Stephen Berry, University of Chicago Patsy Brannon, Cornell University Sarah Caddick, Cancer Research Fund Roger Chalkley, Vanderbilt University Medical Center Ellis Cowling, North Carolina State University Stephen Cross, Carnegie Mellon University Nancy Dess, American Psychological Association Peter Fiske, Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory Nick Gaiano, New York University School of Medicine David Goodstein, California Institute of Technology
xiv ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS Sherrie Hans, Pew Charitable Trusts Marc Kirschner, Harvard Medical School Jeffrey Krause, University of Florida Henry Kronenberg, Massachusetts General Hospital Randall Kuhn, RAND Corporation Jules LaPidus, Council of Graduate Schools Lisa McCawley, Vanderbilt University Richard McGee, Mayo Graduate School Joel Oppenheim, New York University School of Medicine Trevor Penning, University of Pennsylvania Elizabeth Powell, University of Pittsburgh Monique Rijnkels, Baylor College of Medicine William Schowalter, University of Illinois Thomas Smith, Howard University Teresa Sullivan, University of Texas at Austin Shirley Tilghman, Princeton University Michael Zigmond, University of Pittsburgh Finally, we would like to thank the staff for this project including Deborah Stine, Associate Director of COSEPUP and Project Director; Jim Voytuk, Senior Program Officer, NRC Office of Scientific and Engineering Personnel, who ana- lyzed the quantitative data on postdocs; Elizabeth Hart, Research Associate, who worked with COSEPUP in developing the survey of institutions and arranged the focus groups; Vivian Nolan, Research Associate, who analyzed the results of the survey; Elizabeth Scharl, National Academies Intern, who helped with the initial research; Alan Anderson, Consultant Writer, who worked with COSEPUP to develop the text of the guide; Stephanie Dawson, Intern, who helped develop COSEPUPâs postdoc webguide; Rebecca Burka, Administrative Associate, who provided support for the workshop and other activities; Kevin Rowan, Adminis- trative Assistant; and Richard Bissell, Executive Director of COSEPUP.
A Note on Using This Guide T his guide addresses five primary populations, all of whom participate in the postdoctoral experience: the postdocs themselves, their advisers, their host institutions, the agencies and organizations that support them, and profes- sional disciplinary societies. It is also intended for senior-level graduate students who may be contemplating postdoctoral work. At the risk of some repetition, the guide addresses the primary groups in separate sections because of differences in perspective, primary objectives, and responsibilities. For those readers who wish to skim material addressed to other groups, each section contains a summary of its main points. The text is arranged in the following manner: â¢ Chapter 1 summarizes the trends that have brought growth and new stresses to the postdoctoral population and provides a description of post- doctoral scholars in the United States. â¢ Chapter 2 describes prominent features of the postdoctoral experience. â¢ Chapter 3 outlines the rights, opportunities, and responsibilities of postdocs. â¢ Chapter 4 addresses the relationship between the postdoc and the adviser. â¢ Chapter 5 describes the relationship between postdocs and the institu- tions where they work. â¢ Chapter 6 provides an overview of how funding organizations provide financial support to postdocs. â¢ Chapter 7 summarizes the role of professional disciplinary societies in supporting the postdoctoral experience. xv
xvi A NOTE ON USING THIS GUIDE â¢ Chapter 8 provides a series of principles, action points, and recom- mendations for enhancing the postdoctoral experience for the benefit of all participants. Throughout the guide appear boxes highlighting âBest Practicesâ we have seen among various institutions and organizations. This series of âBest Practicesâ boxes explores the postdoc-adviser research relationship; their fictional scenarios are based on discussions from our focus groups. In addition, the actual experi- ences of two recent postdocs are profiled. Additional boxes summarize highlights of the institutional survey we con- ducted, as illustrated below (see Box). Note that some questions requested multi- ple responses. More information on the survey is provided in Appendix C. We encourage institutions to use the guide as a basis for dialog among all the popula- tions it addresses. Discussion of the postdoctoral experience can occur in many settings, including: â¢ Orientation sessions â¢ Career counseling offices â¢ Departmental or school âpractice of scienceâ symposia â¢ Job fairs and conventions â¢ Student discussion or support groups â¢ Professional society meetings â¢ Meetings between advisers and graduate students or postdocs â¢ Information interviews â¢ Management meetings (e.g., faculty senate, department, school) How Many Postdocs Are Currently Serving Appointments at This Organization? Nearly 18 percent of respondents reported postdoctoral populations of more than 1000. Institutions reported smaller populations as follows: Fewer than 50 15% 50-100 18% 101-250 21% 251-500 8% 501-750 5% 751-1000 15% COSEPUP Survey Results
A NOTE ON USING THIS GUIDE xvii For those developing plans to enhance the postdoctoral experience, COSEPUP has developed a web siteâwww.nationalacademies.org/postdocsâ which includes the full text of this guide, a one-page summary of the guide, and links to the web sites of institutions we suggest provide exemplary âBest Practices.â These best-practice models can be helpful to postdocs, postdoc advisers, institu- tions, funding organizations, and disciplinary societies as they explore ways to enhance the postdoctoral experience.
