Guest post: Landing Your First Postdoc Position

Guest post: Landing Your First Postdoc Position

Holly Hamilton was a travel awardee for the Advocating for Science Symposium and Workshop in Boston, 2016:   After completing 23+ years of education, you may come to realize that one thing you do not know is how to land your first job. If after careful consideration and research, e.g.: https://www.insidehighered.com/advice/2016/08/23/should-you-pursue-postdoc-or-not-essay http://www.nature.com/news/the-future-of-the-postdoc-1.17253 http://cheekyscientist.com/phds-stop-applying-postdocs-start-applying-research-scientist-positions/ http://crosstalk.cell.com/blog/to-postdoc-or-not-to-postdoc http://www.sciencemag.org/careers/2013/11/postdoc-special-kind-hell)   you have decided that a postdoctoral position is your next step, here is your how-to guide to success.     Identify faculty in fields that interest you.   For a postdoc position, job boards are nearly useless. Most professors do not use job boards to advertise positions and are notoriously bad about updating and listing job openings on their lab websites. So unless you know for a fact that this faculty is not currently seeking a postdoc, keep them on your list anyways. After spending several years on your doctoral thesis on one very specific subject, you may feel compelled to stay within that field. However, if you plan to stay on the tenure-track, you should know that many granting agencies (ahem, the NIH) prefer to see a postdoc in a subject that is entirely separate from your graduate training. Why? The NIH believes that the purpose of a postdoc is the train you on a new subject-area and methods. You can explore other fields by attending scientific meetings. And when you are there, network, network, network. You may meet your next boss. At the very least, you can decide whether certain fields are right for you. And since one day you will want to get paid, pay close attention to fields that...
New publications: Using Census Data to See the New Face Of U.S. Science

New publications: Using Census Data to See the New Face Of U.S. Science

One of the key challenges in our work pushing for reform of the academic system and the scientific enterprise is convincing those resistant to change that there is a problem. Part of the issue in dealing with this is the debate about the quality/quantity of data available about the scientific workforce; with almost no tracking of career outcomes for graduate students and postdocs, and the variable degree to postdocs are administered in the U.S. hindering data collection efforts, a key argument against reform is the scarcity of data with which to make informed changes.   To combat this, we have started working more closely with those in science policy and the social sciences who work on these issues, and recently teamed up with labor economists at the U.S. Census Bureau/NIH to look at the U.S. biomedical workforce using census data. We have produced a comprehensive analysis of the historical size, shape and demography of the biomedical workforce in our working paper, “Preparing for the 21st Century Biomedical Research Job Market: Using Census Data to Inform Policy and Career Decision-Making” which is discussed in our comment in Nature out today, “The New Face of Science in the U.S.”. Our hope is this analysis will be of use to policy-makers, and can also help to inform junior and senior scientists alike (particularly in academia) about the realities we currently face.    We used the Integrated Public-Use Microdata Series-USA (IPUMS-USA, University of Minnesota) dataset, which contains data from both the decennial census and the annual American Community Survey (ACS), to look at biomedical scientists in the U.S. (for more details on the methods, see Appendix...
Guest post: Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) injunction and postdocs: one month later

Guest post: Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) injunction and postdocs: one month later

This is a guest post by Adriana Bankston, a volunteer with Future of Research and one of the travel award winners for the Advocating for Science symposium in Boston, 2016.  Adriana has been collecting data directly from institutions as part of this effort.   UPDATE: This post has been updated, the first figure was previously showing institutional plans, not the percentage of the postdoctoral population affected by each change as described in the text.     On December 1st 2016, postdocs working more than 40 hours per week were due to see salary raises from $23,660 to $47,476 per year, according to the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) ruling issued by the Department of Labor. At Future of Research, we have been collecting data and documenting the compliance of universities with the FLSA in our online resource. These data were also communicated in a paper published F1000 research in November 2016. To document this compliance periodically, we published subsequent blog posts at one month, 20 days and 10 days prior to the original FLSA implementation date of December 1st. Our data indicated that, at 10 days prior to December 1st, 69% of all postdocs were expected to receive salary raises, 6% of postdocs were to have either salaries raised or hours tracked with no central institutional mandate for either, 3% of postdocs were at institutions focused on allowing hours tracking, and for 22% of postdocs no data had been made publicly available (below).     Complying with the FLSA ruling for such a large percentage of postdocs with 10 days to go was due to have a very positive impact...
Webinar with New York Academy of Sciences on the FLSA and postdocs: Tuesday December 13

