Monday, October 31, 2011

A marketplace for Harvard babysitters

If you work at Harvard, you might be able to hire a Harvard student as a babysitter. Here's the announcement:

Dear Colleague,

I am writing to let you know about an exciting new service available exclusively to the Harvard community: It’s a Harvard PIN-protected babysitting website, called Web Access to Care at Harvard, or the WATCH portal.  Please visit the site at [xxx]

The WATCH portal links Harvard parents – faculty, staff and students – to Harvard students, both undergraduate and graduate, who want to babysit. In addition, Harvard employees are able to sponsor high school and college students who are members of their families to be babysitters.

If you are a parent and think you might need child care in the future, please register with the site and feel free to browse caregiver profiles. If you are actively looking for child care right now, please go ahead and post a job! And if you have high school or college age children interested in babysitting, register them as well.

We’re very excited about this new service and the opportunities it brings to maximize connections within the Harvard community.  

Kidney exchange--gaps in financing

Here's a disturbing editorial from the Globe and Mail, published Oct. 26, 2011. It represents one of the (many) gaps in financing that reflect the growth pangs of kidney exchange. This and other more systematic financial issues need to be resolved if kidney exchange (also called kidney paired donation or, in Canada apparently, kidney swaps) is to stabilize and reach its full potential as a treatment option. In this case an altruistic donor has been left without proper care.

Help the life-giver left with the disfigured body

"Donating a kidney to a stranger is an act of love – and of life. It allows a sick person to become healthy again, and saves the medical system $50,000 a year.

"There is inherent risk in all surgery, but donors assume that, if something goes wrong, the system will take care of them.

"However, that is not what happened to a man from British Columbia who donated his kidney to an anonymous recipient in Toronto in 2009, as part of an innovative new “kidney swap” program. He ended up with a bulge on the left side of his abdomen caused by a pinched nerve during surgery. “Every time I look down, I see this big flap of skin. The nerve that contracts the muscle was cut, which means that the area is flabby and lopsided,” he says. He has tried for two years to get B.C. Health to pay for the surgery to correct his asymmetrical abdomen; the ministry has refused, however, saying the $10,000 operation would be cosmetic. The Ontario hospital where he donated his kidney says it can't help him either."

Sunday, October 30, 2011

The roommate problem on TV

James Boudreau writes to alert us to some matching theory on television:

"The NBC show ``Community'' chronicles the misadventures of a diverse and wacky group of students at a community college.  On the last night's episode (season 3, episode three, ``Competitive Ecology'') the group was confronted with the problem of dividing into pairs for the purpose of being lab partners.  When their initial pairings don't work out, one member of the group realizes that they are in a classic roommates problem and suggests that they re-match by writing down lists of ordinal preferences and submitting them to one member of the group who is unanimously selected  as the matchmaker.  Unfortunately, the algorithm that the matchmaker uses (which focuses on balancing popularity across the pairs) proves to be unstable--eventually the group is forced to share one set of equipment since they can not agree on pairings.

"The episode is currently available for free on Hulu.  The most relevant scene begins at about 8:20.  Later on, around 14:33, one member of the group even accuses others of strategically manipulating their preferences to suggest that he is unpopular. "

Saturday, October 29, 2011

Buy and Sell First Dates (now we're just bargaining over the price)

That's the idea behind What's Your, a two sided dating platform in which Generous People (appears to be mostly guys) can negotiate a price to meet Attractive People (appears to be mostly girls). (It reminds me of the old joke whose punchline is "now we're just bargaining over the price."

How it works:Three Steps To Using
  • Fill out your profile and upload a photo...

    Your experience with starts with filling out a profile about yourself, who you'd like to meet and what you expect on a first date. In order to use the website, you must have an approved profile, and at least one approve photo of yourself.
  • Make an offer or accept an offer...

    Once you find the people you'd like to date, ask them out by making an offer. If you're a generous user, name the price you're willing to pay for the first date. And, if you're an attractive user, name the price you want to get paid for the first date. Our offer negotiating system will allow you to accept an offer, reject an offer, or counter with a different price.
  • Send a message to setup a date!

