Welcome Package for PostDocs now available!

This post was written by Dr. Katarzyna Hnida-Gut and Dr. Lisa Belkacemi, coordinators of the Working Group Working conditions and Mental Health.

We are happy to share with you the Welcome Package For PostDocs!

Do you feel a little bit confused or overwhelmed as a PostDoc in Germany? Do you need help with navigating into the German visa, health and insurance landscape? Or maybe you want to understand what the E13 on your payment slip means. We have good news for you – you are not alone!

Having in mind that moving to a foreign country can be both exciting and stressful at the same time, we prepared a Welcome package for PostDocs – an all-in-one document from which you can learn what documents are needed to register your stay in Germany, how to search for medical help in your own language, where you can find favourite sports activities, and many, many more. The Welcome package document was prepared by PostDocs for PostDocs, because who better knows your troubles than your peers?

Although we made a Welcome package available to you at the beginning of 2023, the idea of a document was born several years ago and many PostDocs contributed to its creation. However, we would like to improve this document and make it more useful and relevant to you. For that, we need your help! If you have an idea and would like to contribute, please contact the Working conditions and mental health WG coordinators. Every idea is welcome! 😊

Welcome to the vibrant Leibniz PostDoc Network!

PS: To stay up to date on our activities and events, sign up for our listserv and follow us on Twitter (@LeibnizPostDocs) as well as on LinkedIn!

Kick-off meeting – Our goals for 2023

This is a guest post by our spokeswomen Dr. Marta Fereira Gomes (DRFZ) and Dr. Mine Altinli (BNITM).

Friday the 13th does not have to be a day of bad luck. For the Steering Committee of the Leibniz PostDoc Network, it was a day to start something new!

On the 13th of January, the Steering Committee of the Leibniz PostDoc Network – Spokespersons & Working Group coordinators – got together at the Leibniz Head Office in Berlin to plan their activities for 2023. This meeting allowed us to welcome the new members, set our priorities for 2023, distribute responsibilities and debate our position regarding different topics of concern for postdocs. Last but not least, we started the preparations for our Spring Networking meeting. More information on that event is coming soon!

We would also like to remind all postdocs working at Leibniz institutes that the Network’s outreach can only grow through the work of the postdocs involved. We want to be able to do more, but for that, we need your help! So if you feel you can contribute, please reach out to us. From organizing events to poster design, all kinds of skills are welcome.

Report of the first Leibniz PostDoc Survey is now online

This post was written by Dr. Daniela Fiedler and Dr. Thomas Lösch, coordinators of the Working Group “WG1 PostDoc Survey”.

Leibniz PostDoc Network members and followers of our Blog or on Twitter might be aware that we’ve been double-jobbing for the last few months (how appropriate for PostDocs…). Firstly, we have been preparing for and then launched the 2nd Leibniz PostDoc Survey (check out our recent blog post for more information), which is still open until the 15th of January 2023 to all Leibniz PostDocs. Spread the word, because every response counts! 

Secondly, we have finally published the Report of the first Leibniz PostDoc Survey via SSOAR, which means the report is available open access! For those of you who are interested, the full report can be read and downloaded here.

What was the first Leibniz PostDoc Survey about?

Postdoctoral researchers play a critical role in scientific research. However, for various reasons postdoctoral researchers are often overlooked or misrepresented as a relatively homogeneous group of researchers. A key challenge seems to be that there is no agreed upon definition of who a “postdoc” actually is. Therefore, the principal aims of the Leibniz PostDoc Survey was to firstly, understand who Leibniz PostDocs are and, secondly, attempt to provide some insight into their experiences, interests, and needs. This data would then allow us to identify areas for development that the Leibniz Association, Leibniz PostDoc Network, and Leibniz institutes can address together to improve the experiences of Leibniz PostDocs.

What are the key findings and recommendations?

In total, 816 respondents from all Leibniz Sections completed the first Leibniz PostDoc Survey. Although the exact number of Leibniz PostDocs is unknown, estimates suggest the respondents to the survey represent around 30%. Our demographic data confirms that Leibniz PostDocs are a diverse group of individuals in a wide range of personal and professional situations. However, they (as a group) still have common needs and problems. In the Report, we summarized three key findings and provide some recommendations of what we – as the Leibniz PostDoc Network – think should or could be next steps for changes in the Leibniz Association or Leibniz institutes.

