Careers: the 2014 Australian Postdoctoral Reference Survey is open

Maggie Hardy, University of Queensland

Within the research community, post-PhD career plans can include positions in academia, industry and government agencies. More commonly, graduates are moving into careers altogether outside research, such as patent attorneys.

From October to December 2013, the forum ran a pilot program to survey Australian postdoctoral researchers (PDRs). In the process of pulling together a collection of policies from across the country that have been shown to support the career pathway of PDRs for the Best Practices for Postdoctoral Progress document, the forum realised little was known about the environment for Australian PDRs, in contrast to work done in the USA (for both PDRs and supervisors) and the UK (again, for researchers and supervisors).

The pilot survey showed that PDRs are passionate about their work and most want to stay in research for the remainder of their careers. The three most common requests by PDR survey respondents were for help to:

  1. develop a career plan
  2. increase professional development (through external and internal schemes)
  3. enhance outreach and science communication outputs.

Building from the data in the pilot survey, the forum has prepared a modified survey for 2014. Significant revision has been made to streamline the survey questions and make the answers easier to quantify. The second Australian Postdoctoral Reference Survey is now open and will run to 31 January 2015.

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