Yesterday I wrote a post for Tenure, She Wrote about what it’s like being poor in academia, what you can do to increase your odds of success when you are poor, and how to support poor graduate students. It really … Continue reading
January 17, 2014
December 16, 2013
The graduate student association at my university is collecting food for local food banks, but is having trouble getting donations. Our Food Bin is cold and hungry for some donations! Please plan to pass by with something to share this … Continue reading
December 4, 2013
Paula Stephan, an economist at Georgia State University, argues that many of the research community’s problems flow from two big features of how we do research. First, we staff our labs with low-wage, temporary workers—graduate students and postdoctoral fellows who move on after a few years. This means that universities have an incentive to recruit and train more students and postdocs, regardless of their eventual job prospects. The result is unsustainable. As Stephan writes, “the research enterprise itself resembles a pyramid scheme.”
The second structural problem is that career rewards in science are doled out according to a “tournament model,” a situation in which small advantages—in productivity, skill, or network connections—translate into large differences in rewards like faculty jobs, grant funding, and tenure. Tournament models foster intense competition, but they can be incredibly wasteful: the differences between a proposal that is funded and one that is not can be small and arbitrary. These small and arbitrary differences are making and breaking scientific careers in which taxpayers have invested substantial resources.
March 21, 2013
Still, says Clette, it is fascinating to ‘work’ with colleagues from hundreds of years ago. For instance, he says that even though Galileo’s coverage of the Sun was spotty because Galileo was “busy with planets and other things”, the drawings are detailed enough to reveal information about the magnetic structure of the sunspot groups and the size and tilt of the star’s dipole. “You can extract from those drawings exactly the same information as from a drawing made today,” he says.
More than that, however, he is taken with his forebears’ foresight. They faithfully recorded what they saw, thinking that it could be useful later on, he says. “It’s a fundamental aspect of science,” he says, “not worrying what will be the final result.” [emphasis mine]
From a wonderful article in Nature on long term research.
January 4, 2013
I get three paychecks a year. I accept a little wiggle room around the dates, especially since the finance office makes it clear months in advance when I should expect to be paid. I even understand that those dates may … Continue reading
November 27, 2012
When it comes to getting your travel reimbursements anyway. I complained last summer about the complicated process and long time frame for getting reimbursed for conference travel. My funding came from several sources that each required a different application. The … Continue reading