April 2012 Issue • Volume 40 • Issue 4

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Call for a New Task Force on the Post-Doctorate in Sociology

At its last meeting in February 2012, ASA Council approved the immediate appointment of members to a new Task Force on the role of the postdoctorate in sociology that will begin work in 2012. An important question for the Task Force is whether sociology should follow the natural science model and, if so, why and for whom? For sociologists, does being awarded a postdoctorate position, especially during a tight labor market, improve the careers of those who receive these positions compared to matched groups of those who do not? Are there particular subareas of sociology that are important for postdoctoral training? Are resources available to add this rung to the academic ladder for broader groups? These are the types of research and policy questions that the Task Force will be expected to answer. A task force of sociologists with higher education research experience can aid ASA to confront important questions about the current and future status of postdoctorate programs in sociology. The ASA Research Department is currently doing research on aspects of this issue and will aid the Task Force.

Mission of the New Task Force

The mission of the Task Force on the Postdoctorate in Sociology is as follows:

  1. Work with staff from the ASA Executive Office to do research comparing findings in sociology and other disciplines, both within and outside the social and behavioral sciences; work with other professional societies, as appropriate, as well as the National Postdoctoral Association, of which ASA is an institutional member.
  2. Investigate research and policy concerns in science and higher education about the postdoctorate across disciplines, and provide directions for future research on postdoctorates and career-related issues, funding, and the workforce.
  3. Weigh what aspects of the biomedical and natural science model sociology might follow and what potential problems and issues need to be addressed. 
  4. Identify recommendations for new and existing postdoctorate programs in sociology with regard to mentoring and training, and develop a network of research universities and programs that house postdoctorates in sociology to increase potential dialogue and cooperation.

Sociologists interested in participating in the new Task Force should contact Sally T. Hillsman, ASA Executive Officer, at hillsman@asanet.org, Roberta Spalter-Roth, ASA Director of Research, at spalter-roth@asanet.org, or Jean H. Shin, ASA Director of Minority Affairs, at shin@asanet.org.

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