Contents EXECUTIVE SUMMARY 1 1 POSTDOCTORAL SCHOLARS IN US INSTITUTIONS 4 Population Growth, 4 A Changing Pattern, 6 The Importance of Postdocs to Research, 10 Postdoctoral Terms, 11 Multiple Postdoctoral Positions, 12 Unmet Expectations, 12 Variations by Field and Sector, 14 Increasing Age, 18 A Debate Over Responsibility, 18 Summary Points, 20 2 FEATURES OF THE POSTDOCTORAL EXPERIENCE 21 Postdocs in Different Disciplines, 22 Sources of Funding for Postdocs, 26 Postdocs in Different Sectors, 29 Postdocs in Universities, 29 Postdocs in Industry, 30 Postdocs in Government Facilities, 30 Postdocs Abroad, 31 Sub-Populations of Postdocs, 31 Foreign Postdocs, 31 xix
xx CONTENTS Women Postdocs, 33 Minority Postdocs, 33 Summary Points, 41 3 RIGHTS, OPPORTUNITIES, AND RESPONSIBILITIES OF THE POSTDOC 42 Rights of a Postdoc, 42 Clear Terms of Appointment, 42 Higher Compensation, 44 Mentoring, 46 Multiple Mentors, 48 Health Benefits, 48 Support in Planning a Career and Finding a Job, 48 Opportunities of Postdoctoral Experience, 49 Independence, 49 Professional Meetings, 50 Networking, 50 Responsibilities of a Postdoc, 51 Career Development, 51 Communicating, 51 Contributing to the Institution, 51 Planning for Departure, 51 Shaping a Career, 52 Academia, Government, or the Private Sector? 52 Developing Career Skills, 53 Job Hunting, 53 Career Expectations and Reality, 53 Summary Points, 54 4 THE POSTDOC AND THE ADVISER 57 The Adviser as Mentor, 57 Benefits for the Adviser, 57 Benefits for the Postdoc, 58 Responsibilities of the Adviser, 59 First Steps, 59 Selecting a Research Problem, 59 Research Guidance, 60 Advancing the Career, 61 Balancing the Needs of the Program and the Needs of the Postdoc, 62 Mentoring, 62 Flexibility, 62 Communication, 64
CONTENTS xxi Honest Evaluations, 64 Ethical and Proprietary Issues, 65 Resolving Disputes, 65 Finding a Regular Job, 67 Moving On, 67 Summary Points, 69 5 THE POSTDOC AND THE INSTITUTION 70 The Institutional Status of the Postdoc, 70 Variations in Titles, 72 Incorporating the Postdoc into the Institution, 74 Establishing Institutional Policies, 74 Establishing a Postdoctoral Office, 75 Career Guidance, 77 Benefits, 78 Other Responsibilities of the Institution, 79 Mentoring, 79 Mentoring Committees, 80 Ethical Development, 81 Grievances, 81 The Role of the Ombudsperson, 82 Special Needs of Foreign Nationals, 82 Postdoctoral Associations, 83 Stabilizing the Postdoctoral Population, 84 Informing Graduate Students About the Postdoctoral Experience, 86 Summary Points, 87 6 THE POSTDOC AND THE FUNDING ORGANIZATION 88 Levels of Funding, 88 Sources of Funding, 89 Opportunities of Funding Organizations, 90 Broader Impacts, 90 Promoting Best Practices, 91 Funding Temporary Employment, 91 The âPerennial Postdoc,â 91 Addressing Some Inequities of Funding, 92 Communicating with Funding Organizations, 92 Promoting Good Mentoring, 92 Summary Points, 94 7 THE POSTDOC AND THE DISCIPLINARY SOCIETIES 95
xxii CONTENTS 8 PRINCIPLES, ACTION POINTS, AND RECOMMENDATIONS FOR ENHANCING THE POSTDOCTORAL EXPERIENCE 97 Principles, 98 Action Points, 99 Recommendations, 100 Postdocs, 100 Advisers, 100 Institutions, 101 Funding Organizations, 104 Disciplinary Societies, 108 Looking Toward the Future, 109 BIBLIOGRAPHY 110 APPENDIX A Committee on Science, Engineering, and Public Policy: Member and Staff Biographical Information 115 APPENDIX B Analysis of Quantitative Data on Postdocs 122 APPENDIX C Results of Survey of Organizations with Postdoctoral Scholars 138 APPENDIX D Summary of Workshop on Enhancing the Postdoctoral Experience 159 APPENDIX E Summary of Results from Institutional Focus Groups 175
