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#16 Curtis

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Posted 26 September 2012 - 03:35 AM

Not really Andrea, I did my MSc in UK, but I couldn't study PhD since it was really expensive and they didn't give full scholarship to non-EU students. The only scholarship available to non-EU students was called ORS or something, but that only paid GBP 7K per year and it was almost half of the GBP 11k university fee. I worked part time at Cafe Rouge in Colchester during my MSc, and at night I guarded a residential house for the elderly. I didn't have to, but I did it because I wanted to be independent and didn't want to receive support from my parents. The pay was not bad to maintain myself, but then I thought I couldn't do the same part time jobs in my PhD. Since I graduated with distinction my supervisor introduced me to one of her collaborators in Giessen, Germany. That time German universities were free (not sure about now). So I came down to Giessen in early 2006. But right after my arrival the supervisor claimed his grant application was turned down and he couldn't support me in the first year of my PhD. I was like what the hell, the guy has articles in Nature and Science, how unlucky I could be. I calculated how much money I needed to survive the first year of my PhD with no funding and it was almost Eur 8K. I was right in the middle of the calculation that I got a full scholarship offer from Malaysia. I immediately packed and jumped into the plane and here I am now...things were pretty good here, they gave me a 3-bedroom apartment, and after 3 months I bought a second-hand car with my savings. The research is not first-class here, but they have this program that they are absorbing forigners to develop their research...Now I am doing my postdoc, the pay is much better than UK's. If I were in UK I would have only got GBP 2500-3000 per month, and that is not enough at all.

Overall I am happy here, but the problem is that the research in here or in my own country won't satisfy me enough. I know I can be better than this, I want to grow and learn more. I know I have the talent to publish better articles. I'm still young and haven't reached the point that I need to sit down and relax...not yet...but it is like the moment people read my CV, and see where I got my PhD from, they turn down my postdoc application...I think they don't even reach the last page where the names of my American referees are....now I keep thinking maybe I should have borrowed money from someone and paid my living expenses in Germany to get a world-class degree....I really regret it....but you never know what's gonna happen tomorrow.

#17 casandra

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Posted 26 September 2012 - 05:14 AM

I applied for 3 academic jobs in my country just yesterday. Wish me luck....Most probably it will be turned down, but let's just hope they approve me....

and I had always thought you were originally from KL, Curtis....good luck and it's always better to keep the half-glass full attitude....:)
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#18 Curtis

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Posted 26 September 2012 - 11:30 PM

No, I'm not Asian

#19 Inbox

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Posted 27 September 2012 - 12:17 AM

the moment people read my CV, and see where I got my PhD from, they turn down my postdoc application.


It's their loss, if you are good researcher shown by your research record. Wherever u are from should not matter. Even if you are from antartica and u knows how things works and you have done those things. You are suitable person always.

Edited by prabhubct, 27 September 2012 - 04:55 AM.


#20 ascacioc

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Posted 27 September 2012 - 05:01 AM

oh my dear prabhubct, you are so innocent and naive. It actually does not matter at all what you know; it only matters whom with you worked. I have been in admission rounds in several things in which I was really talking to... not so good scientist (ok, in my arrogant mind those are idiots or quasi-idiots) and they got in just because they worked with that or that great scientist. I know people with PhD in biology who, on religious grounds deny evolution, and because their CV says that they did a PhD with that or the other quasi-Nobel laureate, all doors are open for them. I know of people who have no clue how to clone and purify a protein (besides it is His-tagged and overexpresses like hell behind a T7 promoter) and they are receiving a junior professorship in biochemistry just because the right person recommended them (even though I wouldn't have given them the PhD title in the first place). I have seen people with PhDs in biochemistry who in their defense besides not-knowing to explain the principle behind their main method that they have used for 4 years, she also did not know how to draw a peptide bond; a simple amide, and that girl has a bachelor in chemistry. All these poor idiots are perfectly fine and all of them will become professors, while the good scientists will never have the chance, unless they are postdocs for 15-20 years. Where I am, the maximum postdoc time is 4-6 years. Some get professorship even after PhD. You need the right pedigree. Wake up and smell the coffee. You must know the game and how to play the game; not only to be a great scientist. Besides the science, you must know and be willing to cheat, steal, kill in order to get ahead. Something that I will work my entire life to change. Starting will failing PhD students in their defenses and not making the PhD student the main life form in research labs. But this is another story :)

#21 casandra

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Posted 27 September 2012 - 07:42 AM

Wake up and smell the coffee. You must know the game and how to play the game; not only to be a great scientist. Besides the science, you must know and be willing to cheat, steal, kill in order to get ahead. Something that I will work my entire life to change. Starting will failing PhD students in their defenses and not making the PhD student the main life form in research labs. But this is another story Posted Image

I think that anywhere else in the world. a PhD degree is not awarded to a candidate by just one person....usually it's a committee with internal and external examiners...are you calling them all idiots then?

