Research-and careers therein-rarely follows a linear path. Instead, it is often a long and winding road. These are stories about science and my personal experiences on this road.
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Monday, I asked you to weigh in on how postdocs are classified at your institutions--employees, contractors, trainees? Thanks to those who have voted so far. If you haven't, do that after you vote on this new poll
I was surprised that 25% of respondents thus far have indicated that postdocs are classified as employees with full benefits. Several people left comments, expanding on postdoc categories and how they can vary within the same institution.
An equally important question is whether governing guidelines exist for postdocs. Is there any document that details rights, responsibilities, and expectations for postdocs--and recourse when those are not met? For instance, is it written anywhere that you can be terminated without cause with no notice, or is your supervisor required to give you 90 days warning before booting you out of the lab? This brings us to today's poll question:
As before, since many people have gone through multiple institutions and might be familiar with circumstances at each one, repeat voting (so you can cast one for each institution with which you're familiar) will be allowed.
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I'm somewhere in between the 2nd and 3rd answers... We have a policy that was written up for the postdocs when our postdoc office was begun. It was originally a fairly detailed policy, but it was eventually beaten into a much shorter and vaguer paragraph before it was approved.
We probably do have a policy but it was never given to me. This university is terrible about informaing people about anything. Actually, the administration here is the worst I've ever dealt with.
I have absolutely no idea. I've been very lucky to always have had great benefits, so I never felt compelled to look into it.
I'm also wondering why your poll is decorated with bombs and machetes and whatnot?
What? Do you not think its apropos, Dr. Becca?
Re: not knowing about policies, I think many people don't think about them, whether they even exist, until there's a problem. Even then, with the environment often seen in academia, I doubt most even stop to think about whether there are any policies in place to protect them; they just think you're supposed to figure it out on your own.
Re: not knowing about policies, I think many people don't think about them, whether they even exist, until there's a problem.
The only reason I know about ours is that I sat in on some of the meetings where this was being dealt with. I doubt more than 5 or so postdocs at our institution are aware of the policy. For those who want to find out, I bet your postdoc office would know, if there is one.
Yes! Find your postdoc office. Ours has a PDF of guidelines posted online. It's not something that I was explicitly told about before/upon joining a lab, but it was reasonably easy to find.
For those who answered "don't know", find out! Sure, there is a great deal of autonomy in labs, but you should find out what your rights (and responsibilities) are from the institution's standpoint. Hopefully, you'll never need to use them, but better to know them before there's a problem.
We have a set of postdoc guidelines available online, but it's pretty vague. I looked into all of this when I was actually thinking of leaving my current job, I wanted to know the converse situation, whether I had to give a specific amount of notice to my supervisor. It wasn't particularly helpful in answering my specific questions and it turns out that the guidelines really are that wishy washy. But we have a new postdoc union now and they have done a lot to ensuring that a lot of this kind of stuff is hashed out and postdocs are more aware of their rights.
You can ask... but I might not answer j/k
I wrote a couple of posts about the postdoc entity and associated issues. One thing I knew before I started writing is that policies and classifications of postdocs vary widely between, and even within, institutions. And this is a theme that keeps coming up in the comments. I was curious about the distribution of readers/readers' institutions. Further, this question in particular is to get people--especially grad students and new postdocs--to thinking about such things. Plus it provides a point of reference for previous and future posts.
all expectations and guidelines at my first postdoc were essentially up to the whims... er... well yeah, we'll leave it at "whims"... of my supervisor.
there is not an extensive literature at my current post, but i do have a lot more clear guidelines and at least a general, broad-brush code of conduct and expectations.
At Postdoc U, there was a postdoc office and a clearly defined set of rules and regulations, including a handbook. Now that I'm a PI at Really Big U, it's interesting that postdocs here are treated better from a HR perspective (benefits, etc) but there is no institutional support or regulations.