Sigma Xi Postdoc Survey
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Expectations and Outcomes

Questions about the expectations a postdoc had when seeking her current postdoc and about her goals for her current postdoc.

  1. [Duke] Importance of various factors in choosing CURRENT position:
    • Salary
    • Benefits
    • Duration of position
    • Location of position
    • Reputation / quality of the PI
    • Reputation / quality of the department / school
    • Reputation / quality of the institution
    • Opportunity to collaborate with researchers other than the PI in same field
    • Opportunity to collaborate with researchers other than the PI in other fields
    • Opportunity to work independently
    • Opportunity to receive close supervision
    • Opportunity to receive formal training
    • Facilities / equipment / laboratory
    • Prospect of US citizenship / residency
    • Prospect of making contacts in industry
    • Opportunity to continue work in my field
    • Opportunity to change fields
    • Couldn’t get the type of job I wanted
  2. [Baylor] Do you wish to pursue a career in the US if possible?
  3. [Baylor] Do you plan to pursue a career in scientific research?
  4. [Baylor] What are your employment objectives after your postdoc?  Please rank up to 3 choices in order with “1” being your top choice:
    • Industry [ ] 1 / [ ] 2 / [ ] 3
    • Government research
    • Academia
    • Non-profit organization
    • Scientific publishing
    • Health or technology policy
    • Finance / venture capital
    • Intellectual property / patent law
    • Other (specify)
  5. [UC Davis] What were the reasons for taking your FIRST postdoctoral appointment?
    • To obtain additional research experience in your doctoral field
    • To work with a particular scientist or research group
    • To switch into a different field of research
    • Couldn’t obtain type of employment position you wanted
    • Other reason (specify) ___
  6. [Duke] How would you rate the usefulness of your postdoc experience at [university] in the pursuit of your career goals?
    • Not useful (1) to Very Useful (5)
  7. [Medical College of Georgia] Which of the following best describes your immediate career plans?
    • Not actively seeking new position
    • Actively seeking new position because present position terminates shortly
    • Actively seeking new position because of dissatisfaction with present position
    • Other (specify)
  8. [U Chicago] What were the reasons for taking your FIRST postdoctoral appointment?  (check all that apply)
    • To obtain additional research experience in your doctoral field
    • To work with a particular scientist of research group
    • To obtain research experience in a different field of research
    • Couldn’t obtain type of employment position you wanted
    • Other, please specify
  9. [U Chicago] Do you wish to pursue a career in the U.S. if possible?
    • Yes
    • No
    • Don’t know, not sure
  10. [U Chicago] Which of the following best describes your immediate career plans?
    • Not actively seeking new position
    • Actively seeking new position because present position terminates shortly
    • Actively seeking new position because of dissatisfaction with present position
    • Actively seeking new position because it is time to move to the next stage of my career
    • I have already found a permanent position
    • Other, please specify
  11. [UNC – suggested for future surveys] How many grant applications do you write per year?
  12. [Duke] How would you rate the usefulness of your postdoc experience at [university] in the pursuit of your career goals?
    • Not useful (1) to Very Useful (5)
  13. [UNC – suggested for future surveys] How many grant applications do you write per year?
  14. [Mass General Hospital] In the last 3 years, how many articles have you published in peer reviewed journals? None / _____ articles
  15. [Mass General Hospital]  Of the articles that you published in peer reviewed journals in the last 3 years, of how many were first or last author?  None / _____ articles
  16. [Mass General Hospital] How many hours in a typical week do you work …
    • … on research activities?  ___ hours
    • … on other professional activities?  ___ hours
  17. [Hopkins] What is your stress level? 
    • Very low / low / moderate / high / very high
  18. [Case Western] How many hours do you work per week?
  19. [Case Western] How satisfied are you with your postdoctoral experience?  1-7
  20. [Baylor] Number of papers you have written during your postdoc?
  21. [MGH survey] To what extent do you feel you are a valued member of…
    • …the [university] community?  To a great extent / To some extent / Very little / Not at all
    • …your laboratory or unit?
    • …your department?
    • …[school]?  [e.g. Harvard Medical School]
