CRA Best Practices on Mentoring Postdocs

I just got the CRA newsletter, and it had a link to a document on best practices for mentoring postdocs:

… data from the Computing Research Association’s (CRA) annual Taulbee Survey indicate that the numbers of recent Ph.D.s pursuing postdocs following graduate school soared from 60 in 1998 to 249 in 2011 (three-year rolling averages), an increase of 315 percent during this period. Because research organizations are suddenly channeling many more young researchers into these positions, it is incumbent upon us as a community to have a clear understanding of the best practices associated with pursuing, hosting, and nurturing postdocs.

I think you’d find the same numbers in EE as well. This report relies a fair bit on the National Academies report, which is a little out of date and I thought very skewed towards those in the sciences. Engineering is a different beast (and perhaps computer science an even more different beast), so I think that while there are some universal issues, the emphasis and importance of different aspects varies across fields quite a bit. For example, the NA report focuses quite a bit on fairness in recruiting which are predicated on the postdoc being a “normal” thing to do. By contrast, in many engineering fields postdoc positions are relatively new and there’s an opportunity to define what the position means and what it is for (i.e. not a person you can pay cheaply to supervise your graduate students for you).

Anyway, it’s worth reading!