Webinar with New York Academy of Sciences on the FLSA and postdocs: Tuesday December 13

On Tuesday December 13th, 2:00 PM – 3:00 PM EST, the New York academy of Sciences will host a webinar: “The Changing Landscape for Postdocs in the US: Potential Implications and Systemic Changes to Support Postdocs in the US Beyond the FLSA Ruling” The speakers will be Dr. Kate Sleeth from the National Postdoctoral Association, Sam Castañeda from University of California Berkeley, and Future of Research Executive Director Dr. Gary McDowell. The webinar, when originally scheduled, was intended to discuss the updates to the Fair Labor Standards Act and their effects on postdoctoral researchers after coming into effect on December 1st, but on November 22nd a preliminary injunction against the updates was granted, and now there is a different landscape in which some institutions are raising salaries as planned, and some are not, as we have been laying out in our resource on the FLSA and postdocs....
FLSA fiasco

FLSA fiasco

On Dec 1st (today), the threshold at which salaried workers receive overtime payment for working more than 40 hours per week was due to increase from $23,660 to $47,476 per year, under updates to the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA), affecting all postdoctoral researchers in a non-primarily teaching role regardless of visa or fellowship status.   We had been keeping track of how institutions were implementing the update in our FLSA and postdocs resource and started releasing analyses of the data from late October (see this blogpost in Addgene), published a paper with one month to go at F1000Research, and most recently with 10 days ago, we presented a summary of the latest timepoint in our information-gathering efforts. At the last timepoint, 220 out of 341 institutions with postdocs had no decision on what they were doing available for us to report. However, 69% of the estimated postdoctoral workforce was due to see a salary raise. Some postdocs may have been due to receive a raise depending on their department/PI; and some institutions were moving postdocs over to non-exempt status by giving them timesheets and asking them to track hours.   On November 22nd an injunction was granted to the updates that applied nationwide. We issued a statement that included a recommendation that institutions follow the example of the National Institutes of Health and their NRSA stipends, and continue to raise postdoctoral salaries as they had planned. We have since been gathering information on institutional responses in the tab on the FLSA and postdocs resource, “How institutional plans have/have not changed since the injunction.”   When we began the FLSA and postdocs resource, we...
FoR statement on the FLSA injunction

FoR statement on the FLSA injunction

Updates to the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA, which affects academic workers, including postdocs) were due to go into effect on Dec 1st,  2016 requiring either a minimum salary for those with non-exempt job duties of $47,476, or the use of timesheets and payment of overtime at time-and-a-half over 40 hours in a work week. This implementation has now been delayed.   We provided an update here yesterday; we have issued a statement which you can download here and share; the text is below:   Statement from Future of Research on the FLSA injunction Updates to the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA, which affects academic workers, including postdocs (http://futureofresearch.org/flsa-and-postdocs/)) were due to go into effect on Dec 1st, 2016 requiring either a minimum salary for those with non-exempt job duties of $47,476, or the use of timesheets and payment of overtime at time-and-a-half over 40 hours in a work week. A hearing was held on November 16th with 21 U.S. states filing a preliminary injunction against the Department of Labor to delay the December 1st implementation of these updates to the FLSA. The injunction was granted on November 22nd.   Our most recent data as of Nov 20th, 10 days prior to implementation, showed that 69% of postdocs would have seen salaries raised. We urge those institutions who planned to raise postdoctoral salaries to continue with their plans to do so, as recommended by a consensus across academia (see Pickett et al., PNAS 2015: “Toward a sustainable biomedical research enterprise: Finding consensus and implementing recommendations“). We support the NIH in continuing its plans to raise NRSA stipend levels on Dec...