Why did you leave/are considering leaving academia?

posted
02-Aug-17, 11:36
edited about 3 seconds later
Avatar for PsychBrief123
posted about 2 weeks ago
Hello everyone

I'm conducting a survey to see why people have left or are planning to leave academia, specifically psychology. If you could complete this really short questionnaire I'd be very grateful and if you could link it to other people you know who have left I'd be even more so. Thanks for your help.

Kind regards

PsychBrief

Survey: https://www.surveymonkey.co.uk/r/ZRS982G
posted
02-Aug-17, 19:15
Avatar for Mackem_Beefy
posted about 2 weeks ago
Quote From PsychBrief123:
Hello everyone

I'm conducting a survey to see why people have left or are planning to leave academia, specifically psychology. If you could complete this really short questionnaire I'd be very grateful and if you could link it to other people you know who have left I'd be even more so. Thanks for your help.

Kind regards

PsychBrief

Survey: https://www.surveymonkey.co.uk/r/ZRS982G


As I'm not a psychologist, I'll refrain from taking part in the survey.

However, you'll probably find the following:

1) No progression beyond PhD once complete, due to a lack of available posts as a result of lack of funding for post-doc positions (oversupply of PhDs with respect to research or academic positions);

2) Fixed term contracts for research positions, leading to a lack of financial and employment security with no guarantee of continued employment once contract draws to a close - the financial issue prevents people starting out on the property ladder or easily obtaining a mortgage / home loan);

3) Lack of routes into academic tenure once researchers are ready to move into acadeic posts proper;

4) Lack of consistecy of leadership regardless of position (PhD student, researcher, academic), varying from very good to downright awful (I for example found myself in dispute with a senior academic I didn't start, provoke or want - that was my end);

5) Low level of pay compared to some private sector positions.

I'm sure people can think of more. Those I mention are from a UK perspective though other nationalities will probably recognise most or all of the above.

Ian
posted
03-Aug-17, 14:02
edited about 20 seconds later
Avatar for BonsaiClouds
posted about 2 weeks ago
Quote From Mackem_Beefy:
Quote From PsychBrief123:
Hello everyone

I'm conducting a survey to see why people have left or are planning to leave academia, specifically psychology. If you could complete this really short questionnaire I'd be very grateful and if you could link it to other people you know who have left I'd be even more so. Thanks for your help.

Kind regards

PsychBrief

Survey: https://www.surveymonkey.co.uk/r/ZRS982G


As I'm not a psychologist, I'll refrain from taking part in the survey.

However, you'll probably find the following:

1) No progression beyond PhD once complete, due to a lack of available posts as a result of lack of funding for post-doc positions (oversupply of PhDs with respect to research or academic positions);

2) Fixed term contracts for research positions, leading to a lack of financial and employment security with no guarantee of continued employment once contract draws to a close - the financial issue prevents people starting out on the property ladder or easily obtaining a mortgage / home loan);

3) Lack of routes into academic tenure once researchers are ready to move into acadeic posts proper;

4) Lack of consistecy of leadership regardless of position (PhD student, researcher, academic), varying from very good to downright awful (I for example found myself in dispute with a senior academic I didn't start, provoke or want - that was my end);

5) Low level of pay compared to some private sector positions.

I'm sure people can think of more. Those I mention are from a UK perspective though other nationalities will probably recognise most or all of the above.

Ian


I hear these reasons all too often - sad state of affairs we're in.
posted
04-Aug-17, 17:31
edited about 2 minutes later
by pm133
Avatar for pm133
posted about 2 weeks ago
My background is in science. My reasons for leaving academia behind are too long to put in one posts but here are some:-

1) Not interested in pissing away 5 to 10 years desperately trying to get a job I could already do today.

2) I am interested in research and therefore have no interest in a permanent academic post which would essentially be an administration job.

3) Between grade inflation for students, deliberately submitting articles to paywall journals in pursuit of impact factors (causing the funding tax payer to pay twice for the same research), research funding preferentially directed to big name groups and a huge percentage of research being fabricated, academia is totally and utterly corrupt from the ground up. I have absolutely no wish to spend my life in that environment and I certainly don't want to be part of enabling this current state of affairs.

4) Academia is reductivist in nature which means it is hard to get funded for a cross-disciplinary project unless you hire people to do the bits you can't do. I have no interest in this sort of environment because it means I can usually only ever work on stuff I can already demonstrate competence in.

