In light of the recent release of the National Recent Council report The Postdoctoral Experience Revisited as well as my recent analysis of the age distribution of New and Early Stage Investigators, I have been thinking again about optimal time for a postdoctoral experience. From an analysis that we did when I was at NIGMS and subsequently shared through Drugmonkey, the median postdoctoral period among NIGMS grantees who received R01s in FY2004-2006 was 5.0 years. It seems likely that this period has increased subsequently.
Many factors contribute to the length of a postdoctoral experience including training needs, career options, other life factors, and so on. Here, I would like to get thoughts on how long a postdoctoral experience purely FROM A TRAINING PERSPECTIVE. In other words, how much time in a postdoctoral experience does a young scientist need to learn new concepts, techniques, and so on without regard to the need to accumulate publications, etc. in order to be competitive for their desired career path?