Science's Next Wave Policy Debate--Resources


If you?re looking for more information on the professional status of postdocs, we?ve gathered here a list of links to useful resources--within Next Wave and elsewhere on the Web--that discuss various aspects of the postdoctoral experience...

From Science's Next Wave

Next Wave?s Postdoc Network (PDN) connects postdoc organizations, program administrators, and offices serving postdocs as they work to meet the career and professional development needs of postdocs.

Be sure to check out the PDN?s Resource page, which is chock-full of useful links for postdocs, including links to such popular network features as the PDN World-wide Database of Organizations and the PDN Listserv.

And don?t miss the Issues and Solutions archive of PDN articles on subjects ranging from visas and resources for foreign postdocs to balancing science and parenthood.

From Science:

Competition and Careers in Biosciences, written by Richard Freeman, Eric Weinstein, Elizabeth Marincola, Janet Rosenbaum, and Frank Solomon, suggests that science is run like a tournament--participants have the chance to win big through competition. [REPOST; subscription not required]

Training for Today?s Marketplace, by Marincola and Solomon, offers a solution for postdocs--the creation of permanent research positions.

From Other Sources

According to Addressing the Nation's Changing Needs for Biomedical and Behavioral Scientists from the National Research Council, there is no need for an increase in Ph.D. production in the biomedical and behavioral sciences. The National Institutes of Health has issued a Statement in Response that describes NIH intentions to implement these recommendations.

In September 2000, the National Academies Committee on Science, Engineering, and Public Policy released their report, Enhancing the Postdoctoral Experience for Scientists and Engineers: A Guide for Postdoctoral Scholars, Advisors, Institutions, Funding Organizations, and Disciplinary Societies. You can access the report along with other useful links at the Web guide. Or read the Next Wave?s coverage of this important document.

Careers and Rewards in Bio Sciences , by Richard Freeman, Eric Weinstein, Elizabeth Marincola, Janet Rosenbaum, and Frank Solomon, discusses the disconnect between scientific progress and career progression. (Requires Adobe Acrobat.)

The Association of American Universities Committee on Postdoctoral Education, concerned about the "ad hoc evolution of postdoctoral education," has compiled concerns, informal survey results, and recommendations in their 1998 Report and Recommendations.

The Association American of Universities report on graduate education recommended that student interests should be paramount in designing graduate curricula and that programs should prepare graduate students for a broad array of careers. It also found that although unemployment rates for Ph.D.s are generally low, not enough is known about Ph.D. placement and employment.

In 1996, representatives of institutions and the principal funders of research in the UK agreed on a Concordat concerning the management of staff who carry out research in UK universities and colleges on fixed term contracts. (Requires Adobe Acrobat.) The Research Careers Initiative was set up subsequently to monitor progress toward meeting the commitments of the Concordat and to identify and encourage good practice in the career development of contract research staff.

The Marie Curie Fellowship Association, the organization of scientists (Marie Curie Fellows) who have been awarded a mobility research training grant by the European Community, and Eurodoc, the council for postgraduate students and junior researchers in Europe, are two pan-European organizations that are active in monitoring the situation of postdoctoral researchers.

Each year, the Association of American Medical Colleges' Group on Graduate Research, Education, and Training holds a meeting for faculty and administrators involved in Ph.D. and postdoctoral education at U.S. and Canadian medical schools. In addition to attending the regular meeting sessions, postdocs have been gathering separately to discuss their issues. Their report from the 1998 meeting is a great resource, especially their recommendations for change.

Toward a New Paradigm for Education, Training and Career Paths in the Natural Sciences is a report from a meeting of heads of funding agencies organized by the Human Frontier Science Program and the European Science Foundation in November 2001. Representatives of funding agencies from Europe, North America, and Japan recommended that the current challenges in the natural sciences require a new approach to the training of scientists and a new view of what constitutes successful career outcomes.

Charlotte Kuh of the National Research Council, in an article called Is There a Ph.D. Glut? Is that the Right Question?, declares, "I would say that the right question is not: Is there a Ph.D. glut and what should we do about it? Rather, the question is broader: how are research and education to be accomplished in a time of sharply constricted external resources and how do we treat students fairly in these times?"

Martin J. Finkelstein and Jack H. Schuster are demographers who recently analyzed academic faculty trends in their article, Assessing the Silent Revolution: How Changing Demographics Are Reshaping the Academic Profession. (Requires Adobe Acrobat.)

In his editorial for Chemical and Engineering News, Ronald Breslow argues that foreign postdocs are not taking jobs away from U.S. scientists in chemistry. In fact, the United States doesn?t produce enough chemists to meet the demand on its own.

You may find it interesting that NIH in collaboration with the National Science Foundation has been surveying degree-granting institutions on postdoc employment since 1966! The Graduate Students and Postdoctorates in Science and Engineering survey obtains data on the number and characteristics of graduate science and engineering students enrolled in U.S. institutions.

Employment Preferences and Outcomes of Recent Science and Engineering Doctorate Holders in the Labor Market is an NSF study that compares where recent Ph.D.s wanted to work with where they actually ended up working. According to the report, "Overall, 39.5 percent of employed recent doctorate holders obtained employment in a sector different from what they most desired when they began their doctoral programs."

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