The Newsletter for Research Professionals:
Postdoctoral research isn’t just about gaining tenure although that is what many will claim in attempting to explain the growing tendency toward this path. The complexity of scientific discovery and the involvement of complex science in increasing areas of life, study, research and development and industry dictate that those who seek to be expert in their fields must undertake postdoctoral research. Funding postdoctoral research and researchers is often through an appointment with a salary, or by way of an appointment with a stipend or a sponsorship award and competition for these funds can be fierce. Generally those who undertake research do so funded as postdoctoral research fellows, associates or assistants.
Postdoctoral researchers might work independently or alternatively, under the supervision of a principal investigator. This research is often a prerequisite for those who wish to obtain faculty positions with tenure within a research oriented facility. It is increasingly considered a mandatory requirement in some fields because competition for tenure-track positions in academia is becoming increasingly competitive. In the past principal investigators have been accused of using postdoctoral researchers as intelligent but cheap labor used to further their own careers. These tendencies have lead to a propensity of increasingly long post doctorates with little hope of breaking away. This type of authoritarian abuse of postdoctoral researchers has diminished in more recent years partly because of complaints and partly due to the growth of advocacy agencies for researchers. The National Postdoctoral Association (NPA) is a member-driven organization that provides a voice for postdoctoral scholars in the United States.
"Nature composes some of her loveliest poems for the microscope and the telescope.”
National postdoctoral association
The NPA describes itself (http://www.nationalpostdoc.org) as providing the following services for postdoctoral researchers:
The association advocates for policy change within research institutions that host postdoctoral scholars. Since the association’s founding, more than 150 institutions have adopted portions of the NPA’s Recommended Practices. The NPA continues to work with the leadership of federal funding agencies, such as the NIH and the NSF, to develop new programs and policies for postdoctoral training, compensation, and benefits. The NPA values its partners in advocacy, including prominent national associations and organizations that represent the scientific, research and higher education communities.
The NPA hosts annual and regional meetings to provide opportunities for the postdoctoral community to gather and enhance their professional/leadership skills. The association also maintains various list servers and an online bulletin board to facilitate networking nation-wide.
The NPA continues to provide the tools and resources that post doctorates and administrators need for success. Most NPA publications are available online, with selected resources for members only. These include: an International Postdoctoral Survival Guide, Toolkits for Postdoctoral Associations & Offices, an Institutional Policy Database, and a Career Development Clearinghouse.
"The universe is full of magical things patiently waiting for our wits to grow sharper."
Career planning in post doctoral research
As research permeates more and more areas of industry, science and technology an exponential increase in career options is becoming available to the PhD. This is evidenced by the growing numbers of postdoctoral positions available through ResearchNetwork.com which lists over 40 postdoctoral research positions today and that number is growing steadily. These are a few of the areas in which post doctoral researchers are in hot demand (courtesy of NPA) along with some tips on how to improve your chances of obtaining a choice position.
One way to get teaching experience prior to obtaining a faculty position is through Postdoctoral Teaching Fellowships.
Science policy analysts or program officers manage programs, write grants, conduct research and serve as an expert resource to policy-makers.
Science writers may write for specialty publications, for industry groups, or for the general public. Gain experience by volunteering for the university news, publications, public relations or alumni relations office, or by volunteering to write articles for your professional organization.
Medical information scientists provide scientific education to physicians, educate pharmaceutical sales forces, and work with clinical development teams on study protocol, design and submission.
Desired skills for medical information scientists include:
- Clinical experience (research and/or patient experience)
- Strong communication skills
- Strong presentation/public speaking skills
- Time/project management skills
Science, law, and business come together in the area of technology transfer.
Research support and grant administration provide invaluable help to scientists in the pursuit of research funding.
As new technologies emerge with new questions, the issue of bioethics continues to present itself as an important concern. Scientists can play in important role in the dialogue between researchers and the public.
Science librarians are usually found in academic institutions and help decide on the library’s collection and manage budgets and assist scientists in information searchers, in addition to a host of other duties.
"It is the man of science, eager to have his every opinion regenerated, his every idea rationalized, by drinking at the fountain of fact, and devoting all the energies of his life to the cult of truth, not as he understands it, but as he does not yet understand it, that ought properly to be called a philosopher.”
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To all of our members and guests, we welcome you and thank you for your ongoing interest. We hope you have enjoyed the information provided here. We would love to hear your thoughts on this and any other aspect of our site, please contact us anytime.