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Dunham
Sunday, 19 April 2015 at 2:12pm
Sunday, 10 June 2018 at 7:25am
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Thread: An Academic Job Slump is Making Graduate Students Depressed... Interesting Reading

posted
30-Apr-15, 16:52
by Dunham
Avatar for Dunham
posted about 5 years ago
Quote From TreeofLife:

I really don't wanna play that sort of grumpy "PhD Grinch" but some things just have to change and if not even PhD students see a need for that I really wonder if it will some day


I do see a need for it, I'm just saying it's no different in any other industry. It all needs to change. People need to be paid appropriately for their work in all fields. If you have a 9-5 contract, you should be paid for a 9-5 contract. It just doesn't work like that any more. Like chickpea said, if you have a contract and a decent salary you should be grateful, because too many people don't.


It works like that everywhere outside the UK. Sorry for you guys but that's how it is. If you work in a company 9 to 5 then you get paid 9 to 5. You may work an hour more from time to time but that is usually paid too. I did internships in companies in the netherlands and germany and every biologists I met worked from 8-6 and got paid for exactly that amount. The only exceptions were people in leading positions with a lot of responsibilities. There you can't really stick to fixed hours but in their case it is compensated by a decent amount of money.

Working in the UK sounds really horrible to me...it is definitely not everywhere like this.

Thread: An Academic Job Slump is Making Graduate Students Depressed... Interesting Reading

posted
30-Apr-15, 14:30
by Dunham
Avatar for Dunham
posted about 5 years ago
Quote From Eds:
You've never heard of zero-hour contracts obviously.


I have read about it a week ago. There was an article about a scottish girl who studied music and now works at Mc Donalds with one of those contracts. Is it in every job like this in the UK? I thought this was the case for jobs were you don't need a degree at all. To avoid any misunderstanding, when I talked about the salaries of people without a PhD I talked about people who did their degree and actually work in that field. If you hold a master degree in engineering or computer science and you work for 21k a year you REALLY should thinking about leaving UK :)

Thread: An Academic Job Slump is Making Graduate Students Depressed... Interesting Reading

posted
30-Apr-15, 14:08
edited about 2 seconds later
by Dunham
Avatar for Dunham
posted about 5 years ago
Quote From chickpea:
I've had a whole other career before starting my PhD, and as a professional I was only earning about 21k, so to be quite honest I will consider myself lucky if I manage to earn 33k post-PhD. I do take the point about universities using newly qualified academics for cheaper labour, but agree with TreeofLife that similar things have happened in many sectors. I'm more concerned with the bigger picture of poverty and inequality than my personal right to earn a high salary.


In which job do you work 100% with a 50% position as a temporary employee? Never heard of that. Most phd students do not even have minimum wage if you break it down to hourly wage.
33k is of course a nice salary but will you have the same 33k after your contract ended? This is also depending on your fellowship or whatever finances you. Guess not every post doc earns 33k.

In my opinion it is btw totally okay to love his job AND to get an appropriate salary. Just because I'm a scientist does not mean that I have to be ashamed about the fact that I rely on money and a job perspective like everybody else does. Nobody expects doctors to work for minimum wage and be just happy about the fact that they have a job they love and can actually help people.

This is only secondary about money but about a lack of perspective for all those people (which in return results in low salaries). There is a reason for all those articles and studies about PhD students fearing what comes after there PhD. That's not because of the bad perspective in academia (most students are not aiming for a academic position) but because of bad perspectives everywhere.

I really don't wanna play that sort of grumpy "PhD Grinch" but some things just have to change and if not even PhD students see a need for that I really wonder if it will some day

Thread: An Academic Job Slump is Making Graduate Students Depressed... Interesting Reading

posted
30-Apr-15, 12:40
edited about 4 seconds later
by Dunham
Avatar for Dunham
posted about 5 years ago
Quote From TreeofLife:
Yeah, I guess it comes down to whether you see the clouds or the silver-lining, Dunham.

I'm a silver lining kinda girl. I just did a PhD for the learning experience. No-one ever made me any promises.

Never in my wildest dreams did I imagine I would have a PhD, so anything that comes after is a bonus. And if I only earn £20k a year for the rest of my life I will still be happy that I did my PhD.