    Once an offer is accepted, you're ready to plan the date. Simply write a message to schedule a time and place for your first date. It's simple and it's fun! First Date Etiquette

After you've accepted an offer for a first date, it's time to plan and schedule the first date. You may want to check out some of our first date ideas, but do try to be creative. The next thing you may be wondering is how does a generous user of the website go about paying an attractive user for the first date. Here are some general etiquette and rules regarding Do's and Don'ts.
* DO NOT pay or ask anyone for payment prior to meeting for a date
* If someone asks you to send money by Western Union, report them immediately
* Generous members are expected to pay for the date (there's no going dutch here)
* Our advice: Pay 50% of the date at the start of the date, and 50% at the end
* DO NOT accept personal checks or cashier's checks - there's just too much fraud
* CASH is king, and pay only when you meet your date in person

HT: James W. Boudreau

Friday, October 28, 2011

Brooklyn man pleads guilty to trafficking black market kidneys

Yesterday, in Trenton NJ, Brooklyn man pleads guilty to trafficking black market kidneys to N.J. residents

"The price was steep. As much as $160,000 to secure a donor willing to give up a human kidney for transplant.

"And Levy Itzhak Rosenbaum ... bragged on surveillance recordings that he had participated in many such black market deals.

"Today, the 60-year-old Israeli pleaded guilty in federal court to helping an FBI informant procure a kidney as part of an elaborate federal sting. At the same time, he admitted arranging transplants for three other New Jersey patients with failing kidneys — all of whom underwent surgery in out-of-state hospitals after paying Rosenbaum. None of the patients or hospitals was named, nor were they charged.

"It marked the first time in this country anyone has ever been convicted for brokering illegal kidney transplants for profit."

See my earlier post on this case:

Monday, July 27, 2009

Corruption and kidneys in New Jersey and Brooklyn

the Haaretz story is very good, so I'm quoting a lot of it below:
New York man pleads guilty to selling Israeli human organs

"His attorneys, Ronald Kleinberg and Richard Finkel, said in a statement that their client had performed a life-saving service for desperately ill people who had been languishing on official transplant waiting lists.

"The transplants were successful and the donors and recipients are now leading full and healthy lives," the statement said. "In fact, because of the transplants and for the first time in many years, the recipients are no longer burdened by the medical and substantial health dangers associated with dialysis and kidney failure."
"The lawyers added that Rosenbaum had never solicited clients, but that recipients had sought him out, and that the donors he arranged to give up kidneys were fully aware of what they were doing. The money involved, they argued, was for expenses associated with the procedures, which they claim were performed in prestigious American hospitals by experienced surgeons and transplant experts. The lawyers did not name the hospitals involved, nor are they named in court documents.
"Prosecutors argued that Rosenbaum was fully aware he was running an illicit and profitable operation - buying organs from vulnerable people in Israel for $10,000, and selling them to desperate, wealthy American patients.
"A black market in human organs is not only a grave threat to public health, it reserves lifesaving treatment for those who can best afford it at the expense of those who cannot," said New Jersey's U.S. Attorney, Paul Fishman. "We will not tolerate such an affront to human dignity."
"Each of the four counts carries a maximum five-year prison sentence plus a fine of up to $250,000. Rosenbaum also agreed to forfeit $420,000 in real or personal property that was derived from the illegal kidney sales.
"Although the hospitals where the operations Rosenbaum arranged have not been named, critics and experts on organ trafficking say many U.S. hospitals do not have vigorous enough procedures for looking into the source of the organs they transplant because such operations are lucrative.
"Under 1984 federal law, it is illegal for anyone to knowingly buy or sell organs for transplant. The practice is illegal just about everywhere else in the world, too.
"But demand for kidneys far outstrips the supply, with 4,540 people dying in the U.S. last year while waiting for a kidney, according to the United Network for Organ Sharing. As a result, there is a thriving black market for kidneys around the world.
"Art Caplan, the director of the Center for Bioethics at the University of Pennsylvania and a co-chairman of a United Nations task force on organ trafficking, said kidneys are the most common of all trafficked organs because they can be harvested from live donors, unlike other organs. He said Rosenbaum had pleaded guilty to one of the "most heinous crimes against another human being."
"Internationally, about one quarter of all kidneys appear to be trafficked," Caplan said. "But until this case, it had not been a crime recognized as reaching the United States."

Thursday, October 27, 2011

NBER market design conference, October 28-29, 2011

NATIONAL BUREAU OF ECONOMIC RESEARCH, Market Design Working Group Meeting, Susan Athey and Parag Pathak Organizers, October 28-29, 2011.