And I wonder who is more naive or shall we say- idealistic...someone who believes that by merit and hard work alone, one can succeed or or someone who wants to take down single-handedly one of the oldest mafia-like institutions in the universe....omg...ascacioc, how the heck are you going to start a movement and influence people if you start dropping the I-bombs everywhere? :P
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#22 hobglobin

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Posted 27 September 2012 - 07:44 AM

I'd say prabhubct has an idealistic view on it and it's okay Posted Image ...anyway I don't think all the quasi-Nobel laureates, high-achievers and similar dudes will recruit only losers and these losers will then have a successful career and become professors...usually they (or their staff) will look carefully which students get a chance for a PhD because they have high standards and want to keep them high (and they have a reputation that they don't want to lose, too).
And researchers in this level can select, because the supply of candidates is high enough. So I think mostly promising candidates will get a position there. Of course not all of them are good in the end and some are even "bad eggs" and manage it anyway. But IMO these are exceptions, because the competition is high in such institutes and the bosses usually not tender-hearted (I also know professors who kicked out PhD students that did not had the expected performance).
So I think in general the system works and also scientists with a degree from less known professors have a chance...
One must presume that long and short arguments contribute to the same end. - Epicurus
...except casandra's that belong to the funniest, most interesting and imaginative (or over-imaginative?) ones, I suppose.

#23 Inbox

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Posted 27 September 2012 - 08:55 AM

You can say idealist or whatever, but you have to believe in what you do and that is worthy, otherwise how you can live in world where everything sounds fishy. There is always ups-and lows, nepotism, different countries different policies, many times we have to leave our country for sake of job (poor country or rich but not rich enough to accept u) or some injustice happens and we do not get particular job. Everybody perceives things differently, based on what surrounding person is.
But isn't that you get job/post-doc at particular place because you know something? Till now whatever you are, you are result of your work. now you started perceiving things in different terms but that should not undermine what you are.

Edited by prabhubct, 27 September 2012 - 08:56 AM.


#24 casandra

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Posted 27 September 2012 - 11:44 AM

“how you can live in world where everything sounds fishy?” I like that. :) Personally, I would take being called idealistic as a kind of compliment and I agree that you have to believe in yourself and your worth, no matter how hard the other people will try to put you down or how many obstacles are placed on your path.

@ ascacioc: In regard to “making PhD students as the main life form in research labs”…it's a reality that we have to face...and I wonder who is to blame for this..definitely not the PIs bec like right here in Canada, the funding agencies would usually “favour” labs with grad students (in fact it is some sort of requirement) and with the progressive shrinking of research funds, grant awards have become less compared with previous years so obviously, money would only be enough to finance grad students and not fulltime staff. And the same is true if the new PI only gets startup funds from the university. I would think that if it is possible, a PI would rather hire experienced research staff or post-docs so the projects can move faster. ….and besides, whatever a PhD student is doing (hopefully not cheating, stealing or killing) is ultimately for themselves.
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#25 Nephrite

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Posted 30 September 2012 - 01:05 AM

I applied for 3 academic jobs in my country just yesterday. Wish me luck....Most probably it will be turned down, but let's just hope they approve me....


GOOD LUCK!!!Posted Image And thank you for understandingPosted Image

#26 Nephrite

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Posted 30 September 2012 - 01:12 AM

Thank you for the support. I am Bulgarian, by the way, so.......you have a really good idea how it is. I sincerely hope to find a position as an CRA without an experience (I already made some steps) or at least to win a position in the Medical Academy - the Klinical lab or Molecular genetics Departments. Bulgaria is a so small country.....