A high number of questions were connected to the actual working situation, including information on working contracts, working hours, and tasks, as well as career goals and career development. What we found is that Leibniz PostDocs’ career paths are mainly designed to result in a professorship position – a goal that many Leibniz PostDocs neither want nor will realistically have the chance to obtain. Considering that the Leibniz Association is one of the leading scientific organizations in Germany and has the necessary means, we recommend a concerted effort from the Leibniz Association, Leibniz PostDoc Network, and Leibniz institutes working together to broaden career perspectives and options for Leibniz PostDocs.

A smaller but no less important proportion of questions dealt with aspects of good scientific practices, conflicts and discrimination. What we realized here is that conflict and workplace discrimination do not appear to be widespread issues within Leibniz institutes, but still seem to happen to a worrying degree. Particularly troublesome is the fact that of 129 respondents reporting workplace discrimination, 21% did not know who they could turn to for support. This suggests that the arrangements currently in place are, at best, not visible or, at worst, simply not working. We therefore recommend evaluating prevalent measures for prevention and intervention, such as what is needed to let people know where they can find help. In addition, we also suggest investigating cases that have already happened more closely to understand how the system can be improved for Leibniz PostDocs as well as other academic groups.

Leibniz institutes have a significant international footprint and regularly attract and recruit international postdoctoral researchers, who represent around 25% of respondents to the first Leibniz PostDoc Survey. Thus, several questions were designed to explore the experiences of international Leibniz PostDocs. Yet, our data shows that, despite being a relatively large group, local structures on the ground at Leibniz institutes seem poorly prepared to welcome and support international Leibniz PostDocs during their period of employment, resulting in international Leibniz PostDocs facing significant barriers especially in administration. International colleagues are a driving factor of the Leibniz Association’s innovative potential and directly contribute to the international reputation of the Leibniz Association. Because of that, we advise the implementation of more systematic and structured measures to support international scientists in Germany. These measures should include English translations of administrative documents (e.g., contracts or work agreement) that are tailored towards individuals not speaking German as well as considerations on daily communication.

What else can be found in the Report?

The above mentioned findings are our conclusions that can be drawn based on the collected data. However, in the Report we also provide the full results for each survey question organized by sections. For most survey questions, this includes providing descriptive statistics such as item mean (M) and standard deviation (SD) or by providing distribution information using frequencies in text or graphical plots, i.e., violin and bar plots. For a limited number of survey questions, we also performed linear regression analyses. 

Overall, we had questions covering the following sections: (1) demographics, (2) contract and payments, (3) working hours and tasks, (4) career goals, (5) career development – experiences, (6) career development – superior and institutional support, (7) satisfaction and working situation, (8) good scientific practice, conflicts, and discrimination as well as (9) international Leibniz PostDocs

The Working Group “WG1 PostDoc Survey”

The group consists of passionate Leibniz PostDocs from diverse Leibniz Institutes working together to achieve a shared goal: Collect and provide data on Leibniz PostDocs to get an idea about who Leibniz PostDocs are and how they are doing at their Leibniz Institutes. Leibniz PostDocs responsible for the development, administration, and preparation of the report of the first survey are the current coordinators, Daniela Fiedler (IPN) and Thomas Lösch (DIPF), the two previous coordinators, Gundula Zoch (LIfBi & University of Oldenburg) and Johannes Breuer (GESIS) as well as the current and/or former team members Gitta Heinz (DRFZ), Tamara Heck (DIPF), Verónica Díez Díaz (MfN), Lydia Repke (GESIS), and Harry Williams (BNITM).

If you have any questions concerning the Report or would like to have a short presentation (of up to 15 minutes) of the findings and recommendations in your working group or institute, please reach out to the working group coordinators, Dr. Daniela Fiedler or Dr. Thomas Lösch.

edited 2023-01-13

6th Annual Meeting of the Leibniz PostDoc Network

This is a guest post by our newly elected spokeswomen Dr. Marta Fereira Gomes (DRFZ) and Dr. Mine Altinli (BNITM).

