What are the goals of the National Postdoc Survey (NPS)?

To broadly survey postdocs across all academic disciplines, and identify key issues affecting postdocs nationwide.

Who are postdocs?

We broadly define ‘postdoc’ as encompassing classical postdoctoral research fellows and scholars, as well as others beyond doctoral work, including research associate/assistant professors and research professionals (and any others working in scientific training or temporary positions, post PhD).

What motivated creation of the NPS?

There remains an acute need for data focused on the postdoctoral population.  The NPS was conceived and developed by postdocs to address this need.  By providing national postdoc survey data from across the US, we hope to stimulate further dialogue about the current status of the postdoctoral experience, and any changes that may need to be made at the institutional and national levels.

What incentives are you providing postdocs to take the survey?

Postdocs who complete the survey are eligible to participate in a drawing for $200 travel awards, if they choose to leave contact information in a separate form (not linked to their survey responses).

All postdoc data remains anonymous- we do not link postdoc responses to any personal data.  This anonymity incentivizes postdocs to remain more open and candid about their experiences.

How is the NPS different from other surveys of postdocs?

This survey was designed from a postdoc perspective, and is based on over 15 years of experience surveying postdocs at the University of Chicago.  We chose questions that highlight essential aspects of the postdoctoral experience, including mentoring, career development, plans, and quality of life.

By combining postdoc data across many institutions, the larger statistical power can help document additional issues facing postdocs that might be missed in single institution surveys.  Therefore, the NPS will benefit from high postdoc participation nationwide.

Also, NPS is designed for all postdocs, independent of academic discipline.  We hope that this will encourage all postdocs to come together to share their unique experiences.

How will the NPS data be used?

We are analyzing these data using multivariate statistical methods, and plan to publish our findings for postdocs nationwide in order to promote dialogue within the postdoctoral community and with policy makers.

To encourage additional dissemination, institution-specific summary results will be provided upon request to all institutions with at least 50 postdoc respondents.  These institution-specific summary results will be ideal for making comparisons with the national benchmarks.   A minimum threshold of 50 respondents helps to preserve postdoc anonymity, but all postdoc data will contribute to the results.

If an institution can provide their postdocs a link to participate in NPS, we will be happy to provide summary survey data aggregated from peer institutions, regardless of the number of institution-specific respondents.