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Canadian post-doc conundrum lands in Nature

November 24, 2009

The difficult situation for Canadian post-docs has landed on the pages of the most recent issue of Nature. While post-docs are underpaid, I think Nature may have underestimated it a bit when they suggest that the average post-doc salary in Canada is $30,ooo (Cdn) – the CAPS survey suggests it is significantly higher.

Nonetheless, it’s hard to imagine this article serving as a positive recruiting tool for Canadian researchers looking for international post-doc talent. Nature’s conclusion: “Postdocs in Canada are underpaid and face uncertain career prospects…“.

That about sums it up, I think.


One Comment leave one →
  1. Jim permalink
    November 24, 2009 10:32

    This short article is so full of errors and inconsistencies that it approaches the level of a Fox News report.

    Nature: “…. A Postdoctoral Crisis in Canada says that current postdoc stipends average Can$30,000 (US$28,600), less than a graduate student scholarship, which it says averages $45,000, and less than the $37,000 pay of an entry-level research technician. Based on a survey conducted earlier this year, the report suggests that Canadian postdocs are less likely to take a university post than two decades ago, in part because there are fewer such jobs. Some 55% said they were pleased with their role and training as a postdoc.”

    The CAPS report quoted $45,000 not as the average of a grad student scholarship but for the median salary of a graduate with a bachelors (page 7) – in other words, someone who had not gone on to graduate studies. The median income for PhD graduates after they have completed is $65,000. It’s unclear where the $30,000 average was found as the report shows that the median is $35-40,000. Hardly impressive, but exaggerating the facts will simply undermine the case.

    The CAPS report is a depressing read in many respects but points out some constructive solutions. The tricouncils are aware of the situation and will likely respond by creating more fellowships. This is, in my view, would just be adding fuel to the fire and causing more young postdocs to be supported. The problem is the flood of talented, experienced postdocs who are coming to the end of a lengthy postdoctoral period and who have no jobs to go to. If government wants to make a difference and utilize the considerable investment, it should provide industry incentives to soak up these excellent scientists and create jobs. Perpetuating the current system will simply make the trap deeper to climb out of.

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