Friday, October 28
8:15 am
Shuttles leave Royal Sonesta Hotel for NBER
8:30 am
Continental Breakfast
8:55 am
Welcome and Opening Remarks
9:00 am
Matching with Contracts

Tayfun Sonmez, Boston College
Tobias Switzer, US Air Force
Matching with (Branch-of-Choice) Contracts at United States Military Academy

John Hatfield, Stanford University
Scott Duke Kominers, University of Chicago
Multilateral Matching 

10:30 am
10:45 am
Strategy-Proofness and Efficiency in Complex Design Problems

Eduardo Azevedo, Harvard University
Eric Budish, University of Chicago
Strategyproofness in the Large as a Desideratum for Market Design

12:15 pm
1:15 pm
Information and Price Discovery

Haoxiang Zhu, Stanford University
Do Dark Pools Harm Price Discovery?

Mark Satterthwaite, Northwestern University
Steven Williams, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
Konstantinos Zachariadis, London School of Economics
Price Discovery

Steven Tadelis, UC, Berkeley and eBay Research Labs
Florian Zettelmeyer, Northwestern University and NBER
3:30 pm
3:45 pm
Kidney Exchange

Tayfun Sonmez, Boston College
Utku Unver, Boston College
Altruistically Unbalanced Kidney Exchange

Itai Ashlagi, Massachusetts Institute of Technology
David Gamarnik, Massachusetts Institute of Technology
Alvin Roth, Harvard University and NBER
The Need for (long) Chains in Kidney Exchange

5:15 pm

5:20 pm
Shuttles leave NBER for Royal Sonesta Hotel
6:00 pm
Bambara Restaurant
25 Edwin H. Land Blvd., Cambridge
(across the street from the Royal Sonesta Hotel)
Saturday, October 29
8:15 am
Shuttles leave Royal Sonesta Hotel for NBER
8:30 am
Continental Breakfast
9:00 am
Online Markets

Susan Athey, Harvard University and NBER
Ittai Abraham, Microsoft Research
Moshe Babaioff, Microsoft Research
Michael Grubb, Massachusetts Institute of Technology
Peaches, Lemons, and Cookies: Designing Auction Markets with Dispersed Information 

Liran Einav, Stanford University and NBER
Theresa Kuchler, Stanford University
Jonathan Levin, Stanford University and NBER
Neel Sundaresan, eBay Research Labs
Learning from Seller Experiments in Online Markets 

10:30 am
10:45 am
User Interfaces and User Generated Content

Arpita Ghosh, Yahoo! Research
Preston McAfee, Yahoo! Research
Incentivizing High-Quality User-Generated Content 

Sven Seuken, University of Zurich
David Parkes, Harvard University
Eric Horvitz, Microsoft Research
Kamal Jain, 
eBay Research Labs
Mary Czerwinski, Microsoft Research
Desney Tan, Microsoft Research
Market User Interface Design 

12:15 pm
1:15 pm
School Choice and Student Assignment

Fuhito Kojima, Stanford University
John Hatfield, Stanford University
Yusuke Narita, Massachusetts Institute of Technology
Promoting School Competition Through School Choice: A Market Design Approach

Yan Chen, University of Michigan
Onur Kesten, Carnegie Mellon University
From Boston to Shanghai to Deferred Acceptance: Theory and Experiments on A Family of School Choice Mechanisms

2:45 pm

Format:  Authors should plan to speak for about 30-35 minutes.

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Harvard celebrates first kidney transplant

In connection with Harvard's 375th anniversary, the Gazette is taking note of some key events:  A transplant makes history--Joseph Murray’s 1954 kidney operation ushered in a new medical era

"“If you’re going to worry about what people say, you’re never going to make any progress,” Murray said during a recent interview at his home in Wellesley Hills, Mass."
"After the operation, Murray’s work on transplantation continued. Despite his success with the Herricks, the problem of rejection generally still presented a high hurdle.
In the years that followed, Murray used first X-rays and then drugs to suppress the immune system and keep the body from rejecting the grafted tissue, but there were few successes. Through those dark years, he and his colleagues pressed on, inspired by the dying patients who volunteered for surgery in hopes that, even if they didn’t make it, enough could be learned that success would come one day.
“We were trying. In spite of several failures, we felt we were getting close,” Murray said. “It’s difficult to translate the optimism of the Brigham staff and hospital. The administration really backed us.”
Finally, in 1962, in collaboration with scientists from the drug company Burroughs-Wellcome, Murray tried a drug, Imuran, on 23-year-old Mel Doucette, who had received a kidney from an unrelated cadaver donor. The success of that operation and the anti-rejection drug cleared the final hurdle to widespread organ transplantation between unrelated donors, and set the stage for the many refinements and breakthroughs by others in the years to come."

