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FIGURE HE-9 Median postdoctoral stipend, by field and citizenship status, 2001.

SOURCE: National Science Foundation. Survey of Earned Doctorates 2002. Arlington, VA: National Science Foundation, 2004.

compensation that are commensurate with their skills and contributions to research (see Figure HE-9). Many postdoctoral scholars make substantial economic and familial sacrifices to pursue advanced training, yet they often do not have clearly defined rights, responsibilities, pay scales, access to benefits, or procedures for consideration of grievances.

To ensure a healthy research enterprise, the postdoctoral experience needs to be improved. The federal government should:

  • Develop federal policies and standards for postdoctoral fellows supported on federal research grants, including letters of appointment, performance evaluations, benefits and leave, and stipend support. All postdoctoral scholars should have access to health insurance and to institutional services.12

  • Help develop creative solutions to the problems faced by dual-career couples so that more US students opt to pursue research careers.

  • Improve the quality and quantity of the data on postdoctoral working conditions, prospects, and careers.13 Create standards for and require the submission of demographic information on postdoctoral scholars supported on federal research grants by investigators awarded such grants.


NAS/NAE/IOM. Enhancing the Postdoctorial Experience for Scientists and Engineers. Washington, DC: National Academy Press, 2000.



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