During the past several months, Nature devoted a series of articles to postdocs, with an emphasis on how they handle the current situation and how they perceive their future in light of COVID-19 crisis. These articles reported the results of Nature‘s inaugural survey of post-doctoral researchers, which attracted more than 7,600 respondents from 93 countries all over the world and inquired about the impacts of COVID-19 on postdocs. The survey was offered in English, Chinese, Spanish, French, and Portuguese. If you are interested, you can find the anonymised raw data, cleaned data analysis, and the questionnaire at here.
The first article presented the discussion on how COVID-19 has affected postdocs and their views of the future. It is also very interesting to read about regional differences but also similarities between postdocs’ concerns and challenges in the second article in the series that offered an overview of their circumstances worldwide. The third article explored postdocs’ quality of life, including mental health and experiences of discrimination and harassment. The fourth article examined respondents’ sense of their career prospects. Unfortunately, the current situation has promoted worries about their future, and more than 50% of respondents had a negative view, including almost 20% whose outlook was “extremely negative”. It was also noticed that pessimistic view on future job prospects was slightly more frequent in female respondents (58%) than in male respondents (53%). Under the current circumstances, career advice and honest discussion about options are desperately needed by many, yet these are hard to get considering that no one knows for sure how things will be and preoccupation with personal fears and work under improvised, stressful, and unpredictable conditions can easily make people more ignorant of the needs of others. The Nature postdoc survey shows that in such circumstances most postdocs get support from other postdocs.
Indeed, it is difficult to make plans now, or maybe the pandemic has just reminded us that planning is immanently risky and cannot be taken for granted. Nevertheless, we could not choose the time in which we will live, work, and plan, but we can choose to keep on pushing our way through the pandemics.