triage, money, teaching - what is important

E. Wijsman wijsman at
Tue Sep 9 10:33:39 EST 1997

I don't see any reason that this wouldn't be possible, and in reality,
even without the assumption of an external money source, it happens
already even now, without the assumption that external money is involved. 
In my area (statistical genetics), students do *not* normally do any bench
work, and there are other, similar areas, which are based on
mathematical/statistical/computer areas which work in a similar fashion
with respect to non-data collection by the students. The goal for the PhD
student is to develop/explore statistical or computational methods
appropriate to the field.  Usually such a student will apply/illustrate
the methods with real data, if such real data is available.  It is a bonus
if the application also creates new knowledge about the original data, but
it is not necessary.  Often the real data sets are not ideal for the
problem (since the data were collected with another analysis approach in
mind), so if an independently wealthy student wanted a really good data
set to illustrate his/her design/analysis approach, he/she might contract
to get the molecular work done. This is perfectly realistic - the task of
carrying out the huge amount of marker screening for a complex trait is
rapidly moving into cost centers, which roboticize the task of the data
collection, and the collection of relevant pedigrees is already usually
done by people in the clinical end of the field, not the PhD student.

On Mon, 8 Sep 1997, Paul Baum wrote:

> In article
> <Pine.OSF.3.96.970906143531.26952B-100000 at>, "E.
> Wijsman" <wijsman at> wrote:
> > I would argue that a PhD is a degree that
> > shows your ability to ask independent, scholarly, questions, and to come
> > up with data, arguements, or whatever your particular field uses as
> > evidence to answer your questions. . . . Except where teaching
> > is required, remember that there is no *requirement* that one accepts a TA
> > or RAship as part of your training!  If you happen to be independently
> > wealthy, or have a good outside job you can pay the tuition fees (which
> > certainly gets done in some fields which don't have the sort of support
> > we are used to in science).
> > 
> Out of curiosity, what if someone were independently wealthy and hired a
> staff of technicians to do their experiments for them?  Would this person
> still be able to earn a Ph.D. without doing the benchwork as long as they
> were planning and interpreting the experiments?
> Paul

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