Our Leibniz Postdoc Network had its 6th Annual Meeting on 16th and 17th of November achieving a record participation. After a short introduction by our spokesperson Marta Ferreira-Gomes (DRFZ), the first day started with Dr. Bettina Bohm’s welcome talk from the Leibniz Head office. In her talk, Dr. Böhm highlighted the appreciation the head office has for the activity and engagement of the Leibniz  Postdoc Network, especially regarding current topics such as sustainability, working conditions, diversity and inclusion in science. A short update from the Network’s working groups provided the basis for further discussion during these two days of the annual meeting. We then continued with the keynote talk from Dr. Kristin Eichhorn about the #IchBinHanna campaign and related issues with the (in)famous Wissenschaftszeitvertragsgesetz (WissZeitVG).

A lively Q&A session made it clear that everybody can contribute to this campaign by spreading the word and raising awareness while a newer version of the law is currently being drafted. We also debated what can be achieved at the Leibniz Institutes by establishing postdoc initiatives. To kick start the discussion, Christian Nehls (FZB), coordinator of our very own Public Communication & Advocacy working group, presented the story of the establishment of the Borstel Postdoc Initative at FZB and shared his experience as a representative. The following discussion in breakout rooms highlighted once more the similarities of the difficulties postdocs face even in different institutes, and that the communication between postdocs initiatives can help overcome these. The first day was concluded with a round table coordinated by Christian Nehls (FZB) and Gregor Kalinkat (IGB), participants of the interview series and members from the steering committee discussed what defines interdisciplinary research and what are the associated advantages/disadvantages (see also our new blog series).

The second day started with a fantastic recap of the first day agenda by our spokesperson Rajini Nagrani (BIPS) and short presentations from the Leibniz PhD Network, the Max Planck PostdocNet, the Coordination Group of Staff at Leibniz and the Workers Council of the Leibniz Association. The LPN thanks the networks and Leibniz Head office for their support and hopes to continue our collaborations in the coming year! Next up, Dr. Hanna Schade (IfADo) shared her insights on “Burnout among Junior Researchers” with us. She highlighted that we can put the theory into practice and balance demands to resources and effort to reward (job demands-resources model) to prevent burnout in academic work life. The importance of early recognition of burnout signs, talking to your colleagues and changing the scientific culture of “not quitting” and “workaholism” became clear both through her talk and the following Q&A session. To wrap up our annual meeting, the different working groups held breakout sessions where the participants became a part of the discussion. These discussions are essential to provide a basis for the next year’s initiatives and also to find new members who are interested in joining our work force. If you missed this session but are still interested in becoming a member of one of the working groups, do not hesitate the contact the WG coordinators! Last but not least, the spokesperson election was held, and Marta Ferreira-Gomes (DRFZ) and Mine Altinli (BNITM) were elected as the new spokesperson of the Leibniz Postdoc Network. We thank the LPN steering committee and alumni for all their hard work and the Leibniz postdoc community for their active participation. We are both very excited and looking forward to working together with the steering committee, WG members and the Leibniz Head Office for better working conditions for all!

All the best from the newly elected LPN Spokespersons, Marta and Mine


The second Leibniz PostDoc Survey is open for participation

This post was written by Dr. Daniela Fiedler and Dr. Thomas Lösch, coordinators of the Working Group “WG1 PostDoc Survey”.

Participants of the Leibniz PostDoc Network and followers of our Blog or on Twitter might be aware that the working group “WG1 PostDoc Survey” is busy double-jobbing:

Firstly, we are close to finalizing the “Report of the first Leibniz PostDoc Survey”, which we hope will be published towards the end of this year. Stay tuned for this!

And secondly, we were preparing to launch the second Leibniz PostDoc Survey, which is NOW (!) open for participation. We urge current (and incoming) Leibniz PostDocs at all Leibniz Institutes to participate in the survey. Every response counts!

By now, all Leibniz PostDocs should have received an email invitation via the mailing list of the Leibniz PostDoc Network or coordinators at the respective Leibniz Institutes – remember to check your spam folders!

Wait, you did not get an email? Please sign up for our Leibniz PostDoc Network mailing list and reach out to Dr. Daniela Fiedler or Dr. Thomas Lösch for the survey link.

What is the second Leibniz PostDoc Survey about?

Postdocs are an integral part of the scientific staff and received more attention in the Leibniz Association through the establishment of the Leibniz PostDoc Network in 2017 and the first Leibniz PostDoc Survey in 2020. Data from the survey provides the Leibniz PostDoc Network with an evidence basis to develop their strategic actions. Currently, results from the first survey are used to advocate the needs of Leibniz PostDocs at various meetings of the Leibniz Association. The report – which summarizes the results – will likely be published towards the end of this year.

