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: University of Michigan

Investigating Postdoc Salaries: University of Michigan

  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: University of Michigan.   Cost for FOIA Request: $300; see below Additional notes: Data taken from publicly posted salary information including names and departments.   University of Michigan posts PDFs of salary information and so the FOIA request received the following response: Therefore we used the publicly posted data, but appreciate the caveats that this may have in not having been presented in a manner responsive to our request.   University of Michigan was one of the institutions to cancel planned salary raises after the injunction against updates to the Fair Labor Standards Act was granted. However, in response to public scrutiny, including advocacy by postdocs at the University (see the guest post on our blog by postdoc Dr. Tammy Barnes), the salary policy was then reversed, and salaries again raised. We have received personal communication that all postdoc salaries are now above $47,476.   Therefore, the data we have may not reflect the current situation,...
Investigating Postdoc Titles: Wayne State University

Investigating Postdoc Titles: Wayne State 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: Wayne State University.   Cost for FOIA Request: $0 Additional notes: None.   Wayne State University cancelled planned salary raises after the injunction against the FLSA update was granted. In their communications, they implied this was due to the injunction requiring them to do so, which is not the case; the injunction simply removed the federal mandate for raising salaries, not the ability necessarily to do so.   The Wayne State postdoc policy appears contradictory, in that there is a 3 year maximum postdoc term, but exceptions are only required if people postdoc for more than 6 years, implying that the real limit is 6 years, but there is still the possibility to make exceptions:   “4.1.6, The postdoctoral researcher position is a temporary position with a maximum term of three years. Appointments are normally made for a period of one year. Extensions beyond six years require prior written approval of the dean of the...
Investigating Postdoc Salaries: University of Virginia

Investigating Postdoc Salaries: University of Virginia

  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: University of Virginia.   Cost for FOIA Request: $0 Additional notes: Names also supplied.   The University of Virginia first refused our Freedom of Information Request as it was out-of-state. A volunteer in Virginia kindly submitted the request for us, which was then accepted.   178 postdocs were on $47,500 (set as a result of the new salary policy), out of 264 salaries used for analysis (one salary was below $23,660), meaning 67% of salaries were at this exact number....
Investigating Postdoc Salaries: University of Utah

Investigating Postdoc Salaries: University of Utah

  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: University of Utah.   Cost for FOIA Request: $0 Additional notes: Request originally rejected; data sent in paper format after successful appeal to General Counsel.   University of Utah makes use of 6 postdoc titles; it was surprising to find that salaries of $0 were reported across all 6 titles. It might be expected that postdocs on paid-direct fellowships (which it would be assumed would represent the apparent salaries of “$0”, reflecting not annual salaries but instead what gets paid through the institution) would all be gathered under a subset of titles; it begs the question of why Utah has 6 titles, if there is no difference between them in terms of where salary is coming from, which this data suggests. Likewise, there are titles such as Post Doc Fellow Paid Direct with salaries that appear to be full salaries, suggesting either that the title is inappropriate, or that the way the data is reported is...