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 public statement on “Revitalizing Graduate STEM Education for the 21st Century”

FoR public statement on “Revitalizing Graduate STEM Education for the 21st Century”

  Today (September 22nd) is the *last day* to submit comments to the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering and Medicine study, “Revitalizing Graduate STEM Education for the 21st Century”. Click here to find out how you can submit today and make yourself heard. The Board of Directors of Future of Research has submitted the following statement:   Graduate students are an investment in the future of science, and therefore are in the best shape to guide the future of the scientific enterprise. However, they are not equipped with the necessary resources to succeed within the current scientific climate, in particular as it relates to their transition into productive, independent careers, either within or outside academia, on a long-term basis. Even well-meaning academic mentors are not always aware of these needs or are unable to help trainees in their lab transition into careers outside academia. This is particularly important given that the majority of trainees will be employed in non-academic careers (National Science Foundation n.d.); that 80% of U.S. biomedical PhDs are currently pursuing postdoctoral training (Sauermann and Roach 2016; Kahn and Ginther 2017); and that the number of biomedical PhDs in the U.S. labor market exceeds the number of jobs requiring biomedical PhDs (Mason et al. 2016). Many graduate students may not have the opportunity to improve their training due to limited professional development resources at the university level.   There is a definite need for more offerings from various stakeholders for helping scientists become more prepared for particular careers. Online courses could be useful, but the Committee could further discuss the means by which institutions and mentors can...
ONE WEEK LEFT to submit comments to Committee on Revitalizing Graduate STEM Education for the 21st Century

ONE WEEK LEFT to submit comments to Committee on Revitalizing Graduate STEM Education for the 21st Century

Two studies, currently underway at the National Academies of Science, Engineering and Medicine, are soliciting public input as part of their process, and they need to hear from you. ONE of the studies has only ONE WEEK LEFT for you to submit input.   The Committee on Revitalizing Graduate STEM Education for the 21st Century invites public input here on its Discussion Document and Call for Community Input through September 22, 2017.   See our action page at http://futureofresearch.org/nasfeedback/ for more info....

A call for transparency in career outcomes

Jessica Polka, Kristin Krukenberg and Gary McDowell have an article in today’s edition of Molecular Biology of the Cell, “A call for transparency in tracking student and postdoc career outcomes“. The article calls on the scientific community to collect and disseminate data on graduate student and postdoc career tracks.Without this data, it is not possible to tell whether there is, in fact, a national “STEM shortage”, and whether there are sufficient jobs available for graduate students and postdocs to justify the large numbers currently passing through the academic system....

Future of Research in US edition of “The Conversation”

STEM postdoc researchers are highly trained, but for what? By Gary McDowell, Tufts University The STEM fields of Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics supposedly suffer from a shortage of graduates. Conventional wisdom says there’s no one for employers to hire for science and engineering jobs. This STEM shortage myth has even figured in the immigration debate in the US. But look again. There are actually plenty of STEM graduates; the US is just training them the wrong way. It’s true there are many professional STEM vacancies but there are also many STEM grads who could fill them. The problem is the current training pipeline doesn’t direct graduates to these non-academic jobs. STEM students aren’t prepped for the professional world. Instead, they are guided toward an academic workforce that has expanded through a dramatic rise in the number of graduate students and postdoctoral researchers. Graduate researchers and postdocs – that is, researchers with PhDs carrying out advanced research – are part of the academic career track originally designed to lead to tenured academic research positions. As renowned engineer Vannevar Bush advised President Truman in 1945, while advocating for the creation of a National Science Foundation: The plan should be designed to attract into science only that proportion of the youthful talent appropriate to the needs of science in relation to the other needs of the nation’s high priority. However, the number of permanent – that is, tenured – jobs has not increased since that time, leading to hyper-competition and a massive pool of postdocs. Junior researchers are shamed by a culture that perceives leaving academia as a betrayal. Colloquially non-academic...