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Postdoctoral Scholars Survey

By Keith Smith,2014-01-16 16:18
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Postdoctoral Scholars Survey

University of Massachusetts Amherst Postdoctoral Scholars Survey

    Conducted in August-September 2001

    Note: 34 respondents

    I. Introduction: This survey was designed to identify the needs of postdoctoral

    scholars at UMass Amherst.

    II. Appointment Characteristics

1. What is your academic department?

    Biology 5 (15%)

    Microbiology 5 (15%)

    Biochemistry and Molecular Biology 4 (12%)

    Computer Science 3 ( 9%)

    Polymer Science and Engineering 3 ( 9%)

    Psychology 3 ( 9%)

    Astronomy 2 ( 6%)

    Entomology 2 ( 6%)

    Physics 2 ( 6%)

    Biostatistics and Epidemiology 1 ( 3%)

    Food Science 1 ( 3%)

    Geosciences 1 ( 3%)

    Mechanical and Industrial Engineering 1 ( 3%)

    Natural Resources Conservation 1 ( 3%)

2. What is your current position/title?

    i. visiting research associate = 1

    ii. research assistant = 2

    iii. research associate = 4

    iv. postdoc = 2

    v. postdoctoral research associate = 6

    vi. postdoctoral fellow = 3

    vii. postdoctoral researcher = 3

    viii. postdoctoral associate = 2

    ix. postdoctoral research fellow = 1

    x. postdoctoral research assistant = 1

    xi. senior postdoctoral research associate = 6

    xii. senior research fellow = 1

    xiii. senior postdoctoral associate = 1

    xiv. senior postdoctoral research fellow = 1

3. Is this a full-time or part-time position?

    31 (91%) = full-time

     3 ( 9%) = part-time

    Results of Postdoctoral Scholars Survey September 2001 1

    4. When did your current appointment begin?

    (Note: Dates ranged from October 1995 to June 2001)

    2001 = 5 (15%)

    2000 = 13 (38%)

    1999 = 10 (29%)

    1998 = 3 ( 9%)

    1995 = 1 ( 3%)

    couldn‟t tell from data input = 2 (6%)

    5. What is the scheduled end date of your appointment?

    (Dates ranged from July 31, 2001 to December 2003). i. Summer 2001 = 10

    ii. Winter 2001/2002 = 4 iii. Summer 2002 = 6

    iv. 2002 = 1

    v. Winter 2002/2003 = 1 vi. Summer 2003 = 3

    vii. Winter 2003/2004 = 2 viii. no response = 1

    ix. “don‟t know” or “no scheduled end date” = 6

    Based on answers to this and previous question, the average appointment

    lengths in their current UMass postdoctoral position were as follow:

    (of 27 responses from which the date could be determined)

    <1 yr. = 1 (4%)

    1 yr. = 7 (26%)

    2 yrs. = 8 (30%)

    2? yrs. = 1 (4%)

    3 yrs. = 6 (22%)

    3? yrs. = 2 (7%)

    4 yrs. = 1 (4%)

    7 yrs. = 1 (4%)

30

    25

    20

    15

    10

    5

    0< 1 yr.1 yr.2 yrs.2.5 yrs.3 yrs.3.5 yrs.4 yrs.> 4 yrs.

    Results of Postdoctoral Scholars Survey September 2001 2

6. What is your primary source of funding?

    i. „grant‟ = 8

    ii. NSF = 8

    iii. NIH = 3

    iv. „salary‟ = 2

    v. 1 each for Air Force, Dean RTF, DOE, MOSH, NABIR, NRSA,

    NSF/DOE, NSF/FCRAQ, NSF/NIH, UMass, USFS, and USDA-

    NRI (12 total)

    vi. no response = 1

    7. Is your salary paid directly to you or from funding to your advisor or

    department?

