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Don’t Become a Scientist! Jonathan I. Katz Professor of Physics Washington University, St. Louis, Mo. [my last name]@wuphys.wustl.edu 千萬別成為科學家! Are you thinking of becoming a scientist? Do you want to uncover the mysteries of nature, perform experiments or carry out calculations to learn how the world works? Forget it! Science is fun and exciting. The thrill of discovery is unique. If you are smart, ambitious and hard working you should major in science as an undergraduate. But that is as far as you should take it. After graduation, you will have to deal with the real world. That means that you should not even consider going to graduate school in science. Do something else instead: medical school, law school, computers or engineering, or something else which appeals to you. 你在打算成為科學家嗎?你想揭開自然的奧秘、用做實驗或計算的方式來研究整個世界是 怎麼運作的?把這個想法忘了吧! 的確,科學很有趣,也很刺激。由發現而產生的強烈快感是獨一無二的。如果你很聰明、 有野心,並且也很刻苦努力的話,你的確應該在讀本科的時候選擇科學。但這就夠了,到 此為止。本科畢業之後,你將必須面對這個真實的世界。這意味著,你不應該哪怕是考慮 去讀科學方面的研究生。做點其他的行當吧:醫學、法律、電腦、工程,或者其他隨便什 麼你能想到的。 Why am I (a tenured professor of physics) trying to discourage you from following a career path which was successful for me? Because times have changed (I received my Ph.D. in 1973, and tenure in 1976). American science no longer offers a reasonable career path. If you go to graduate school in science it is in the expectation of spending your working life doing scientific research, using your ingenuity and curiosity to solve important and interesting problems. You will almost certainly be disappointed, probably when it is too late to choose another career. American universities train roughly twice as many Ph.D.s as there are jobs for them. When something, or someone, is a glut on the market, the price drops. In the case of Ph.D. scientists, the reduction in price takes the form of many years spent in “holding pattern” postdoctoral jobs. Permanent jobs don’t pay much less than they used to, but instead of obtaining a real job two years after the Ph.D. (as was typical 25 years ago) most young scientists spend five, ten, or more years as postdocs. They have no prospect of permanent employment and often must obtain a new postdoctoral position and move every two years. For many more details consult the Young Scientists’ Network or read the account in the May, 2001 issue of the Washington Monthly. 為什麼我,一個有終身職位的物理學教授,一個在科學事業上很成功的人,要來試圖打擊 你們將科學作為畢生事業的勇氣和信心呢?因為世道變了。我1973年拿到我的博士學位, 1976年就拿到了終身教職。美國的科學界現在已經不能提供一條合理的事業生涯的途徑了 。如果你去讀科學的研究生,你大概一定會期望著用你畢生的工作精力去做科學研究,用 你的智慧和好奇心去解決那些重要而又有趣的問題。實話講,你基本上一定會失望,而失 望的時候,你大概已經錯過了選擇其他任何職業的機會。 美國的大學製造了兩倍於其工作職位數量的博士。當隨便一個什麼東西,或一種人,滿大 街隨便撿的時候,他就不值錢了。對於博士科學家來說,掉價的形式是他們不得不用許多 年做一期又一期的博士後,等待著一個工作機會的到來。永久職位不會比以往給的薪水少 多少,但25年前一個博士畢業後大約2年後就能找到一個真正的工作,而現在絕大多數的 年輕科學家都得當5年,10年,甚至更久的博士後。他們沒什麼拿到永久職位的盼頭,常 常必須每兩年找一個新的博士後工作,然後搬家。欲知更多詳情,請諮詢“青年科學家協 會”或讀一讀華盛頓大學月報2001年5月的文章。 As examples, consider two of the leading candidates for a recent Assistant Professorship in my department. One was 37, ten years out of graduate school (he didn’t get the job). The leading candidate, whom everyone thinks is brilliant, was 35, seven years out of graduate school. Only then was he offered his first permanent job (that’s not tenure, just the possibility of it six years later, and a step off the treadmill of looking for a new job every two years). The latest example is a 39 year old candidate for another Assistant Professorship; he has published 35 papers. In contrast, a doctor typically enters private practice at 29, a lawyer at 25 and makes partner at 31, and a computer scientist with a Ph.D. has a very good job at 27 (computer science and engineering are the few fields in which industrial demand makes it sensible to get a Ph.D.). Anyone