Hot answers tagged

203

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 “...


193

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. ...


152

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 ...


128

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 ...


122

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 ...


111

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, ...


84

(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 ...


84

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-...


81

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 ...


77

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.


70

I am doing that right now. I have a full time job and am working on a PhD in Computer Science. It is definitely possible, but has been the hardest experience of my life. I am past the hardest part and am wrapping up my first publication. I've also been at it for 3 years (already had my masters degree), so it's taken me much longer to get to this point ...


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 ...


59

TL; DR: 51 work hours a week with 12 vacation days a year It is very difficult to assess how hard someone works. It is relatively easy to quantify the input (number of hours worked and the number of vacation days taken) and the output (papers and grants). In 2003 the Sigma Xi post doc society in the US began collecting data from 7600 post docs across 46 ...


58

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 ...


54

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

Why is this question being singled out for a higher standard of "statistical" reasoning than any other post on this site? I offer my experiences as an early career engineering professor in the US as "anecdotal" evidence, and do so with at least as much credibility as respondents on an anonymous survey. In my experience, it's not at all about how "hard" you ...


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

Virtually Impossible. Doing a PhD is a full-time job that requires vast amounts of commitment in terms of mental effort and time. If the PhD research comes in number two position, then the results will never be very good. Also, not being available in the department to interact with your colleagues and supervisor will severely reduce the benefits you gain ...


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

Your writing certainly does not betray a "lack of eloquence"; in fact, it's probably better than most of the computer scientists I know! That said, as JeffE has indicated, you are being mishandled by your employers, and I would strongly encourage you to find a new position as soon as possible. However, it is important to point out that your situation is not ...


44

It's common in computer science for a university to have few if any of its own graduates as faculty, and should not be taken as a bad sign by itself. This low representation is for two main reasons: The best five or ten universities in the United States produce a disproportionately large number of strong academic candidates. In practice universities that ...


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

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

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 ...


39

Jennifer Finney Boylan, Professor of English and Department Chair, Colby College, Maine. Jenny wrote "She's Not There" and other great books. My heroine (happily married to a woman) Dr. Lynn Conway. Lynn invented both VLSI and superscalar architectures. Professor Emeritus, University of Michigan. My heroine (happily married to a man) Dr. Deirdre ...


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