jl at srv0.med.ac.ed.uk
Thu Nov 23 08:27:42 EST 1995
berezin at MCMAIL.CIS.MCMASTER.CA (Alexander Berezin) wrote:
>EXPLOITATION IN SCIENCE
>Despite all the efforts of grantsmanship barons
>to downplay the issue of the exploitation of
>young scientists, the voices of protest are
>Recent column in New Scientist (14 October 1995,
>p. 14, see also Editorial on p. 3) titled "Stuck on
>the Road to Nowhere" gives numerous examples of
>cynicism and cheat young scientists (predominantly,
>postdocs) are facing from the members of the
> "Hire 'em young, stack 'em high, then fire 'em".
>The short-termism, PhD overproduction, and lack of
>true prospect is the inevitable result of the major
>evil of the present NIH/NSERC/NSF.....
>Alexander A. Berezin, PhD
>Department of Engineering Physics
>McMaster University, Hamilton,
>Ontario, Canada, L8S 4L7
>tel. (905) 525-9140 ext. 24546
>e-mail: BEREZIN at MCMASTER.CA
Hello Alex (et al,),
Normally I irrate people in the sci.research.careers newsgroup, but this sting caught my eye.
I totally agree with you that the current situation encourages the overproduction of PhDs.
I disagree, howver, with the "cures" you presrcribe. (and which I snipped) .
The answer is not to develop a whole new system which will distribute money directly to
grad students. This is like taking aspirin for releif of a headache who's underlying cause is a
We must stop making PhDs! (Until the market improves).
Stipends are bait for the undergrads to take. Wiggle a few thousand dollars in front of a senior
who has been living on less and his/her eyes light up and they say "Hey, that ain't bad. I'll
stay in school (or go back) and get a PhD and then I'll be able to get a GOOD job!"
Stipends create an artifical market. And (to my knowledge) they only occur in sciences (to any
great extent). Med students, law students etc. don't get stipends (and there are only a few
scholarships) because they don't need that kind of economic encouragement. They go to a bank and
when they say they have gotten into a law or medical school, the bank manager falls all over
himself to give him/her a loan. But if you told that same bank manager that you have been accepted
into a grad program to get a PhD in Bio, Chem, etc, he will _not_ offer you a loan. Why?
Because he knows (and so do the PhDs) that this young guy/gal full of enthusiasm and enervg is a
bad loan risk. Even if she/he gets a job, it will be sporadic (yearly contracts) and so
competeitive that repayments are questionable. The Lawyers and Doctors, on the other hand, have
thier careers "tracked" into big money and security..
To stop the postdoc glut we should get rid of stipends! That would _force_ the "dreamers" to face
the hard cold reality of asking , "gee, what is the job market really like for a PhD if I can't
even get a loan (easily) to do it?!". Would you have spent years in pursuit of your PhD if you had
to pay for it?! Few would.
Stop stipends. They distort the market, encourage the over production of PhDs and hide the truth
from the young fools.
Naturally, this won't happen. (Nor will the other suggestions I've seen here).
Too many PIs need fresh cannon-fodder for thier research and stipends are cost effective to the
PI. Established scientists will fight any move to kill stipends because it would kill thier cheap
labor (and the postdocs they produce as cheap labor as well). And the short-sighted undergrads
would also join in complaining (especially when theey have had thier talk with the bank).
Instead we shall all join hands and chant the mantra of scuence "All we need is more money". and
continue business as usual.
Jamie Love, PhD (MBA)
More information about the Bioforum