Report Makes Recommendations to Help Early Career Researchers

January 02, 2018

Media Contact
Julie Fabsik Swarts
Executive Director
National Postdoctoral Association
(610) 574-7725

Postdoc Survey CoverRESEARCH TRIANGLE PARK, N.C.— Researchers across the United States are searching for answers that will benefit society—the next breakthrough in cancer treatment, ways to bring humans to Mars, or how to improve access to education. A portion of this work is done by early career researchers called postdocs—individuals who have doctoral degrees and are working in temporary positions while they learn the skills they will need to pursue their career goals.

A new report from the National Postdoctoral Association (NPA) in collaboration with Sigma Xi, The Scientific Research Honor Society seeks to improve the postdoc experience. It will be published as a supplement to the January–February 2018 issue of Sigma Xi’s magazine, American Scientist, and has been posted online at

Supporting the Needs of Postdocs: 2017 National Postdoctoral Association Institutional Policy Report  summarizes the results from a 2016 survey of 130 institutions that hire postdocs and hold NPA membership. 

The report’s key recommendations are that institutions that hire postdocs should increase the staff and budget for their offices that handle postdoc affairs, provide higher compensation and equality in benefits, increase parental leave policies and family-friendly benefits, and implement more tracking of postdocs after they leave an institution. 

“Improvements have been made in the postdoc experience,” notes Kate Sleeth, chair of the NPA Board of Directors. “However, there are still areas for growth. The NPA is committed to providing guidance and resources to our membership and advocating at the national level to ensure that improvements continue to be made.”

The report also received support from The Burroughs Wellcome Fund and Elsevier. It is an update to a 2014 report and builds on data from a 2005 report by Sigma Xi, the NPA, and others. 

The January–February edition of American Scientist,  published by Sigma Xi, will be sold at Barnes & Noble and newsstand locations starting January 9.

More About Sigma Xi: Sigma Xi, The Scientific Research Honor Society is the world’s largest multidisciplinary honor society for scientists and engineers. Its mission is to enhance the health of the research enterprise, foster integrity in science and engineering, and promote the public understanding of science for the purpose of improving the human condition. Sigma Xi chapters can be found at colleges and universities, government laboratories, and industry research centers around the world. More than 200 Nobel Prize winners have been members. The Society is based in Research Triangle Park, North Carolina. On Twitter: @SigmaXiSociety