Investigating Postdoc Salaries: Boston University

Investigating Postdoc Salaries: Boston University

  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. Every day, we will be releasing a discussion of each individual institution or system from which we received data. Today is a different case, of a private institution that volunteered information, rather than a public institution where data was collected by FOIA request: Boston University.   Cost for FOIA Request: N/A; private, therefore not “FOIAable” Additional notes: This data was provided through a personal connection to our advisory board member, Sarah Hokanson of Boston University, and so is different in nature to all of the other data we will be presenting i.e. by going through those who work directly on postdoctoral issues, rather than through FOIA channels.   Sarah Hokanson provided the following information about the data in our aggregate dataset: “Boston University is pleased to voluntarily contribute the data of our 297 full-time (100%, 12 month appointment) employee postdocs. Not included in this dataset are 1) 64 non-employee postdocs 2) 9 part-time postdocs 3) 4 postdocs paid from multiple sources (combination stipend/salary) [Editor’s note: the 2015 NSF data suggests there were 421 science, engineering,...
Increasing transparency around postdoctoral salaries in the United States

Increasing transparency around postdoctoral salaries in the United States

  There is very little information available on how much postdocs are actually paid in the U.S. It is generally assumed that biomedical postdocs in particular are paid roughly in accordance with the NIH NRSA scale and indeed the National Postdoctoral Association’s Institutional Policy Report and Database show that most institutions have a policy to pay postdocs in accordance with the NRSA scale. This scale is a guideline, however, and the absolute legal minimum for postdoc salaries is largely determined by the Fair Labor Standards Act, or FLSA.   In 2016, we tracked how institutions were changing policies for salaries in response to updates to the FLSA, which would in effect have brought the legal salary threshold from $23,660 to $47,476. The tracking effort is documented in our FLSA and postdocs resource and published in our paper, Monitoring the compliance of the academic enterprise with the Fair Labor Standards Act.   The updates never came to pass, and so the mandate to raise salaries was removed. Many institutions committed to continuing to raise salaries, as did the NIH; but a very small number of institutions chose to cancel plans to change salary policies. This led us to consider the question of what the salary landscape for postdocs looks like in the U.S. – and whether it would be possible to determine salaries easily, given that we are already involved in efforts to harmonize postdoc titles, and have pointed to the difficulties in even counting postdocs caused by the administration of postdocs. We are also gathering information on differences in compensation and benefits for postdocs on research grants, vs postdocs on fellowships or training mechanisms in the U.S. At some institutions,...
Join us TODAY (October 31st) 1pm EST for a Tweetchat about NIH’s new Next Generation Researchers Initiative

Join us TODAY (October 31st) 1pm EST for a Tweetchat about NIH’s new Next Generation Researchers Initiative

Don’t forget to follow along with our Tweetchat as FoR Board Member and NIH Next Generation Researchers Initiative Working Group Member Juan Pablo Ruiz (@HappyStemCell) tells us about the NGRI.   Don’t forget after the chat to go to our urgent call for action to send your thoughts to the NIH about the NGRI proposal....
Future of Research issues comment on HHS DRAFT Strategic Plan FY 2018 – 2022

Future of Research issues comment on HHS DRAFT Strategic Plan FY 2018 – 2022

The draft HHS Strategic Plan is part of a strategic planning process for the Department of Health and Human Services to coordinate its strategic and performance planning efforts. Comments have been open for submission on various comments, and FoR has submitted the following statements on Objective 4.2: “Objective 4.2: Expand the capacity of the scientific workforce and infrastructure to support innovative research As science and technology advance, it is imperative that research staff and scientists involved in HHS-conducted or HHS-supported research have the resources needed to conduct high quality and efficient work. Through various initiatives and programs, HHS recruits and trains students, recent graduates, and other professionals to conduct rigorous and reproducible research. HHS invests in Federal statistical units responsible for national surveys that provide reliable, timely and policy relevant information for policy makers and researchers. Additionally, HHS provides research training and career development opportunities to ensure that a diverse pool of highly trained investigators will be available across the range of scientific disciplines necessary to address the Nation’s biomedical and scientific research needs. HHS invests substantial resources in research facilities that provide access to instruments, technologies, services, as well as access to expert consultants.”   Short form statement (1000 Character limit on online submission form): Future of Research supports the initiative to expand the capacity of the scientific workforce and infrastructure towards innovative research. We endorse increasing collaboration, transparency and establishing research practices that promote rigor and reproducibility. We recommend an increased proportion of graduate students and postdocs be supported on training grants and fellowships, and encourage both institutions and federal agencies to track all trainees supported by...
Urgent ACTION: Contact the NIH Next Generation Researchers Initiative Working Group with your comments

Urgent ACTION: Contact the NIH Next Generation Researchers Initiative Working Group with your comments

The National Institutes of Health currently have a working group discussing what action to take under a Congressional mandate to address the production of the next generation of biomedical researchers. The Advisory Council to the Director’s Working Group, which is described in further detail here, is charged with advising NIH leadership on the development of an NIH-wide policy. You can also find the working group’s charter here.   This follows on from the recent discussion of the Grant Support Index (GSI), which was abruptly introduced and abruptly dropped as an idea to cap the amount of NIH support a researcher can receive, roughly equivalent to three major research project grants. Board member Adriana Bankston summarized her thoughts and recent discussions on the funding cap in this post.     What does the NGRI look like in comparison? A number of concerns have been raised, and there was a discussion held recently by the eLife Community as part of their #ECRWednesday series. Key concerns that have arisen are that without a cap mechanism, money will just be taken away from smaller mid-career or late-career labs; that because this is not a centralized NIH initiative (like the GSI was) but will instead be at the discretion of individual institutes, there will be a lack of transparency that could compound racial and gender funding disparities that NIH already has; and there is no consideration of what happens to investigators once they move from early to mid-career stage, and so we just may end up with more people shutting down labs rather than sustaining the generation through all career stages. You can find some...
Registration now open for Boston 2017 Meeting: Expanding Leadership roles for Early Career Researchers #FORLeads

Registration now open for Boston 2017 Meeting: Expanding Leadership roles for Early Career Researchers #FORLeads

  Get Early Career Researchers a Seat at the Table!   Register NOW here   The 2017 Boston FoR meeting will take place at Boston University November 17-18. Check out the conference page here for more info!   Background and symposium goals Future of Research, a nationwide grassroots advocacy group comprised of Early Career Researchers (ECRs) including graduate students, postdoctoral scholars, industry scientists and junior faculty is hosting a 1-and-a-half day symposium focused on training ECRs to develop skills to self-advocate for their training and career development needs.  The goal of this symposium is to promote the inclusion of early career scientists in leadership positions to ensure their representation during decision-making conversations that affect the future of the scientific enterprise.   Conversations about getting ECR advocates a seat at the table are important for giving the early career population a voice in science, in particular as they are the most diverse population within academia in terms of race, gender, ethnicity, and socioeconomic status. There are greater barriers faced by members of underrepresented groups in the struggle to be heard by those in positions of power. Recognizing this fact, we seek to include a diverse and inclusive representation of race, ethnicity, disability status, gender identity and sexual orientation in our invitation/selection of meeting speakers and participants. The efforts taken to make sure that our organization is diverse and inclusive, and can speak to as much of the community as possible, are central also to our efforts in preparing symposia.         Participants at the 2016 “Advocating for Science” Symposium in Boston. Photo by Alina Chan   Symposium format This symposium, hosted at...