I think this is a bit more complex ;) This is of course not simply about money and you but about how science works nowadays and how perverted that system can be. A fact, that not even most professors deny. I don't think that science has to be like this and in fact, it was not always like this. But I guess as long as people are willing to see the silver linings, nothing will change and it will probably get worse. Universities will definitely change nothing about cheap workers. Especially not if you get phd students from china for free :D

Thread: An Academic Job Slump is Making Graduate Students Depressed... Interesting Reading

posted
30-Apr-15, 11:55
by Dunham
Avatar for Dunham
posted about 5 years ago
Quote From awsoci:




You have to differentiate between different phds awsoci. If you studied history or social sciences and continue with a phd, which is mostly based on literature research than this is definitely higher learning.
But in case of many subjects, a phd is to a huge extent practical work. They benefit from your work and they save or earn money with you. Go and look up what a cracy amount of money universities save because they let you teach instead of a professor or lecturer. They are creating false ads to get cheap, temporary research and teaching staff that they never planned to employ permanently. They are not doing this to get phds teaching experience. They know you won't get a position afterwards. This is critisezed in almost every other job sector but if it comes to science, the people seem to accept everything and always see the bright side.

In many cases (chemistry and biology for instance) a phd is mandatory to work outside a university, so if you want to work as a biologist you are usually almost forced to do a phd. And the thing is, that it was not always like this. There were times were you had 100% position when you worked 100%

I think you have a one-way view on this. Of course I can see everything positively. It is indeed a great experience and helps you to improve yourself. Morover, noone forces you to study something, noone forces you to do a phd, become a scientist or whatever and of course if I would have talked to the approximately 50 post docs I talked so far before starting a degree in biology, I would have known that universities talk shit, but who does that?

Thread: An Academic Job Slump is Making Graduate Students Depressed... Interesting Reading

posted
29-Apr-15, 14:14
by Dunham
Avatar for Dunham
posted about 5 years ago
Well, You would get 33k IF a company hires you after your post doc and pays you the university salary (taking in acount that probably 80% of the post docs in the end leave university). I assume that you have a permanent contract in that bank. Morover, 24 might be the post doc age in UK, but hardly anywhere elese. In Scandinavi you are usually over 30 and in most other countires also in your later 20 or 30.

I tried to not limit the discussion to money. I say that they lure you into a system that leaves a significant amount of people with a comparable low salary in a field unrelated to their phd. People always talk like it would be so much easier to get company jobs but that is definitely not the case. Jobs are a scare in general, especially in biology.

I can only say that your bank experience does not at all relates to what I know from Germany. So I don't want to judge that. In Germany you definitely earn more money and you work your 40 hours a week. If you work more, you get paid more. Of course I also know the stories from investment bankers that almost live in their offices but they often have a salary like your research group combined...
But that was not at all my point. If you get a 33k position after you left university that is nice but this is just not the case for a lot of post docs.

Thread: An Academic Job Slump is Making Graduate Students Depressed... Interesting Reading

posted
29-Apr-15, 13:10
edited about 18 seconds later
by Dunham
Avatar for Dunham
posted about 5 years ago
This is also not just about money. Most people start a phd out of financial reasons and neither would I. It is also about the fact that universities lure you into this system by concealing about the terrible perspective most of the phd students will have not just in academia but also in industry ! Instead they produce fancy ads were they tell you that there are thousands of possibilities for careers outside of academia and, in fact, there are possibilities but not at all enough positions for all the phd students that finish. Sure, some of them will find something in project management and some maybe end up in R&D but I’ve talked to enough post docs and experienced enough application processes to know that there is a huge amount of post docs that are just left empty-handed. Nobody in industry searches for such an amount of post docs. They create a massive over supply of post docs on purpose, which returns in an imbalanced demand and supply, high competition and low salaries. If you can hire 2 phds for the price of one you easily double your research output. And what do we do about undeniable bad conditions? We consider ourselves lucky and are grateful that we are allowed to work in science at all. They could pay less, couldn’t they? At least you worked in a field you love until you are 35
Of course it was our decision but it is still irresponsible to create such an oversupply of scientists without giving a fuck what will happen to those people after their temporary contract ended. So many young scientists fear the time after their post doc contract ends. I highly doubt that would be the case if you easily find a job in industry. In the company I work at the moment they get over a hundred targeted applications for a researcher position, so not at all different to academia. Most professors also agree that something has to change but somehow they are also just part of the system and adapted at one point

Thread: An Academic Job Slump is Making Graduate Students Depressed... Interesting Reading

posted
29-Apr-15, 13:09
edited about 2 seconds later
by Dunham
Avatar for Dunham
posted about 5 years ago
Quote From TreeofLife:
I've only been in the 'system' about 4 years. I have, however, worked in other 'systems' such as banking, where I worked far harder than I've ever worked in my PhD and probably ever will in any subsequent career, for a final salary of about £25k, so yeah £33k seems pretty damn good to me.

