- Chemistry accounts for the plurality of physical science postdocs, with most of the rest being physicists.
- If you asked me what percentage of chemistry postdocs do more than 6 years, I would have said 5% - looks like I would have been low by a significant amount.
- Considering that there are about 800-900 Ph.D.s in chemistry that become postdocs every year and we (the United States) get a fair number of postdocs from overseas, it looks like (in 2013) that the clearance rate (rate at which people stop being postdocs) is okay? Hard to say.
Monday, May 23, 2016
2013 SDR: 13% of postdocs in the physical sciences are 6 years or longer
Around these parts, I tend to focus on the Survey of Earned Doctorates, just because it's an annual survey and it's considered to be quite accurate. The National Science Foundation also administers the Survey of Doctoral Recipients, which is a longitudinal study which surveys the same group of Ph.D.-holders year-after-year, with a new batch of Ph.D. holders every year. It surveys about 40,000 Ph.D.s a year.
I am happy to find that the SDR collects data on postdocs, and appears to track how long postdoctoral appointments last in this table, with the title of "Table 76. Status of postdoctoral appointments among doctoral scientists and engineers, by years since doctorate and broad field of doctorate: 2013." From this, I was able to extract that there were 5400 postdocs in the physical sciences in 2013. Here's their respective years since their doctorates:
Physical sciences postdocs:
≤ 5 years since doctorate: 87.0% (4700 postdocs)
6–10 years since doctorate: 9.3% (500 postdocs)
11–15 years since doctorate: 3.7% (200 postdocs)
And for the comparison that everyone is wondering about:
Biological/agricultural/environmental life sciences
Total: 15,100 postdocs
≤ 5 years since doctorate: 80.1% (12,100 postdocs)
6–10 years since doctorate: 17.2% (2,600 postdocs)
11–15 years since doctorate: 2.0% (300 postdocs)
You can check my work here. Worth noting a couple of things:
Readers, this is relatively new data to me, so I invite you to offer your interpretations.