Sigma Xi Postdoc Survey
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The Sigma Xi Postdoc Survey




Executive Summary

Funded by the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation, the Sigma Xi Postdoc Survey was designed to improve the training and research environments for postdocs by providing a better understanding of their experiences.  Survey results are expected to enable research institutions to benchmark their policies and practices against those at peer institutions.

Information has been gathered from 7,600 postdocs on such issues as pay, working hours, benefits and many other factors.  Participating institutions have been sent a summary of responses from their postdocs.

Results and Follow-up

Survey results are now available.

Forum  planned to leverage survey results.

Professionalizing the Postdoc Experience Forum Summary

Important Issues

The survey asks important questions that postdocs and institutions want answered.  Survey topics focus on postdocs' research activities, career goals and perceptions of the policies and practices at their institutions.  Questions were drawn from:

Benchmarks for Success

The online Sigma Xi Postdoc Survey was designed to provide institutions with a rigorously developed instrument delivered in a customizable format.  The survey offered:

  • A well-developed, packaged instrument that allows for local add-on questions,
  • Written and personal support for customization and implementation,
  • Reporting on institutional and national responses,
  • Privacy protection for participating individuals and institutions,
  • An opportunity to compare data with that of peer institutions (permissions required).

Local Control

Sigma Xi made resources available to each institution to survey their postdocs in an efficient and methodologically sound manner.  Through a local survey team, institutions had the opportunity to manage the use of this powerful tool by:

  • Identifying and recruiting participants,
  • Preparing local questions to supplement the core instrument,
  • Planning dissemination of local results to appropriate members of the institution.

Professional Design, Methodological Rigor

Sigma Xi worked with RTI International's survey methodologists to provide:

Valuable Outcomes

Each participating institution will receive a comprehensive report, including:

  • All local results for both globally and locally administered questions,
  • Text for summaries of open-ended questions (within privacy guidelines),
  • Nationally aggregated data for selected questions,
  • Comparisons with selected peer institutions (permissions required),
  • Access to relevant resources for addressing postdoc issues.

Tools and Support

Sigma Xi's software is designed to gather survey responses, track participation rates, send out automated e-mail reminders to non-responders and perform data analysis.  The accompanying toolkit contains:

  • Publicity and marketing materials for encouraging survey participation,
  • Modest financial resources for local survey expenses,
  • Personal administrative support.