    10 (29%) = directly to me

    23 (68%) = advisor or department

     1 ( 3%) = answered both

    III. Background Information

1. Is this your first postdoctoral appointment?

    30 (88%) = yes

     4 (12%) = no

2. Are you male or female?

    20 (59%) = men

    14 (41%) = women

3. How many years have you been a postdoctoral scholar

    (including any positions before coming to UMass)?

    i. <1 yr. = 6

    ii. 1 yr. = 9

    iii. 1? yrs. = 3

    iv. 2 yrs. = 7

    v. 2? yrs. = 2

    vi. 3 yrs. = 2

    vii. 4 yrs. = 1

    viii. 5 yrs. = 1

    ix. 6 yrs. = 1

    x. 7 yrs. = 1

    xi. no response = 1

4. Have you ever been funded through a grant you wrote while in a

    postdoctoral position at UMass Amherst?

     9 (26%) = yes

    24 (71%) = no

     1 ( 3%) = no response

    Results of Postdoctoral Scholars Survey September 2001 3

    5. What is your residence status in the U.S.?

    17 (50%) = citizens

     7 (21%) = applications pending

     7 (21%) = no response

     3 ( 9%) = permanent

    IV. Postdoc/Advisor Relations

    1. How would you describe your relationship with your advisor?

    21 (62%) = excellent

     8 (24%) = good

    5 (15%) = fair

    0 ( 0%) = poor

    2. In what way have you and your advisor detailed the expectations that s/he

    has of your work, as well as your expectations about him/her as a mentor?

    Note: There were 21 written responses, arranged across a spectrum of no

    discussion to constant discussion…see responses below.

• “none” (2 responses)

    • “I don‟t really feel I have an direct advisor or mentor” (1 response) • “we do not discuss that” or “never formally done,” or “have not really talked about it”

    (3 responses)

    • “we haven‟t had any detailed conservation about expectations of my work or his

    mentoring” (1 response)

    • “we haven‟t really spoken specifically about such things, and initially I did struggle…”

    (answer cut off) (1 response)

    • “discussions during the application process” and “we discussed expectations in detail

    formally before I arrived. We both understand our roles…” (2 responses)

    • “we have discussed the needs and deadlines of the project” (1 response)

    • “detailed in contract, and verbally” (1 response) • “we discussed his clear expectations for my finding my own funding and I discussed

    how best to steer my…” (answer cut off) (1 response) • “we have spoken at length about research plans and standards…” (1 response)

    • “expectations for my work have been detailed via e-mail and verbally in meetings…” (1 response)

    • frequent “conversations” or “discussions” (2 responses) • “we work closely together on analyses. I write and am first author” (1 response)

    “constant and open communication” and “through ongoing detailed conversations” (2

    responses)

    “I am „in charge‟ of an NSF grant to my advisor. He advises me on having my own

    research,…” (answer cut off) (1 response)

Results of Postdoctoral Scholars Survey September 2001 4

    3. What do you consider to be the essential ingredient(s) for a successful

    postdoctoral/advisor experience? Note: 22 people wrote a response to this

    question.

    (Note: the first 9 responses centered on discussion / conversation / and

    communication)

    i. “frequent conservation”

    ii. “good communication”

    iii. “communication and access”

    iv. “good communication of expectations, mutual respect, willingness

    of the advisor to be a mentor.”

    v. “clear communication and openness” vi. “communication, shared expectations, and friendship…”

    vii. “Communication! Keeping each other appraised of changes in

    research, expectations, needs etc. is the…” viii. “reasonable expectations. Hard work. Open

    communication/sharing ideas”

    ix. “regular discussions about work progress, good work

    environment”

    Three other responses addressed issues such as honesty, respect and

    trust…

x. “honesty”

    xi. “respect for each other…”

    xii. “trust”

    Ten more people had a variety of responses ranging from “interest in

    the researcher‟s work” to “furthering researcher‟s career goals”, to

    “autonomy”…

    xiii. “good relationships and many publications…” xiv. “to be interested in work you are doing” xv. “find an advisor who shares one‟s goals, values, expectations, style

    of working, etc.”

    xvi. “that difficult balance between support and independence. My

    mentor is accomplishing that to a….” xvii. “interest in furthering the future career of the post-doc…-not just

    interest in the post-doc as highly trained…” xviii. “collaborate in the generation of the ideas for the investigation

    project in with the postdoc is going to…” xix. “the experience should involve discussion of current topics, an

    active research program and successful…” xx. “autonomy, access to resources, time to write grants and prepare

    for interviews. The advisor should not…” xxi. “mutual and focused enthusiasm in the research”

    Results of Postdoctoral Scholars Survey September 2001 5

    xxii. “our agreement on research standards and our mutual commitment

    to rigorous mathematical foundation…”

    4. Do you meet regularly with your advisor?

    26 (76%) = yes

     8 (24%) = no

    a. If yes, how often do you meet?

