The UC San Francisco Graduate Division, in collaboration with the UCSF Office for Postdoctoral Scholars and the UCSF Office of Career and Professional Development, has published findings and conclusions from a study of postdoctoral career outcomes initiated in 2014. The paper, entitled “Tracking Career Outcomes for Postdoctoral Scholars: A Call to Action,” was published in May in PLOS Biology. Elizabeth Silva, PhD, associate dean of graduate programs, was lead author on the paper.
This is the first comprehensive study of career outcomes for UCSF’s postdoctoral scholars and possibly the largest single-institution study on the subject conducted to date. In addition to presenting data resulting from the study, the article provides recommendations for other institutions and highlights the importance of institutional action in career tracking. From the article abstract:
The oversupply of postdoctoral scholars relative to available faculty positions has led to calls for better assessment of career outcomes. Here, we report the results of a study of postdoctoral outcomes at the University of California, San Francisco, and suggest that institutions have an obligation to determine where their postdoc alumni are employed and to share this information with current and future trainees. Further, we contend that local efforts will be more meaningful than a national survey, because of the great variability in training environment and the classification of postdoctoral scholars among institutions. We provide a framework and methodology that can be adopted by others, with the goal of developing a finely grained portrait of postdoctoral career outcomes across the United States.
This publication is the result of a study the Graduate Division began in early 2014 in response to an ongoing conversation—at UCSF and nationally—on the current and future state of postdoctoral training and career expectations. It is hoped that this study will set a precedent for similar research and reporting on postdoc career outcomes at other institutions nationwide, and promote creative thinking about the postdoc experience. Heeding its own call to action, the Graduate Division is incorporating tracking and reporting of career outcomes for postdocs into its ongoing projects.
Silva’s coauthors on the paper include Christine Des Jarlais, assistant dean for postdocs and career development; Bill Lindstaedt, executive director of Career Advancement, International and Postdoc Services; Erik Rotman, communications coordinator; and Elizabeth Watkins, dean of the Graduate Division, vice chancellor for Student Academic Affairs, and professor of History of Health Sciences.
In photo above, postdocs participate in UCSF's Motivating INformed Decisions (MIND) Program, a career exploration initiative.