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Research institutions agree to share data about science careers

by Andrea Widener
December 18, 2017 | A version of this story appeared in Volume 95, Issue 49

Data to be released by research institutions:

Admissions and matriculation data of Ph.D. students

Median time to degree and completion data for Ph.D. programs

Median time as a postdoc at the institution

Demographics of Ph.D. students and postdoctoral scholars by gender, underrepresented minority status, and citizenship

Career outcomes for Ph.D. and postdoctoral alumni, classified by job sector and career type.

Ten major research institutions have come together to create more openness about career outcomes for graduate students and postdocs in life sciences departments. Calling themselves the Coalition for Next Generation Life Sciences, the institutions plan to publish data, such as median time to degree and where alumni are working, to help graduate students and postdocs make more informed career choices. In the past, universities have been reluctant to share data for fear that releasing the information would slow recruitment and retention of graduate students and postdocs. That lack of information has hurt science trainees, many of whom enter graduate school hoping to become professors; however, only 10% of Ph.D. biomedical trainees get tenure-track positions. While releasing data won’t fix the problem, it does “reflect an essential step in acknowledging our shared obligation to protect and enhance the vibrancy, humanity, and fairness of this system. We hope that in due course other institutions will join our efforts,” the coalition says in a Science paper announcing its plan (2017, DOI: 10.1126/science.aar4638). The institutions will begin releasing some data in February 2018, with data in all areas available within 18 months.



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