Talk:Postdoctoral researcher

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Untitled comments[edit]

I am wondering if it is really fair to state that "academics face a very lean job market designed with exploitative intent." (Asta2500 01:13, 20 Aug 2004 (UTC))

With somewhat liberal interpretation, it's correct. It may be unfair because no one academic institution has specific control of the academic job market, therefore it's difficult to describe a job market, which results from the sum of many different institutions decisions, as "designed".
However, universities have cut back on the well-paid tenure-track positions-- the promise that underlines a long and possibly costly Ph. D. program-- and replaced them with poorly-paid adjunct positions. This is factually exploitative, and it results in a poor job market for academics.
In other words, it's not technically correct to declare any job market "designed", but academics do face a lean job market resulting from individual universities' exploitative decisions.
I'll change that part to reflect that. 259 23:03, 22 Aug 2004 (UTC)


Although I wouldn't describe it as exploitation, I do agree broadly with this characterisation of the job market. Universities exercise monopsony, there being very few other places where someone with a doctorate in, say, mediaeval studies can get a job that puts her training to good use. It's not surprising, therefore, that low-paying temporary positions in the academic job market have begun to replace well-paying tenured positions. Disappointing, perhaps, but not at all surprising in a plutocratic society. Shorne 20:15, 28 Sep 2004 (UTC)

US bias?[edit]

I have worked as a postdoc in both Japan and Europe, but hardly experienced any of the problems in the article. In particular, all postdocs in Europe and Japan that I have heard of have been reasonably well paid. Furthermore, the "known fact" that only 20% of PhDs get a faculty position seems to be supported only for the US. Hence I suspect (but cannot prove) that the current article has a US-bias. Filur 11:03, 11 November 2005 (UTC)

I do agree that this article has something of a US bias but speaking as postdoc and a union rep in the UK much of the picture painted is very familiar although perhaps not as extreme. I will try and get some figures appropriate for the UK and write something from a UK perspective.--NHSavage 15:12, 12 November 2005 (UTC)
I have now hopefully added some balance to this article with extra informaton about the UK position. I'll add some stuff about the Concordat and RCI plus the new laws on fixed term contracts next. If people have infromation about other areas it would be good if they could add that as well. We probably should also try and get some information about postdoctoral associations and stats on the employment of post-docs.--NHSavage 16:33, 12 November 2005 (UTC)
Thanks. I unfortunately do not have any hard statistics to offer, but I agree that it would be good if it could be found. Filur 14:25, 13 November 2005 (UTC)

There is also a "field bias" of sorts; it should clarify what fields this applies to. I'm most familiar with computer science, where the situation is much different than presented here: Generally, postdocs are not mandatory as a prerequisite to a tenure-track faculty position. Instead, they are usually undertaken by people who want to gain a particular sort of experience, work with a specific researcher or research group, or kill some time while trying to decide what to do next. In a sense, they're much like slightly-higher-paid grad students who don't have to take classes or write a dissertation. --Delirium 09:26, 25 December 2005 (UTC)

Why is the subsection titled "mistreatment of postdocs and rise of unions" in the US section? Postdocs have unionized in Canada too, and it is unfair to imply that all US postdocs are mistreated. Some may work under PIs who are not very good mentors, but postdocs need to be reponsible for their own career and be proactive and find a lab that is a better fit if the one they are in isn't advancing their studies. Like any profession, if you don't like your position, find another one. The whole section should be deleted and instead a new section on postdoctoral professional development should be added - focus on what postdocs can do to advance in their career and succeed in research.--nccc25-- — Preceding unsigned comment added by Nccc25 (talkcontribs) 03:28, 9 February 2012 (UTC)


This article seems to have a disproportionately large "disadvantages" section, and at times seems more like an op-ed piece than an informational encyclopedia article. Does anybody else agree that this is a non-NPOV candidate? — Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 07:47, 14 April 2006‎ (UTC)

It is difficult to find anyone who argues in favour of the postdoc model of employment. It really does not, and the way it is structured can not, offer a long term career. As such I think this is probably an accurate reflection of the reality of being a Postdoc (which is one reason I am on my way out). It would be appropriate to add other information such as the Reseach Careers initiative in the UK (for what it's worth i.e. v. little IMHO) and the possible changes coming in due to changes in UK employment lw (and the adverse effect this has had in Germany, which will not be the same in Britain).--NHSavage 09:25, 14 April 2006 (UTC)

I think this article sounds biased[edit]

