PhD in Humanities / Social Sciences (please throw in upsides of doing it from ERE point of view)

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ertyu
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Re: PhD in Humanities / Social Sciences (please throw in upsides of doing it from ERE point of view)

Post by ertyu »

@guitarplayer, another benefit I could think of is, sometimes at government/education type of work, you are paid on a payscale where each degree level you have brings you some additional cash. A PhD might be "useless" in and of itself, but it will still benefit you some.

On the whole, I regret not getting my PhD. It would have made me eligible to teach at the university level at some mid-tier developing country university that's not too punishing on their research requirement. I would have enjoyed having that as an option in my barista fire.

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Alphaville
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Re: PhD in Humanities / Social Sciences (please throw in upsides of doing it from ERE point of view)

Post by Alphaville »

ertyu wrote:
Sun Mar 14, 2021 12:21 pm
that's where the teaching assistantships are. you generally have to pay for a ma but may get funded + get offered a TA-ship in a PhD. That's how I got my MA.
idk, i got a ta directly for my ma.

i had so much fun i decided to double down and stayed for another 4 years...

that's the period when i saw academia "from within." i was in committees, worked with administration, participated in conferences, ran publications, saw who got hired for what, and realized it wasn't for me... or for most people in it, in fact.

the problem with my teaching load plus the additional courses plus professional development was that it really got on the way of doing any research.you're juggling too many things and skimp on the actual depth required. you see that in the poor quality of academic publications.

the only ones who get the coveted tenured jobs are a few people who are anointed from the beginning and get scholarships and grants from the beginning. i.e. the rich get richer. everyone else becomes an adjunct for life, visiting lecturer, postdoc, etc. the profzi scheme.

plus it's a huge amount of politics. you don't just need a phd--you mainly need to navigate a vicious political environment.

adjunct is a shit job for people who depend on it exclusively. you're better off being a school teacher with a union contract, benefits. etc. now if you're a successful professional who teaches one course as adjunct for fun, that's different.

guitarplayer
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Re: PhD in Humanities / Social Sciences (please throw in upsides of doing it from ERE point of view)

Post by guitarplayer »

ertyu wrote:
Sun Mar 14, 2021 12:26 pm
It would have made me eligible to teach at the university level at some mid-tier developing country university that's not too punishing on their research requirement. I would have enjoyed having that as an option in my barista fire.
Haha, yeah totally I would sign up under that :D

@Alphaville, I mostly like hypothesising about stuff, it's not like I have a PhD offer on the table and tomorrow am going to decide whether to take it or not ;) I have some years of uni experience in various fields but now am actually coasting through a BSc in Maths and Stats with the UK Open University and thoroughly enjoying it. Perhaps another way to put it is that I like putting together unlikely pieces and see what happens.

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Alphaville
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Re: PhD in Humanities / Social Sciences (please throw in upsides of doing it from ERE point of view)

Post by Alphaville »

oh, if you're working on a bsc then take some fun electives. hell, double major even (do you guys have that?) in something like history or literature or psychology or philosophy. philosophy btw is a fairly close match for math(s). especially the analytic branch.

a phd is generally a degree for highly specialized research and socialization into academia. the socialization portion is not a minor one.

eta: there's also the arts, where there's no phd and the mfa is the terminal degree.
Last edited by Alphaville on Sun Mar 14, 2021 9:08 pm, edited 1 time in total.

Mister Imperceptible
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Re: PhD in Humanities / Social Sciences (please throw in upsides of doing it from ERE point of view)

Post by Mister Imperceptible »

Sclass wrote:
Sun Mar 14, 2021 10:47 am
“You don’t know what it’s like out there! They expect real results!”

https://youtu.be/RjzC1Dgh17A
Hahahahahah

nomadscientist
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Re: PhD in Humanities / Social Sciences (please throw in upsides of doing it from ERE point of view)

Post by nomadscientist »

guitarplayer wrote:
Sun Mar 14, 2021 7:41 am
Looking at your username, I would guess that you possibly went through the process, which would be great from the insight point of view.
Kind of. I have a PhD in mathematical sciences with a computational focus. So, I always had more optionality and above average pay. But many of the issues were still present.

I'm not going to claim to be an expert on every PhD and I doubt any such person exists. But my impression is a very few fields (economics, business) can be considered reasonable career moves, as they have both private sector demand at the end and a reasonable ratio of new faculty position to new PhDs. In these fields, but not in most, you will probably get a highly paid industry job or a faculty position.