    (Of the 26 „yes‟ responses above, they answered this question as follow…)

    i. once a week = 14

    ii. once a month = 5

    iii. every 2-3 months = 0

    iv. no response = 3

    v. other = 4 (answers included: “more than once a week,”

    “once every 1.5 weeks,” “no formal meetings but daily

    discussions as experimental results are obtained,” and

    “advisor is usually available in the lab”).

    5. Has your performance in your current position been evaluated?

     8 (24%) = yes

    26 (76%) = no

    a. If yes, with what frequency is your evaluation conducted? (for

    some reason, 10, instead of the 8 „yes‟ responses noted above,

    responded to this question…)

    i. once a month = 1

    ii. every 2-3 months = 0

    iii. every 6 months = 1

    iv. yearly = 6

    v. other = 2 (saying “continually” and “on-going feedback”).

    6. How frequently would you prefer your performance be evaluated?

    i. once a month = 1

    ii. every 2-3 months = 0

    iii. every 6 months = 7

    iv. yearly = 12

    v. other = 5 (saying “on-going feedback,” “constant

    evaluation,” and two said “every two years”)

    vi. no responses = 9

    Results of Postdoctoral Scholars Survey September 2001 6

    7. What did you think about the evaluation process? (8 total responses)

    i. “it is adequate” or “quite sufficient” (3 responses)

    ii. “not evaluated yet”

    iii. “although I haven‟t had a formal evaluation to my

    knowledge, my advisor put some positive words in

    a…”(print out of response was cut off)

    iv. “N/A” (2 responses)

    v. “evaluation is informal but direct. We celebrate success

    (i.e. publications, clean results, etc.) and critique…” (print

    out of response was cut off)

    8. To whom do (or would) you go to if you had concerns regarding your

    advisor? (Note: 22 responses)

    i. there is no place or person to go to = 2

    ii. don‟t know or unsure = 7

    iii. department chair or department head = 4

    iv. other faculty = 2

    v. graduate advisor and other department faculty = 1

    vi. advisor‟s colleagues = 1

    vii. advisor = 4

    viii. advisor first, and if still unresolved, then go to someone at

    the university level = 1

    9. Have you ever had a conflict in your current workplace?

     7 (21%) = yes

    26 (76%) = no

     1 ( 3%) = no response

    a. If so, how did you resolve it?

    (The seven “yes” responses were detailed as follow):

    i. “talked it out between us (it was with a co-worker)

    ii. “argue it out, discuss with other people (for alternative

    perspectives)

    iii. “be quiet and wait for someone else to have a worse

    conflict, then mine was…(printout of answer was cut off)”

    iv. “the people involved left of their own accord”

    v. “they left”

    vi. “currently unresolved”

    vii. “it has yet to be resolved”

    10. Do you feel that your advisor has a realistic view of the job market that

    you will eventually enter into?

    29 (85%) = no

     2 ( 6%) = yes

     3 ( 9%) = no responses

    Results of Postdoctoral Scholars Survey September 2001 7

11. Other Postdoctoral Matters

    a. Have you had any experience teaching while working as a

    postdoctoral scholar?

     22 (65%) = no

     10 (29%) = yes

     2 ( 6%) = no responses

    b. Have you had the opportunity to mentor others?

