A Guide to Surveys by, for, and of Postdocs

As John Marburger stated in his keynote address at the 2002 Postdoc Network meeting, "bringing data on postdoc issues to the attention of institutional and government officials will inevitably lead to improvements."

A credible, quantitative database will serve as the foundation supporting necessary reform initiatives and a baseline from which to track progress. Several articles on postdoc surveys have been published on the Postdoc Network and Science?s Next Wave, including one that surveys the surveys. For those of you interested in creating a survey for your own institution, we have put together a list of survey resources available on Next Wave. We also encourage you to contact Sigma Xi, who in collaboration with the National Postdoc Association and Science's Next Wave, is developing survey tools for a national postdoc survey effort.


These articles give a great overview of the continuing efforts to define the postdoctoral experience.

Start with the basics: How and why to poll postdocs and the PDN meta-analysis of postdoc surveys, Survey of Surveys 2: Polling Postdocs Effectively.

Read about how attempts by postdocs to gather data at the University of California, San Francisco (UCSF), sparked survey efforts at several other universities, including the University of Cincinnati and UC Berkeley.

A 1996 collection on The Postdoc Condition features several early survey efforts at UCSF, in Canada, and by a postdoc in Jerusalem trying to get the pulse of international postdocs.

Working at other times in relative isolation, postdocs appreciated the opportunity to share survey results at the 2001 Postdoc Network meeting.

The Who?s and How?s of Survey Design and Analysis

In the majority of cases, postdoc associations have taken the burden of preparing, distributing, tabulating, and analyzing survey results. However, institutions, professional societies, and funding agencies have also played a significant role in assessing the postdoctoral experience. Check these links for information on specific surveys.

PDA Surveys

Brown University Postdoc Association

University of Chicago Biological Sciences Division Postdoc Association (3-part series)

Cambridge University Postdoc Association

Stanford University Postdoc Association

UCSF Postdoctoral Scholars Association

Institution-sponsored surveys

J. David Gladstone Institute

University of Alabama, Birmingham

UC Berkeley

University of Nebraska, Lincoln (Fellowship Survey)

Professional Society Surveys

American Association for the Advancement of Science (Salary Survey)

American Society for Cell Biology

American Society for Microbiology

Funding Agency Surveys

Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada

National Postdoc Surveys

The Sigma Xi National Postdoc Survey Project

PDN Surveys

Federal Postdoc Policy


Survey of Surveys 1: What Postdoc Surveys Tell Us Aboot Postdoc Working Conditions

Survey of Surveys 2: Polling Postdocs Effectively

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