with the intelligence, ambition and willingness to work hard to succeed in science can also succeed in any of these other professions. Typical postdoctoral salaries begin at 27,000 annually in the biological sciences and about 35,000 in the physical sciences (graduate student stipends are less than half these figures). Can you support a family on that income? It suffices for a young couple in a small apartment, though I know of one physicist whose wife left him because she was tired of repeatedly moving with little prospect of settling down. When you are in your thirties you will need more: a house in a good school district and all the other necessities of ordinary middle class life. Science is a profession, not a religious vocation, and does not justify an oath of poverty or celibacy. 就拿我們系裡最牛的兩個準備競爭一個講師職位的人來作例子。一個傢伙37歲,博士畢業 已經10年了,一直沒找到工作。另一個最牛的傢伙,35歲,人人都認為他很聰明,博士畢 業7年了才找到一個“永久工作”(其實不是永久教職,只是6年後有希望獲得永久教職而 已,不過這已經讓他稍稍遠離那種每兩年就要找新博士後工作搬家的驢拉磨閉環了)。還 有一個例子,一個39歲的傢伙,想競聘另一個講師職位。他發了35篇文章。與之形成鮮明 對比的是,一個典型的醫生29歲就進入了實習階段,一個典型的律師25歲就開始實習,31 歲正式進事務所,一個電腦博士科學家在27歲時已經能得到很好的工作了。電腦科學和工 程科學是工業界需要人才的僅有的兩個領域,因此這兩個行當還是值得去讀個博士出來的 。任何一個人,如果他有智慧和野心,能刻苦工作,如果他能在科學上成功的話,他也能 在其他任何行當上成功。 典型的博士後薪水是每年27000美元(生物科學)或35000美元(物理科學)。博士生的獎 學金比這個一半還少。用這麼點收入你能支持一個家庭嗎?嗯,夠年輕的小倆口住一個很 小的房子。不過我認識一個物理學家,他的妻子把他踹了,因為她實在厭倦了跟他不停地 搬家卻一點定居的希望都看不到。當你三十多歲的時候你就會需要更多的東西:一個大房 子,附近有好的學校,以及其他中產階級生活所必需的設施。科學是一個職業,而不是一 個宗教的呼召,也不是一個貧窮或獨身的判決或者宣誓。 Of course, you don’t go into science to get rich. So you choose not to go to medical or law school, even though a doctor or lawyer typically earns two to three times as much as a scientist (one lucky enough to have a good senior-level job). I made that choice too. I became a scientist in order to have the freedom to work on problems which interest me. But you probably won’ t get that freedom. As a postdoc you will work on someone else’s ideas, and may be treated as a technician rather than as an independent collaborator. Eventually, you will probably be squeezed out of science entirely. You can get a fine job as a computer programmer, but why not do this at 22, rather than putting up with a decade of misery in the scientific job market first? The longer you spend in science the harder you will find it to leave, and the less attractive you will be to prospective employers in other fields. Perhaps you are so talented that you can beat the postdoc trap; some university (there are hardly any industrial jobs in the physical sciences) will be so impressed with you that you will be hired into a tenure track position two years out of graduate school. Maybe. But the general cheapening of scientific labor means that even the most talented stay on the postdoctoral treadmill for a very long time; consider the job candidates described above. And many who appear to be very talented, with grades and recommendations to match, later find that the competition of research is more difficult, or at least different, and that they must struggle with the rest. 顯然,你走科學道路並不能使你發財——你沒有選擇去讀醫學或法律,而一個醫生或律師 典型的收入是科學家的2-3倍(這還得是那些運氣忒好的正教授科學家們)。我也做了這 個選擇。我成為一個科學家是為了有自由來解決那些讓我感興趣的問題。但你可能並不能 得到這種自由。作為一個博士後,你只能按照別人的想法來工作,可能被當成一個技術員 來使喚,而不是作為一個單獨的科學家來合作。最終,你可能被徹底排擠出科學界。你可 以得到一份很好的工作,比如電腦程式員,但為什麼不在你22歲的時候做這份好工作,而 要在科學界的人才市場上面悲悲慘慘地混上10年先?你再科學上面花的時間越多,你會發 現你越難離開,而且你對其他行當的雇主而言變得越來越沒有吸引力。 也許你腦瓜足夠靈光,以至於你能跳出博士後的陷阱。有些大學會被你打動而在你博士畢 業2年後給你一個可能的永久職位。這是可能的。但是科學勞動力市場的整體掉價意味著 最靈光的腦瓜也得被拴在博士後磨盤上當驢轉上很長時間。想想上面舉過的例子吧。許多 看上去非常有才而且有傲人的成績和推薦信的人,後來發現研究上的競爭比其他一切的奮 鬥都要困難。 