Hot answers tagged

205

The issue is that the frame of your question is wrong. You’re assuming that the purpose of a PhD is to get an academic job, when that is not the case: Many people who get PhD’s have no desire for an academic job, even from the time they apply! The number of academic positions is indeed insufficient to absorb all the PhD’s. But there are lots of other “...


196

How infeasible is transitioning as an early-career faculty member? I transitioned as a postdoc back in 2013, so I did it. Whether or not it's a terrible idea depends on many factors, and just plain luck. I don't have experience in industry, so I can't comment much on that. But I'm sure it's the same situation: it depends on many factors, and plain luck. ...


156

Some of my observations: They don't know what they're going into. Most PhD students have some idea of how hard it is to get a job afterwards, but don't actually know. It's similar to how one can imagine what skydiving is like, but don't actually know until after trying it. They're confident they can succeed. PhD students are some of the smartest of their ...


130

These statements, in many variations are quite common. But they are not discriminatory, as you suggest (universities do not "discriminate against white males"). All the statement is saying -- and that is true in actual practice in the discussions of hiring committees -- is that women and other minorities are specifically encouraged to apply. This does not ...


128

I like to think I have a pretty vivid imagination, so the worst thing I can reasonably imagine happening is that you would be seen as trying to perform an experiment with human participants without proper controls, questionable experimental design, possibly a lack of appropriately rigorous analysis (if this isn't your specialty), and lack of ethical review ...


121

Because it's fun! No, really. I went to do a PhD because I thought it was fun. It allowed me to live in an awesome location, travel around the world to conferences and summer schools, to spend years doing exciting research with nice colleagues, and even getting paid for all of it (and in Sweden, the pay is not bad at slightly above the national median ...


110

When they say you are overqualified, it probably means: They are afraid that someone with a Ph. D. will demand a higher salary than they can afford to pay; They are afraid that you will get bored with the job and quit after a few months because the work won't be challenging / intellectually stimulating for someone with a Ph. D. So, in your cover letter, ...


95

(Original answer March 2015) I guess it's time to answer my own question. Not long after posting the original question I began living exclusively as a woman (barring some short family-related interruptions). I'll list some themes that applied to me that I think would apply generally: Work interruption: As much as I tried to avoid it, transitioning ...


90

It surely matters where you are. In the U.S., at many universities, "privileged information" of various sorts is supposedly not ever to be kept on "personal", as opposed to "institution-owned and maintained" machines. Or, as in some comments, as soon as you do have work-related data on your personal machine, that machine becomes liable to Freedom-of-...


85

This is a bit opinion-based, but I'll offer my own personal take on an answer in the hopes that it might be useful; at least parts of what I wrote below seem pretty generally applicable to me. Is it possible to survive/remain in academia by working normal hours (8-9 hours per day) without working evenings, weekends, holidays, without feeling guilty about ...


79

I can't speak for the work environments at other schools, but where I teach, the department chair gets an nicer office, a reduced teaching assignment, and extra pay, in addition to some political and financial power associated with the fancier job title.


75

In negotiation theory, such a tactic is known as an exploding offer, and its adverse effects are well-known: rushing people into hasty decisions and giving them the feeling that they're disposable can create distrust and a flawed work relationship. It also signals desperation, which will damage the PI's brand if the word gets around. Such offers can happen, ...


67

The best way to handle a situation like this is to get in touch with your Head of Department / Director of Teaching in advance (perhaps, after you receive a formal offer) and discuss your situation. Make them aware of your wedding date (congratulations, btw!) and explain that you can arrive to your post right in time for your first class, but you would be ...


62

You have asked three very distinct questions (one in the title of the question and two in the body). I have done my best to answer them in the most factual and literal way possible. Disclaimer: I am commenting about your questions regarding whether certain things are "normal". None of what I write below should be interpreted as an expression of opinion ...


61

"College athletes" is much too broad a brush. The kind of double-standard you're referring to is mostly focused on a much smaller group of men's basketball and football players at Division I schools. These are essentially full-time professional athletes. A lot of the very best athletes among this group do not stay long enough to graduate anyway. I also ...