I don't know what finance degree you hold and maybe that is UK specific but usually you earn much more in the finance sector, especially because there is so much more scope for raises compared to science. I doubt that you will work for 25k for a long period if you do a good job.

Also, I think we are lucky to be able to learn a bit about a subject and get a PhD. I learnt just as much about finance, people management, computer programs etc as I have about my PhD subject and I didn't receive any qualifications for that and I certainly wasn't considered an expert. A PhD is nothing special - it's just a way to make people think they have achieved something. It's no more or less than any other achievement, so why should you expect more than someone working in finance, or any other job?

Well, you might not get these fancy two letters in front of your name, but you gain work experience, which is, at least in companies, much more valuable. With a few years of work experience your salary should definitely increase and you are able to get positions with more responsibility and so on…

I btw don’t expect more money as someone who works in finance but a salary that is appropriate to 8 or 9 years of study (bachelor, master and phd in most countries). You compare a post doc salary you have with 30 to a salary someone can have at 23 after finishing a bachelor degree.

Thread: An Academic Job Slump is Making Graduate Students Depressed... Interesting Reading

posted
29-Apr-15, 06:44
edited about 5 seconds later
by Dunham
Avatar for Dunham
posted about 5 years ago
Quote From TreeofLife:
yeah, at £33k a year the post docs I am applying for have a really low salary...


If it refers to what I have written : Of course it is ! We have people with a 3-years bachelor degree in Germany that immediately earn more than that when they leave university. Considering your education this is a rather low salary. You just have been too long in this system to see that ;) If there would be only 20% of the present phd students, companies would have to pay higher salaries to get the good people but supply and demand is completely imbalanced at the moment. No matter what you pay you will always find someone who does the job. You can see a clear difference if you look in the more promising fields. Does somebody really thinks that there are people with a phd in computer science who work for 33k a year outside universities? They usually also get a much higher phd salary (often a 100% position, compared to a 50% in other fields). The only difference is that there are fewer phd students. Government and industry definitely benefit a lot from the cheap and huge research output that is mainly produced by temporary staff like post docs and phds.

Thread: An Academic Job Slump is Making Graduate Students Depressed... Interesting Reading

posted
28-Apr-15, 20:31
edited about 12 seconds later
by Dunham
Avatar for Dunham
posted about 5 years ago
I think what is making these circumstances even worse, is that industry is also not at all waiting for these phd students. There were several nature articles were professors said that we have to stop to produce so many post docs because there is absolutely no need for their expertise. People tend to think that there will be always something to do and that there are so many possibilities for these highly educated people but taking in account what a myriad of post docs is entering the job market every year....barely a chance.

I think this strategy is mostly government and university driven to get cheap research staff that is so desperate that it is willing to work for low salaries.

Thread: Having good results but not published papers when applying for a postdoc

posted
25-Apr-15, 11:23
edited about 18 seconds later
by Dunham
Avatar for Dunham
posted about 5 years ago


Which field you are talking about being easy to get postdoc? I am in materials engineering and it is very hard to get postdoc not only in UK but also other countries. I found my current position after long search and came to europe from Canada for that. I also know of other PhD students in my lab who struggled hard to get postdoc position. Another PhD student in my lab (who was better than me I know, had more publications than me, finished earlier than me), was jobless for 2 years. Finally he got one postdoc position in other country after 2 years and he went there. So it very much depends on field. In our field, having 4 publications minimum till PhD is considered a norm. Academics has become hugely competitive and there seems a hard way after PhD for future career.


In natural sciences it is relatively "easy" to find one but that strongly depends on the country you are searching in. For instance, in Germany the phd students have a really low salary, which means that you can hire 2 phd students for the price of a post doc. In Scandinavia the gap between post doc and phd salaries is not that big and therefore you find more post doc positions.

From reading this I get an impression as if the post doc would be already the permanent position that it is in fact not. If you are 2 years jobless and then get a post doc you will be most likely jobless after your contract ends. How many professors or lecturers do you know that have been unemployed for a longer period? A time where you did not publish at all. I think you will never catch up again and it looks terrible on your cv. You really need a shitload of luck to make it in a permanent position then. I personally can't help it but think that this is just pointless. No matter if it is your dream or not at some point you should just accept that this is not meant to be. Let's face it, there are tons of scientists out there in their late 30s, who did not make it and will tell you that they would never go this road again and somehow ruined their lives by not leaving when there was still time to do so. I can imagine that it is not really nice when you are 38 and don't know how to pay your rent in two or three months because your part time teaching job is not at all sufficient to make a living. I met several people during my practical courses that are not 40 yet but just gave up and accepted long-term unemployment. Nobody in industry hires them (hundreds of failed applications, they don't even get job interviews) and academia, as we all know, kicks you out after a certain amount of years if you don't get a permanent position.

