It’s been a long time coming, but US postdocs had reason to celebrate last week: an 18 May ruling from the US Department of Labor renders postdocs eligible for overtime pay.
Should researchers do postdocs? Are there viable alternatives? We’ve been reporting on the ‘postdoc issue’ for a long time, and key thought leaders and policy watchdogs have been writing in our pages about it for just as long. Progress has been achingly slow, forcing postdocs to fight for their rights through grassroots activism. Unionising to push for better benefits has been a winning tactic at several large US institutions.
Much scientific research could not function without postdocs. They do the research outlined in a grant, but can end up advancing their PIs’ careers more than their own. Some argue that postdocs shouldn’t be paid from their PIs’ grants at all – that more fellowships would be a far better option.
When we asked our readers the best way to fix the broken postdoctoral system, your answer was clear: create more staff-scientist positions. Finding the cash to make that happen could prove problematic, though.
And in the midst of all the hand-wringing, what, many ask, is the future of the postdoc?
It’s an uncertain time. And if you’re a postdoc living with that uncertainty, our blog series on the postdoc life can help guide you each step of the way.