PhD & careers

Alexander Berezin berezin at MCMAIL.CIS.MCMASTER.CA
Sat Sep 16 11:56:57 EST 1995

Reply to Joe Teodoro's last postings.

Dear Joe: You present many points. Thanks.
It will give people a lot to think about.
Contary to many, I don't insist that my
views are the "only right ones" [ only
idiots insist on this ] and simply say
what I believe/see/comprehend on the basis
of my university teaching & research
experience (25 years).

Some comments are below.

Alex Berezin 

On Sat, 16 Sep 1995, Joe Teodoro wrote:

  [some stuff deleted]

> As much as I respect Mr. Gates and admire his achievments, buying a
> computer operating system and tweaking it's performance before selling it
> to IBM hardly qualifys as academic research.  Mr Gates's talents, perhaps
> like many frustrated young post-docs and investigators, was better suited
> elsewhere.

Glad for him

> ... Although this is an entirely different issue from 
> the initial thread, I
> believe that many, myself included, would dissagree 
> with your statements.
> There have never been so many journals publishing 
> high quality science as
> there are today.  

Yes, this is something on which there is a lot
of disagreement.

The main catch here is what is meant by "high quality 
science". Diversity of views on this is quite broad.
For example, one can say [ and many people of 
undisputable international reputation DO SAY this ] 
that 80 or 90 % of all papers (or some would go as
high as 99 %) published in Physical Reveiw, 
J.Molec.Biology, ... (and scores of other similar
journals) is just a redundant garbage.

Where you see it, is entirely up to your tastes and
belief system, but you will find many on either 
side of the issue. [ many variations of the theme ].  

> It often seems that many researchers take high quality
> science for granted and believe that nothing significant 
> ever occurs.  

Yes, as I just said, it is a matter of belief/tastes.
Even within the same university department you can find
people who will strongly disagree what is important, what 
is not.  

> suppose such statistics would depend on how one defines 
> a "breakthrough".

Yes, and you probably know what Bismark said
about statistics. In talking about "number
of (recent) breakthroughs" statistics will be
a particular nonsense. All you (or me, or whoever)
can put up here is a (highly subjective) feeling
of what goes on and have other people form their
own opinions.  

> I find the task of keeping up with the flood of 
> reports in my field very
> difficult and at times even impossible.

Not only you. (here I must gratefully reciproctate
to you with the same invitation: "Welcome to the
real world, Joe" which you just issued for me
in a previous poster). This is precisely a corollary
to a publish-perish syndrom which you apparently
tend to dismissed as a pseudo-effect (your
yesterday's poster).
You should set yourself to the uphill battle,
should you decide to continue. Good luck & cheers. 

> >(Molecular biology: where is cure for cancer, AIDS,
> >Alzymer [sic],  .................................) ?
> >

> In defence of molecular biology, the biololical basis for many forms of
> these disorders have become known.  We know exactly whats wrong in many
> cases right down to the exact mutated gene and specific DNA base pair
> mutated.

I been hearing this for the last 30 years. Promises, promises.

Just recalling an old Russian joke:

  A reseach Institute was organazed to develop
  a high technology for a direct conversion 
  of s-t to a butter.
  After 10 years of hard work a  progress report 
  is written:
  "We ALMOST achieved the goal - you already 
  can spread, but still can't eat".  

>  Although the underlying molecular basis for these disorders 
> are understood, the problem now shifts to how it can be 
> repaired ... 

see the above

> Thanks anyway Alex, unlike some, I'm quite 
> happy with my chosen profession.

So am I. One of the reason I spend time
on these posting discussions.  

Best wishes

Alexander A. Berezin, PhD
Department of Engineering Physics
McMaster University, Hamilton,
Ontario, Canada, L8S 4L7
tel. (905) 525-9140 ext. 24546

> Joe Teodoro    teodoro at
> Department of Biochemistry
> McGill University
> Montreal, Quebec

More information about the Bioforum mailing list