Bill Hooker
Goodbye academia, I get a life. – blog.devicerandom -
"Until not so long, I thought that it was worth it. It was something that I had never questioned so far. I wanted to be a scientist since when I was five. I had done everything to become a scientist. I was a scientist in one of the top universities of the world, in one of the top five research groups on the subject. I had won a personal fellowship to fund myself. Most of my self-esteem, of my very concept of self-realization, relied on myself being a scientist. The very idea of quitting academia was a synonim of personal failure." That right there is the engine of the pyramid scheme. - Bill Hooker from Bookmarklet
I've heard more senior scientists dismiss this attitude as a 'typical cynical postdoc, not skilled/smart/hard working enough to make it to tenure'. These same senior scientists were junior scientists in a very different time, usually before the huge expansion of the number of available PhD candidates, where the ratio of supply to demand of graduates wasn't nearly as imbalanced. This post should be required reading for undergraduates enrolled in science courses - it would be unethical to not give them fair warning about what they are getting into. - Andrew Perry
Re: the pyramid scheme that BH and AP bring up -- I completely agree and want to add one additional point: its not just that an untenable economic situation has emerged which grad schools sweep under the rung -- its that the community itself seems to look down on those who leave academia to join industry/business or publishing or something else entirely. High rates of failure at achieving tenure at impressive school X would be ok if young students/scientists felt they had viable alternatives - Benjamin Tseng
I agree Benjamin - I've noticed that in many academic institutions career options outside that system are rarely discussed openly, and leaving academia is considered failure (even if someone leaves to do something arguable more useful). Granting bodies usually want to encourage collaboration between industry and academia through special funding opportunities (eg, the ARC Linkage grants in Australia, I'm sure other places will have equivalents). If there was more a healthy attitude toward scientists leaving academia for industry, maybe these collaborations would emerge more often as the academic and industry social networks would begin to overlap better. - Andrew Perry
some more comments here: and I agree with Andrew .. thats why we should fight against even the language that is used (i.e. "quiting science") - Pedro Beltrao