#27 pito

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Posted 30 September 2012 - 03:21 AM


Wake up and smell the coffee. You must know the game and how to play the game; not only to be a great scientist. Besides the science, you must know and be willing to cheat, steal, kill in order to get ahead. Something that I will work my entire life to change. Starting will failing PhD students in their defenses and not making the PhD student the main life form in research labs. But this is another story Posted Image

I think that anywhere else in the world. a PhD degree is not awarded to a candidate by just one person....usually it's a committee with internal and external examiners...are you calling them all idiots then?

And I wonder who is more naive or shall we say- idealistic...someone who believes that by merit and hard work alone, one can succeed or or someone who wants to take down single-handedly one of the oldest mafia-like institutions in the universe....omg...ascacioc, how the heck are you going to start a movement and influence people if you start dropping the I-bombs everywhere? Posted Image



I think that anywhere else in the world. a PhD degree is not awarded to a candidate by just one person....usually it's a committee with internal and external examiners...are you calling them all idiots then?

And I wonder who is more naive or shall we say- idealistic...someone who believes that by merit and hard work alone, one can succeed or or someone who wants to take down single-handedly one of the oldest mafia-like institutions in the universe....omg...ascacioc, how the heck are you going to start a movement and influence people if you start dropping the I-bombs everywhere? Posted Image

. But IMO these are exceptions, because the competition is high in such institutes and the bosses usually not tender-hearted (I also know professors who kicked out PhD students that did not had the expected performance).
So I think in general the system works and also scientists with a degree from less known professors have a chance...


I have strong doubts about how the system works.

It seems that pretty much everyone that starts a PhD (and doesnt stop him/herself) makes it.

Professors are also checked on how many PhD's they "supply" or at least the ratio of starters/finishing PhD candidates is often checked. And this is thus influencing how strict they are.
I know labs where pretty much 99% of the starting PhD people make it, just because the professor doesnt want to look bad by saying he/she kicked someone out.

Its even so bad that grants are rewared on this: professors that "deliver" a lot of PhD's are given more grants or have more changes in getting grants then those professors that are more strict.

An example: I worked with 2 professors in 1 lab and 1 professor was strict and only hired the max of students he got to place in the lab (and that the could supervise) and he selected pretty hard (only the good ones, the ones he knew that would make it). He also invest time in teaching and his students. The other professor just hired pretty much any person that wanted to do a PhD and had a grant (of he paied for them if the professor had enough grants himself) , result: first professor has big problems now because he has only 3 PhD students left (2 will finish this year and leave) and 1 post doc now (will leave this year too) while the other has 15 PhD students and 5 post docs.. The second professor doesnt even have enough room to place all his students...(let alone, enough time to supervise them and check their research)
But in the end professor 2 is the one getting the grants because he has more "result" then professor 1 , while its the other way around really.
The level of students is also different: professor 1 works with good trained people that are willing to listen, professor 2 works with a lot of "idiots" that dont even listen to more experienced (but lower ranked) people and often they just do what they feel like and arent able to get any results at all. But in the end: they will all get their PhD because if they dont, it will look bad on the professor his CV.



It seems to come down to one thing now: amounts, amounts and amounts.. consumption society has reached sience...



Coming back to this:

usually it's a committee with internal and external examiners...are you calling them all idiots then?

yes, but do they really know everything? THey only read the output/the thesis in the end and ask some questions..
So you could ask questions about it.
Imagine the professor with 15 PhD students, how in the world can this professor judge the lab work? Or even the written work? THey have a lot of work and supervising 15 students ..... I am pretty sure thats not possible.

A big problem is how the grants are given etc.. there system is getting more and more an industrial system

Edited by pito, 30 September 2012 - 03:24 AM.

If you don't know it, then ask it! Better to ask and look foolish to some than not ask and stay stupid.


#28 casandra

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Posted 30 September 2012 - 07:43 PM

I have strong doubts about how the system works.

It seems that pretty much everyone that starts a PhD (and doesnt stop him/herself) makes it.

Professors are also checked on how many PhD's they "supply" or at least the ratio of starters/finishing PhD candidates is often checked. And this is thus influencing how strict they are.
I know labs where pretty much 99% of the starting PhD people make it, just because the professor doesnt want to look bad by saying he/she kicked someone out.


