By David Kent. Lack of data makes it difficult to craft good policy to meet postdocs’ needs, say organizers. In 2009, the newly created Canadian Association of Postdoctoral Scholars undertook its first survey of postdoctoral fellows, or PDFs. The results revealed that the average fellow in Canada was between 30 and 35 years of age, earned under $40,000 and had limited access to extended health coverage or other benefits.
This workplace snapshot was taken at a time of great unrest for PDFs, as the federal government had recently changed its taxation policy to make student scholarships – but not postdoctoral fellowships – tax-exempt. As a result, a substantial cohort of PhD graduates who continued in academic research as PDFs now earned less pay than they received during their graduate student years. In an effort to see if the situation has changed, CAPS has launched a new survey of PDFs and is encouraging all postdoctoral fellows in Canada to take part. Jeremy Mitchell, former chair of CAPS and leader of the current survey, said there is a pressing need for more complete and up-to-date data. Read more...