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Where do you fall on the US income distribution? CBO report

The Congressional Budget Office issued a report today,  Trends in the Distribution of Household Income Between 1979 and 2007.  Growth for the top 1% has been disproportionately high.
It includes the following interesting table, among many others:

"In this analysis, CBO presents data on income and taxes for various subgroups of the population, such as the lowest 20 percent or the top 1 percent. In constructing those
subgroups, households are ranked by income that is adjusted for household size. Each subgroup of the population contains an equal number of people, but because households vary in size, subgroups generally contain unequal numbers of households."

Update: the NY Times has an interactive gadget that allows you to click on an iconic percentile and see some data...

Horse meat in the U.S.

The NY Times reports on how the market has responded to the closing of U.S. slaughterhouses for horses (related to the repugnance felt by some to the eating of horse meat.):  Slaughter of Horses Goes On, Just Not in U.S.

"The closing of the country’s last meat processing plant that slaughtered horses for human consumption was hailed as a victory for equine welfare. But five years later just as many American horses are destined for dinner plates to satisfy the still robust appetites for their meat in Europe and Asia.

"Now they are carved into tartare de cheval or basashi sashimi in Mexico and Canada.

"That shift is one of the many unintended consequences of a de facto federal ban on horse slaughter, according to a recent federal government study. As the domestic market for unwanted horses shrinks, more are being neglected and abandoned, and roughly the same number — nearly 140,000 a year — are being killed after a sometimes grueling journey across the border.
"The study’s findings have been fiercely contested by animal welfare groups, which argue that most of the problems stem from the economic downturn and the high price of feed. The study also breathed new life into the long-smoldering battle over whether to allow the resumption of domestic horse slaughter or, alternatively, to prohibit the animals from being shipped abroad for their meat.

"In recent weeks lawmakers have pushed Congress to take action in both directions. The Government Accountability Office, which conducted the study, concluded that either option would be better than the status quo, but advocates on both sides, while hopeful, said a resolution did not appear imminent."

Here is the report by the Government Accountability Office,

HORSE WELFARE: Action Needed to Address Unintended Consequences from Cessation of Domestic Slaughter 

"GAO analysis shows that U.S. horses intended for slaughter are now traveling significantly greater distances to reach their final destination, where they are not covered by U.S. humane slaughter protections."

Monday, October 24, 2011

Tayfun Sonmez on matching officers to military branches

On Friday Tayfun Sonmez gave a stimulating presentation of his analysis of West Point's system for assigning graduating officers to military branches: Tayfun Sonmez and Tobias Switzer, Matching with (Branch-of-Choice) Contracts at United States Military Academy

In a second paper, he was more critical of the ROTC assignment system.

Sunday, October 23, 2011

Dating as a two sided platform

From a new Wall Street dating website:

"Ladies pay $15/month membership fee and are allowed to browse and contact as many men as they desire. Gentlemen can browse as much as they want and are offered “Spark Packs” for $15 which allows them to contact 5 ladies of their choice. This way Ladies receive meaningful interactions from Gentlemen that are genuinely interested, while Gentlemen no longer need to spam dozens of profiles to get a response."

HT Eduardo Azevedo

Saturday, October 22, 2011

An Incentive System with Heart: Wharton celebrates Judd Kessler

That's the subheading of an article in which Wharton celebrates the work of Judd Kessler: How to Encourage People to Become Organ Donors: An Incentive System with Heart

"The decision to be an organ donor may seem easy for some: You sign an agreement that will let your heart, kidneys, liver, pancreas and other organs be used after your death in a way that helps the recipients lead fuller, healthier lives.
But for other people, the choice is harder. Some fear that a doctor may not work as hard to save them because he or she wants their organs for other patients, or that their organs might be removed prematurely (although there is no evidence to support either of these concerns). There may also be a psychological cost of having to think about your own death at a time when you are still relatively healthy. Other people may simply not want to bother with a program that doesn't directly benefit them.
It is against this backdrop that Wharton business and public policy professor Judd Kessler and Harvard economics professor Alvin Roth set out to see whether changes in the management of organ waiting lists could increase the number of donors."