I don't want to sound too negative or pessimistic and this is definitely depending on the subject but it is not like there is always a happy ending. In my opinion that is really sad because those people often sacrificed a lot and did one hell of a job but that's like it is.

Thread: Having good results but not published papers when applying for a postdoc

posted
24-Apr-15, 16:36
edited about 53 seconds later
by Dunham
Avatar for Dunham
posted about 5 years ago


- I'm young and I even haven't finished my PhD but already my plan(as for now) is to do one or two Postdocs and then switch to industry (or work closely with industry). That's what I would consider as success not failure. You improve your knowledge and develop some ideas. Then you put your thought together and with the help of industry you make a change to the world.


Well, that might be a legit plan like becoming a professor one day. If it works like this is on another page ;)


-No! it is not about money. It is about creating opportunities to contribute more and spread/improve your work. After all the fund is spent on research tools, hiring postdocs or students who can help with the research. So it is about one's passion.


I don't know in which field you are working (math?) but that is definitely not my impression and far too romantic (imo). Science is a business like everything else and at least in the life science you don't achieve anything without money. It's all about grants and they go often to the bigger name with the better connections and not to the places were good science is done.

But this is anyway going off topic

Thread: Having good results but not published papers when applying for a postdoc

posted
24-Apr-15, 12:14
edited about 20 seconds later
by Dunham
Avatar for Dunham
posted about 5 years ago
Quote From TreeofLife:
...............


I did not mean that in an offensive way. The "failed" scientist refered to the fact that someone that leaves university after 2 post docs at the age of 35 to join a company obviously aimed for a career in academia but realized that this is not going to work out. This circumstance is rather a disadvantage as companies prefer scientists who actually want to do applied science and were aiming for industry even though they could have gone for a permanent position in academia. That's of course only what I've been told so far. And isn't it always about money? A huge part of the professor's work is fundraising ;)

Thread: Having good results but not published papers when applying for a postdoc

posted
24-Apr-15, 10:17
by Dunham
Avatar for Dunham
posted about 5 years ago
[quote]Quote From TreeofLife:

Quotequote]

Nothing's wrong with trying that if you are aware of the risk. For me it was simply hard to understand because you have all these threads were people are fed up with academia and are desparately searching for basically any kind of position to pay the bills. Somehow I am asking myself what these people expected? Nowadays it already seems to be hard to find phd positions (at least if you are not continuing were you already studied). Shouldn't that already be a hint that there is absolutely no need for staff in academia and that you could probably get rid of 50% of the Phd students without running into any lack of applicants? It seems that there is nothing waiting for you instead of short term contracts until you finally reach an age were you have to drop out academia. It is probably also too late for industry then. No company is hiring post docs >35 years expect they have a really impressive publication list that would have allowed them a career in academia in he first place. Nobody is looking for "failed" scientists that obviously want to join the company because there is no other way to go (at least thats what I've been told during internships in companies). I'm asking myself the same as I am also thinking about starting a phd in october but sometimes I just think "what is the point?" There is obviously no need for more scientists. If you advertise a position in a company that is suitable for, let's say a post doc in microbiology, you get around 100 applications. How likely is it that you will be chosen in the end? Without any connections? I guess in academia it is even worse. I find it hard to shut these thoughts out as you have absolutely no certainty for such a long time. How do you guys deal with that? Just not thinking about it?

Thread: Having good results but not published papers when applying for a postdoc

posted
23-Apr-15, 12:12
by Dunham
Avatar for Dunham
posted about 5 years ago
Quote From TreeofLife:
I've got one submitted, so I'm putting that on my CV. I think it's helpful obviously, but then again, two postdocs have just been advertised in my dept, and guess what, both went to internal candidates, one of whom has no publications... so yeah, pretty encouraging...


Well, on the otherside it is rather bad for them. Doing a post doc in the same institute you did your Phd is seldom recomended unless you need the time to get one or two papers published that are already in preparation. Reading in this forum leaves me somehow a bit puzzled and maybe you can clarify some things for me. If it is so hard to just get a post doc position in the UK, imagine how incredibly unlikely it is that you are chosen for a permanent position. So what is the point of a post doc in the end? Is this somehow UK specific? Are there more permanent positions compared to other countries? I studied now in three different european countries and the Post Docs I met always said that it is easy to get a post doc position (if you don't search in a specific european country) but that it is dead end and maybe a few percent of these post docs make it into a permanent position. As the post doc experience is also rather seldom beneficial for a career in indusrty (too old, too long in academia etc.) I wonder why so many people in this forum go for one.
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