“Grad student” is short for “graduate student.” That is pretty obvious, and any chemist who doesn’t know as much has probably inhaled too many solvent vapors. While it might be a bit more complicated, I am continually amazed by how many people in our field misunderstand and misuse the term “postdoc” in both conversation and writing.
So, let’s get some things straight:
- The term “postdoc” is a shortened version of postdoctoral scholar or postdoctoral fellow. I imagine there are other administrative variations in how institutions identify those engaged in postdoctoral research, but those two titles are pretty standard.
Minor usage note: In my book, all postdocs are postdoctoral scholars, but only those who hold funded fellowships are postdoctoral fellows.
Usage note: “Postdoc” is a colloquial term and should not be used in formal documents like CVs. Instead, “postdoctoral scholar” (or the equivalent) should be used.
Major usage note: Postdoctoral scholars and postdoctoral fellows should hesitate to use their full titles in everyday conversation. “Postdoc” is sufficient. Anyone who introduces himself as a “postdoctoral scholar” is a pompous twerp.
- Postdoc can be used both as a noun (the position) and a verb (to serve in that position)
- The grammatical and orthographical rules of English still apply to the term postdoc. Remember, when conjugating postdoc for its use as a verb, you may have to add a “k”. For instance:
Guido is a postdoc for Erick C.
Guido postdocs for Erick C.
Guido is postdocking for Erick C.
And after Guido is terminated for not working 100 hours/week…
Guido postdocked for Erick C.
I’m not just making this crap up; the same rules apply to the verbs frolic, mimic, panic, picnic, and traffic.
The variations “postdoced”, “postdocing”, and “postdoccing” are plain wrong, and using them will make people think less of you. Sadly, even Science Magazine and the National Postdoctoral Association royally screw this up.
I guess English Ph.D.s don’t postdoc.