PostdocNet Letter to the President

(The original letter was sent to the President Martin Stratmann on 10 December 2019.)

Dear Prof. Dr. Stratmann,

The PostdocNet, founded last April, brings together postdoctoral researchers of the Max Planck Gesellschaft (MPG) and represents the interests of the postdoctoral community across all Max Planck Institutes (MPIs). Our goal is to improve their working conditions, scientific development and enhance the career perspectives of postdoctoral researchers. We believe that in doing so we contribute to improving the MPG as a place that fosters excellence and help maintain its position as an international hub for ground-breaking research. 

We have outlined two proposals for 2020, further detailed in two attached documents, that we believe will strengthen the postdoctoral community within the MPG. Both proposals support the mission of excellence of the MPG through fostering creative potential between MPIs and by improving the social and employment conditions of postdoctoral researchers. 

Firstly, we propose the creation of a new grant scheme that will enable a new means for postdoctoral researchers to establish novel interdisciplinary research within the MPG. Our proposal includes two distinct grant modalities with different ambitions and different time scales: a short exchange grant and a long collaborative grant. Aligned to the aims of the MPG, these grants build cross-disciplinary bridges and further promote the career of excellent postdoctoral researchers.

Secondly, we have conducted a survey that gathers feedback about the working conditions of 745 postdoctoral researchers at 76 different MPIs. Our survey has uncovered major issues that affect the postdoctoral body of the MPG. These include different forms of unequal treatment as well as limited access to basic social rights, such as health insurance. In our view, urgent measures need to be taken to put an end to this situation, which undermines our Society’s commitment to providing excellent working conditions to the best researchers. In the attached document, we provide specific recommendations as to how to address these serious problems.

The global postdoctoral community faces significant challenges, both social and scientific. We believe that the MPG is perfectly placed as an organization to set an example to the world for the treatment of its postdoctoral community by enacting changes that benefit postdocs across its network rather than on a per-institute basis. 

For the above reasons we kindly request a meeting with you at your earliest convenience to discuss our initiatives and concerns.