Looking at this reports makes me realised why very few Singaporeans wanted to be researchers. I’m now sure how much Singaporeans know about a research staff’s pay package, but there are many factors that contribute to it.

First, to hire a researcher (from a university’s stand point, to what I know), there has to be (i) quite obviously, a project and (ii) funding. The funding may be from (i) a school/college (e.g. school of biological sciences, one of the schools of engineering, college of sciences, etc.) (ii) a research funding awarded from an external source (e.g. National Research Fund, EDB-POC, etc.) or (iii) collaborators (e.g. NCCS, GSK, SGH, etc.).

Such funding is usually obtained from submission of a proposal by a Principal Investigator (or PI) to either a body or the school, dependent on the level of control that the school/university/research institute (RI) wants. Sometimes, the university wants to control the standard of proposal that is being submitted, and this is usually the first barrier.

Once the proposal had been approved by the school/university/RI, it will then be submitted to the awarding body. Depending on the type of award that the PI is applying for, one of more PIs/collaborators may be needed. This usually corresponds to the size of the award – the bigger the award, the larger the group. It is also in this proposal that states the amount that is allocated to research staff.

If the proposal wins the award, the money that is given will then be allocated to all the parties involved and research work begins. This is when the actual hiring and work starts.

In the next part of this 2 3-part series, we will look at the exceptions and situations that can arise from winning an award – which will then touch on a researcher’s actual pay package.

Disclaimer: This is based on what the author knew from prior experience and may not correlate with individual experiences or actual procedures from other grant awarding bodies.

AFTER graduating from the National University of Singapore last year, Ms Ann Koh drifted from one advertising job to another and made between $1,500 and $2,000.

In May, the Arts graduate seized the chance to join a media company and scored a pay rise of nearly 80 per cent.

Ms Koh’s experience is typical of many others in a bumper year for jobseekers, where a booming economy and a labour crunch has pushed the median salary for full-timers up to $2,330.

The numbers dwarf the pay increases of recent years.

The median salary rose only about 1.6 per cent annually between 2004 and 2006. Between 1998 and 2004, the increase was about 1.2 per cent per year.

This latest set of robust numbers comes from a report released on Tuesday by the Ministry of Manpower (MOM), which focuses on Singaporeans and permanent residents in the workforce.

The rosy picture that emerged from the report was largely expected by economists and human resource experts.

In fact, Mr Paul Heng of NeXt Career Consulting was expecting it to be even higher.

‘Even if you told me it was 9 per cent, I wouldn’t be surprised,’ he said. ‘I think everyone knows it’s been a good year for the economy.’

Article obtained from straitstimes.com on 27th November 2007

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