With several years of postdoctoral study under their belts, today's new science faculty members are, in purely scientific terms, better trained than any previous generation of newly independent scientists. But academic science has, in recent decades, become a much more complex endeavor, and the scientific community has been slow to adapt. Today's faculty must know research, but they must also have all the skills of a good manager, and then some. Winning support from funding agencies; managing a diverse staff of creative (and not-so-creative) scientists and trainees at many different levels of preparation; communicating results to several different publics; managing professional relationships--all these skills are essential for their success. Yet few scientists receive any formal--or, for that matter, informal--training in these areas. The result is a serious and far-reaching training deficit that slows scientific progress and keeps young scientists from reaching their full potential.
From its inception, the Career Development Center for Postdocs and Junior Faculty (CDC) has aimed to fill this deficit by educating young researchers in the large body of nonscience knowledge that young academic scientists need to advance their careers and the research infrastructure of the United States.
CDC's original goal--one that I have enthusiastically embraced since I joined the Next Wave staff as CDC editor--has been to create a comprehensive online career resource for young academic scientists. From the outset, we wanted to cover all the important nonscience skills that young scientists need to acquire to be productive and successful.
With the Toolkit, we've succeeded--or almost. The Toolkit is not yet what I'd call comprehensive, but it's close. It groups together in convenient chunks--tools--the most pertinent articles on the topics that you worry about most. Teaching. Lab setup. Hiring and firing. Grantsmanship. There are a few gaps in our coverage that we already know about, and we intend to fill those in the coming months. There are, no doubt, other gaps that we don't yet know about, and we'll count on you to help us find those. In the meantime, we believe that the CDC Toolkit is the best career resource available for young academic scientists. And it's free.
Seeing as how our work is (almost) done, with this update of the Career Development Center, we will also shift from our previous twice-monthly to a once-monthly publication schedule. This is our way of changing the emphasis of the CDC from a news-and-information journal to an ever-evolving, always available, readily accessible set of tools. We'll still create new content, we'll still provide news (though at a less frenetic pace), and we'll be ever vigilant in looking out for new developments, new ideas, and new ways of approaching old challenges that can help you succeed in your academic science career.
To do this, though, we need your help. If you find a mistake, a broken link, a useful resource, or an important subject that we haven't yet covered, please let me know by sending e-mail to firstname.lastname@example.org.