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Many psychology graduates choose research postdocs to grow in their chosen subfield, data from APA's 2003 Doctorate Employment Survey indicate. About three-quarters of respondents who had completed or were in a research postdoc at the time of the survey cited complementing research knowledge and skills in their subfield as at least one of the reasons they took the position.

When asked to identify the one major reason for undertaking postdoctoral study, respondents' leading replies were: to complement research knowledge and skills in the same subfield (26.6 percent), to become more employable (26.1 percent), to obtain research training in another subfield (18.6 percent) and to work with a particular scientist or group (13.1 percent).

However, respondents in certain subfields were more likely to be in a postdoc at the time of the study than others. Those in the neurosciences and cognitive psychology were especially likely to report being in postdocs.

About 20 percent reported their position would last one to two years; about 50 percent reported two-year postdocs; and another 21 percent reported positions of longer than two years. The average duration was 24 months. Ninety-four percent of research postdoc positions were paid, and the largest proportion were funded by federal fellowships or training grants. Research postdoctorates reported a median monthly stipend of $2,900 in 2003.

-D. Smith Bailey

For more on the survey, see the July/August Monitor or APA Research.

Percent of new doctorates in select research subfields taking postdocs

Subfield (N)                                                  Percent taking postdoctoral positions
Biological (8)                                                    75
Cognitive (37)                                                  70.3  
Developmental (51)                                          41.2     
Experimental (27)                                             48.1 
Neurosciences (24)                                           83.3
rsonality (6)                                                     0  
Quantitative (6)                                                16.7
Social (61)                                                       26.2   
All nonhealth-service provider subfields (357)     35
Source: 2003 Doctorate Employment Survey. APA Research Office