Postdocs: How to reform system ? (fwd)

Lee Vogel vogel at
Fri Mar 15 10:24:39 EST 1996

Subject: Re: Postdocs: How to reform system ? (fwd)

In article eddy at (Sean Eddy) writes:

>NIH. Human Frontiers. Damon/Runyon. Whitney Foundation. DOE.
>Burroughs/Wellcome. And so on. Many postdocs are already paid
>independently. What's the new idea?

Indepedently paid Postdocs from foundations like the above represent the 
tiny minority or a large highly skilled work force that is currently 
being exploited. The "new idea" is to reduce the grant funding of 
postdocs and perhaps increase the independent funding. I say, "perhaps 
increase" because without reducing the numbers of acutal postdocs the 
overall problem of oversupply is not being addressed.

The current situation in France appears to be a predominace of 
independently funded postdocs. The general problem of oversupply remains 
however, because it is relatively easy to get bursaries for the 
"training" of PhD students. After the thesis many of these "students" do 
there postdocs abroad before starting the increasingly futile search for 
"a real job" in France. 

Another issue that needs to be addressed in the discussion of postdoc 
reform is the idea of position status for tax and other adminitrative 
puroposes. Currently the Postdoc is a sort of nowhere position, in 
between "real job" and "student". Bear in mind that in the current 
situation of an average of two successive postdocs, this period can last 
7 yrs +. Depending on where you are, a Postdoc "salary" may or maynot be 
taxable, generally it is. However, postdocs generally are not entitled to 
any social benefits. One expostdoc. that I know here in France, who has 
recently joined the unemployment line-up, has no rights to utilise 
government sponsored retraining programs, unemployment insurance, etc. 
because he is not considered as being "previously employed". 

Yes I am all for reforms which will reduce or eliminate the use of cheap 
research labor in the future. I would also like to see some legislation 
that could immediately ameliorate the current level of exploitation. 

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