5) Relatively few groups are attempting to solve real world problems with even the remotest pretence of practical applicability.

6) Bullying and other abuse of postdocs and phd students by supervisors.

7) Deliberate "sexing up" of research potential in order to get funding. I have no interest in competing in that sort of market.

8) Male, pale and stale staffing. No diversity. Who would possibly want to waste their career in that stultifying atmosphere?

9) Office politics. Just say no.

10) Lecturers hired not on their ability to teach but on their ability to bring in funding.

11) Absolutely no meaningful oversight for teaching standards or research standards.

12) New students left to fathom out lab safety on their own or via postdocs and other PhD students. I wonder how many deaths we need before proper professional lab training is provided.

Those are just a handful of the problems which leap to mind.

Academia is in an appalling state and needs urgently dragged into the 21st century. I am so angry about this I am tempted to start lobbying politicians about it to publicise what goes on.
posted
04-Aug-17, 17:33
edited about 11 seconds later
by Tusco
Avatar for Tusco
posted about 2 weeks ago


As I'm not a psychologist, I'll refrain from taking part in the survey.

However, you'll probably find the following:

1) No progression beyond PhD once complete, due to a lack of available posts as a result of lack of funding for post-doc positions (oversupply of PhDs with respect to research or academic positions);

2) Fixed term contracts for research positions, leading to a lack of financial and employment security with no guarantee of continued employment once contract draws to a close - the financial issue prevents people starting out on the property ladder or easily obtaining a mortgage / home loan);

3) Lack of routes into academic tenure once researchers are ready to move into acadeic posts proper;

4) Lack of consistecy of leadership regardless of position (PhD student, researcher, academic), varying from very good to downright awful (I for example found myself in dispute with a senior academic I didn't start, provoke or want - that was my end);

5) Low level of pay compared to some private sector positions.

I'm sure people can think of more. Those I mention are from a UK perspective though other nationalities will probably recognise most or all of the above.

Ian


I am not a psychologist either but I wholeheartedly agree with what written by Ian, I think he nailed it. Perhaps point 4 doesn't apply everywhere but the rest pretty much does.
posted
04-Aug-17, 21:28
edited about 16 seconds later
Avatar for TreeofLife
posted about 2 weeks ago
Agree with everything pm133 said... but there's still no job I would rather be doing :P
posted
04-Aug-17, 22:12
Avatar for Tudor_Queen
posted about 2 weeks ago
Quote From pm133:
Academia is in an appalling state and needs urgently dragged into the 21st century. I am so angry about this I am tempted to start lobbying politicians about it to publicise what goes on.



This is really thought provoking. Isn't it interesting how when mentioned on the radio or on TV academia and research are sort of spoken about with a sense or awe and as though they have some sort of purity or morality about them? Sort of like "the church" once was. It would be really good if the realities and fallabilities were exposed.
posted
04-Aug-17, 23:49
edited about 2 minutes later
by Pjlu 4 star member
Avatar for Pjlu
posted about 2 weeks ago
Error
posted
04-Aug-17, 23:51
edited about 10 minutes later
by Pjlu 4 star member
Avatar for Pjlu
posted about 2 weeks ago
Quote From Tudor_Queen:
Quote From pm133:
Academia is in an appalling state and needs urgently dragged into the 21st century. I am so angry about this I am tempted to start lobbying politicians about it to publicise what goes on.



This is really thought provoking. Isn't it interesting how when mentioned on the radio or on TV academia and research are sort of spoken about with a sense or awe and as though they have some sort of purity or morality about them? Sort of like "the church" once was. It would be really good if the realities and fallabilities were exposed.


I wonder... as people lose (or have lost) their faith in primary institutions (Church & State) and the ideals and values these institutions once represented or upheld, for many people there needs to be some form of replacement- some rock to rely on. I'm not sure about how people feel about universities per se (in Australia a few of our biggest and brightest are currently being challenged by a number of recent scandals). However, 'research' and 'science' are still promoted or thought of as stable sources to rely on. I would think hard sciences and technology would be considered by many as still reliable. 'Medicine' would be another such rock, neuroscience, physics perhaps and engineering and the sciences behind space exploration and environmental science.