  22. [UNC] How could your postdoc experience at [university] be improved?
  23. [Duke] How satisfied are you with the quality of your [university] postdoc training?
    • Extremely unsatisfied (1) to Extremely satisfied (5)
  24. [Duke] If you are not satisfied, what area of training would you like to see improved?  ____ ***
    • [top responses from Duke survey]
    • Writing papers and grants, publishing #1
    • Advancement of skills and career goals
    • Interacting or collaborating with other campus researchers
    • Encouragement and feedback on work, progress, career development
    • Research productivity and direction
    • Mentoring (by PI or other faculty)
    • Training in professional development
    • Communication with PI           
    • More time for my own work (vs. helping / finishing work of others)
    • Teaching opportunities and mentoring (course design, etc)
    • Longer period of employment
    • Presenting research
    • Administrative office for assisting with postdoc issues
  25. [Duke] Would you encourage a prospective postdoc considering a position in your lab at [university]?
    • Yes / No / Not sure
  26. [Duke] What is your main reason for either encouraging or discouraging a prospective postdoc?  ***
    • [top answers from Duke survey]
    • Collegial and intellectually stimulating atmosphere
    • Availability of interesting research projects
    • PI a good mentor
    • Good facilities
    • One of leading groups in field
    • Excellent university resources including collaborations
    • Freedom and independence
    • PI well funded
    • Light teaching loads
    • PI/Group is family friendly
    • Quality of graduate and undergraduate students
    • If person motivated can work independently with little supervision
    • Atmosphere competitive
    • Lack of scientific interaction with PI           
    • Poor group management
    • Inadequate facilities and/or training
    • Lack of freedom
    • Availability of more nurturing groups / PI
    • Creativity and knowledge not valued as much as politics
    • [city] not a good area to live
    • Unsatisfying work environment
    • Pay rate lower than average in the field
  27. [Duke] What is the single most important improvement you would like made in your postdoctoral experience at [university]?  ___ ***
    • [Top responses from Duke survey]
    • * Increase pay
    • * Freedom / time to conduct own research / independence
    • Better results / more publications
    • Career counseling and/or placement
    • Standardize benefits regardless of funding source
    • Foster more interaction between postdocs
    • Increase interaction between labs/departments
    • Enhance childcare
    • Improve parking conditions
    • Improve writing and speaking skills
    • Information database for new/current postdocs
    • Mentorship (PI or otherwise)
    • Networking
    • Official and/or fair review of performance
    • Paid parental leave (natural and adoptive)
    • Training – mentorship, management, teaching
    • Better representation in departmental affairs
    • Career workshops
    • Improve research skills
    • Improved lab management
    • Increased benefits
    • Longer period of employment
    • More faculty in area of specialty
    • More respect
    • More responsibility
    • Office space
    • Postdoc/PI mediation
    • Recognition / respect from PI
    • Standardize pay for all postdocs
    • Time management skills
    • Working research group
  28. [Hopkins exit survey] Would you come to [university] again?  If not, why?
  29. [Stanford] Please rate the following reasons for either encouraging or discouraging a prospective postdoc from coming to (fill university)
  30. World-renowned institution
    • Encourage, very important
    • Encourage, somewhat important
    • Encourage, not important
    • Discourage, very important
    • Discourage, somewhat important
    • Discourage, not important
  31. Cost of living
    • Encourage, very important
    • Encourage, somewhat important
    • Encourage, not important
    • Discourage, very important
    • Discourage, somewhat important
    • Discourage, not important
  32. Research quality
    • Encourage, very important
    • Encourage, somewhat important
    • Encourage, not important
    • Discourage, very important
    • Discourage, somewhat important
    • Discourage, not important
  33. Salaries/benefits
    • Encourage, very important
    • Encourage, somewhat important
    • Encourage, not important
    • Discourage, very important
    • Discourage, somewhat important
    • Discourage, not important
  34. Area housing
    • Encourage, very important
    • Encourage, somewhat important
    • Encourage, not important
    • Discourage, very important
    • Discourage, somewhat important
    • Discourage, not important

Surveys cited