An important project deliverable will be a set of survey materials, including the instrument text, promotional and instructional materials, a written description of the survey's methods, a written description of the procedures used to analyze the results, the source code for the software used to conduct the survey and present the results and a written evaluation of the process. Once the broad-based survey has been administered and the results reported, it is our goal to make these tools (listed below, with details following) accessible to potential individual or institutional users and to promote their use through Sigma Xi chapters.
- Questions: We will develop a common set of survey questions in consultation with postdoc offices, associations and educational leaders. The core questions will assess implementation of the recommendations of recent reports on postdocs from the National Academies and the AAU. Organizations will be able to add additional questions to address issues of local interest.
- Software: We will create and administer Web software that will gather survey responses, track participation rates, send out automated e-mail reminders to non-responders, and perform data analysis.
- Methodology: We will work with survey research specialists to develop a range of data collection methods suited to implementation by offices and associations with a wide range of resources.
- Publicity Materials: We will provide announcements, fliers, and other promotional materials (both paper and electronic) to help organizations get the word out to postdocs at their institutions. We will offer support for incentives for postdocs to complete a survey (such as entry into a lottery for cash prizes). We will create a mailing list of local survey administrators to enable them to exchange ideas and advice. Cooperating organizations, including Science's Next Wave and The Scientist, will help provide publicity.
- Coordination: We will have a staff member on hand to help coordinate local surveys and to answer questions from respondents and local survey administrators. We will provide a suggested timetable for participating organizations and will offer regular reminders and support.
- Resources: We will provide each participating organization with modest financial resources to cover survey-related expenses. Funds can be used for such things as postage, the cost of temporary help to stuff envelopes, gatherings of postdocs to promote the project, and so on. Sigma Xi chapters in participating institutions will be encouraged to support the project by helping with promotion, dissemination, funding and building institutional support.
- Analysis: We will work with survey professionals to analyze survey results and will provide participating organizations with a set of detailed reports. We will provide cross-institutional comparisons where appropriate. Sample reports will be included up front.
- Dissemination: We will work with the National Postdoc Association to develop supplementary materials to help organizations make the most effective use of their survey results. Survey responses will be linked to materials from a database of postdoc policies and practices that is being jointly developed by Science's Next Wave and Sigma Xi. Again, Sigma Xi chapters offer strong resources for supporting the dissemination of results and Sigma Xi will design program suggestions to help chapters to highlight the results through workshops, discussions or sponsorship of meetings with administrators and postdoc representatives.