Results of the first survey show that although Leibniz PostDocs are a diverse group of individuals, they still share common needs and problems. Understanding their diversity is critical for supporting them. In particular, three topics emerged where the working group “WG1 PostDoc Survey” recommends to take action: Career perspectives, discrimination, and support for international Leibniz PostDocs. Overall, the results of our first survey provide a more detailed picture of Leibniz PostDocs and their experiences, interests, and needs.

The second survey aims at providing an update: Things might have changed since the first survey in 2020. New Leibniz PostDocs may have joined the Leibniz Association, others might have left, and for many, their professional situation might be different than two years ago. Additionally, the situation for academia as a whole changed during the last two years. So, we also included new topics in the survey, targeting aspects like working remotely or mental health. With all these questions, we hope to provide evidence on topics that currently matter for Leibniz PostDocs.

Who can participate?

The survey is open for all individuals in the Leibniz Association who have completed their PhD or submitted their doctoral thesis and have not yet gained a permanent position as a professor (also called Leibniz PostDocs). Leibniz PostDocs are invited via email distributed through the Leibniz PostDoc Network mailing list. Additionally, representatives in each Leibniz Institute are asked to distribute the survey invitation internally via their respective postdoc mailing lists. If you have not yet received an email, please contact Dr. Daniela Fiedler or Dr. Thomas Lösch for the survey link.

The Working Group “WG1 PostDoc Survey”

The group consists of passionate Leibniz PostDocs from diverse Leibniz Institutes working together to achieve a shared goal: Collect and provide data on Leibniz PostDocs to get an idea about who Leibniz PostDocs are and how they are doing at their Leibniz Institutes. Current members, who are also responsible for the second Leibniz PostDoc Survey, are the two coordinators, Dr. Daniela Fiedler (IPN) and Dr. Thomas Lösch (DIPF), as well as the team members Dr. Regina Becker (LIfBi), Dr. Sabrina Sobieraj (IfADo), and Dr. Harry Williams (BNITM).

edited 2022-01-13

Who are the editors behind the Leibniz PostDoc interview series?

This blog post is the first part of our second interview series starting in fall 2022. In case you missed it you can find a short overview about the 2021 interview series and links to each individual interview in this recap post from May 2022 . After the topical focus on COVID-19 in 2021 we decided to cover a more general topic in our second series. We want to highlight the importance of interdisciplinary work at the Leibniz Association (and beyond) and let researchers tell us about their experiences when conducting interdisciplinary academic work. For the opener of the series Marvin Bähr from Leibniz headquarters suggested an interview where we, instead of asking questions, have to provide answers for once. We hope you enjoy it.

Gregor Kalinkat and Christian Nehls on Science Communication and a New Set of Interviews on Interdisciplinary Research

Marvin Bähr: What motivated you to do these interview series?

Christian: When the Covid-pandemic hit, there was an increased awareness for scientists in Germany and all over the world. But in most of the cases, the persons in the spotlight were the senior scientists. Therefore, we thought of possibilities to bring some of the spotlight also to the junior researchers that are contributing significantly to successful projects.

Gregor: In addition, we wanted to use the new-built website to present the Leibniz postdocs as the multidisciplinary and diverse community that they are. 

Christian Nehls (left) and Gregor Kalinkat (right), initiators and editors of the Leibniz Postdoc Interview series and speakers of the of the working group “Public Communication and Advocacy” of the Leibniz PostDoc Network

Run us through the work you put into an interview. What has to happen behind the scenes until publication?

Gregor: At the beginning of a series, we draft a questionnaire as a basis for the interviews, but then each one will be customized following the flow of a conversation. And before an interview is published, it goes through two or three rounds of revisions together with the interviewees. Over the course of this process, we also integrate feedback from the PostDoc Network steering committee, to help make what the interviewees want to convey more concise.

Christian: And this support from the steering committee is very important for quality control, because obviously Gregor and I come from single disciplines and are by no means experts on every research topic.

What is the most interesting thing you each learned about Covid-19 research during last year’s interview series?

Gregor: That’s a tough question! *both laughing*

Christian: Well, when you look at the news, you get the impression that most of the Covid research is done by virologists, but when reading our interview series, you get a completely different picture. That picture is, of course, also biased, but it is the huge diversity of disciplines, which impressed me most.