Suppose you do eventually obtain a permanent job, perhaps a tenured professorship. The struggle for a job is now replaced by a struggle for grant support, and again there is a glut of scientists. Now you spend your time writing proposals rather than doing research. Worse, because your proposals are judged by your competitors you cannot follow your curiosity, but must spend your effort and talents on anticipating and deflecting criticism rather than on solving the important scientific problems. They’re not the same thing: you cannot put your past successes in a proposal, because they are finished work, and your new ideas, however original and clever, are still unproven. It is proverbial that original ideas are the kiss of death for a proposal; because they have not yet been proved to work (after all, that is what you are proposing to do) they can be, and will be, rated poorly. Having achieved the promised land, you find that it is not what you wanted after all. What can be done? The first thing for any young person (which means anyone who does not have a permanent job in science) to do is to pursue another career. This will spare you the misery of disappointed expectations. Young Americans have generally woken up to the bad prospects and absence of a reasonable middle class career path in science and are deserting it. If you haven’t yet, then join them. Leave graduate school to people from India and China, for whom the prospects at home are even worse. I have known more people whose lives have been ruined by getting a Ph.D. in physics than by drugs. 假設你最終拿到了一個永久教職,一個終身教授職位。現在你不必為每兩年一次的工作而 奮鬥,取而代之的是為研究經費而鬥爭。你會又一次地發現,這個世界上的科學家有一大 籮筐,而你自己又不值錢了。現在你焚膏繼晷地寫研究計畫,而不是去做研究。更糟糕的 是,因為你的研究計畫會被你的同行競爭者來審閱,你就不能按照你自己所好奇的東西來 寫。你得把你的努力和聰明才智浪費在怎麼咬文嚼字地讓那幫混蛋不要挑刺上,而不是去 解決重要的科學問題。這是兩個截然不同的事情:你不能把你過去的成功寫進研究計畫, 因為那些是已經完成的工作;而那些原創性的天才想法還沒有被證明。一句諺語說,原創 性的想法是研究計畫中的死神之吻(乍看有益但實則會導致毀滅的行為),因為這些想法 根本就沒有被證明可行(廢話,被證明可行了你還寫個屁的研究計畫),因此它們會被認 為是垃圾。因此,當你費勁千辛萬苦終於到達了那“應許之地”的教授職位上,你會發現 這根本就不是你原來想要的。 那麼,你能做什麼?對任何年輕人(即任何還沒有取得科學界的永久職位的人)來說,首 要任務是去找一份其他的工作,這講是你避免失望的痛苦。美國年輕的一代已經覺醒,看 到了科學界黯淡的發展前景以及無法擁有一個合理的中產階級生活,因此他們已經不願意 做科學家。如果你還沒有覺醒的話,趕緊加入他們的行列。把博士班留給印度人和中國人 吧——他們的家鄉情況更糟。在我所認識的人中,人生被讀物理博士所毀的人數比被毒品 所毀的人還要多。 If you are in a position of leadership in science then you should try to persuade the funding agencies to train fewer Ph.D.s. The glut of scientists is entirely the consequence of funding policies (almost all graduate education is paid for by federal grants). The funding agencies are bemoaning the scarcity of young people interested in science when they themselves caused this scarcity by destroying science as a career. They could reverse this situation by matching the number trained to the demand, but they refuse to do so, or even to discuss the problem seriously (for many years the NSF propagated a dishonest prediction of a coming shortage of scientists, and most funding agencies still act as if this were true). The result is that the best young people, who should go into science, sensibly refuse to do so, and the graduate schools are filled with weak American students and with foreigners lured by the American student visa. 如果你身居高位,能夠領導科學界,那麼你應該嘗試著去勸說那些發放研究經費的部門少 招些博士生。大街上論噸撮的科學家完全就是他們的資助政策的後果——幾乎所有的博士 生都是由聯邦基金支持的)。那些基金會總在抱怨很少有年輕人對科學感興趣,而造成這 種結果的原因正是他們毀了科學作為事業。他們本可以扭轉這種局面,只要他們少招些博 士生,讓博士生的人數與教職的人數大致相當就可以了,但他們不幹,甚至他們根本不屑 於嚴肅地討論這件事(許多年來,NSF到處宣揚他們虛假的預測,說科學家短缺,而多數 基金會好像真以為是這麼回事)。結果就是,最好的年輕人,本該去做科學家的,對此唯 恐避之不及;而博士班裡是一幫弱弱的美國學生,還有一幫被美國學生簽證所吸引來的外 國人。 -- ※ 發信站: 批踢踢實業坊(ptt.cc) ◆ From:
jahomekuo:沒錯 最近要寫營運計劃書 看了幾分範例 裡面的董事長 11/18 17:07
jahomekuo:總經理 很多是國中 高職畢業的 11/18 17:08
Adama:真是活生生血淋淋 11/18 17:41
vonnewman:其實電腦要走業界也不用讀博士,PhD最大的專長是寫paper 11/18 18:32
vonnewman:非寫程式 11/18 18:33
puec2:物理PhD更早就經歷過泡沫化了不是嗎? 11/18 19:36
cccloveilc:真的以為念物理的人可以去念醫、念法律? 11/19 00:08
cccloveilc:去業界爆肝真的有比較爽? 11/19 00:09
cccloveilc:三年就拿到終身職只是表示訓練不扎實而已。 11/19 00:15
fedia:這文章lag很久了 不知道現在狀況是更 11/19 01:38
fedia:差呢? 還是有所改善? 11/19 01:38
HEYHEYHEY:拜讀此文的同時我正睡在實驗室裡過夜......e04 11/19 06:05
skyboy:所以很多科技工作找博士去寫程式我也很不解... 11/19 11:51