Monday, April 19, 2010

Research Scientists

In the comments on a post on the unintended consequences of increasing post-doctoral salaries, Drug Monkey comments:

I also want to reiterate that at least 70% of the arguments going on here are complaining about the postdoc as a short training stint morphing into a substantial part of, if not the very pinnacle of, a science *career*. If this is the root of your problem, whinging for small raises ain't solving the issue. I've made myself quite clear that I think the lack of a career scientist job track is a horrible situation that bears fixing..and would save the NIH money to boot.

I think that this is really insightful. If we want to have a strong body of directed semi-independent researchers (currently the ground held by post-docs) then it might make sense to formalize the career path. My only thought is whether the new "research scientist" would end up looking a lot like a traditional professor?

On the other hand, so long as the grant system is in the present form, it's rather hard to argue for reform as the financial incentives are pretty well aligned towards making researchers who repeatedly win grants very valuable to their institutions.

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