The paper is here:
Kessler, Judd B. and Alvin E. Roth, '' Organ Allocation Policy and the Decision to Donate,'' American Economic Review, forthcoming.

Update: when the Financial Times covered the story (scroll down here) they gave Judd a new first name...

Friday, October 21, 2011

Tomorrow, Oct 22 I'll be teaching NYC math teachers about stable matching and NYC school choice

Stable Matching with Application to School Choice with Al Roth

If you are a NYC high school or middle school math teacher you can register at the link above to attend a class I'll give on October 22, sponsored by Math for America, on the topic

"Stable Matching with Applications to School Choice"

Abstract: "Matching" is the name economists give to the ways we get the many things we choose in life that also have to choose us, from spouses to jobs to places in NYC high schools. Some simple models of matching will be discussed, along with some powerful organizing ideas, like whether a particular matching is stable or unstable. The session will include a detailed description of the current system of matching students with NYC high schools.

When: 10/22/11 9:30 AM EDT
Duration: 6 Hours 
Location: 160 5TH Avenue, 9th floor, Entrance on 21st between 5th and 6th
New York, NY, 10010
Type: General Public and All MfA
Register here

Thursday, October 20, 2011

Teach for America's recruiting at Harvard

The Crimson is full of admiration for TFA's successful recruiting at Harvard: apparently 18% of Harvard seniors applied for TFA positions teaching in troubled school districts.

Here are two recent stories:

TFA Shows the Way

The organization's corporate recruiting strategy is a smart move

TFA: A Corporate Approach

Why 18 percent of last year's graduating class applied to teach in America's worst schools.

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Florida puts university salaries online

The State of Florida has posted its salary information, including state university salaries, online: Florida has a right to know.

(Other salary databases here.)

First Cambridge Area Economics and Computation Day (CAEC'11)

Susan Athey asks me to post the following announcement about a forthcoming conference on the economics of the internet:

First Cambridge Area Economics and Computation Day (CAEC'11)

Call For Participation

Friday November 18, 2011
MIT, Cambridge, MA
Patil/Kiva, room 32-G449 Stata Center

A lot of research and business activity in the Cambridge/Boston area is engaged in economic and computational questions in regard to understanding and developing the economics of Internet activity. Examples of topics of interest include theoretical, modeling, algorithmic, and empirical work on electronic commerce, networked behavior, and social networks.

One of the main purposes of CAEC is to encourage collaboration between local researchers. Significant emphasis will be placed on a poster session and short talks. The overall structure of the day will involve four longer talks, this first year by each of the steering committee, with a short talks session and a poster session over lunch, along with brief poster announcements.

For short talks and posters, send an email to by Friday, October 28 2011, including a brief description of your work, along with an indication of a preference for the work to be presented as a short talk or a poster, or be considered for both. We will select a small number of short talks and put together a poster session.

Decisions about the program will be made by Monday, October 31.

The suggested format for a short talk is (a) description of the problem, (b) statement of results, and (c) discussion of open research directions. There will be no time for setting up individual laptops for the short-talk session, instead we will have all presentations preloaded on a computer in the auditorium.

We expect that the event will be at no cost to participants.

We also invite interest from sponsors.

CAEC Steering committee

Susan Athey (Harvard Economics)
Costis Daskalakis (MIT EECS)
Andrew Lo (MIT Sloan)
David Parkes (Harvard SEAS)

Monday, October 17, 2011

I speak about kidney exchange at Harvard Medical School

As the seminar announcement makes clear, part of the attraction (at least to third year students) is the free food:)

John Warren Surgical Society at Harvard Medical School

Alvin E. Roth, Ph.D
 George Gund Professor of Economics and Business Administration in the Department of Economics 
at Harvard University and in the Harvard Business School.
for a discussion of
"Market Design, Kidney Exchange, and Repugnance"

 Monday, October 17th
 12:30 pm, TMEC 250

Food will be served.
Al Roth's research, teaching, and consulting interests are in game theory, experimental economics, and market design. The best known market he has designed (or, in this case, redesigned) is the National Resident Matching Program, which matches approximately twenty thousand doctors a year with their residency program at American hospitals. He has recently been involved in the reorganization of the market for Gastroenterology fellows, which started using a clearinghouse in 2006 for positions beginning in 2007. Other markets he has helped design include the high school matching system used in New York City to match approximately ninety thousand students to high schools each year, starting with students entering high school in the Fall of 2004; The matching system used in Boston Public Schools, adopted for students starting school in September 2006; And the New England Program for Kidney Exchange, for incompatible patient-donor pairs. He is the chair of the American Economic Association's Ad Hoc Committee on the Job Market, which has designed a number of recent changes in the market for new Ph.D. economists. He is a Fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences and the Econometric Society, and has been a Guggenheim and Sloan fellow. He received his Ph.D at Stanford University, and came to Harvard from the University of Pittsburgh, where he was the Andrew Mellon Professor of Economics.