     22 (65%) = yes

     10 (29%) = no

     2 ( 6%) = no responses

25

    20

    15teaching

    10mentoring

    5

    0yesnonon-res

12. What type of career are you interested in pursuing?

    i. (university/college) education = 7 responses (including

    “professor at a four-year private liberal arts college”)

    ii. academics = 4 responses (including “university faculty”)

    iii. research = 4

    iv. education/research = 5 (including “research and teaching in

    doctoral program” and “teaching with a small amount of

    research” and “research/teaching in a collegiate

    environment”)

    v. academic/research = 2

    vi. government research = 1

    vii. government/academic research = 1

    viii. private industry = 2

    ix. private industry/education = 1

    x. biotechnology = 4

    xi. policy = 1

    xii. no responses = 2

    Results of Postdoctoral Scholars Survey September 2001 8

b. What is your perception of the current job market in your field?

    excellent = 0, good = 9, fair = 20, poor = 4, no response = 1

0 ( 0%) = excellent

     9 (26%) = good

    20 (59%) = fair

     4 (12%) = poor

     1 ( 3%) = no response

    13. Benefits and Related Aspects of Postdoctoral Positions

    a. What are your current (2001) gross annual earnings, before any

    deductions, from UMass?

     1 ( 3%) = < $10,000

     5 (15%) = $10,000-$25,000

    23 (68%) = $25,000-$40,000

     2 ( 6%) = $40,000-$55,000

     2 ( 6%) = > $55,000

     1 ( 3%) = no response

b. Are you satisfied with your overall benefits package from UMass?

    20 (59%) = yes

    12 (35%) = no

     2 ( 6%) = no responses

c. If not, please elaborate.

    (Note: 19 of the 20 „no‟ responses above responded…)

    i. no (or „what‟) benefits (?) = 10 responses (including one

    comment which added, “made a trade off between a

    reasonable salary or health benefits,” another comment was

    that, “we are allowed to buy into the student health plan

    which is minimal…”)

    ii. “…when I was offered the job I was informed that health

    insurance would be provided…” (answer cut off…but

    inference is that once s/he arrived at UMass, they did not

    end up getting the health insurance that they were promised)

    = 1 response

    iii. “need a good health insurance with cheap price” = 1

    response

    iv. lack dental and eye care = 1 response

    v. no option to obtain dental or life insurance, nor disability

    coverage = 1 response

    vi. current health insurance is inadequate for somebody w/ a

    chronic condition (like diabetes) = 1 response

    vii. inadequate salaries = 2 responses (one comment was,

    “…happy with health insurance but salaries are terribly

    Results of Postdoctoral Scholars Survey September 2001 9

    inadequate” and the other said “the salary is not

    comparable with the expenditure in Amherst, including rent,

    food, etc…”) viii. no retirement fund (e.g., TIAA-CREF) = 1 response

    ix. “I would like to have an office that would help with the

    different possibilities of a postdoc…” = 1 response

    d. Indicate the two most important issues in each category below:

    (Note: Each category should have had a maximum of 68 responses, 34

    respondents x 2, however in some cases, some people only made one

    selection).

    i. Benefits Issues

    1. dental insurance = 26 (38%) (issue 1)

    2. non-responses = 18 (26%)

    3. child care = 12 (18%) (issue 2)

    4. parking on campus = 6 (9%) (issue 3)

    5. maternity/paternity leave = 4 (6%)

    6. pass for athletic facilities = 2 (3%)

    7. retirement = 0 (0%)

ii. Professional Development Issues

    1. grant writing = 18 (26%) (issue 1)

    2. future job referrals and placement = 14 (21%)

    (issue 2)

    3. employment opportunities = 13 (19%) (issue 3)

    4. funding for research = 10 (15%)

    5. teaching experience = 9 (13%)

    6. presentation skills = 3 (4%)

    7. financial aid = 1 (1%)

iii. Work Place Issues

    1. access to academic resource and facilities = 21

    (31%) (issue 1)

    2. conditions of your work environment = 21 (31%)

    (issue 2)

    3. responsibility/autonomy level = 15 (22%)

     (issue 3)

    4. non-responses = 6 (9%)

    5. safety = 3 (4%)

    6. English language skills = 2 (3%)

    7. intellectual property rights = 0 (0%)

iv. Personal Issues

    1. housing = 18 (26%) (issue 1)

    2. immigration and visa = 14 (21%) (issue 2)

    3. taxes = 11 (16%) (issue 3)

    Results of Postdoctoral Scholars Survey September 2001 10

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