If you don't have good reason to believe your field is one of these, assume it isn't. In a typical field, you learn stuff that no one outside academia is willing to pay for. That has the more obvious but less important consequence that you are not paid very well. It has the less obvious but more important consequence that you have little bargaining power against your employer. That doesn't just mean low pay in the future, it means you can be forced into doing stuff you don't like or in ways you don't like or at times that are inconvenient. But studying stuff you found interesting in an autonomous way was the only reason you went into academia (right?) so that's a problem. It's important to understand this from the start because you will never have as much bargaining power again as you do as a PhD applicant, who is not invested and can easily just get a job. If you're FI, much of this problem disappears.

My PhD was somewhere in between the two because while there was no direct demand for my specific work in industry I did a lot of coding, which is generally applicable to many business problems. My employer was aware that I could probably go and get some well paid coding job if things got too bad.

Would this imply that many candidates pursue it for the fun of it and so remain enthusiasts
No, because very few people are FI.

i.e. the interest is still there? I would hate to find myself surrounded by frustrated people who got themselves into a pickle. I would love to find myself surrounded by enthusiastic people who do it to fulfill other goals from the web of goals than 'financial'.
I once gave a lab tour and one of the guys who asked a lot of questions sat with me for lunch. Bunch of my colleagues joined. I was somewhat embarrassed that it all turned to general office watercooler stuff. Griping about managers, deadlines, funding. Lots of irony and sarcasm. I guess this guy assumed these "genius scientists" would be talking math and solving great problems in their lunch break. Or at worst discussing boring technical issues related to the cool experiments I just showed him. Nah, it's just another bunch of guys who work in an office, have trouble with the boss, and hate Mondays.

What you will find is people get resigned to it figuring they're here now and have to pay the bills, anyway other jobs are worse (they believe), and an element of Stockholm Syndrome sets in. Very few people will be actively considering alternatives. If you are sitting in a trench, you are considering how to dodge the shells and get a warm cup of coffee this evening. Not how nice it might be to be working in a cafe rather than sitting in a trench. Just how people work. Longer you stay in it the older you are and worse placed to switch, plus sunk cost fallacy. Obviously every specific workplace is different and has different people and cultures, but there's an outpouring of material on this theme - someone already posted phdcomics.

Also, remember that everything is a business, goes for research too. You might think the huge intake of mostly enthusiasts will ensure many enthusiasts are also at the top making decisions. Not so. It's a selection system. Those who are best are getting grants will get the grants and hire everyone else. Many of the very worst persons I've had professional interactions with have been academia bosses, combining many of the stereotypical Machiavellian traits associated with corporate bosses but without the competence (because they're competing with naive enthusiasts and underpaid for the management work they do). That's not to say every prof is bad. But almost all of them are business managers, for better or worse, or they would have never got their job, with a sideline of scholarship.

The Ghostbusters joke is sadly outdated. You must deliver results, meaning increased chance of your prof getting a grant, which work may or may not relate to the stated purpose of the grant or the research field you're in. If you're FI, you can decide what you will and won't do because you are in a position to walk.

Amazing opportunity how? Anything else than ertyu's 2., 3. (although see my question above), 5. (would argue also access to gyms, swimming pools etc), 6., 7. (if desired), 8. and 9. more than welcome.
You don't need a list of a zillion reasons and if you care about that, just DONT do it. The only good reason to do a PhD is that you love the subject matter. If that isn't enough, no list of reasons is enough.

(I might grant academic library access because it gives you access to subscriptions that an individual cannot usually afford. Enrolling in some random PhD as FI guy to get access to the journals and do research on a totally different topic also sounds hilarious to me.)

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Jean
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Re: PhD in Humanities / Social Sciences (please throw in upsides of doing it from ERE point of view)

Post by Jean »

I hated being a PhD student. After a few months, my only goal was to avoid suicide until i found an escape route.

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Alphaville
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Re: PhD in Humanities / Social Sciences (please throw in upsides of doing it from ERE point of view)

Post by Alphaville »

nomadscientist wrote:
Mon Mar 15, 2021 7:22 am
The only good reason to do a PhD is that you love the subject matter.
you can love the subject matter but hate the working conditions + social system that enables it though.

plus there's also loving the subject when you enter and hating it by the time you leave, like a bad marriage :lol:
Jean wrote:
Mon Mar 15, 2021 8:11 am
I hated being a PhD student. After a few months, my only goal was to avoid suicide until i found an escape route.
yeah. there's a lot of that.

i don't regret quitting and starting a business. it was an adventure and it was fun. i learned a lot too, more than if i had stayed, broad instead of narrow, and it was about "the real world" as they say.

the ivory tower can be a jail too.

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