High Yield Information:  
First years:  Al Roth is awesome.  You get to ask him questions.  Also attendees will get early access to joining the HMS Transplant Pager Program where you will likely be able to observe the a paired kidney donation first hand.  
Second years: Relive great memories of last year while we talk about kidneys, residency, policy, and ethics.
Third Years: There will be free food.
Fourth Years: Al Roth designed the National Resident Matching Program. I'm sure he'd be happy to answer a reasonable number of questions.  
We look forward to seeing you there!

Sunday, October 16, 2011

Kosovo organ trafficking case opens

Trial Opens for 7 Kosovars in Organ-Trafficking Case

" The suspects are accused of luring victims from Turkey and former Communist countries to Pristina to sell their kidneys with false promises of payments of up to €15,000, or nearly $20,000.

"The recipients, according to the indictment, paid between €80,000 and €100,000 for the organs."

This case seems to be different from but related to the much more disturbing accusations related to war crimes:

"The case has been connected with an inquiry by the Council of Europe released this January, which found that a criminal group of Kosovo Liberation Army fighters had executed Serbian and Albanian prisoners and sold their organs on the international black market. The report said that the so-called Drenica Group was led by Hashim Thaci, the current prime minister of Kosovo."

Earlier posts:

Saturday, October 15, 2011

Online dating, later in life

Job markets have scrambles for late action, and it turns out that it's never too late for online dating either, the NY Times reports: Second Love at First Click

"If you think online dating is the domain of the young, maybe it’s time to check in with your mother. Now, people 55 and older are visiting American dating sites more than any other age group — up 39 percent in the last three years, according to the Internet tracking firm Experian Hitwise. The No. 2 group? Singles 45 to 54. According to IBISWorld, a market research firm, and the United States Census Bureau, about 37 percent of people 50 and older are unmarried. And the divorce rate among the 50-plus demographic is high. With so many older Americans unattached, living independently into their later years, and increasingly comfortable using the Internet, they, too, are logging on for love.

"And they may be better at finding it than their younger cohorts. Dating industry professionals say that singles in their 20s and 30s are typically focused on marriage and starting a family, while older singles (many of whom have been married before) have a more relaxed approach and are careful to pick companions who share their interests.

“Baby boomers have been one of the fastest-growing demographics for a lot of online dating companies,” said Caitlin Moldvay, an analyst for IBISWorld. The growth comes at the same time that some younger singles (18 to 34) are moving away from dating sites to social networking sites like Facebook as “a proxy for online dating,” said Bill Tancer, the general manager of global research for Experian Marketing Services.

"Greg Liberman, the president and chief executive of Spark Networks — which owns specialty dating sites including JDateChristianMingleBlackSinglesSilverSingles — said that for the first eight months of this year, Spark had a 93 percent increase in new members 50 and older across all of its dating sites, compared with the same span of time last year. “We’re seeing significant growth,” Mr. Liberman said.

"He’s also observed that, while it’s been common for parents to buy dating site memberships for their adult children, now adult children have begun buying memberships for their widowed and divorced parents. Gone is the heyday of personal ads in The New York Review of Books."

Friday, October 14, 2011

Uniform notification date for postdoctoral positions in professional psychology

APPIC, the Association of Psychology Postdoctoral and Internship Centers, runs a centralized match for (pre-doctoral) internships that uses the Roth-Peranson algorithm, which replaced the prior telephone market, which suffered from congestion.
As their name suggests, they also are involved with postdoctoral positions. The field of clinical neuropsychology also operates a postdoctoral match, but the other postdoctoral areas do not. Recently APPIC has taken steps to try to organize that market in a decentralized way.

In May of 2011 APPIC polled its member postdoctoral programs about whether they would prefer a system that operated with a uniform offer notification date versus a uniform acceptance date. Under a uniform acceptance date, programs could make offers whenever they liked, but all offers would be supposed to remain open until the designated acceptance date. Under the uniform notification date, all offers would be made at the same time, with applicants having a short time to reply.