This article sounds very strongly like it was written by a disgruntled and overworked post-doc. I am a postdoc in the humanities, I teach part-time, and I find the work load manageable. That 80 hour work week number might be true for a minority of very intensive lab-based work environments, but the hardest-working post-docs I know work more like 60 hours. I work anywhere from 20 to 60 hours a week, my time is flexible, except for class and prep time, at least, and I feel like the position is giving me a good leg up in the academic world. I chose this job rather than going straight in to a tenure-track position because I knew having extra time to devote to my own research and a non-competitive environment in which to develop several new classes would help me (eventually) get tenure at a better university. The academic job market is risky and has a high culling rate, but most post-docs have a far better chance of getting a permanent job than newly minted, non-post-doc holding PhDs. — Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 02:43, 6 November 2006 (UTC)

The article is very biased, I agree. Itub 12:54, 20 December 2006 (UTC)
For a start, are disadvantages usually listed after advantages? This article is strongly biased against being a postdoc. Yes, I work 60 hour weeks, but my publication record is increasing rapidly and I find my research very entertaining. I am swapping 'advantages' and 'disadvantages'. :p — Preceding unsigned comment added by an unspecified IP address 15:37, 8 February 2007‎ (UTC)
I don't agree with Although postdoctoral positions are available to engineers as well, the lucrative salaries available in industry to engineers with doctoral degrees causes relatively few engineering Ph.D.s to attempt an academic path unless their field of specialization is such that no jobs exist. Only a quarter of science Ph.D.s go on to postdoctoral work. Because only a quarter of science Ph.D.s go on to postdoctoral work could also imply that there is simply not enough work in academia. References are needed and I think the lucrative salaries available in industry to engineers with doctoral degrees causes relatively few engineering Ph.D.s to attempt an academic path should be removed.Bah23 12:59, 6 March 2007 (UTC)
I think it makes complete sense that lucrative industry salaries make postdoc positions far less attractive. Especially if the postdoc salary is almost half of what you'd get in industry. But I agree that references are needed, otherwise it's just anecdotal.

And yes a little more objectivity wouldn't go astray. e.g. It is possible to state that long hours are worked without saying that is a bad thing. schroding79 (talk) 00:46, 22 July 2008 (UTC)

The NPOV of this article has been drawn in question multiple times over the past few years. I believe that this article remains quite biased. Especially the section "Mistreatment of Postdocs and the rise of postdoc unions in California" holds an extreme POV. I'm nominating especially this section of the article to be checked for NPOV. (LennartVerhagen (talk) 11:52, 18 April 2011 (UTC))
I read the linked articles from the section "Mistreatment of Postdocs and the rise of postdoc unions in California", they are all from top scientific journals (Nature, Science). Everything stated is factual (but mainly dealing with postdocs in the biological sciences), so unless fact is biased this section is not biased. Interestingly, Nature (21 April 2011) this week did a whole issue on the subject of PhDs and how the system is broken. After reading those articles, I can not say its an extreme POV presented here. For instance, if an article about war stated the negative effects of fighting a war is increased chance of death, I would not say that was a bias against war, it is a fact. Basically, according to these articles, the current PhD system leads to this kind of abuse, that is not a bias that appears to be a fact —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 16:46, 21 April 2011 (UTC)


Who invented "postdoc" position? What's the history of this position? Sinolonghai 05:04, 10 November 2006 (UTC)

Responsibilites and salaries[edit]

Also, wheras faculty positions frequently use the 40%, 40%, 20% workload division between research, teaching, and service, respectively, post-docs can devote 100% of their work hours to research. There are no hours spent advising students, going to faculty meetings, preparing lectures, etc. Furthermore, the research and data collected while at a postdoc position may benefit the individul in question for years beyond the postdoc experience - for example, resulting in publications that can help in the tenure and promotion process. New faculty that have been a postdoctoral fellow often begin at higher salaries than their peers who did not. This not only affects starting salary, but each raise/promotion to come, since these rasises are calculated in part based on starting salary.

I have few issues with the above comments. My own experience of being a postdoc is not one 100% of work hours devoted to my own research. Much of my time as a more established postdoc goes on developing the model used by other group members and advising students and newer postdocs on how to use it. The longer you stay as a postdoc the more you have these responsibilites. This can of course be an advantage if you know how to sell it but you rarely in British Univerisities at least get any formal recognition of this.

