Background: The emerging public discourse about the "broken" postdoc system is mostly conceptual (with several recent exceptions). The current work offers an attempt to quantify postdocs' perceptions, goals, and well-being. Methods: A survey of 190 postdocs in North America. Results: This article first reveals a surprisingly unhappy postdoc community with low life satisfaction. Second, it demonstrates how over the course of the fellowship many postdocs lose interest in the goal of pursuing a tenure track academic position (~20%) or in recommending the postdoc track to others (~30%). Finally, we find that among a large number of factors that can enhance life satisfaction for postdocs (e.g., publication productivity, resources available to them) only one factor stood out as significant: the degree to which atmosphere in the lab is pleasant and collegial. Conclusions: Our findings can stimulate policy, managerial, and career development improvements in the context of the postdoc system.
- Academic career