Fix the PhD: No longer a guaranteed ticket to an academic career

by phdscam

Many scientists’ favorite nature.com editorial published this in 2011 -very much relevant today. Here we discuss some of topics and phdscam’s verdict.

…you can “grow PhDs like mushrooms”.

Does any PhD feel good about being one branch in a mushroom?

Widening concerns about dismal job prospects are dissuading the brightest candidates from the PhD route.

It should dissuade anyone seeking a half decent career in the least. PhD is a dead end!

Most people with science PhDs eventually find satisfying jobs. But they probably feel that spending years performing minipreps was not the most appropriate way to become a banker or a teacher.

It’s hard to believe jobs are satisfying after years of wandering around feeling “doing not much”. What’s your PhD training for then? Nothing? Yes, go work for the banks, that’s where the money is.

Ideally, the system would produce high-quality PhD holders well matched to the attractive careers on offer. Yet many academics are reluctant to rock the boat as long as they are rewarded with grants (which pay for cheap PhD students) and publications (produced by their cheap PhD students). So are universities, which often receive government subsidies to fill their PhD spots.

Cheap labor = PhDs – a horrendous betrayal of trust (that the supervisor has the best interest of the student and research)

Imagine bright young things entering a new kind of science PhD, in which both they and their supervisors embrace from the start the idea that graduates will go on to an array of demanding careers — government, business, non-profit and education — and work towards that goal.

How is that expectation being met? That’s why PhD is a Ponzi scheme where few professors get to keep these hordes of low paid slave labors.

“Widening concerns about dismal job prospects are dissuading the brightest candidates from the PhD route.”

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