There is an ideal behind 'research' and 'scholarship' and that is the pursuit of 'truth' or 'truths' that explain who we are, how our world operates, and how we can extend and enhance knowledge through research and scholarship to benefit all (people, creatures, systems and environments). I would like to think-I hope- that most of us, more of us have these same values and ideals behind our work. I guess that is why it cuts so deeply when we learn about plagiarism, falsified results, and finally understand that luck and playing the political games can sometimes (not always) be behind success in academia-more so than merit on occasions.
posted
05-Aug-17, 13:07
edited about 10 seconds later
by helebon
Avatar for helebon
posted about 2 weeks ago
It's interesting about the bullying and abuse by supervisors. It puts me off considering staying in academia.

I've had some human rights training and I will be looking to get more of this, it also relates to some degree in my research area.

Supervisors who bully are they more likely to respect those (PhD students etc) that have had human rights training? and the supervisor is aware they have had this training.
posted
05-Aug-17, 13:58
by pm133
Avatar for pm133
posted about 2 weeks ago
Quote From helebon:
It's interesting about the bullying and abuse by supervisors. It puts me off considering staying in academia.

I've had some human rights training and I will be looking to get more of this, it also relates to some degree in my research area.

Supervisors who bully are they more likely to respect those (PhD students etc) that have had human rights training? and the supervisor is aware they have had this training.


My personal opinion is that whilst there are many exceptions, I still feel the majority of supervisors on the whole simply not interested in your or your career development. Students and postdocs are there as cheap labour to generate papers and further the career of the academic. Industry has cottoned onto this as well with the latest wheeze being to hire PhD students and temporary postdocs rather than actual staff. This is what happens when you have too many PhDs being awarded - a glut of supply, little demand and wages and conditions go down the pan.

The solution? Self employment. As PhD grads, we are perfect for this.

Too few PhD graduates in my opinion are attempting to establish their own companies to avoid all of this abuse. We have just spent 4 years learning how to wipe our own backsides. Why on earth are so many of us prepared to then deliberately shackle ourselves to employers who don't respect our achievements?
posted
05-Aug-17, 13:59
edited about 1 minute later
by pm133
Avatar for pm133
posted about 2 weeks ago
Quote From TreeofLife:
Agree with everything pm133 said... but there's still no job I would rather be doing :P


:-D
That is actually a little depressing though.
posted
05-Aug-17, 14:11
edited about 28 seconds later
by pm133
Avatar for pm133
posted about 2 weeks ago
Quote From Pjlu:


I would think hard sciences and technology would be considered by many as still reliable. 'Medicine' would be another such rock, neuroscience, physics perhaps and engineering and the sciences behind space exploration and environmental science.

There is an ideal behind 'research' and 'scholarship' and that is the pursuit of 'truth' or 'truths' that explain who we are, how our world operates, and how we can extend and enhance knowledge through research and scholarship to benefit all (people, creatures, systems and environments). I would like to think-I hope- that most of us, more of us have these same values and ideals behind our work. I guess that is why it cuts so deeply when we learn about plagiarism, falsified results, and finally understand that luck and playing the political games can sometimes (not always) be behind success in academia-more so than merit on occasions.


I think this is turning into a very decent and interesting thread.

It would absolutely be a mistake to consider hard sciences and technology as reliable. Both worlds are crammed full of people doing utterly useless research with no credible pretence at even aiming at practical usage. Here is a very simple and obvious example. If academic science is so convinced of its worth, why does it insist on producing indecipherable papers written in deliberately archaic language and locking them away behind pay walls? Who are they writing these articles for? It certainly isn't the general public who are paying for all this nonsense.

The first sentence of your second paragraph is the core of the pack of lies which academic science spouts in order to justify its existence and secure funding. Almost nobody is involved in uncovering "truths" or producing any benefits whatsoever to society.

I understand that we need people doing genuinely out of the box stuff but right now, in the depths of our economic problems, academic science has a duty in my opinion to step up and start using scarce public money to start producing more useful outputs that could realistically help society. In short, science needs to get its finger out and start doing something to justify its vast budget.
posted
05-Aug-17, 15:39
Avatar for cloudofash
posted about 2 weeks ago

In short, science needs to get its finger out and start doing something to justify its vast budget.


I agree. I often wonder how is it justifiable that we are researching first world illnesses but milions of people are dying because they have no access to clean water.
posted
05-Aug-17, 16:01
by pm133
Avatar for pm133
posted about 2 weeks ago
Quote From cloudofash:


I agree. I often wonder how is it justifiable that we are researching first world illnesses but milions of people are dying because they have no access to clean water.


That is a good example but in fairness the problem you are describing is not down to a shortage of money. It is down to corruption in the affected countries. No amount of money will fix it without fundamental structural reform.

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