Someone was asking me the other day about Bridges To Independence , the report by the National Academies on what we should be doing to revamp postdoctoral training and job creation at the faculty level.
Random aside: I couldn't find the link to BTI, so I looked it up on Google and the top hit was, not surprisngly, Bridgestoindependence.org . Have you heard of this? It's a group that provides support services for disabled persons in the Portland area. Somehow the coincidental naming seems demeaning to postdocs, and yet appropriate, at the same time...
Anyway I stopped reading this wonderful, preaching-to-the-choir report by the NAS, because it doesn't say anything useful for me. (Perhaps in my copious free time after my fellowship runs out and I don't have a job anymore, I will finish reading it.)
I stopped reading it because it's full of great suggestions for how we should fix the system, and by 'we' I mean taxpayers, Congress, NIH, and PIs.
It's also full of suggestions for what postdocs should do- finish within 3 or 4 years, seek out mentors, publish papers, mentor students, write grants, and so on. All of which I'm doing and exactly on the timescale that they suggest is ideal (since Polly Anna asked how long I've been a postdoc).
What they don't say is why, when we do everything right, we still can't get jobs, and what we (the unemployed, frustrated postdocs) can do about it RIGHT NOW. They don't comment on the 9-year rule, but I wish they would comment on how search committees, despite claiming that they don't expect more than 2 or 3 years of postdoc, inevitably just look at the grand tally of publications and hire the oldest, crustiest postdocs they can find.
The whole document laments, at great length, the loss of all these great young scientific minds to industry and other employment than research. I guess we're supposed to hope the system gets fixed so the next generation doesn't also get lost.