Knocking on Academia's Doors: An Inquiry into the Early Careers of Doctors in Life Sciences

23 Pages Posted: 20 Sep 2003

See all articles by Stéphane R. Robin

Stéphane R. Robin

Recherche et Etudes Politiques Sociales, Santé, Habitat (CRESGE); Catholic University of Louvain (UCL) - Institut de Recherches Economiques et Sociales (IRES)

Eric Cahuzac

French National Institute for Agricultural Research (INRA) - Research Center in Toulouse

Abstract

The early careers of French doctors in life sciences are characterized by the importance of temporary jobs. While most young Ph.D. researchers wish to obtain a job in the French academic sector (which grants them, among other things, lifetime employment), few of them manage to achieve this objective immediately after completing their Ph.D. A majority of young doctors have to wait for a period of time before they find stable employment in the academic sector. In the meantime, they usually find temporary research jobs. Two main types of short-term jobs can be distinguished: fixed-term research contracts (in most cases in a French public laboratory) and post-doctoral positions (temporary research jobs in a foreign country). The aim of this paper is to determine whether these different types of temporary jobs have different consequences on the careers of Ph.D. researchers.

We first discuss from a theoretical perspective the impact of choosing 'post-doc' research rather than a job on a fixed-term contract. Then, after dealing with selection biases that affect the access to these temporary jobs, we will use survival data analysis to estimate the impact of both types of temporary positions on the probability of entering the academic sector. The analysis is based on a database on the early careers of 800 young French doctors in life sciences. The main results include the following findings: the probability of a Ph.D. researcher finding stable employment is higher if he has held a post-doc position than if he has held a fixed-term contract. This result holds for both the private and public sectors. However, careers in the private sector are also affected by long-term choices, such as the decision to undertake Ph.D. research in partnership with a firm.

Suggested Citation

Robin, Stéphane R. and Cahuzac, Eric, Knocking on Academia's Doors: An Inquiry into the Early Careers of Doctors in Life Sciences. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=416790

Stéphane R. Robin (Contact Author)

Recherche et Etudes Politiques Sociales, Santé, Habitat (CRESGE) ( email )

France

Catholic University of Louvain (UCL) - Institut de Recherches Economiques et Sociales (IRES) ( email )

3, Place Montesquieu
1348 Louvain-la-Neuve
Belgium

Eric Cahuzac

French National Institute for Agricultural Research (INRA) - Research Center in Toulouse ( email )

Chemin de Borde-Rouge
Auzeville B.P. 27
Castanet-Tolosan Cedex, 31326
France

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