Term of the month: P as in postdoc What is the next stage of an academic career after obtaining a Doctor’s degree? Once a scholar has been awarded a Doctor’s degree, he or she is able to opt for an academic career. At the University of St.Gallen, this starts with employment by one of the institutes or research centres. Researchers at this stage after obtaining their Doctor’s degree are called postdocs. To begin with, postdocs do not conduct their research in complete independence. According to the international frame of reference, such postdocs are "recognised researchers" at a time when they frequently still also have job interests: some postdocs continue their career outside the University. Others opt for an academic career and build up a scientific portfolio over the next few years, which leads towards a professorial appointment. In the German-speaking area, this usually involves the habilitation process, with which postdocs provide evidence of comprehensively mastering their own subject in teaching and research. Above and beyond this, they should provide proof of publications in specialist journals written on their own or in an international co-authorship, they should have experience in teaching at university level, have led a research team and raised third-party funds. In that case, they will then increasingly be perceived as "established researchers". The raising of third-party funds is one of the most important issues for postdocs for they usually finance their positions themselves. On the one hand, third-party funds are made available by public institutions such as the HSG or the Swiss National Science Foundation (SNSF). At the HSG, the most important instrument for postdocs is the Basic Research Fund. At present, 21 postdocs are financing themselves through this fund. On the other hand, postdocs also fund their research through projects with industrial partners. The postdoc stage is not a clearly defined career step. The academics who are among the HSG’s postdocs occupy positions such as project leaders, project staff, research staff, assistants. Correspondingly, postdocs’ functions vary. Postdocs take on essential functions in research, services and teaching.