As for the idea that those who do a postdoc get higher salaries - this is not what I have seen (again this might be due to my experience solely being UK universities in a fairly pure area of science not engineering)--NHSavage 19:10, 16 April 2006 (UTC)

It doesn't say your own research, it is just talking about research. So you were helping faculty members where their research.-- (talk) 15:17, 22 February 2010 (UTC)

Post-Doctoral Degrees?[edit]

I've started to see some schools offering post-doctoral master's degrees, which contradicts this article's assertion that the doctorate is the highest level of training available. Specifically, some psychology programs are offering post-doctoral master's degrees to train clinical psychologists with PhD/PsyD's to prescribe medication as part of the RxP movement. How does that fit into this article? Steve carlson 16:54, 10 April 2007 (UTC)

You can always get a second (or third) masters degree, or even another doctorate, after you finish your doctorate. However, I don't think they would be considered "higher" degrees. --Itub 19:50, 10 April 2007 (UTC)
How about the German Habilitation as a formal postdoc degree.Mootros (talk) 16:16, 22 April 2008 (UTC)


There are several numbers and statistics in this article, but almost no citations. Without these citations, it just seems like the author(s) are making up numbers to support the general theme of the article which, as the above mentions, seems quite biased again post-doc positions. RyanEberhart 23:42, 31 October 2007 (UTC)


"Working hours are usually flexible, allowing for the possibility of having children." ROFL! In the absence of that sentence, what might you be trying to imply? Supposed (talk) 05:59, 9 March 2008 (UTC)

-- hahahahaha, yeah they're flexible after 7pm when you can continue working extra time through the night and all through the weekends! We'll even let you dial in then and work from home! — Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 16:36, 7 March 2013‎ (UTC)

Other Languages[edit]

There is a version of this page in Portuguese (pós-doutorado or pós-doutoramento), but it's not listed on the left. Perhaps someone who knows how to correct this could do that. — Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 17:31, 24 March 2008‎ (UTC)

A bit odd[edit]

Postdoctoral positions are most often taken in the sciences and the arts

As opposed to what? garik (talk) 23:35, 26 April 2008 (UTC)

As opposed to any other academic area I suppose.. e.g. economics and engineering? Although I think there is a decent tradition of postdocs in engineering though.. at least in semiconductor engineering. schroding79 (talk) 00:42, 22 July 2008 (UTC)


Under the United States header, this says "The Association believes..." I don't think there is any prior reference to an association, so it is unclear what association is meant here. (talk) 20:25, 18 November 2008 (UTC)

Spelling please! Hyphen or not[edit]

Could some one please check and decide on the spelling. It will be either "post-doctoral" or "postdoctoral", but certainly not both, I suppose. My spell-checker is putting a red wavy line under "postdoctoral"... Thanks. — Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 01:22, 3 December 2008‎ (UTC)

Copyright problem removed[edit]

One or more portions of this article duplicated other source(s). The material was copied from: Infringing material has been rewritten or removed and must not be restored, unless it is duly released under a license compatible with GFDL. (For more information, please see "using copyrighted works from others" if you are not the copyright holder of this material, or "donating copyrighted materials" if you are.) For legal reasons, we cannot accept copyrighted text or images borrowed from other web sites or printed material; such additions will be deleted. Contributors may use external websites as a source of information, but not as a source of sentences or phrases. Accordingly, the material may be rewritten, but only if it does not infringe on the copyright of the original or plagiarize from that source. Wikipedia takes copyright violations very seriously, and persistent violators will be blocked from editing. While we appreciate contributions, we must require all contributors to understand and comply with these policies. Thank you. --Moonriddengirl (talk) 01:34, 4 January 2009 (UTC)

What is a 'slave labor wage'?[edit]

I have no doubt that posdocs are not well paid, but is this a meaningful, well-defined term? Or is it an emotional appeal to mean 'low paid'? —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 17:43, 22 March 2011 (UTC) If you follow the link out, one of the subjects of the article stated he made $15000 a year until the university mandated a higher pay. At the 60 hours a week most post-docs work at top end institutions that comes to about $4.80 and hour. That is below minimum wage. —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 06:01, 27 March 2011 (UTC)

I didn't think slaves were paid at all. — Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 21:31, 6 December 2011 (UTC)

Article title[edit]

I don't think that "Postdoctoral research" is an appropriate title for this article, since it is about the position rather than the research itself. I see the point that "Postdoctoral scholar" is mostly used in the humanities. The recent National Academies report uses "Postdoctoral researcher"; perhaps this is a good title? Antony–22 (talkcontribs) 01:22, 24 January 2015 (UTC)

Not sure why the current article name is "inappropriate". To be honest I'd say there is no difference in naming Postdoctoral research or Postdoctoral researcher; both reflect the content accurately as they are intrinsically linked. The problem however with the later can be that we may end up with tautological clumsiness in the lead à la ′A Postdoctoral researcher is a researcher who conducts postdoctoral research.′ Surly we'd like to avoid this. Mootros (talk) 04:44, 24 January 2015 (UTC)
I think it's important to be precise in our article titles. Awkwardness is not inevitable; an alternate lead sentence might be "A postdoctoral researcher is a person conducting academic research after the completion of their doctoral studies as part of a temporary appointment." Antony–22 (talkcontribs) 23:52, 24 January 2015 (UTC)

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