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postdocs -- ask your mentor

Fri Aug 15 10:12:52 EST 1997

(large snip of Judith's post and most of Alice's reply)

>So then once again, they get this intensive training in a field 
>unlike the one they have already been trained in, and are supposed to 
>publications out sufficient for a job search after say, one year?  
>> 3. "Additional solutions are obvious, and are left to the reader as 
>> exercise."  ;)
>> (NOTE:  I mean the above as an approach to the problem of postdocs
>> in general.  I realize full well that for any individual postdoc, 
>> batting around imaginary solutions like this may seem trivial 
>> to the more immediate problem of no money in the wallet.)
>So on the whole, I respect your respect for the institution as it 
>be in theory, Judith.  But practically, what we have is almost a
>REQUIREMENT for a longer post-doc, in part because the job market HAS
>gotten more competitive and it requires longer periods of time to 
>competitive for a job search.  My bottom line all along has been that
>post-docs should be paid a decent salary.  And quibbling over whether 
>not to call it a salary or a stipend is nothing but semantics.  
>that people change the way they THINK about their post-docs doesn't in 
>least improve a bad situation.  I would be willing to bet that 
>post-doc salaries would do nothing but improve the situation on all
>Please note that i am not arguing for significantly shorter post-docs.  
>think there is a reason for longer psot-docs.  I also believe that
>psot-docs ARE periods of training.  But I think it is only sensible 
>post-docs be reasonably paid for their labor.
>                              Alice

When I first read Judith's post, I thought it was great.  But then when 
I read Alice's reply, she makes a very good point.  Example:Texas A&M is 
a research institution and a decent one, but it certainly isn't Harvard 
or Stanford.  But in our last job search (last year) all of the 
interviewed candidates (there were over 150 applicants for each position 
is the scuttlebutt I heard) had 4-5 years of post-doc with 4-6 papers, 
many in journals like Cell and Science, during that time.  There is no 
way way that a 2 year traineeship in a field or skill new to you is 
going to produce that kind of CV.  So if everyone was on a level playing 
ground and we all had short post-docs, it wouldn't be a problem.  But 
given the glut of 5+ year postdocs on the market, I think it would take 
a good 10 years to "clear the playing field".  

Does this make sense? (my caffeine has not kicked in yet)  Anyone have 
an interim solution?

Julia Frugoli
Dartmouth College

visiting grad student at
Texas A&M University
Department of Biological Sciences
College Station, TX 77843
FAX 409-847-8805

"Evil is best defined as militant ignorance."
																										Dr. M. Scott Peck

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