Gregor: You could highlight so many excellent contributions to the series, but the one that probably impressed me most, was the one from Dr. Ajit Ahlawat (TROPOS) on aerosol transmission in indoor spaces. He and his coauthors showed that the rate of infection depends a lot on the humidity in the room. If the air is humid enough, transmission will be lower.

Why do a new interview series on interdisciplinarity?

Gregor: We think interdisciplinarity is an extremely important topic. To really tackle the big questions, working across disciplines is key. The last two years have shown this and future challenges cannot be solved without interdisciplinary cooperation.

Christian: I fully agree. The biggest global challenges can only be solved with interdisciplinary approaches. And at Leibniz institutes, we implement these approaches every day.

As researchers, what are your experiences with interdisciplinary work?

Gregor: As an ecologist, I have always worked across disciplines. In ecology, people may have a degree in biology or physics or veterinary medicine, and then there are others who come from agricultural or environmental sciences, all tackling common questions together. In my experience, working with people that have different and diverse backgrounds is always a great opportunity to learn.

Christian: I am a biophysicist and biophysics is per se an interdisciplinary research area. In our group at the Research Center Borstel (FZB), there are always chemists, biologists and physicists working together. And currently, together with researchers from TROPOS, other Leibniz-Institutes and Cape Verde, I am working in the DUSTRISK-project, which is funded by the Leibniz Competition. It aims to developed a risk-index for respiratory diseases associated with desert dust and is highly interdisciplinary. The goal of this project is to combine the results of different research groups working in different fields into one single formula. Now that’s really fancy! I am very excited to see how this works.

Why do you think some researchers shy away from interdisciplinary environments?

Christian: Well, I think a very lively communication culture is most important in interdisciplinary work. It’s all about communication, I believe. To built a truly interdisciplinary research environment, it is necessary that the researchers are not just working in parallel, but devote time to conversation and exchange. And yet, this is work that not all researchers are used to do. What is more, in interdisciplinary contexts you regularly have to leave your comfort zone and accept that there is content matter you do not understand. This can be uncomfortable.

What would you have liked to know before you first started doing interdisciplinary research?

Gregor: Reflecting upon this question, I realize that during my whole academic career I have been working with researchers from other disciplines. And going back even further, already as a student I routinely attended lectures from a variety of fields. I guess intrinsic motivation played a large part in that. Therefore, I do not feel fully equipped to give advice to someone who would be hesitant to dive into interdisciplinarity.

Christian: What I would have liked to know before, is how much fun it is. Because if I would have known, I would have started earlier. *everybody laughing*

Is there such a thing as an interdisciplinary spirit and how can research organizations foster it?

Gregor: Absolutely! You have to bring people together and create an atmosphere, where everyone feels welcomed and appreciated with their specific expertise that is contributing to a bigger aim. That’s crucial.

Christian: For me it goes back to the lively discussion culture that we talked about earlier. Research organizations can help create it. In our institutional seminar, where this culture is palpable, discussions can be challenging because we know each other well and are highly interested in each other’s projects. The result is that many critical questions are raised, which can be a kind of acid test, especially for doctoral researchers. But when you make it there, you can make it anywhere! *♫ New York New York ♫*

New call for interview partners from the Leibniz Postdoc Network: the pleasure (and pain) of interdisciplinary collaboration

Currently, humankind faces a series of immense societal challenges that will shape life on our planet for generations to come. Recent developments reaffirm our conviction that these challenges cannot be addressed without a strong contribution from science. To put it more precisely: interdisciplinary, evidence-based scientific approaches that tackle these enormous challenges from multiple angles are desperately needed yet their integration is often a huge challenge by itself.

As we have been announcing recently, our interview series that revolved around COVID-19 in 2021 will get a sequel in 2022. This time, we want to address a more general issue in academia namely the challenges and opportunities in interdisciplinary research projects1. The format we envision includes two (or, on occasion also more) postdocs who work together in a research project at one or more Leibniz institutes and who are going to talk with us about the interdisciplinary nature of their project and what they have learned during this kind of work.

