postdocs -- ask your mentor

Judith Gibber jrg43 at
Thu Aug 14 13:08:30 EST 1997

On Wed, 13 Aug 1997, aloisia schmid wrote:

>     I disagree.  i don't think any of us see our post-docs as low-paid entry 
> level jobs.  Far from it.  It is all too clear these are jobs with NO

My point was that postdocs were never intended as "jobs" at all.
They were intended as short-term training periods, accompanied by 
stipends, which are always lower than the salary a job would pay.

> The days of Linus
> Pauling and James Watson ARE long gone,

But the days of postdoc-as-training are not LONG gone.  Gone for maybe
the last ten years, maximum.  For the previous 90 years, that's exactly 
what a postdoc was, a way to get additional experience in a new
field/technique/way of thinking.  In light of this, I found Bart's
assumption that "a postdoc should not be and is not a training period"
puzzling.  It SHOULD be.  If it's not working out that way, you should
rage, rage against the dying of the traineeship.

>      What I think we all find so appalling is that we are expected to
> continue to train and train with so little MONEY!  

I'm right behind you on that.  It's awful that the scientific enterprise
is in such a state that people are compelled to spend years as low-paid
postdocs because there are too few jobs available.  I just think that some
historical perspective on how the situation developed would be useful,
and might help direct efforts to try to remedy it.

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