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August 02, 2006

The NEED for OVERHAUL!!!

Slaves to science
For post-docs, finding a supernova is easier than finding a job.
- - - - -By William Speed Weed Feb. 28, 2000
[If you never read this article, it is worth spending some time in reading, an insightful article about postdocs, I admire William Speed Weed for his courage to tell the truth about postdocs are treated like slaves in the academia!?. Here is the link for the article. http://archive.salon.com/books/it/2000/02/28/postdoc/
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This Blog:-

THIS POSTDOC BLOG IS AN EFFORT TO WRITE A-Z ABOUT POSTDOCS. PROVIDE AN INFORMATION CHANNEL TO POSTDOCS, UNITE THEM SO THAT IT CAN BE A VOICE FOR THE POST-DOCTORAL FELLOWS/ POSTDOCS HERE IN USA AND OFCOURSE FOR ALL THE POSTDOCS AROUND THE WORLD. IF YOU ARE CONCERNED OR KNOW SOMETHING ABOUT POSTDOCS PROBLEMS, YOU ARE MOST WELLCOME TO PUBLISH NEWS, COLUMNS, ARTICLES, COMMENTS, REVIEWS ETC., SO, BRING HERE YOUR MESSAGES & SHARE THE IDEAS TO HELP EACH OTHER. GOOD LUCK TO ALL THE POSTDOCS OF THIS WORLD!.

Who are these Little Masters?
These little masters are often given titles such as "postdocs", "postdoctoral fellows", "postdoctoral researcher", "postdoctoral associate", "and postdoctoral scholar". In truth, they toil their life to get this PhD (more than half of life, the most young and prime part of life) goes to earning PhD, the remaining most energetic and efficient part goes to doing post PhD POSTDOC [their academic life and family life is one of the toughest times during postdoc due to low salary, benefits, child care issues, leave/vacation issues, lack of mentoring, lack of independency, among the most difficult issue is to find out a job after postdocs, as there are not many faculty jobs opportunities for the postdocs. Though there are some alternative areas of job opportunities, the postdocs are in most cases academically prepared and thier preference is to be oriented to academy].

What is the Current Postdoc Scenario:-

Doing a postdoc is no longer a luxury or at will training as it was used to be in 1876 or early 1900s. In the initial few decades of the origin of this "POSTDOC", taking up a postdoc was considered to be a voluntary move of an individual to broaden one's background. It was not a mandatory/important requirement to do a postdoc in order to get into a permanent academic position (Asst Professor, or other faculty jobs). However, the scenario is quite different now. There is a significant growth in the academia, the top stakeholders of the academic layer benefited from the changes that took place in the last four or five decades, while postdoc and their fate remained unattended or seen only minimal changes in salary hike occurred instead of looking into this issue with sincere plan.

So we now know that to do a POSTDOC is a must or unavoidable part of one's academic career to move onto a faculty currently. Considering too many highly qualified young scientists chasing around to find out their own project or independent roles in academy, it is not only tough to achieve but it is impractical.

Considering the fact that there are about 100 applicants for 1 Asst Prof Position vacant at a given university or institutions in USA. If this is the case, there is a NEED for a change in improving the current postdoctoral system. Too many Postdocs but too little faculty opportunity, the academic system, PIs and funding agents did not care much to make changes to improve the postdoc's career or job status. So, postdoc of the present days became a type of intellectual slaves, highly educated and poorly paid with inadequate benefits and insecurity throughout their role as a postdoc.

Some call "postdoc" as a kind of training or apprentice to further one's job opportunities. Others call it as an employment!?. Most others say that postdocs are used as "extra pair’s of hands in most of labs. Despite the fact that postdocs are well trained, highly intelligent and extremely hard working, there is hardly any freedom or ability to run their own science project............this is the gray area where improvements can be made by the institutions/universities and the funding bodies like NIH and NSF so that the postdocs move on in the academic ladder, instead they will be wasting lot of time in just thinking about what are they going to do next about their academic future or job prospectives?.


