Improving the Postdoctoral Experience An Empirical Approach

Geoff Davis

in Science and Engineering Careers in the United States

Published by University of Chicago Press

Published in print July 2009 | ISBN: 9780226261898
Published online February 2013 | e-ISBN: 9780226261904 | DOI:
Improving the Postdoctoral Experience An Empirical Approach

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  • Econometrics and Mathematical Economics


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The population of postdoctoral researchers in science and engineering has undergone a large expansion, nearly tripling over the last thirty years. While these scientists have produced tremendous quantities of new research, the relatively rapid growth in their ranks has been accompanied by two problems. First, the increase in the supply of postdocs has not been accompanied by a commensurate increase in the demand for them, at least in the academic sector. Second, large postdoctoral populations on campuses have strained institutions' capacities for providing these researchers with basic administrative oversight. Each of these recommended measures comes at a cost, so assessing their relative benefits is important if institutions are to allocate their resources efficiently. This chapter develops such an assessment. Linear models are used to isolate the effects of specific measures on outcomes using data from a large-scale survey of postdocs. The results are striking: a handful of straightforward and relatively inexpensive measures appear to make a large difference in postdoc productivity and in the overall quality of the postdoctoral experience.

Keywords: sciences; engineering; United States; postdoctoral experiences

Chapter.  11173 words.  Illustrated.

Subjects: Econometrics and Mathematical Economics

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