Wednesday, October 24, 2007

Competition vs Collaboration in Academia

Found from YoungFemaleScientist - a classic case of what can happen when a fresh PhD/post doc interviews for his/her first faculty position.

The hardest part of a faculty job search for any candidate is to define the area of research he/she wants to get into. For obvious reasons, you cannot expect to continue to work on what you did for your PhD. That would mean direct competition with your advisor, and chances are you will lose. After all, he/she is the one with the stature and prestige, and you are the Apprentice.

So most people would try to do one or two post docs to gain expertise in different area(s), before starting their careers as junior faculty. The hope is that they can combine them to do novel research in a hybrid field.

But sometimes when the field gets too crowded, the Assistant Professors, being at the lowest rung of the academic professoriate, get the shaft.


Which is why I have seen many of my peers/classmates/groupmates, some with multiple national/college awards for their research/publications, quit academia and leave for the industry after their PhD.

The pay is much better, even if the competitive nastiness remains the same.

No comments: