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What are post-docs?

  1. Jul 1, 2012 #1
    All I understand that people do it after getting a PhD. , can you tell exactly what they do and do they get paid for what they do? Especially in Math..
  2. jcsd
  3. Jul 1, 2012 #2

    Simon Bridge

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    MS Word files sent via snail mail :)

    Post Doctorate students are people who keep studying after they have obtained their doctorates. That's the totality of what the term means. They usually find themselves working for a living while they study and colleges frequently offer positions to them. If they are working in a college then it will be as part of the college's post-doctoral program and they are pretty much academics-in-training .... they'll be doing whatever teaching staff normally do in the department as well as some sort of project work ... maybe their own.

    If you are approaching the end of a doctorate, then you should have (or obtain) a good knowledge of what your college has available. Your doctoral supervisor should clue you in.

    But if you are asking: "what is a post-doc to me as a regular member of the public?" then - if someone is introduced as "a post-doc" you can generally take it that they have already contributed original work to their field that the college/professor thought was of sufficient worth that they should stay in academia. They've probably also published, as a co-author usually, in a peer-reviewed journal.

    I've never really understood what mathematicians do all day, in detail, but they are pretty handy people to have around :) - I sort-of recollect the one's I knew basically doing what I did (research) but in math. New ways of expressing things, working for solutions to long-standing puzzles, trying for new applications of existing math ... you know, the usual.
    Last edited: Jul 1, 2012
  4. Jul 2, 2012 #3


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    "Post-docs" aren't generally considered students.

    This is a generic term that his generally used for temporary academic research positions that are most frequently awarded to recent PhD graduates. Such positions are contract work where you would be hired on for a period of usually 2-3 years to work on a specific project with limited external responsibilities. Post-docs, for example, are generally not required to teach or be members of committees. The point of the positions are usually to make as much scientific progress as possible in the limited time before the grant runs out.
  5. Jul 2, 2012 #4
    And how much do these post-docs usually make.
  6. Jul 2, 2012 #5
    I think if you are not willing or able to answer the question about salary in scientific research with a Google search yourself, then you possibly shouldn't worry about salaries in research (at least not now).
  7. Jul 2, 2012 #6
    It HIGHLY depends on the country and the project, so there's no one answer to this :biggrin:
  8. Jul 2, 2012 #7
    I smiled.
  9. Jul 2, 2012 #8


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    I think it's safe to say that in the US, an academic postdoc usually makes more than a graduate student stipend, but less than a tenure-track assistant professor, in the same university and department.
  10. Jul 2, 2012 #9
    Ok everybody, thank you for your feedback.
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