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National Research Council (US) An Assessment of Research-Doctorate Programs: Panel on the Biomedical Sciences; Lorden JF, Kuh CV, Voytuk JA, editors. Research-Doctorate Programs in the Biomedical Sciences: Selected Findings from the NRC Assessment. Washington (DC): National Academies Press (US); 2011.

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Research-Doctorate Programs in the Biomedical Sciences: Selected Findings from the NRC Assessment.

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7Postdoctoral Scholars: An Extension of the Data

Although the program survey and the faculty survey for the Assessment collected data on postdoctoral scholars, these data have yet to be analyzed. This section reports on some initial findings.1 First, and not surprisingly, most faculty members in every biomedical science field have spent time as postdoctoral scholars. This is shown in Table 7-1.

TABLE 7-1. Percent of Faculty with Postdoctoral Study by Field.

TABLE 7-1

Percent of Faculty with Postdoctoral Study by Field.

Postdoctoral experience is slightly less prevalent in biomedical engineering and bioengineering and in nutrition, which are not viewed traditionally as core fields in the biological sciences. Table 7-2 shows, however, that postdoctoral experience is age dependent. Older faculty have a smaller percentage of people with postdoctoral experience than more recent cohorts. For the 1990s cohorts, all fields, except for biomedical engineering and bioengineering and nutrition, are over or near 90 percent. The data for the most recent period, 2000 to 2006, is not a good indicator of postdoctoral training, since many of those in this cohort who will eventually take faculty positions have not yet completed their postdoctoral training.

TABLE 7-2. Percent of Faculty with Postdoctorates by Field and Decade of Doctorate Receipt.

TABLE 7-2

Percent of Faculty with Postdoctorates by Field and Decade of Doctorate Receipt.

The next tables provide information from the program survey about postdoctorates in 2005–2006. From Table 7-3, it is apparent that postdoctorates are concentrated in the largest programs. Further, as can be seen in Table 7-4, they are concentrated in the programs that are in the top two quartiles for research activity.

TABLE 7-3. Average Number of Postdoctoral Fellows in Programs by Field and Size of Programs Based on Student Enrollment.

TABLE 7-3

Average Number of Postdoctoral Fellows in Programs by Field and Size of Programs Based on Student Enrollment.

TABLE 7-4. Average Number of Postdoctoral Fellows in Programs by Field and Research Quality of Programs.

TABLE 7-4

Average Number of Postdoctoral Fellows in Programs by Field and Research Quality of Programs.

The largest numbers of postdoctorates are being trained in, and presumably are contributing to, the most productive research environments. It would be interesting to understand more about the effect of postdoctorates on the training environment for graduate students.

Footnotes

1

Copies of the Program Questionnaire and Faculty Questionnaire can be found in Appendix D of the Assessment.

Copyright © 2011, National Academy of Sciences.
Bookshelf ID: NBK82485

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