More specifically here are the requirements:

  • At least one of the researchers involved should currently be a postdoc at a Leibniz-Institute. The second researcher might well come from a university or another research institute (e.g. a Helmholtz Institute), preferably from Germany (but we are open to international collaboration projects as long as at least one postdoc is Leibniz-affiliated). Interdisciplinary work involving partners from industry or federal agencies will also be considered.
  • We prefer if all researchers involved are in the postdoc phase but we will also consider submissions where part of the team is a doctoral student.
  • We are aware that where exactly interdisciplinary scientific work starts is debatable. For instance a collaboration between a physicist and a biochemist addressing protein folding mechanisms in molecular biology might be seen as a pure natural science project by a historian. As with the handling of our last interview series, we want to address this issue first and foremost with an inclusive approach – so in most cases if you think you are working in an interdisciplinary project team we will consider you interdisciplinary researchers.

If your work meets our criteria and you are motivated to answer some questions and contribute to raising awareness about the need for interdisciplinary research and about science communication in general, send us your informal application to by 31/08/2022. Please be sure to use the email subject “Interview WG2”! The email should include:

  • Title and brief description of the project
  • Name, institute, status (postdoc, PhD student, …) and email address for all scientists involved in the interview

We are looking forward to your applications and to working with you! Together we can make a difference!

1As a footnote we want to stress that the differences between inter-, trans- and multidisciplinary academic research were not completely lost on us but for the sake of brevity and clarity we stick with one term here. We envision that the differentiation between these terms and what they actually mean for us will form a vital part of the interviews in the series. Just in case you never thought about these differences here’s a short blog post on the topic.

Report from the Networking Meeting 2022 “Media for Scientists”

Facilitating networking is one of the most important topics of the Leibniz PostDoc Network. Since our annual general meeting has been held online for two years, we have organized a

Network Meeting – Media for Scientists

on June 22 and 23 in Frankfurt am Main

hosted by the Senckenberg Museum.

First things first: We would like to thank our spokesperson Marta Ferreira-Gomes for organizing this wonderful event. She was supported by Rajini Nagrani, our second speaker – our thanks go to her as well.

The session began with an engaging summary by Marta of the structure of our network and the activities of the working groups. Her presentation perfectly introduced the high-quality courses that followed. Our first workshop was an introduction to the use of social media for scientists, especially to reach the non-scientific community. The workshop could not have been more professionally arranged than by Rebecca Winkels and Janne Steenbeck from Wissenschaft im Dialog. The 18 participants were very engaged with the content and lively discussed the pros and cons of the different platforms. In the second half, we were able to test our new knowledge with the task of creating a post for one of the platforms.

Day 1 was concluded with a convivial dinner outdoors on a warm summer evening. Participants had the opportunity to network, discuss new collaborations and topics related to the Leibniz PostDoc Network.

It must be mentioned that our hosts provided us with excellent catering during the meeting. So nobody had to start day 2 hungry. This time we divided into 2 groups, one of which received a practical lesson on video creation with Mathis Horlacher.

The first group followed Matthias Horlacher, self employed media scientist for a 3 hour workshop containing theory and practical aspects about video production via the smart phone. This interactive course first introduced us to the concepts of a video production, such as making a story board (skript) and thinking about location and settings. In a hands-on activity, we learned how to speak freely in front of the cell phone camera of our colleagues and realized how important it is to get practice to feel comfortable in front of the camera.Then we learned a lot about the production process itself, about camera angle, light conditions and so on. We concluded with more tipps on editing using the right software (apps). In summary the workshop was a lot of fun, as through the small group we could ask a lot of questions and had lively discussion with our peers.

The second group followed Dr. Katja Flieger from Medientraining für Wissensschaflter into a media landscape survival training. We learned about offline and online media and strategies for dealing with them. Especially the tips on risks and critical situations will be of practical use for all of us. In the practical part, we created a post about our work and had it improved first by a partner and then – in a lively and stimulating discussion – by all participants and the trainer.

Watch out, non-scientists: we are professionals now and will explain our science to you with relentless clarity.

(Christiane Schmidt | ZMT & Christian Nehls | FZB)

PS:

  • We interviewed Marta Ferreira-Gomes about the Networking Meeting. Find her answers HERE.
  • If you would like to learn more about the Leibniz PostDoc Network or are interested in contributing to the network, have a look HERE or drop us a message!

Networking Meeting 2022: Interview with Marta Ferreira-Gomes

The Leibniz PostDoc Network is organizing a Networking Meeting. This year’s topic will be “Media for Scientists”. We have asked Marta Ferreira-Gomes what postdocs can expect from this meeting and why she thinks media competence is important for a scientist’s career.

