Economic Implications of Scientific Training in the Biomedical Research Workforce: a Workshop at the 2017 AAAS Meeting

Economic Implications of Scientific Training in the Biomedical Research Workforce: a Workshop at the 2017 AAAS Meeting

 This is a guest post by Future of Research policy activist, Adriana Bankston. The biomedical research enterprise is driven at its core by junior scientists working at the bench. Postdocs are highly skilled scientific experts who provide a great deal of value to the scientific enterprise. In spite of this fact, they have historically been paid low wages, leading to professional dissatisfaction which may also cause them to leave the bench. Policy changes to increase postdoc compensation, as well as innovative incentives, may be very beneficial for retaining postdocs in science by creating an environment for them to effectively perform their work. Thinking about the biomedical research workforce from an economic point of view may therefore help us better understand the challenges faced by postdocs and facilitate solutions to these problems.   Critical discussions about the role of postdocs in the scientific enterprise occurred during the session entitled “Economic Implications of Scientific Training in the Biomedical Research Workforce” at the 2017 AAAS meeting. The three labor economists who presented in this session focused on the economics of the postdoctoral position and how it affects their career outcomes. Paula Stephan of Georgia State University and the National Bureau of Economic Research (also a member of the FoR advisory board) has served on a number of committees both in the US and in Europe, including the National Academies’ committee “On the Postdoctoral Experience Revisited.” The other two speakers, Donna Ginther of the University of Kansas and Bruce Weinberg of The Ohio State University, both have expertise in the STEM workforce and served on the NIH’s recent Biomedical Research Workforce Working Group. Paula...
Please help with data collection: two surveys on current and former junior scientists

Please help with data collection: two surveys on current and former junior scientists

There are two international surveys about academia currently soliciting data:   One for current postdocs on working conditions, collecting data from postdocs all around the world. All responses are anonymous. You can find the results later in the year at www.lifesciencenetwork.com. Another survey is for those who used to work as researchers in the academic sector (it says for Europe, but you can still fill it out regardless of location) but now work in other employment sectors, to capture understanding of motivations for career transition, how transitions are achieved, useful resources, competencies valued by employers, and how useful academic experience has been. It is by Vitae, for Euraxess.   More data is urgently needed on these issues, please help by filling these in!...
The aging of the science and engineering workforce

The aging of the science and engineering workforce

A new study has been published in PNAS, titled “Why the US science and engineering workforce is aging rapidly“. The paper looks at data using the NSF’s Survey of Doctorate Recipients, and also uses U.S. Census data to get information about international researchers, to examine why the science and engineering workforce is aging. While there is a definite contribution from the general aging effect of the Baby Boomer population, aging is predicted to continue even without this effect.   The paper is discussed in Science, “As the U.S. scientific workforce ages, the younger generation faces the implications” and Inside Higher Ed, “50 Shades of Gray” and the authors are keen to point out that it is unknown as yet what the effects on the scientific enterprise of this aging may be, given that we can’t currently define well what differing contributions people at different ages make to science.   The paper supports previous work on the biomedical workforce by Misty Heggeness, who we interviewed previously on this subject of the aging biomedical workforce using NIH data, and with whom we also analyzed the biomedical workforce using Census data in “Preparing for the 21st Century Biomedical Research Job Market: Using Census Data to Inform Policy and Career Decision-Making” and “The new face of US science“.   At the public session of the Next Generation Researchers Initiative in January 2017, Michael Lauer of the NIH pointed out that recent interventions have stabilized the percentage of funded investigators who are early career, but now mid-career investigators are starting to suffer as the percentage of funded investigators who are late stage continues to grow:...