Sunday, January 22, 2017

A post about Postdoc

Lior Lehrs
Jerusalem Institute for Policy Research   en.jerusaleminstitute.org.il

The term “postdoctoral” (or “postdoc”) refers to the period of study and independent research that follows the receipt of a doctoral degree (PhD) – an important stage in academic life. This period might last anywhere from one to several years. A 2010 survey by the Central Bureau of Statistics (“Career Survey of PhD graduates”) revealed that one-third (33%) of PhD graduates in Israel pursued postdoctoral studies. Among men with PhDs, 35% pursued postdoctoral studies, compared with 31% of women. The highest percentage of postdoctoral scholars were recorded in the physical sciences, mathematics, statistics, and computer science (33%), followed by the biological sciences (33%). A total of 11% of postdocs were in the social sciences and law, and 9% in the humanities.
The survey also indicates that nearly half of Israeli postdocs (48%) completed their postdoctoral studies in the United States, compared with 32% in Israel and about 3% in England. Almost half of the women postdocs completed their postdoctoral studies in Israel (48%), whereas among men the figure was only 23%. A review of postdoctoral studies by field of study reveals a significant difference between men and women. In the physical sciences, mathematics, statistics, and computer science most of the postdocs were men (75%), while in the humanities most were women (58%). In the social sciences and law the distribution was 60% men and 40% women.
In 2014 the Central Bureau of Statistics in cooperation with Israeli universities collected data regarding PhD graduates enrolled in postdoctoral studies in Israel during that year. A total of 58% were Israeli postdocs and 42% were foreign. The academic institute with the highest percentage of postdocs in 2014 was the Weizmann Institute (29%), followed by the Hebrew University (21%) and Ben-Gurion University (13%). Among Israelis half were men, while among foreigners 70% were men. These data reinforce what the 2010 survey found: women, more than men, tend to pursue postdoctoral studies in their home countries. Among postdocs in Israel, 42% were 35 years old or younger, and 51% were in the 36-45 age range. In 2014 the highest percentages of postdocs in Israel were in the biological sciences (27%) and physical sciences (26%), followed by mathematics, statistics, and computer science (9%), and engineering and architecture (9%).
Many in Israel are concerned that postdoctoral scholars will remain abroad rather than return to Israel. The 2010 survey by the Central Bureau of Statistics reveals that 10% of PhD graduates who received their degrees between the academic years 1984-85 and 2007-08 resided abroad for three or more years. Among these the highest percentages were PhD graduates in mathematics (21%) and computer science (18%). In general it appears that among PhD graduates in the hard sciences, a higher percentage remain abroad for three or more years (14%) than among PhD graduates in the social sciences and humanities (4%). Among PhD graduates in the hard sciences and engineering, the percentage who remained abroad for a long time is higher for graduates of the Weizmann Institute (19%) and the Technion (17%), followed by graduates of the Hebrew University (14%). Among PhD graduates in the social sciences and humanities, the percentage who remained abroad for a long time is higher among graduates of the Technion (6%) and Tel Aviv University and the Hebrew University (5%).


Translated by Merav Datan