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  1. #11
    Senior Member bluebell's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by nonsequitur View Post
    Heh, I've worked in a lab in the US before, and it's pretty much the same. I was an undergrad there, though. So maybe that's why they were more willing to help me out and teach me stuff. The cut-throat nature of funding applications, petty jealousies, idea-stealing, lack of integrity by some individuals, fighting over authorships of papers and internal/external lab politics are pretty similar though.
    There's hard money here, as there are some tenured positions where you don't need to scrounge around all the time for grant money just to pay your salary for the full twelve months. (I've only heard this from some American academics and a friend who did part of his PhD lab work in the US, so I don't know for sure that it's like this - happy to be corrected.) So I think that allows at least some of the academics here a bit more security and hence they're a little less cut-throat in the fight for funding.
    ...so much smoke pouring out of each chromosome.

  2. #12
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    Quote Originally Posted by bluebell View Post
    There's hard money here, as there are some tenured positions where you don't need to scrounge around all the time for grant money just to pay your salary for the full twelve months. (I've only heard this from some American academics and a friend who did part of his PhD lab work in the US, so I don't know for sure that it's like this - happy to be corrected.) So I think that allows at least some of the academics here a bit more security and hence they're a little less cut-throat in the fight for funding.
    It's also true of postdocs here (scrounging for grant money to pay their salaries for another 12 months). There's virtually no job security. My current supervisor was lucky because he was offered an extended fellowship that lasts through to 2013, but he's the exception rather than the norm... and that's because he had an exceptional postdoc stint in the US and his publication record is incredible. Even so, he's not tenure-track, and won't be for at least a decade or so. My previous lab's postdoc wasn't even sure that he could stay for 2009 - his job is on a year-by-year basis.

    It's the harsh reality that there are lots more graduating PhD students than there are postdoc positions in academia, and most postdocs don't make tenure. Also, the old fogeys refuse to retire, so tenured positions are scarce and with universities cutting funding to promote "cost effectiveness", hoping to gain tenure is like... hoping to win the $20million Tattslotto jackpot.

    My analysis of the situation is that there was a lot of funding floating around in the US for research in the '90s because Clinton bumped up federal funding. This enabled a lot of people to set up their own labs. Unfortunately, this was not sustainable, and funding has plateaued since the early 2000s. The exponential increase in the number of research labs in the 90s created the competition, and many labs have since folded because funding has dried up.

    There is a lot less funding in Australia compared to the US, so the situation has always been different. It's also well-known that postdocs in Australia are the most well-paid in the world (fresh postdoc salary approx. AU$70-80k p.a. compared to USD30-40k p.a. in the US), so this again attracts competition for postdoc places. The pressure to publish and remain competitive is thus maintained.

    Of course, this is for sciences.

    Azseroff, since you're a freshman you have a lot of time to talk to people in the industry. Ask around about funding, about how much money is available to study the stuff that you're interested in. I'd also suggest thinking about what you would do if you eventually went to grad school, got a PhD in sociology and couldn't find an academic job afterward. There are quite a few people in that position (if you substitute "sociology" with "social sciences" or "humanities").

  3. #13
    Oberon
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    In the hard sciences, yes.

    In the liberal arts, a thousand times no!

  4. #14
    DoubleplusUngoodNonperson
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    jsut curious - nonseq what are you in grad school for?

    cuz honestly, physicists don't have this problem, for example

  5. #15
    Senior Member bluebell's Avatar
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    non sequitur - thanks for the explanation.

    Quote Originally Posted by nozflubber View Post
    jsut curious - nonseq what are you in grad school for?

    cuz honestly, physicists don't have this problem, for example
    The ones I know do, although several managed to get tenure in their thirties. Others haven't been so lucky.
    ...so much smoke pouring out of each chromosome.

  6. #16
    DoubleplusUngoodNonperson
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    and what does getting tenure at 30 say about the availability of physics professorships? :P

  7. #17
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    Structural Biology/Biochemistry.

    Physicists have job security, a road to tenure and good pay? I wish I was better at math then.

    *edit: I'm just joking, I couldn't see myself sitting behind a desk writing grants and papers all day long. Also, the Clinton bumping up funding thing applies mostly to biosciences/medical research.

  8. #18
    Senior Member bluebell's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by nozflubber View Post
    and what does getting tenure at 30 say about the availability of physics professorships? :P
    Age 35, not 30.

    Like I said, I think it's a lot easier to get tenure in Australia than in the US. And I know an awful lot of physicists. This is only a small percentage of them who were lucky enough to get lecture positions at small, low-profile universities. Edit: I know quite a few who have been doing postdocs for years, having their salaries paid from grant money and only having 6 months to a year of job security for years and years.

    Edit 2: I also know a bunch of PhD students in the physical sciences (not just physics) who weren't even able to get post docs.
    ...so much smoke pouring out of each chromosome.

  9. #19
    DoubleplusUngoodNonperson
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    ^ well I don't know what the hell is going on around you then, because in the US both Unis and businesses are competing for physicists, bigtime. very, very high demand for them right now and it might increase. One of my profs said if you manage to finish your master's in biophysics, he knows people wanting to hire you immediately at a 6 figure salary

  10. #20
    Senior Member bluebell's Avatar
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    *shrug* I haven't seen it here, and admittedly I've been out of touch with that circle for the past couple of months.
    ...so much smoke pouring out of each chromosome.

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