CRA Launches Effort to Understand Opinions About Recent PostDoc Surge

February 2nd, 2011 by Erwin Gianchandani Post a comment »

Computer Science PostDocs... a CRA facilitated conversationThe Computing Research Association — the umbrella organization of the CCC — today launched an effort to engage the computing research community in a conversation about PostDocs, at a time when a growing number of recent PhDs in computer science and allied fields are pursuing postdoctoral fellowships.

According to data from CRA’s annual Taulbee Survey, the numbers of new PostDocs soared from 60 in 1998 to 159 in 2009 (three-year rolling averages), while the numbers of new tenure-track faculty positions declined sharply, from 224 in 2004 to 151 in 2009 (again, three-year rolling averages).  Moreover, the numbers of recent PhDs who are hired into industry immediately out of graduate school is now approximately one-half of the total number of PhD graduates in any given year, up from about one-quarter in 2004.

(Most recently, the CRA, CCC, and NSF funded one- to two-year postdoctoral positions through the Computing Innovation Fellows Project, in hopes of retaining recent PhDs in computing research and teaching during difficult economic times.)

We seek to ask whether this rise in PostDocs is positive or negative for the field, for universities, for individuals, etc.  Is it a sign of a maturing discipline?  Is it matched to the activities needed to conduct computing research today?

To help facilitate this discussion, a CRA-commissioned committee has prepared a white paper that reports statistics associated with academic and industry hiring, articulates the relevant issues about PostDocs in the context of the many stakeholders, and specifically solicits input from the community.  This white paper is available at http://cra.org/postdocs.

Now it’s your turn to get involved! We encourage you and your colleagues within your departments or laboratories to review the white paper, discuss the issue, and post your views (collectively or individually) on the website — http://cra.org/postdocs.  The committee would like your input by March 15th.

(Contributed by Erwin Gianchandani, CCC Director)