The Shaping of China's Postdoctoral Community

Stith, Andrea Lynn; Li Liu; Yibin Xu
January 2011
Chinese Education & Society;Jan/Feb2011, Vol. 44 Issue 1, p58
Academic Journal
During its brief twenty-five-year history, and under the close management of the central government, the postdoctoral training system in China has grown rapidly into a permanent element of the Chinese science and technology research system. Although designed to be attractive to elite Chinese Ph.D. talent both living abroad and in China, it turned out not to be. Over the years, Chinese students have demonstrated their preferences for foreign doctoral degrees, and return rates have been low. All the while, continued investment in science and technology has fed steady demand for postdoctoral researchers. Those who opt to return have commanded generous compensation packages for prestigious permanent positions, rather than settling for meagerly paid and temporary postdoctoral positions. For those who remain, a postdoctoral stint has evolved into a requirement for progressing along a research career path; however, their careers are often stymied by institutional preferences to hire returnees. As a result, the effectiveness of the postdoctoral system to boost the development of domestically trained talent is also not fully manifest. Although it is likely that the continued return of foreign talent will indeed ultimately boost the quality of research at Chinese institutions, the problem is the possible evolution of the cohort of domestically trained scientists into a subclass of highly trained scientists. In light of this, the continuing growth of the postdoctoral community in China is of concern, and significant change must be considered. To examine this question, we review the origins, structure, and governance of the postdoctoral system and examine the diversity and employability of postdoctoral scholars.


Related Articles

  • Postdoctoral Training: Valuable? Satisfactory? Ayala, Francisco J. // American Scientist;May/Jun2005, Vol. 93 Issue 3, p194 

    Examines the value of postdoctoral training of scientist in the U.S. according to the Sigma Xi Survey of Postdoctoral Scholars. Purpose of postdoctoral training; Factors that contribute to the high percentage of satisfaction on postdoctoral training; Reasons behind the increase of the number of...

  • Education: The PhD factory. Cyranoski, David; Gilbert, Natasha; Ledford, Heidi; Nayar, Anjali; Yahia, Mohammed // Nature;4/21/2011, Vol. 472 Issue 7343, p276 

    The article offers the author's insights on the increase of numbers of science doctorates worldwide, in which it grew for about 40% of 34,000 within 1998 and 2008. The author states that the huge growth of doctoral degree shows no decelerating regardless of the little chance a graduate may get...

  • Postdoc abroad: inherited scientific contacts or establishment of new networks? Melin, Göran // Research Evaluation;Aug2004, Vol. 13 Issue 2, p96 

    This study targets the phenomenon of spending a significant period abroad after having graduated as PhD, frequently undertaken in many countries and often referred to as a 'postdoc', using a survey sent to a Swedish sample as the tool for investigation. Questions regarding the sociological...

  • Making Graduate School More Parent Friendly. Thornton, Saranna // Academe;Nov/Dec2005, Vol. 91 Issue 6, p69 

    This article focuses on the challenges posed by academic careers in balancing work and family. Women, on average, complete their doctorates at the age of thirty-four. The average length of post-doctoral appointments in science is two-and-a-half years, and post-doctoral are becoming more common...

  • Between forwarding and mentoring: a qualitative study of recommending medical doctors for international postdoctoral research positions. Sambunjak, Dario; Marušic, Matko // BMC Medical Education;2011, Vol. 11 Issue 1, p31 

    Background: Young scientists rarely have extensive international connections that could facilitate their mobility. They often rely on their doctoral supervisors and other senior academics, who use their networks to generate opportunities for young scientists to gain international experience and...

  • Staying at home.  // Nature;8/4/2011, Vol. 476 Issue 7358, p5 

    The author reflects on the efforts of China to deal with the attempts of young scientists to work abroad as postdoctoral researchers such as in Singapore and the U.S. The author says that Chinese scientists with doctor's degree prefer to spend their training for an independent career abroad,...

  • Ten Simple Rules for Writing a Postdoctoral Fellowship. Yuan, Ke; Cai, Lei; Ngok, Siu Ping; Ma, Li; Botham, Crystal M. // PLoS Computational Biology;7/14/2016, Vol. 12 Issue 7, p1 

    The article offers suggestions on how to secure postdoctoral fellowships to become a productive, independent investigator or advance in one's profession. One should start early as creating a competitive fellowship can take six to nine months. The other suggestions include creating a game plan,...

  • Enhancing capacity for social justice work within the academy: Building critical consciousness. Ratković, Snežana; Tilley, Susan; Teeuwsen, Phil // South African Journal of Higher Education;2010, Vol. 24 Issue 3, p392 

    In this article, we explore our experience of carving out space within an academic program where we were able to engage in learning and teaching that enhanced our capacity to understand foundational literature in the Socio/Cultural Field of Study and work towards our social justice goals. The...

  • Doctoral Pedagogy: What Do International PhD Students in Australia Think About It? Cotterall, Sara // Pertanika Journal of Social Sciences & Humanities;Sep2011, Vol. 19 Issue 2, p521 

    Despite recent research, doctoral pedagogy remains something of a 'black box'. This article explores the 'mysterious activity' (Green, 2005, p. 151) which transforms research apprentices into licensed scholars by drawing on longitudinal interviews with six graduate students who travelled to...


Read the Article

Other Topics