molbiol method book?

M. Johan Broekman hanbroekman at
Mon Aug 30 06:20:15 EST 1999

Nina Baltes wrote:
> Chris Boyd wrote:
> > I believe that PhDs were _first_ awarded in German universities before
> > being adopted in other countries. See, for example,
> >
> >    In medieval universities the term "doctor" was introduced some time after
> >    "master". "Master" and "doctor" were at first used synonymously, but in
> >    time "master" came to be restricted to the teachers of liberal arts and
> >    "doctor", as a distinction, to the teachers of theology and law, and
> >    later of medicine.
> But still, we get the title of "Dr." for our doctoral thesis, not "PhD".
> You can be a physician or veterinarian without the title.
> And since veterinarians in the US get the Dr. upon graduation, it is
> usually not recognized that the Dr. is a postgraduate degree in Germany.
> And as a Dr. med. vet., you are not allowed to call yourself PhD.

This is the crux of the problem:  I (as born Dutchman, now in the last
30 years in the US), would guess that a "Dr. med. vet." is the graduate
of a German veterenary medicine program, NOT a PhD.  In the US, "Dr." is
an honorific, and does not indicate MD, PhD, DSc (a degree similar to
PhD, offered for instance by Harvard School of Public Health, which
somehow cannot give a "real" PhD).

PhD stands for Doctor of Philosophy, which in the late Middle Ages
became (also) what is now called Science.  Thus, if you, Nina, would
like to be recognized as a scientist, instead of a very accomplished
veterinarian (absolutely not meant as denigrating veterinarians), then
your title should be something like "Dr of science in veterinary
medicine" (Sorry, my German has always been bad).  This would be similar
to the titles given professors with PhD's in departments of medicine in
the US: Professor of Biochemistry in Medicine, because they don't rank
an MD degree!

Just my 2cents

> > However, I take Nina's point about the distinction between PhD
> > programmes and traditional PhDs. Whether adopting US-style PhD
> > programmes for the sake of furthering career prospects in the US is a
> > good move for German science is moot.
> Not just in the US (we hope). The usual "Dr." title does not involve
> coursework and is usually completed in 1.5 to 2 years (in veterinary
> medicine).
> Whether the PhD will bring the advantages that we hope for... we'll see.
> Like I said, we're the first 20 guinea pigs :). And we have the option
> of changing the title to a regular Dr. later on if it all doesn't work
> out ;).
> > Whatever happened to cultural
> > diversity?
> Progress :)
> No seriously, in what way does the addition of a new graduate degree
> endanger cultural diversity?
> Especially when it aims at creating equal chances on the global
> employment market?
> And I do believe that, when planning a career, one should not expect to
> stay in the same place for one's entire working life. You have to remain
> flexible. Especially since the German science market is, well, difficult
> :).
> Nina

More information about the Methods mailing list