Partnering with postdocs: a library model for supporting postdoctoral researchers and educating the academic research community




Postdocs, Postdoctoral, Science Communication, Networking, Teaching, Instruction, Program Development, Libraries, Translational


Background: A mutually beneficial need exists between postdoctoral scholars (postdocs) who want to grow their science communication, networking, and teaching skills and those in the general health sciences research community who want to learn more about specialized topics. Recognizing this need, interdepartmental teams at two public universities began offering postdocs a teaching opportunity at their health sciences libraries, which serve as discipline-neutral learning spaces for researchers.

Case Presentation: At the University of Pittsburgh (Pitt) and Virginia Commonwealth University (VCU), postdocs are invited to submit talk proposals on “how to do something” related to the health sciences. Selected postdoc speakers conduct one-hour talks, get science communication and teaching support, have their talks uploaded to YouTube, and receive feedback from attendees.

Conclusions: Postdoc participants appreciated being able to participate in this program, and attendees strongly indicated that the talks are of value. At VCU, surveys of the 25 talks from 2015–2018 showed that 91% of attendees believed they had a better understanding of the topic because of their attendance, and 85% planned to use the knowledge they gained. More than a year after their talks, several postdocs across both institutions informed the coordinators that they were subsequently contacted for advice or further discussion, with 2 postdocs stating that it helped them with job opportunities. This model can be easily adapted at other health sciences libraries to benefit their academic communities.


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Case Report