eLife Ambassadors Survey: Why do postdocs leave labs?

Discussions throughout the eLife Ambassadors programme have led to this initiative to investigate the reasons behind the premature departure of postdocs from research groups and the consequential impact of this phenomenon amid the ongoing postdoc crisis.

Update: The closing date for this survey has been extended until July 1, 2024.

Written by Verena Haage, PhD1,2 - eLife Ambassador (@HaageVc, LinkedIn)

1Center for Translational & Computational Neuroimmunology, Department of Neurology and the Taub Institute for Research on Alzheimer’s Disease and the Aging Brain, Columbia University Irving Medical Center, New York, NY 10032, United States

2 Sustainable Leadership for Science Initiative, Berlin, Germany

As the backbone of scientific progress, postdoctoral researchers (postdocs) play a pivotal role in advancing knowledge and innovation while constituting the next generation of leading scientists. The significant challenges they currently face throughout their career trajectories have led to an alarming rate of early departures of postdocs – from research groups prior to finishing contracts or before the completion of research projects, thereby further exacerbating the postdoc crisis.

DALL-E image prompted by author of researcher leaving a lab

Through this survey-based study, Verena Haage, supported by the eLife Ambassadors, aims to shed light on the underlying causes, both personal and systemic, that contribute to this concerning trend. Additionally, the objective is to assess the financial implications of this phenomenon, particularly with regard to awarded grant money and fellowships.

If you are a postdoc, your participation in this 15-minute global survey will be crucial for contributing to our understanding of the complexities surrounding the career paths of postdoctoral researchers. This will aid the community in developing future strategies to address needed systemic and infrastructural changes in the current academic system.

To make the survey as accessible as possible it will be available in six languages including Arabic, Chinese, English, French, Hindi, and Spanish – Sana Nasim, Batool Almarzouq [Arabic], Ya Zhang [Chinese]; Béryl Laplace-Builhé, Amine Zaid [French]; Pallavi Raj Sharma [Hindi]; Marina Barcela Varena, David Mauricio Ramirez Sanchez [Spanish].

Click the relevant link below to complete the survey:

Arabic | Chinese | English | French | Hindi | Spanish

Thank you for participating in this crucial investigation. The survey will be open for five months, from Tuesday, January 30 to Monday, July 1, 2024. Together, we are working towards a more supportive and sustainable research environment for future generations of scientists.

Image by pch.vector on Freepik

Watch this space for the results and upcoming discussions!


We welcome comments, questions and feedback. Please contact us at features [at] elifesciences [dot] org.

For more content regarding research culture: https://elifesciences.org/collections/edf1261b/research-culture-a-selection-of-articles

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