Postdoc salaries at the National Institutes of Health in 2016 and 2017, and advocating for NRSA stipend raises

Postdoc salaries at the National Institutes of Health in 2016 and 2017, and advocating for NRSA stipend raises

As part of our effort to make individual postdoc salaries in the U.S. more transparent, we have been carrying out Freedom of Information requests at public institutions to have a standard, albeit blunt, instrument for gathering data on postdoctoral researchers. You can find more information and data on our requests to public universities for data as of Dec 1st 2016 here; but as we continue with this project, we have recently gathered data from the National Institutes of Health for salaries for their intramural postdocs (i.e. those postdocs who work at NIH Institute laboratories).   Using Freedom of Information requests, we have gathered data for postdocs at all institutes at the NIH as of Dec 1st 2016 and Dec 1st 2017, principally in Intramural Research Training Awards (IRTA, for US Citizens and permanent residents) and Visiting Fellowships (VF, for those typically on non-immigrant visas).   The request asked for: “An excel spreadsheet which provides: The total number of postdoctoral researchers at the institute, appointed to postdoctoral intramural training awards IRTAs or as Visiting Fellows, with their job titles on both 12/1/ 2016 and 12/1/17. The annual salaries on both 12/1/16, and 12/1/17; or monthly compensation received for the payroll month of December 2016 and December 2017, of each of the postdoctoral researchers in the institute appointed to postdoctoral intramural training awards IRTAs or as Visiting Fellows.”   Here we provide a very brief overview of the data that we have gathered, which we are continuing to interrogate. A more thorough analysis will follow in due course.   Number of Postdocs The NIH’s page on Postdoctoral Programs at NIH states: “Altogether, the NIH is...
The National Academies of Sciences Engineering and Medicine report “Breaking Through” public debut on April 12th

The National Academies of Sciences Engineering and Medicine report “Breaking Through” public debut on April 12th

On April 12th, the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine report “Breaking Through” will be released and publicly discussed in DC and over livestream at 1.30pm EST. FoR President Jessica Polka and ED Gary McDowell, and FoR advisory board member Paula Stephan, were all on the committee. The study was Congressionally mandated under the 21st Century Cures Act.   Register here for the meeting and webcast.   The study, which “examines the policy and programmatic steps that the nation can undertake to ensure the successful launch and sustainment of careers among the next generation of researchers in the biomedical and behavioral sciences, including the full range of health sciences supported by the NIH” includes: • An evaluation of the barriers that prospective researchers encounter as they transition to independent research careers; • An evaluation of the impact of federal policies and budgets, including federal agency policies and procedures regarding research grant awards, on opportunities for prospective researchers to successfully transition into independent research careers and to secure their all-important first and second major research grants; • An evaluation of the extent to which employers (industry, government agencies and labs, academic institutions, and others) can facilitate smooth transitions for early career researchers into independent research careers.   You can see additional information about the study, including released responses to the call for public information, and the reports on the systems in Canada, China, the EU, the UK and Singapore here.   In addition, Gary McDowell will be giving the postdoc seminar at the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor, MI on April 12th at noon, where the contents of the report will also be discussed....
2016 Postdoc salaries – final dataset from University of Wisconsin Madison

2016 Postdoc salaries – final dataset from University of Wisconsin Madison

There is very little information available on how much postdocs are actually paid in the U.S., beyond data on institutional salary policies gathered by the National Postdoctoral Association. Following on from recent discussions about postdoc salaries changing as a result of proposed updates to U.S. Federal labor law, we have gathered data from a selection of institutions through Freedom of Information Requests, asking only for titles and salaries of postdocs, to see if we can identify actual postdoctoral salaries. The aggregate data, and more information, can be found at out “Investigating Postdoc Salaries” Resource. Here we release the belated but final dataset: University of Wisconsin Madison.   Cost for FOIA Request: $0 Additional notes: Includes names and departments.   The sharp-eyed amongst you have noticed that one institution has been missing from our dataset of postdoc salaries at public institutions with more than 300 postdocs – the University of Wisconsin Madison. While data was originally released, there was confusion over what exactly was being requested – more precisely, the eternal issue with identifying postdocs – but thanks to the physical presence of our board member Dr. Carrie Niziolek at UW Madison, we were able to resolve the issue and have now received 2016 data.   We received data for 760 postdocs, and UW Madison reported 765 postdocs to the NSF in 2015, giving us high confidence that we have all the data requested. The salary for postdocs is set at $47,476 – this policy was set around the time of Dec 1st 2016, which the data we requested are from.   Postdocs are on three titles at UW Madison – Postdoctoral Fellow,...
Changes to funding policies proposed to help young NIH-funded scientists

