Tuesday, April 22, 2014

Diminishing returns Part III: The competition

In the past few decades the field had changed in a rather disturbing way. The number of professors and faculty positions has increased slowly, yet the number of PhD students has increased significantly. This has had the effect of making the competition more fierce and the individual contributions more diluted. It seems that in order to get a faculty position one must work very hard on boring projects for little reward except for the faculty position itself. I'm not scared of competition, I just don't want the need to compete to become more important than the process of discovery and job satisfaction. I'm not prepared to work long hours and weekends on someone else's project to get ahead, when I can be having a much more fulfilling career somewhere else. The longer one stays in the field, the more one has to cling to "love of the job" to keep going, and that reservoir has been steadily drying up for me over the years. This plot shows how bad the situation is in the USA across all the sciences:

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