Increasing Transparency of U.S. Postdoctoral Salaries

Adriana Bankston, Science Policy Researcher | Member, Future of Research Board of Directors

Stories_insci Stories_insci on May 7, 2018

Adriana Bankston

In less than 200 words, what main research questions are you working on? Please make sure to first include a brief context and background to your research, articulate your question(s) and conclude with why you think it’s important to study the them (i.e., the potential broader impacts).
Many aspects of the biomedical research enterprise aren’t being discussed in a transparent fashion, including salaries. We sought out to alter this paradigm by examining how much PhD-trained scientists performing independent bench research (“postdocs”) are getting paid. Postdocs are largely underpaid given their expertise and education level. We first monitored the compliance of U.S. institutions with a federal labor law that mandated increased postdoc salaries. This resulted in an online resource that drew national attention to this topic and further resulted in some institutional changes. We then obtained actual annual salaries for postdocs in U.S. public institutions, highlighting the existing national data landscape on this topic. We have made this data available for others to use. In addition, both studies have been published in an open access manner. Finally, postdocs can also anonymously share their annual salary information using an online resource in a self-reported fashion, enabling them to contribute to increased transparency around this topic. We hope this is only the beginning of many open discussions related to other aspects of the biomedical research enterprise, which are ultimately critical for achieving true and lasting systemic change. This study was performed by and within the context of the non-profit organization Future of Research