My understanding is that the organization has decided to go ahead with a uniform notification date, which would however allow programs to make early offers if one of their non-complying competitors makes an early exploding offer to a candidate to whom they are planning to make an offer themselves. Here's an outline of the proposed rules. I worry that some of the same problems that afflicted the old telephone market for internships may quickly resurface...(and that this proposed organization of the market will not work as well as the reorganization of the market for gastroenterologists, which instead of dealing with reciprocal offers by employers, empowered applicants to change their minds on early acceptances...)

Uniform Notification Date with Option for Reciprocal Offer (UNDr)
March 14, 2012

UNDr Procedure

All APPIC non-neuropsychology postdoctoral programs (those that do not offer the specialty of clinical neuropsychology) will make offers to applicants only on the APPIC selected date for offers. Programs may make an exception if an applicant is made another earlier bone fide offer, which must follow the guidelines below. On March 14, 2012,  at Noon EST, the program will call their top candidate. Once an offer is made to an applicant, the applicant may proceed with one of the following actions: accept the offer, decline the offer, or hold the offer for four hours. If the position is held, it is considered to be frozen and cannot be offered to any other candidate during that time period. (At the four hour mark, the candidate must either accept or decline, otherwise the offer is no longer valid). Candidates may not hold more than one offer at a time. Once a candidate accepts an offer they should call the remaining programs that are lower on their  preference list and inform them that they no longer wish to be considered at those facilities. Postdoctoral Training Directors (or their designee) will contact all applicants by phone or e-mail on the day of the UND to inform them of the status of the position. After a site and an applicant come to an agreement, a formal offer letter will be mailed to the applicant who will then formally accept the offer in writing.

Reciprocal Offers Process
Candidates who have been made an offer from a non-APPIC site (whether clinical or research postdoc or job offer) requiring a decision prior to UND date may contact an APPIC site request a reciprocal offer. The candidate would indicate the name of the program making the competing offer and how long they have been allowed to hold their offer.
Before making a reciprocal offer to the candidate, the APPIC site should call the candidate's Internship Training Director and verify the offer or ask the applicant for written verification of the competing offer (e.g., a faxed or scanned letter or a forwarded e-mail).

When an APPIC program makes a reciprocal offer, the candidate is expected to accept immediately. The acceptance is binding. If a program declines to make a reciprocal offer, only then is the candidate permitted to contact another site indicating it is (now) their #1 choice.

Application Deadlines
Application deadlines are permitted at any point prior to UND as determined by each program.

Notification of Applicants Who are No Longer Being Considered
APPIC programs should notify applicants at the point that they are out of consideration for the position for which they have applied.

UNDr Posting by APPIC Postdoctoral Members
By September 24, 2011, APPIC postdoctoral programs are expected to update their brochures, website, and directory information to explain their use of the UNDr process.

Programs who Wish to Make Offers after UND
Programs are permitted to make offers after UND if they are uncertain of funding at time of UND.

No clearinghouse will be set up during this initial year. Programs that do not fill positions on UND may fill their empty positions on any future date.

UNDr Frequently Asked Questions

Does the UNDr process apply to non-APPIC postdoctoral programs?
APPIC is currently marketing this process to non-APPIC postdoctoral programs as a mechanism of providing increased collaboration among all training programs. Many non-APPIC postdoctoral programs previously participated in an informal UND process. These programs in particular have all been contacted personally to request their continued participation as in years past. Any program who would like to participate is most welcome to do so and we strongly encourage every program to follow this procedure. We ask any non-APPIC program who wishes to participate to contact Dr. Lisa Kearney at so that they can be kept informed of any updated processes as they occur.

Does APPIC plan to move forward to a formal match system for postdoctoral programs as it previously did with the internship?
There is no current plan to move forward to a formal match system.
However, the APPIC Board will continue to survey members regarding their interest and commitment to a formal match system, and implement as voted on by the membership.

If I do not obtain funding for a new postdoctoral position until AFTER the UNDr date, may I proceed with filling the position after the UNDr date?
Yes! If you receive funding after the UNDr date, you may proceed with recruitment for the fall. This is also the same for new internship programs who receive funding after the Match date.

I have a Neuropsychology Postdoctoral program which does not participate in the formal neuropsychology match system. Must I participate in the UNDr process?
No, Neuropsychology Postdoctoral programs are not included in this process as they already have a process for organizing offers available to them through the APPCN match system.