Sigma Xi Postdoc Survey
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Overview

Survey questions will address aspects of the postdoctoral experience that are directly observable by postdocs, and will consist of a combination of multiple choice and free response questions. The core of the survey will focus on educational and employment practices affecting postdocs. We will work with the National Postdoc Association (NPA) and the Postdoc Network at Science's Next Wave to assemble a set of questions that assess implementation of recommended postdoctoral practices as outlined in the AAU report and the NAS guide. For example, a section on mentoring might ask questions about the quantity of time spent with an advisor, the process by which expectations for the postdoctoral position were established, the frequency of formal reviews, mechanisms for establishing authorship of cooperative work and satisfaction with the mentoring received.

The Postdoc Network is constructing a "survey of postdoc surveys," basically an amalgamation of the best questions from existing postdoc association surveys, and we will use this as our starting point. We will work with postdoc associations, deans, funding agencies and researchers, including our advisors, to determine additional question areas to ensure that the interests of all potential users and beneficiaries are addressed. Such additional areas will most likely include information on career paths, how postdocs found their current jobs, issues pertaining to international postdocs and quality of life issues such as the availability of child care and affordable housing. A final section will ask about the perceived value the respondent is receiving from his or her postdoctoral appointment.

Participating postdoctoral associations, institutions and programs will be able to add a limited number of additional, locally-administered questions as an incentive for participation. The responses to these local questions will be provided only to the association / institution / program in question and should provide an opportunity for institutions to get frank but private feedback in a low-risk manner.

Survey research professionals at the Research Triangle Institute (RTI) will define, edit, refine and help to test all globally administered questions to create the final survey instrument. The wording and testing of locally administered questions will be the responsibility of the parties submitting the questions.