Brussels, 19 Feb 2004
A survey by The Scientist has found that access to publications and journals is considered the most important attribute of a university by postdoctorate researchers.
The journal received over 3,500 usable responses from the US, Canada and Western Europe to a questionnaire asking postdocs to assess their working conditions and environments, and to indicate which factors are most important to them.
In addition to access to publications and journals, high quality research tools and career preparation support were also rated very highly by respondents.
A list of the top institutions both within and outside the US was created by taking the average score per institution for all factors. The UK dominates the list of the top 15 institutions outside the US, followed by the Netherlands, with seven and three institutions respectively. Sweden's Karolinska Institute is the only other European establishment to appear in the list, the other places being occupied by Canada.
The UK's University of Liverpool is ranked second in the list (after Canada's University of Alberta), confirming the results of a recent national research assessment exercise. The survey is carried out every five years, and those universities and colleges judged to be conducting the highest quality research receive higher government funding. The University of Liverpool had not been ranked among the UK's top universities, but began a turnaround in 2001. It received high marks for many scientific disciplines, and 93 per cent of staff were assessed to be performing at the highest levels.
While the University of Liverpool is fairly small in terms of its postdoc population (currently 54), number five in the top 15 is the Dutch Erasmus Medical Centre with 700 postdocs. The potential earnings of postdocs at the Erasmus Medical Centre are also the highest, rising to 79,925 euro per annum.
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