Postdocs under pressure: ‘Can I even do this any more?’

Chris Woolston:

During a two-year stint as a postdoctoral researcher in computational micro-biology at the University of Liverpool, UK, Adrian Cazares suffered despite his successes. “I published papers but I wasn’t happy,” he says. “[Postdocs] are under so much pressure all the time. We take it to every part of our lives. It really started to affect my mental health.”

Cazares, who in February started his second postdoc — this one at the European Bioinformatics Institute on the Wellcome Genome Campus near Cambridge, UK — was one of more than 7,600 researchers in 93 countries who responded to Nature’s first-ever survey of postdoctoral scientists. The self-selecting survey, which ran in June and July, included a series of questions designed to illuminate postdocs’ quality-of-life issues, including -mental health, working hours and experiences of discrimination and harassment (see ‘Nature’s postdoc survey’).