Grantsmanship

Dr Love 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 
>growing.
>
>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 
>establishment: 
>
> "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.....

[snipped]

>**********************************
>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 
tumor!

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!" 
(Ha Ha).
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. 

Sincerely,

Jamie Love, PhD (MBA)




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