Postdoctoral researchers: Roles, Functions and career prospects

Gerlese Akerlind

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

131 Citations (Scopus)


Concerns with postdoctoral research training and employment outcomes are growing at an international level. Recent studies of postdoctoral and other contract researchers in various countries emphasize common issues associated with these appointments, including the absence of any systematic definition of postdoctoral research positions, lack of policy and data on postdoctoral researchers, and increasing dissatisfaction among postdoctoral researchers with the nature of their position and with their future employment prospects. These issues are explored further in the study reported here, through an interview-based investigation of the views of both postdoctoral researchers and postdoctoral supervisors with regard to the nature of postdoctoral research positions and the career development support provided within those positions. Key findings include substantial variation in the functions of postdoctoral researchers, and in the perceived purposes of such positions. Despite a widespread perception among both postdocs and their supervisors of limited employment opportunities in academia or research positions, there was a consistent focus among both parties on the postdoctoral period as providing preparation for such positions
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)21-40
Number of pages20
JournalHigher Education Research and Development
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 2005
Externally publishedYes


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