PhD, etc outside the US
jjoy at nas.edu
Mon Feb 19 09:21:32 EST 1996
After listening to the US-Brit-NZ comments, I thought I'd throw in the
Canadian perspective. I did my undergrad years in the U.S. at a
research-intensive Big10 university, then went to Canada to do my PhD at
a similar size research-intensive university. When I got there I was
astonished to find most graduate students working 9-to-6. I then did two
postdocs at similar universities in the US where the 9-9 routine was
pretty common. I also worked along side German postdocs who worked
Overall, it would seem that Americans work their buts off compared to
everyone else. . . although what about the Japanese? Any comment?
The weird part was that none of this seem to correlate to career success
in the students' respective countries. That is, those from countries
where students worked at relatively leisure paces went on to get good
jobs at the same rate (or better!) than their hard-driving American
It seems that American students have little choice but to work to
extremes since they are compared to each other in the job market. I
wish I could believe that the American worker bees learned so much more
and were so much more productive than their counterparts in other
countries, but my experiences don't really support that idea. . . .
although I admit anecdotal data should be taken with a grain of salt.
Maybe my experiences are atypical. My suspicion is that Americans are
just busier, but neither more creative, wise, or good at science than
scientists in other countries.
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