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What is the standard time for a Postdoc?

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So I'm already ruined?

Postby Patrick » Sat Feb 26, 2005 9:05 pm

Thanks John

That was pretty much my point in my original post. After over 8 years of working hard in grad school and postdoc it was hard for me to believe that my career was over and my employment prospects gone because of some bad luck on one project. Given the unpredictable nature of research in the life sciences and the number of times that promising ideas don't pan out I think that employers are missing out on many good researchers. If multiple papers are required out of the first 2 years of someone's career then I guess that a lot of us are failures. In my field it can take that long to even get a project off the ground and get to the point where real progress is made.
Patrick
 

So I'm already ruined?

Postby Val » Sun Feb 27, 2005 4:23 am

Patrick wrote:

After over 8 years of working hard in grad school and postdoc it was hard for me to believe that my career was over and my employment prospects gone because of some bad luck on one project.

There are too many equally good applicants for the jobs available. This is why the employers look for the ways to cut the list of applicants down. Your CV is less than perfect ? -- into the bin !

Science career is like playing "Russian roulette". At each round, a fraction of participants is culled down (via the mechanism of unfunding the grant applications or because the skill-set was not updated). Finally, the number of left players is equal to the number of available slots (jobs). But thanks to God, there is industry for the rest of us ! ;-)

If multiple papers are required out of the first 2 years of someone's career then I guess that a lot of us are failures. In my field it can take that long to even get a project off the ground...

In Australia, a PhD in theoretical physics is usually finished in 2.5-3 years, while a PhD in experimental physics is usually finished in 3.5-5 years. For theoreticians, it is easy to crank up the number of papers -- any thought which occured to you is counted as a "scientific result" and can be published. I am not surprised that many of the postdoctoral employments and lecturer positions are given to theoreticians. It is easier for administration to fund them, too -- what they need is only a pen, paper and computer as opposed to hundreds of thousands of dollars for conducting experiments. When I was fresh out of PhD, I was envious to my theoretical counterparts -- they all got postdoctoral positions or other postdoctoral employments, while I, an experimentalist, was forced to get irregular employments in patents and software development ! However, on a bright side, 6 years later, the situation kind of reversed. I am involved with natl labs and industry, and my outlook on stable employment with career progression is rather solid, while most of the theoreticians are still toiling away in postdocs and postdoc-like employments. Some of them became programmers... but this is not what you want to have after 15 years of preparation for career in science, and employment prospects are not as stellar as it was 5 years ago.

Regards,
Val
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