60

A personal anecdote. Your mileage may vary. For me, entering the PhD program meant: Stay in the same city as my girlfriend Continue the sport I loved, with my team Sufficient funding to become financially independent of my parents (just...) Automatic deferment from military service (draft) Work with smart people, a camera that could shoot 10M frames per ...


56

First, I would strongly suggest that you have a work computer and a personal computer, and then keep those two separate for legal reasons. Although this is not the place for legal advice, and there are many other factors to consider, you should know that in general: Your employer owns your work computer, and can legally confiscate it at any time and for any ...


50

I am the chair of the faculty recruiting committee in a Very Good Department at a Big Research University. I read research and teaching statements. I need to know that you have a compelling agenda for your future research; your letters won't talk about that at all. I need to know that you can describe and motivate your research agenda well enough to ...


50

If you know that you are not interested in staying in academia, the common advice is indeed to go on the industrial job market as soon as possible. Every month you stay in a lowly-paid postdoc, if you are not enjoying it and are not building an academic profile, is essentially wasted. Your question is based on the somewhat suspicious premise that an ...


49

Well, as a department head, I would be slightly annoyed that (i) you applied for a position you knew you couldn't take, and (ii) you didn't mention this earlier. But it is what it is: You have no other option than coming clean, and so being honest should be your first priority. The people you're going to talk to are going to be your future colleagues and ...


46

Rebecca Stones has already given a great answer that got my upvote. But allow me to offer some personal perspective based on my experience here in US. I transitioned about 20 years ago. The world is a much less hostile environment for trans people today than it was then. I think you will find academia, at least here in the US, to be an especially ...


45

To the best of my understanding, the primary function of a professor switching to emeritus status is that it frees up a faculty slot for a new hire. Emeritus is essentially retirement without giving up affiliation. An emeritus professor can ramp down their duties, go part time, etc. In some cases they may still do some teaching and supervising, and may ...


41

Do any mathematicians working in academia have any comments about how one knows if they'll be able to continually generate new ideas to produce publishable research? I can remember freaking out about this as I was writing my first paper. It was the only publishable work I had ever done, and I remember thinking to myself "What if this is the only idea I ...


41

Being on the receiving end is very unpleasant, and it will have probably cost them more than just 2-3 days; the bureaucratic arrangement, possibly losing other postdoc candidates, having to go readvertising etc. is a very serious hassle, let's not pretend it isn't. Being there, done that. Nonetheless, you need to take a decision and inform them as quickly as ...


40

The number of tenured/tenure track faculty positions in the US has been on the decline in recent years, partly because of a substantial increase in the amount of teaching done by contingent faculty (adjuncts, full time instructors who aren't on a tenure track, and graduate student TA's.) The number of PhD graduates in mathematics has been fairly steady at ...


40

It is hard to predict what is "possible". Your contract(s) and policies may stipulate expectations. But to be safe, I would suggest, only do this with everyone's knowledge and permission. I doubt that it would be given, I guess, but you could suffer if you do it "on the sly". If you do a good job in both and no one learns of the deception ...


38

In these positions, one gets to influence the direction of the whole university, rather than the direction of the research of 1 to n individuals. At such magnitude, one can effect more change. Often people get disgruntled with the way things are run at the level they are currently working. The only way to fix things is to move to more managerial positions. ...


38

A PhD is only "wasted" if you believe it is wasted. If you enjoyed your research, and it's helping you to engage in a long-term career you enjoy, why would it be wasted? However, there is a very clear need for people with solid scientific backgrounds who can clearly communicate complex mathematical and scientific ideas to the general public. People who can ...


38

While Dan Romik's answer applies to lots of people in academia, there are also the "others". I do know concrete examples of successful scientists that regularly work 9-5 (or similar). This is possible, with a few caveats: works only for extremely disciplined people may not apply to the Ph.D./postdoc stage, where there is time-sensitive pressure to build a ...


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