Marta, thanks for being available for this interview. You are one of the spokespersons of the Leibniz PostDoc Network. What was your motivation to run for this position?

My biggest motivation was the feeling I could do a little more for the Postdoc community. As our job is so demanding – we need to be good scientists, writers, public speakers, teachers, managers – it is important to have a platform which listens to our needs, advocates for us and tries to support our career development.

Marta Ferreira-Gomes, spokesperson of the Leibniz PostDoc Network

The Leibniz PostDoc Network is organizing an Annual Meeting in fall and a Networking Meeting in summer. What distinguishes the two formats?

Our Annual Meeting is centered in the Network and its activities. For that we organize two days for presenting the Network, listening to the Postdocs and debating their needs, recruiting new active members and having elections. This meeting is organized in a virtual format so we can reach the maximum possible number of Postdocs.

The Networking Meeting is thought and organized having Postdoc needs in mind. We want to create a meeting with interactive workshops where Postdocs can learn or perfect skills which are important for our demanding jobs. All that in an environment that promotes networking and experience exchange.

Why did you decide for the topic “Media for Scientists”, and what can postdocs expect from this format?

Every year in our Annual Meeting we ask the participants what their needs are, and the topic “Media” has repeatedly popped up. Based on this, we have tried to organize interactive workshops which are beyond what is more commonly available. In this case on day 1 we start with a more general approach on how to navigate media and on day 2 participants can choose between a workshop dedicated to a new approach to science communication – the use of smartphones and video – and a workshop where the objective is to learn how to interact with the media and specifically journalists and what do they expect form us.

If we are to list key skills for scientists, most would not immediately think of media. What makes the topic relevant for scientists?

The importance of science communication has increased in recent years. More and more Postdocs face situations in which they need to present their work for non-scientific audiences. The Leibniz Postdoc Network wants to help postdocs to be prepared for this demand.

It was a pleasure to speak with you, Marta. We are now even more looking forward to this event. See you there!

You can register and inform us about your workshop preferences by following this link: https://drive.leibniz-postdoc.net/index.php/apps/forms/NNePesie22tLcCqk

Registration will close on June 15.

An update from the communication group

It’s been a while since we published the last interview in our COVID-19 interview series. We always had planned to publish a short recap post after the series is terminated and – better late than never – here it is! In addition we will also give a short outlook about what is going to happen next here on this blog.

First we present you a short summary of the 2021 COVID-19 Leibniz postdocs interview series: in total we featured 14 postdocs from twelve Leibniz-Institutes in twelve interviews on our blog between May and December 2021. Additionally, we published the initial call in February 2021 and an introductory post when we started the series. Links to each single interview are provided below. For a summary, also have a look at the bar diagrams below. There you can see, based on results from the last Leibniz Postdoc Survey, that Section E (Environmental Sciences) was highly over-represented. On the other hand, section D (Mathematics, Natural Sciences, Engineering) was severely underrepresented with zero contributions (Figure 1a). We can only speculate why this happened, maybe it could be partially explained with fewer topics that are directly related to the pandemic. The representation of the remaining three Leibniz sections in the interview series was fairly similar to their share of overall postdocs at Leibniz (Figure 1a).

A second category we can look at is the nationality of the postdocs that were featured in the blog series: Eight of the 14 interview partners were researchers from Germany while the other six have represented the rest of the world (Figure 1b). This reflects the overall relationship as revealed through the survey very well where international postdocs were only slightly over-represented.

Figure 1b: share of German and international postdocs within the Leibniz Association versus their representation in our interview series.

We conclude with the “winners” who received the highest single page views per individual blog post:

While we (Christian and Gregor) did most of the organizing and editing work for the series we want to also express our sincere gratitude towards all the people who supported us: Johanna and Felix for technical support, Marta for support with questionnaire design, the entire steering committee for help with proof reading and copy-editing, Marvin Bähr from Leibniz headquarters, and, of course, all participants who took the time to answer our questions. Thank you!

If you wonder now if there will be a sequel to our series: Yes, we are in the midst of planning and we will publish a new call in the next couple of weeks. The new call will also come in tandem with another interview which we won’t give you more details at the moment. Stay tuned for more 🙂

Yours

Christian Nehls & Gregor Kalinkat

PS: Here are the links to all other interviews: