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Monday, August 1, 2011


New International Journal By and About Postdocs Publishes First Issue

The Journal of Postdoctoral Affairs, aka the Postdoc Journal, has launched on the Web. Run by a group of postdocs based mostly in California, the new peer-reviewed online publication aims to be an "international platform for addressing conceptual and practical issues that pertain to the foundations and contexts of the postdoctoral experience," declares a mission statement fully worthy of the academic enterprise to which its founders aspire. Volume 1, Number 1 lists the range of materials the journal expects to carry, including scholarly articles on postdocs and their working lives and video presentations of postdocs' research.

"Anyone can write articles [for] this journal provided they are related to postdoc affairs," says editorial board member and first-issue contributor Hady Felfly of the University of California-San Francisco, by e-mail. The journal gives instructions for submitting articles and videos for consideration for future issues. In addition, it has a job-announcement section, which already carries an opening in Germany. Besides scholarly papers, which will undergo "a rigorous peer-review process conducted by an expert editorial team," according to the mission statement, the journal also seeks opinion articles, letters, and comments and hopes to reach a wide range of readers and contributors, including "current and former postdoctoral scholars, their faculty advisors, postdoctoral policy analysts, administrators and labor affair specialists."

In the first issue, a paper by Jennifer M. Miller of the University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill's department of public policy explores the surprisingly large but apparently inconclusive literature on why people declde to become postdocs. A video by Tzuling Cheng of the University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center explains her work on metabolic flux analysis in cancer. Other authors look into the workings of postdoctoral associations and the factors influencing the international movement of scientists.

For now, like much else in the postdoc world, Postdoc Journal appears to be running on a shoestring, but organizers are seeking ads and sponsorships, Felfly says. Readers can get free access for the first 30 days, after which a $15 annual subscription is required.

"Postdocs on the editorial board mostly don't have much experience" running a journal, "and we're getting it as we go," Felfly writes. "We expect it to get better over time." Still, for a group of amateurs with little more than a bright idea and a lot of gumption, their first effort is already an intriguing and impressive job.


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