Similar to most professions around the world, postdoctoral researchers are facing uncertain futures and career opportunities due to the COVID-19 pandemic. New survey data shows how many global postdocs are less satisfied with their current role as longer hours and uncertainty loom over their research.
A new survey published in Nature shows how 50 percent of postdocs surveyed from 93 nations said their job satisfaction has worsened in the past year. Thirty-two percent said it had worsened a little, while 18 percent said it had worsened significantly. Another 49 percent of postdocs said their job satisfaction had stayed the same or improved somewhat.
Many respondents said they were working more hours during the week than what is specified on their contract, with 67 percent saying they were working between 2-16 hours more per week. Most postdocs surveyed were working full-time, with 90 percent responding that their normal working hours were between 35-50 hours a week. The survey also showed how 47 percent said there was a culture of long hours at their university, with 36 percent also saying their university doesn’t support a good work-life balance. While 64 percent said they have never worked overnight in the lab in the past year, a large 49 percent said they’d worked on weekends or on days off more than 20 times in the past year.
Overall, the survey data shows how postdocs are continuing to work long hours with relatively little pay despite increases in stressors related to the COVID-19 pandemic. Benefits for postdoctoral research also vary by institution, and the report ended by highlighting how postdocs should be adequately recognized and supported, especially during these difficult times.