Coalition of Next Generation Life Science Releases Initial set of Postdoc Data

Coalition of Next Generation Life Science Releases Initial set of Postdoc Data

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. After announcement in Science, a coalition of universities pledged to release information on all of their biomedical graduate students AND postdocs.   The first set of data was released on February 1st 2018, focusing on admissions and demographics data about Ph.D. students. The next set of data released July 1st 2018 includes: Number of postdoctoral researchers Demographics of postdoctoral scholars by gender, underrepresented minority status, and citizenship For some institutions, length of postdoc and career outcomes. The data can be accessed from this page by institution and we have updated our career outcomes tracking resource with this information. Data is reported by institution and again 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.   Below, we discuss some highlights of these datasets that illustrate the importance of having this data available. 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 October 1st for time in postdoctoral training at each institution.   Highlights of the latest data release Demographic representations It is important to remember that, in contrast to graduate admissions which are carried out at a program- or department-wide level,...
Join us in crowdsourcing journal policies May 31st: Which journals recognize co-reviews by graduate students and postdocs?

Join us in crowdsourcing journal policies May 31st: Which journals recognize co-reviews by graduate students and postdocs?

Data from an eLife Early Career Researcher Group survey   At a recent meeting about journal peer review, one of the key outcomes was the realization that there needs to be a greater effort to recognize the scholarly contributions of graduate students and postdocs.   “Ghostwriting” of peer reviews, whereby the name of graduate students and postdocs is not passed on to, acknowledged or collected by the journal, but is instead submitted solely under the name of the PI is an apparently widespread but unrecognized phenomenon. For example, data in a recent survey conducted by the eLife Early Career Researcher Group, showed that nearly 60% of graduate students and postdocs surveyed saw no involvement by their supervisor in preparing a peer review report.   It’s clear that a number of journals do recognize that early career researchers are involved in the peer review process – but which ones? What do they require in the reporting of co-reviewers, and what language sets the expectation for this reporting? To which journals can early career researchers be directing their efforts to participated in, and be recognized for, peer review? And by recognize, this does not mean publicly disclosing the names – merely that the journal editor knows who has really carried out the review, likely key data in a climate where it is claimed there are too few reviewers to carry out all peer review.   We are therefore excited to announce, as part of an upcoming project at Future of Research on recognizing the contribution of and empowering early career researchers, that we are partnering with a number of actors in this space...
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,...