Morning Cognitive Dissonance

In The Science Magazine:

There was a time not so long ago when new Science Ph.D.s in the United States were expected to pursue a career path in academia. But today, most graduates end up working outside academia, not only in industry but also in careers such as science policy, communications, knowledge brokering, and patent law.* Partly this is a result of how bleak the academic job market is, but there is also a rising awareness of career options that Ph.D. scientists haven’t trained for directly—but for which they have useful knowledge, skills, and experience. Still, “there is a huge disconnect between how we currently train scientists and the actual employment opportunities available for them,” and an urgent need for dramatic improvements in training programs to help close the gap. One critical step that could help to drive change would be to require Ph.D. students and postdoctoral scientists to follow an individual development plan (IDP).

Here’s how I read this:

1. We will not be able to pretend for very much longer we are preparing PhD students to be research scientists.

2. How can we still haz that sweet, sweet cheap labor that will spend 80 hours a week in the lab?

Answer: Pretend we have the competence, will, resources, or interest in helping trainees prepare for careers for which you don’t need a fucking PhD.

I like to end posts with a joke:

For example, universities could incorporate IDPs into their graduate curricula to help students discuss, plan, prepare for, and achieve their long-term career goals. The participation of faculty mentors is essential because trainees need a safe, supportive atmosphere in which to openly discuss their career plans and interests.

HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA. Yes [wipes tears from eyes] I suppose they could!  Good morning, PI, I’d love to discuss my results and publishing plans, but instead let’s talk about shit you know/care nothing about: long term career pathways that don’t include academic science.

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2 Comments on “Morning Cognitive Dissonance”

  1. Dave says:

    I hate all this crap. No PhD student, at least none that I have known, goes into a biomedical PhD with the intention of being a fucking patent lawyer. They certainly don’t start in the lab thinking “…fuck yeh, I cant wait to transfer my RNA-seq library prep skills to a career in science policy…”. Give me a break. None of the articles that talk about this rubbish are truly honest with the reader. The truth is there are barely any academic jobs left and the tenure system is on it’s last legs. Then again, PhD students usually are able to read and, for the most part, are not stupid. None of this is new information and the job situation has been bad for many years. Even with articles like this, it is pretty easy to read between the lines. Yet the students still come. Why? Because the opportunity is there and they think they will be “the one”. It’s as simple as that. It is the same reason that kids go to college to play football – they will make it to the NFL.

  2. […] also see this. ___ *lest this come off as unduly dismissive from my lofty throne, but for a quirk of fate I very […]


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