Figures, Tables, and Boxes FIGURES FIGURE 1-1: Total Number of Postdoctoral Appointments in the Life Sciences, Engineering, Physics, Chemistry, and the Social/ Behavioral Sciences, by Sector, 1981-1997, 5 FIGURE 1-2: Postdoctoral Appointees in Academic Institutions by Broad Fields, 1980-1998, 8 FIGURE 1-3: Number of Doctorates and the Number Planning Postdoctoral Study, 1975-1998, by Field, 9 FIGURE 1-4: Postgraduation Plans of Science and Engineering Doctorates at the Time They Received Their Degree, 1998, 10 FIGURE 1-5: Median Number of Years Spent in Postdoctorate Appointment for Doctorates in the 1989-1991 Year Cohort, by Degree Field and Citizenship at Time of Degree, 11 FIGURE 1-6: Ratio of the Number of Total Tenured Faculty to the Number of New Doctorates Awarded in 1987 and 1997, 15 FIGURE 1-7: Reasons for Taking First Postdoctoral Appointment, by Field of Doctorate, 1997, 16 FIGURE 1-8: Median Salaries in 1997 for Doctorates in the Six-Year PhD Cohort, 1991-1996, by Field, Sector, and Type of Appointment, 17 FIGURE 2-1: Percentage of New Doctorates Planning Postdoctoral Appointments, by Degree Field in 1998, 23 xxiii
xxiv FIGURES, TABLES, AND BOXES FIGURE 2-2: 1997 Status of 1995 Postdoctorates, by Selected Science and Engineering Field, 24 FIGURE 2-3: Median Postdoctoral Salaries by Employment Sector and Field of Doctorate in 1997 for Doctorate in the Six-Year Cohort, 1991-1996, 24 FIGURE 2-4: Source of Support for Academic Postdoctoral Appointees, by Field, 1998, 27 FIGURE 2-5: Percentage, by Field, of US Citizens or Permanent Residents with Postdoctoral Appointments in US Institutions, 1988-1998, 32 FIGURE 2-6: Number of Male and Female Postdoctorates in 1997, by Degree Field, for the 1991 to 1996 Degree Cohort, 34 FIGURE 2-7: Percentage of Female Doctorates and Postdoctorates in 1997, by Degree Field, for the 1991 to 1996 Degree Cohort, 35 FIGURE 2-8: Postdoctoral Salaries in 1997 for Doctorates in the 1991-1996 Cohort, by Gender and Broad Field, 36 FIGURE 2-9: Percentages of Postdoctorates who are Married or Have Children, by PhD Field and Gender, 1997, 38 FIGURE 3-1: Best Source of Job Advice for Postdoctorates: Biochemistry & Mathematics, 50 FIGURE 5-1: Primary Concerns of Postdoctorates at Johns Hopkins University, 72 TABLES TABLE 1-1: Top 25 Institutions with the Largest Total Number of Postdoctoral Appointments in 1998, 6 TABLE 1-2: Comparison of Postdoc Median Earnings with Other Populations, 1997-1998, 13 TABLE 2-1: 1997 Employment Characteristics for All Doctorates and 1998 Graduate Enrollments at Doctoral Granting Institutions, 25 TABLE 2-2: Available Data on US Underrepresented Minority Postdoctoral Scholars, 1997, 39 TABLE 5-1: Some Differences in Entitlements based on Classification of Postdocs as Students or Employees, 73
FIGURES, TABLES, AND BOXES xxv BOXES Best Practices Postdocs and Family Life, 37 Fellowships for Underrepresented Minority Postdocs, 40 Questions to Ask in Choosing an Adviser, 45 Appointment Letters, 46 Is a âHot Labâ the Best Lab?, 49 Mentoring, 63 The âSpecial Somethingâ that Brings Success, 68 Sample Surveys of Postdoctoral Populations, 71 Creating a Postdoctoral Office, 76 Developing âSurvival Skills,â 78 Postdoc Handbooks, 79 Postdoctoral Associations, 85 Practice Descriptions Defining the Postdoctoral Position, 43 Preparing for a Postdoctoral Position, 44 Postdoctoral Stipends, 47 Poor Advising Practices, 66 Profiles A Successful Postdoctoral Experience, 55 A Difficult Postdoctoral Experience, 56 Best Practice Scenarios Communicating with the Postdoc, 58 Adding New Research Tools, 59 Learning to Collaborate, 61 Knowing When to Suggest a Change, 62 Turning Research into Manuscripts, 67 COSEPUP Survey Results Number of Postdocs, xvi Determining the Duration of Postdoctoral Appointment, 12 Medical Benefits, 28 Stipend Levels, 48 Postdoc Evaluations, 64
xxvi FIGURES, TABLES, AND BOXES Postdoc Classification, 72 Job Placement Services, 77 Benefits, 80 Grievances, 81 Assistance for Foreign Nationals, 83 Postdoctoral Associations, 84