Changes to funding policies proposed to help young NIH-funded scientists

The increasing age of principal investigators funded on R01-type* mechanisms by the NIH. (A) Age distribution of PIs in 1980 and 2016. (B) % PIs plotted against year.    In a preprint deposited in PeerJ Preprints in January, members of Rescuing Biomedical Research discuss shifting demographic trends in the ages of those being funded on major NIH funding mechanisms. The authors point out that: “Despite a large increase in the NIH budget since the early 1980s, there has been more than a five-fold decrease in the number of investigators aged 36 or less who hold R01-type grants…Expressed in terms of NIH dollars, the proportion of all NIH grant funding awarded to scientists under the age of 36 has dropped from 5.6 percent in 1980 to 1.3 percent in 2012.” In addition, they discuss the perception that in order to successfully have a grant proposal funded, early career investigators are seeking to write proposals in a window of riskiness – not too risky that it won’t be funded, but just risky enough that it isn’t seen as incremental. They lay the blame for this at the feet of study sections perceived to be conservative, and too focused on translational research rather than research addressed at more fundamental questions with less obvious direct application to medical problems. The authors highlight the strategy undertaken by the European Research Council Starting Grants program as part of a tiered system of funding announcements. They champion the division of proposals into tiers where researchers are competing against peers of a similar career stage. Likewise they highlight the recent evaluation of the New Innovator Awards (DP2) funded 2007-09,...
Postdocsalaries.com: Self-reporting postdoc salaries to increase transparency

Postdocsalaries.com: Self-reporting postdoc salaries to increase transparency

You may have been following along with our ongoing postdoc salary efforts, such as our page and preprint reporting postdoc salary data*. If so, one of the limitations you will have noticed is that we are only able to get data from public institutions in a standard manner through Freedom of Information Act requests; and even then, we often receive not total salaries, but what is paid through the institution (i.e. if a postdoc is paid directly on a fellowship, we see salaries of $0, or low amounts if the stipend is supplemented).   Therefore, in an effort to not only gather data more widely about postdoc salaries, but also to ensure that data collection effort results in greater transparency about postdoc salaries, we have joined forces with the team behind Personal Finances for PhDs who also run the site www.phdstipends.com (if you are a graduate student, feel free to fill this out, or please pass this along to graduate students you know). Thousand of PhD stipends have been reported on their site – and furthermore, we know of institutions using this data to benchmark their own PhD stipends. Therefore they have developed postdocsalaries.com – a site where you can enter your annual salary as a postdoc from the present back to 2013.   The site aims to make the discussion about salaries more transparent, and also by working together we hope to eventually be able to make use of salary data from the site to assist in our analysis. For institutions in the U.S., there is the option to fill in demographic data, which will NOT be posted along with the individual data entries, but will instead be used to...
University Coalition releases first round of data on graduate students

University Coalition releases first round of data on graduate students

Information on the biomedical labor market is necessary both for the formulation of policies that ensure its sustainable future as well as for informing individual career decisions.   A recent announcement in Science by a coalition of universities pledged to release information on all of their biomedical graduate students AND postdocs, and the first set of data was released on February 1st, specifically including: Admissions and matriculation data of Ph.D. students Median time to degree and completion data for Ph.D. programs Demographics of Ph.D. students and postdoctoral scholars by gender, underrepresented minority status, and citizenship   The data can be accessed from this page. We have updated our career outcomes tracking resource with this information. Data is reported by institution and FoR congratulates UCSF, Johns Hopkins, University of Wisconsin, Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center, University of Pennsylvania, University of Maryland Baltimore County, Cornell University and Weill Cornell, Duke University, MIT, and University of Michigan for leading this movement and releasing this data.   FoR is currently looking through the data and will soon issue some analyses of overall trends.   We are urging other universities to join the NGLS coalition to demonstrate their commitment to transparency and stewardship of the biomedical research enterprise – interested institutions can get in touch with the Coalition at CNGLS@JHU.EDU   The coalition has laid out a roadmap with important milestones for releasing trainee information in a progressive fashion, and the next data release scheduled is July 1st for postdoc demographic information....