What is the Most authoritative Organization (NAS) think about Postdoc issues:
The frustration of the postdoc issues and their problems was and is constantly debated at the most prestigious "National Academic Borards.

The National Academies Press: Home The National Academies: Home
Read more than 3,600 books online FREE! More than 1000 PDFs now available for sale
The board members represnted from all the scientific areas came out with a recommendation, which can be found in the following publication. Every postdoc, PI, and postdoc related administrators must read this book. For your convenience, I am putting the cover page of the book, I also copied from the book a portion of the "Executive Summary". Just this alone clearly summarises postdocs issues, it is good to know that postdocs got the attention of the highest governing body in science and research, and they are talking about postdocs. This is a good book to read.
Recomended by Muni, 08/10/2006
The book & details of the book, if you are not able to buy, watch out on the website for a free downloadable PDF format of the book, you can read it right on the website or perhaps, I am not sure if you can copy it to your computer, just check out.

Read this book online, free! Click here to proceed to linked table of contents

Enhancing the Postdoctoral Experience for Scientists and Engineers:

A Guide for Postdoctoral Scholars, Advisers, Institutions, Funding Organizations, and Disciplinary Societies

Book Cover

Status: Available Now

Size: 212 pages, 6 x 9

Publication Year:2000


Below is the executive summary:
Executive Summary

The concept of a postdoctoral scholar in science and engineering arose about a century ago when a handful of PhD researchers were awarded small stipends for the purpose of augmenting their skills and experience. The postdoctoral population in the United States, after decades of gradual growth, leapt ahead quickly in the 1980s and now outnumbers the graduate student population at some US institutions. The total number of postdoctoral scholars, or postdocs, has grown to an estimated 52,000. [this is a old estimate, it is crossed 60,000 and more by now!).

The primary purpose of the postdoctoral experience is to broaden and deepen the research and other skills that are required for a significant contribution to society and satisfying, professional employment. Ideally, this is accomplished through the guidance of an adviser in whose laboratory or department the postdoc works; the administrative and infrastructural support of the host institution; the financial support of a funding organization; and the professional development support of a disciplinary society.

The postdoctoral experience does not always succeed in its educational purpose. In some cases, the postdoc is poorly matched with the research setting; in others, there is little opportunity for growth toward independence, guidance is poor, or a mentoring relationship fails to develop. Sometimes mentors, institutions, and funding organizations have been slow to assign postdocs the status, recognition, and compensation that are commensurate with their skills and contributions to research.

For their part, many postdocs express frustration at their low professional status and inability to fulfill their own expectations to mature as professional researchers, collaborate productively with colleagues (and advisers), and advance in their careers toward rewarding professional positions. While some of this frustration results from a job market that, in some fields, has fewer positions than it does good candidates, it also reflects inadequate administrative attention to mechanisms of the experience that can and should be rectified. In considering needed improvements, it is essential to recognize that the situations of postdocs vary markedly from discipline to discipline and between academic and non-academic settings. Postdocs vary in proficiency; some are quite experienced with little need for guidance, while others are apprentices who require substantial coaching. They also vary in their rate of growth; some learn quickly while others require more time to develop sufficient knowledge and skills to move to the next stage of their career. Moreover, slightly more than half of US postdocs are non-US citizens, many of whom face additional challenges of acculturation and language.

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PRO/UAW Site

http://www.prouaw.org/home/home.php
Here is the PostDoc Wheel of PRO/UAW, this is like the Wheel of Dhamma of Lord Buddha's that is a symbol of justice and liberation. The latest news from PRO/UAW is very promising to the 5000 or more postdocs in different campuses of University of California System.
PRO/UAW

The Union for Postdoctoral Researchers at the University of California
PRO/UAW is the Union for over 5,000 Postdoctoral Researchers at the University of California. By signing up a majority of Postdocs, we can exercise our legal rights to bargain with UC. Postdoc representatives we choose will survey us to determine priorities and will then negotiate a contract with UC. We can negotiate for improvements in wages, hours, benefits, and terms and conditions of employment. Postdocs will then have an opportunity to democractically approve the agreement that UC and our bargaining team reach, before it becomes a binding contract.