jacob wrote: ↑
Fri Jan 06, 2023 10:00 am
I'd be curious to know if your perspective on yourField is similar?
My area of expertise has been growing rapidly. There has been no popularization through music videos by famous people that I know of. Is that when physics jumped the shark?
Interestingly, the paper you linked is very similar to how I view things. This may be because this is written as a critique of astrophysics, but is really a good critique of academia. For all the problems, because the field is growing there are new things being discovered all the time which reduces the "idea discovery" pressure, but does not help with the ever decreasing research funding pools and the larger numbers of researchers fighting for it.
Students and Postdocs
More or less the same. Students and postdocs are relatively cheap labor for field work, monotonous labwork etc. In an extreme case I saw in the department I was working in, PIs striking deals with foreign PIs to send over "students" as interns. The foreign institution would pay for the additional prestige of being on papers with US institutions by providing the lab labor. Even cheaper for the US based PIs to not have to pay anyone US wages to do the work that was being done in their lab.
In other cases, when the supervisor sees that things do not have the outcome he or she wants, the supervisor abandons the student.
Stories from more famous labs: "If you do not have a Cell, Nature, or Science paper, your work is not getting published out of the lab at all." This is essentially the opposite of science training. Other examples include pitting 3 postdocs against one another in a race to conclusive results for authorship on the paper. It is easy to see how this creates the most toxic of environments.
Made me chuckle because it is mostly true if the PIs even remember how to do actual lab science:
PhD students can produce ideas if allowed to produce them, even away from the track that was predetermined for them. In this regard, it would stand more to reason that the monotonous work should be in the hands of those with exhausted creativity, those aged, reputed experts who will produce nothing but copies of what they have always produced. However, the world of science does not stand to reason but that of power: the captain gives the orders to the sailor.
Another great zinger:
However, nature is difficult to understand, and truth may have nothing to do with the positions taken by some scientists who do not want to have disturbed the peaceful tranquillity of their lives.
My reason for posting the original paper was because it suggested different funding strategies for supporting entire (or partial) careers to focus on longer term projects and sabbaticals in other fields instead of grinding to squeak out yet another minor finding before a competing lab. The funding stakes are too high. Getting new funding is based on how many papers you have from your previous funding. And so it goes. I will continue to do some sort of research for the rest of my life whether I get paid or not. ERE offers an interesting side door to being able to do long term work on some idea without having to be affiliated with an institution. Publishing the ideas is another story.