NEW resource: Tracking career outcomes of PhDs and postdocs at institutions

NEW resource: Tracking career outcomes of PhDs and postdocs at institutions

  For decades, institutions have been asked in various reports to track and report out on their PhD and postdoc alumnae career outcomes. A number of recent efforts by a variety of stakeholders in the last year suggest that 2018 may be the year when this comes to pass, and we are keeping track of all the efforts and which institutions have released data in our new Tracking Career Outcomes at Institutions resource.   As stated in a Policy Forum by ten University Presidents in Science, “A new data effort to inform career choices in biomedicine,”:   “The biomedical research enterprise finds itself in a moment of intense self-reflection, with science leaders, professional organizations, and funders all working to enhance their support for the next generation of biomedical scientists. One focus of their attention has been the lack of robust and publicly available information on education and training outcomes. In the absence of such information, students are prevented from making informed choices about their pre- and postdoctoral training activities, and universities from preparing trainees for a full range of careers.   The piece points out that reports that have asked for this data have included: Sustaining Discovery in Biological and Medical Sciences: A Framework for Discussion (FASEB, 2015); The Postdoctoral Experience Revisited (National Academies Press, Washington, DC, 2014); Bridges to Independence: Fostering the Independence of New Investigators in Biomedical Research (National Academies Press, Washington, DC, 2005); and Reshaping the Graduate Education of Scientists and Engineers (National Academies Press, Washington, DC, 1995).   Greater transparency could allow junior researchers to act more rationally, or prepare in a more informed manner, their...
FoR Statement on the “Coalition for Next Generation Life Science”

FoR Statement on the “Coalition for Next Generation Life Science”

You can find a PDF copy of the statement below here.   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.   Despite repeated calls (beginning at least as early as 1969) information on the career outcomes of life sciences graduate students and postdocs has remained poor or altogether unavailable. This has recently been discussed in an effort coordinated by Rescuing Biomedical Research and spearheaded by existing efforts to track career outcomes of PhDs, particularly NIH’s BEST Consortium. These efforts are currently focused on graduate programs and PhD outcomes, and do not currently encompass data collection on postdocs.   Today’s announcement in Science that a coalition of universities pledges to release information on all of their biomedical graduate students AND postdocs represents an unprecedented watershed moment. Previous efforts have been driven by prominent advisory committees, individuals, or other groups, but in this case, strong leadership is coming from within universities themselves.   The information to be released includes:   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 Median time in postdoctoral status at the institution Career outcomes for Ph.D. and postdoctoral alumni, classified by job sector and career type   FoR congratulates UCSF, Johns Hopkins, University of Wisconsin, Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center, University of Pennsylvania, University of Maryland, Cornell University, Duke University, MIT, and University of Michigan. for leading this movement. We urge other universities to join...
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...