Well, you make it sound as if it is very easy to be awarded a PhD degree. I am not very familiar with the system in Belgium but here and I’d say in the States as well, that getting first into a PhD program is not a walk in the park..you need to have all the requirements- usually a masters degree and then passing a PhD qualifying test, successfully passing all the course loads, slaving it off in the lab, getting a paper or 2 accepted, then finally writing and defending the thesis. It’s not a perfect system (but what is?) of course, but I’d like to think that with all the checks and balances in place, it shld work most of the time. Otherwise, you cast a huge cloud of doubt over everyone who has ever done a PhD or postdoc for that matter (and they’re the main users of this forum ;)) and the PIs as well.

Sure there are ‘bad eggs’ as dr H has already mentioned, those which have escaped quality assurance but they shld not be the standard by which we must judge all the others because if indeed idiots abound in Max Planck Institute or ULB or KUL and the PIs or other employers choose to believe this, then how much more in other places...then what chance would people coming from non-western countries or little-known labs have in finding jobs or postdoc positions? So we should have a little more faith in the system or try to work with it until we can find a better one.

Its even so bad that grants are rewared on this: professors that "deliver" a lot of PhD's are given more grants or have more changes in getting grants then those professors that are more strict.

An example: I worked with 2 professors in 1 lab and 1 professor was strict and only hired the max of students he got to place in the lab (and that the could supervise) and he selected pretty hard (only the good ones, the ones he knew that would make it). He also invest time in teaching and his students. The other professor just hired pretty much any person that wanted to do a PhD and had a grant (of he paied for them if the professor had enough grants himself) , result: first professor has big problems now because he has only 3 PhD students left (2 will finish this year and leave) and 1 post doc now (will leave this year too) while the other has 15 PhD students and 5 post docs.. The second professor doesnt even have enough room to place all his students...(let alone, enough time to supervise them and check their research)
But in the end professor 2 is the one getting the grants because he has more "result" then professor 1 , while its the other way around really.
The level of students is also different: professor 1 works with good trained people that are willing to listen, professor 2 works with a lot of "idiots" that dont even listen to more experienced (but lower ranked) people and often they just do what they feel like and arent able to get any results at all. But in the end: they will all get their PhD because if they dont, it will look bad on the professor his CV.

It seems to come down to one thing now: amounts, amounts and amounts.. consumption society has reached sience...


A lab with15 students and 5 postdocs? Hmmm…this is more of an exception here and just based on economics alone (which part of living is not ruled by money anyhow?) It would cost a PI a minimum of half a million dollars a year just to pay all their salaries and what about the lab materials, equipment, training and travel expenses? These very large grants are a rarity now. As for supervision, it would depend on the size and the ‘age’ of the lab. The larger and more established ones would usually have more senior personnel doing the supervision, the smaller and starting labs otoh, have the newly-appointed professors usually fresh off from their postdoc stint, ‘hungry for funds’ and with a more hands-on approach in the lab plus a tendency for micromanaging. The older bosses may not be working the bench anymore nor would they know all the practical aspects of each expt but I think that they are still experts or shld know more than anybody else about the research topics that the lab has been working on for 10 or 20 years


Coming back to this:

usually it's a committee with internal and external examiners...are you calling them all idiots then?

yes, but do they really know everything? THey only read the output/the thesis in the end and ask some questions..
So you could ask questions about it.


But it’s not the function of the internal and external examiners to know everything. Besides, who can know everything (except the smart alecky know-it-alls) :P? They are there to make sure that the student is making timely progress, that the objectives of the work are being reached, to resolve conflicts if needs be etc and in the end to give their recommendations.


A big problem is how the grants are given etc.. there system is getting more and more an industrial system


Well, it’s not only in research but in the educational system as a whole..it’s now becoming a business not for teaching and learning but for profit…very depressing, I agree...
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- hobglobin, personal comment about my beauteous photo......

#29 Inbox

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Posted 02 October 2012 - 06:54 AM

Well, it’s not only in research but in the educational system as a whole..it’s now becoming a business not for teaching and learning but for profit…very depressing, I agree...


I would say it is really like business or economy world. I don't have much data or statistics ( I don't keep track). But I remember a time when Molecular Biology jobs were very fascinating & lucrative. It was hard to be in this field because very few peoples used to know abt it, those who know it were regarded as quiet genius. B/c of its attracting nature this field has pulled more number of peoples. (As part of joke "This was not supposed to be learned by everybody"). So employment saturation like situation is arising. Again global recession and those struff causing cut down research grants. Of-course many peoples know many things but to recruit a person vacancy and grant is needed.

Edited by prabhubct, 02 October 2012 - 07:11 AM.





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