The many shades of European postdoc funding

That’s the title of a recent article in Science. It points to a report by Science Europe that has just been released.

“The report covers about 100 funding schemes offered by Science Europe member organizations in 23 European countries and by the European Commission, the European Research Council, and the European Molecular Biology Organization. Although not all relevant funding bodies are represented in the survey, and research institutions—many of which directly support young researchers—are largely absent, the report gives a feel for the wide variety of funding programs that are available” (Science).  

The sheer number of postdoctoral opportunities in Europe may feel like a way out from the dearth of postdoctoral positions in the US, in particular in fields like Linguistics. But European postdocs can easily become dead ends: the holders of postdoctoral positions may not have the know-how and mentoring support for climbing the local academic ladders, and a return to the US usually is impossible after a few years. There is very little experience with mentoring postdocs in fields like Linguistics: More often than not, postdocs have to satisfy certain needs of an institution (teaching classes, lending their expertise to a particular project that is not theirs), but are otherwise left to their own devices. There may be no way forward when the postdoc runs out: “What postdocs often deplore is the lack of a longer-term career perspective”(from the Science Europe report, p. 22).

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