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|NPA Core Competencies|
In an era of increasing complexity for the research enterprise, postdoctoral scholars pursue professional opportunities not only in academia but also in industry, government, nonprofits, and entrepreneurship. The variety of career options available today demands a diverse array of skills, such as writing grant proposals and CVs or mastering the principles of effective resource management, that are often neglected during doctoral study and postdoctoral research. The postdoctoral experience will be more relevant to career and professional development if the scholar seeks or is offered opportunities to acquire, maintain, or improve such skills. The National Postdoctoral Association (NPA) has established six core competencies to offer guidance to individual postdoctoral scholars who must seek out relevant training experiences, in collaboration with mentors, institutions, and other advisors who provide this training. "Competency" has been defined as "an acquired personal skill that is demonstrated in [one's] ability to provide a consistently adequate or high level of performance in a specific job function."[BNET Business dictionary] These competencies are meant to serve primarily as: (1) a basis for self-evaluation by postdoctoral scholars, and (2) a basis for developing training opportunities that can be evaluated by mentors, institutions, and other advisors.
The NPA classifies the six core competencies as:
#1. Discipline-specific conceptual knowledge
#2. Research skill development
#3. Communication skills
#5. Leadership and management skills
#6. Responsible conduct of research
NPA Core Competencies Quick Guide
This free resource offers a quick overview of the six core competencies that the NPA has established as critical for development during postdoctoral appointments.
Complete NPA Core Comptencies Resource
The goal of a postdoctoral fellowship is to provide the training necessary for the postdoctoral scholar to achieve intellectual and professional independence and success. This toolkit was developed to provide definition for the scholar and his/her support community as to the competencies essential to achieving this independence. Some of these competencies will have been acquired during graduate training. Thus, some aspects of the competencies will describe refinements of skills already achieved, and some will represent new or advanced skills.
NPA Core Competencies Resources Companion
Once postdocs, faculty, and administrators have a deep understanding of the core competencies that postdocs should be striving to achieve during their appointments, action is required by all parties to support postdocs and help them reach their goals. This guide is full of resources to help postdocs master each one of the core competencies individually. The guide is not exhaustive, but provides a good starting point for postdocs to explore each competency further.
The NPA also provides the Core Competencies Checklist that postdocs can use access status and to track progress.