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NPA Core Competencies Reading List
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Discipline-Specific Conceptual Knowledge | Research Skills Development | Communication Skills
Professionalism | Leadership and Management Skills | RCR | Other Reading

 


 

I. Discipline-Specific Conceptual Knowledge

Lists of national meetings:

Please note:  Much of what postdoctoral researchers need to learn under this topic is discipline-specific. The following resources are examples:

II. Research Skills Development

Please note:  Much of what postdoctoral researchers need to learn under this topic is discipline-specific. The following resources are examples:

III. Communication Skills

Communication in General

Conflict Resolution

General Writing Resources

Grant Writing

Managing News and Social Media

Negotiating

Professional and Career Development

Scientific/Medical Disciplines:

  • Resources on professional development for both academic careers and careers beyond academia  (e.g. CVs, resumes, cover letters, research and teaching statements, job interviews, informational interviewing, networking) are available from the Duke Office of Postdoctoral Services, the University of California at San Francisco Office of Career & Professional Development, and the National Postdoctoral Association (advice suitable for scientific/medical disciplines).
  • Careers Beyond the Bench - This Science Careers article looks at what different scientists have done outside of academia and have had very successful careers fields ranging from grant administration to venture capital. If you do not see yourself long term in academia and are wondering what to do next, this is a good starting place.
  • An Academic Scientist's Toolkit an extensive review of the different aspects that academic scientists are faced with, at different stages of their career progression.
  • Advice for a Young Investigator by Santiago Ramon y Cajal - A review and link to the book can be found here.
  • Charting a Course for a Successful Research Career A guide for early career researchers by Alan M Johnson 2012. A review and link to the book can be found here.
  • A Ph.D. Is Not Enough! A Survival Guide in Science by Peter J. Feibelman, Ph.D. 2011. A review and link to the book can be found here.

Humanities/Social Sciences:

All Disciplines:

  • The Professor Is In: The Essential Guide to Turning Your PhD Into a Job by Karen Kelsky. A review and link to the book can be found here.
  • UPenn Sample Teaching and Writing Statements (suitable for all disciplines)
  • The Academic Job Search Handbook by Julia Miller Vick and Jennifer S. Furlong. This book covers various aspects of the academic job search as well as addresses different issues such as dual careers and handling career breaks. One valuable component of the book are the sample CVs and the included research statements. A review and link to the book can be found here.
  • Advice for New Faculty Members by Richard Boice - This is recommended for postdocs whether they are considering a faculty position or other. It has great advice on writing and on career socializing, and on teaching for those who might be doing that. A link to the book can be found here.
  • What They Didn't Teach You in Graduate School: 199 Helpful Hints for Success in Your Academic Career by Paul Gray, David Drew, Matthew Henry Hall, and Laurie Richlin. This book chronicles everything from graduate school, through the academic job search, teaching, tenure track, academic salaries, diversity, and publishing (to name a few). A review and link to the book can be found here.

Scientific Presentations

Scientific Writing

Teaching

IV. Professionalism

Workplace Professionalism  (advice suitable for all academic disciplines)

Diversity Resources

Conflict of Interest

The Scientist as Good Citizen

V. Leadership and Management Skills

Leadership in General

  • Leadership: Theory and Practice by Peter Guy Northouse from Sage Publications  (advice suitable for all academic disciplines; available from most university libraries)
  • Emotional Intelligence by Daniel Goleman from Bantam Books (advice suitable for all academic disciplines; available from most university libraries)
  • What Makes a Leader? by Daniel Goleman from the Harvard Business Review (advice suitable for all academic disciplines)

Leadership in the Laboratory

Time/Stress Management

VI. Responsible Conduct of Research (RCR)

Comprehensive resources on the Responsible Conduct of Research are available from the Office of Research Integrity and the National Postdoctoral Association.

  • Columbia University Center for New Media Teaching and Learning RCR Courses
  • Intuition by Allegra Goodman - This is a novel about research misconduct. It would be a good discussion point for an RCR class. It is entertaining and thought provoking, and reading it will help you understand the consequences of some difficult decisions you will face, such as dating someone in your lab or what to do with your suspicion of someone's misconduct. A review and link to the book can be found here.

VII. Other Reading

Enhancing the Postdoctoral Experience for Scientists and Engineers: A Guide for Postdoctoral Scholars, Advisors, Institutions, Funding Organizations, and Disciplinary Societies, 2000. COSEPUP National Academy of Sciences. A review and link to the book can be found here.

 

PHD Comics

While PHD Comics started with grad students, postdocs make several appearances and Mike Slackernerny's recent transition to a postdoc position puts postdocs on the stage. Whether you are a grad student or a postdoc, PHD Comics (the books or the web comic), provides a humorous perspective but also enlightens us that the frustrating quirks of our PIs are uncomfortably common.

 

Moo by Jane Smiley

This is a novel about Moo University, a fictional midwest university that seems eerily familiar to anyone in any midwest university! It's a great stress relief, but also educational in understanding the vagaries of politics in academia. A review and link to the book can be found here.

 

Outliers by Malcolm Gladwell

In this book Gladwell tears down the myth of individual merit to explore how culture, circumstance, timing, birth and luck account for success and how historical legacies can hold others back despite ample individual gifts. A review and link to the book can be found here.

 

The Art of Possibility by Zander and Zander

This is a collection of illustrations and advice that suggests a way to change your entire outlook on life and, in the process, open up a new realm of possibility. A review and link to the book can be found here.

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