Monday, 3 June 2013

The Boisterous Truth About Science PhDs - Part III of V

Hello mates, it's me back again. This time married and tremendously happy for my wedding day was something out of this world... pure magic.

It has been a while, nearly an year, since I posted the first of five texts concerning The Boisterous Truth About Science PhDs. It is urgent to make people, especially young people, understand that there is a huge big lie being sold to them, as it was to me and my peers through time. But because when one knows that better understanding, analysis and insight is developed in other minds, pens writing much better than we do, one needs to shush and acknowledge their quality. What I mean is that very recently I read an article disclosed by someone in LinkedIn, All Hail LinkedIn, source of good information!!!, cooked and written by a tremendous clever person named Brian. Sorry Brian, I couldn't find your surname. Apologies to your dad. But your father might be tremendously proud of the way you use your words and brains for your text is something I'd love to have written if I had been given English as my first language.

If you miss Brian's text, you're the one to blame because it is definitely an eye opener. As Brian puts so perfectly:

So, if you want to raise up from this state of mental numbness as we all should. Please follow me. I took sometime as a newly wed guy and devoured this incredible text. Please find hereby the most accurate and insightful opinions of a passionate researcher as he calls himself, with over 10 years of experience in Biomedical Sciences... The subject couldn't be more opportunistic.

"There is a ‘secret society’ mentality of academia."

"The flurry of online negativity directed at NIH funding, availability of academic positions, the number of PhDs, alternative science careers becoming mainstream, and the question of versatility and diversity in PhD training is what truly got me thinking"

"I believe there is a slow building movement to change this ‘academic fight club’ mentality, but for many, the ripples of impact may not reach in time."

"The fact is that academia has their own set of rules and valuesMany times, these do not align with what we thought we signed up for because the academic rules and values were not honestly explained or completely understood until multiple windows of opportunity were missed, or worse closed. The smoke and mirrors of academia allow us to wrap ourselves in a cocoon, shut off the world around us, and build a narrow complacency shell to protect us from reality."

"We carried out challenging experiments, collecting and analyzing data at a steady pace, and published our results for peer review to the scientific community to show that ‘we were part of the group’. It was at this time, that we started becoming more familiar with words and phrases such as impact factor,..., science does not happen from 9-5, ..., and postdoc."

"PhD granting institutionscreate a bottleneck, because of their incentive to increase revenue, by opening more spots to those seeking a PhD at a rate disproportionate to the number of positions available (or created) for those holding a PhD. This is especially problematic in academia."

"A study published last year in the journal Science suggests less than 20% of U.S. graduate students in the STEM disciplines will land a tenure-track position within four to six years of completing a PhD. [This number has been reported to be as low as 15% for those in biological sciences.]"

"Keep in mind about 50,000 PhDs were granted from U.S. institutions alone. At present, there is no incentive to reduce this number. This is where people with less thick skin would start getting depressed and anxious and let the waterworks flow."

"Now may be the time to take the horse blinders off and cut yourself out of the cocoon. Your value is estimated solely on your publications and independent sources of funding. Without these, you have little value on the academic market. The time invested, which at this point may be getting close to 8-10 years, does not directly correlate to your market value."

"I do not believe a postdoctoral appointment should be viewed as an internship. There is no ‘company’ investing in your training and skills to ensure that you can be competitive in the open job market."

"Sadly, this is when you begin to understand that the rules are in place to support the academic infrastructure and enterprise. The rules of the Academic Fight Club are not necessarily for your benefit, but to ensure the supply is strong and institutions continue to receive funding, while keeping secret and masquerading the demand."

"Does this suggest that the current academic model is broken?... Yes."

"The model is broken and needs talented, well-balanced individuals to take a stand and fight for change."

"Rule #1: Understand the importance of effective communication. There is nothing more important in science than the ability to communicate in a clear, concise manner. 

Rule #2: Assess your skills and evaluate your career options. This is a big one. I highly recommend spending some quality time with myIDP and a career counselor. 

Rule #3: Ask for help. You cannot do this alone. You cannot expect your advisor, thesis committee, or program director to read your mind. 

For example, start a graduate student or postdoc organization and work with the campus administrators to put on professional development events or seminars.

Rule #4: Step out of your complacency shell and network

Rule #5: Determine what you are really good at

Rule #6: Seek out niche areas that can benefit from your particular skill set.

Rule #7: Do not undervalue your skills or your time. Always align things within the framework of the big picture. In my opinion, this is the most important rule. "

If you would like to read the full version, and I honestly advise you to, please access HERE.

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