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## Does publishing matter?

 Quote by llstelle Opportunity cost. ParticleGrl has my point in greater clarity than I can write. This reminds me of two other articles about income prospects. Just sharing: http://aps.org/policy/tools/alert201110.cfm http://www.nature.com/nature/journal.../398265a0.html
That's strange, because that would be the point I would make. Opportunity costs for graduate student in physics is certainly higher than just a B.Sc! How come that was not considered?

If I were to get people to wake up and smell the roses and to consider a non-academia career, I would use the fact that employment in academia is very low. This is not a surprise, and it is something I've mentioned already several times. This should get people to start thinking about wanting to go into such a career. But this certainly is different than telling them not to go into graduate school in science, and certainly is a different tactic than dissing those who do.

This is now going in a different direction. I have ZERO problems with telling graduates to open up their view and to consider non-academia employment, considering that the majority of them will end up there! What I have a problem is the condescending view that has been taken towards those going into graduate school, and the comparison in earnings being made with someone who is a full-time employee.

Zz.

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 Quote by ParticleGrl I don't think you are responding to anything I said, simply reiterating that the full time student's title is "student." In many labs, its impossible to tell the postdocs from the graduate students in terms of the work they are doing, the time spent in lab, etc. And yet your asserting one isn't doing work for the university, and one is?
Look beyond the superficial! The Lab/university considers a postdoc as an employee, while a graduate student isn't! One gets medical benefits, the other doesn't! At the lab here, there is no difference in status between a graduate students and an undergraduate intern, other than the length of time they spend here. There's a huge difference between them and a postdoc, including the difference in overhead costs!

And oh, while we are at it, look at what status the INS/USCIS would allow a full-time international graduate student to have, versus what a postdoc should have. Try arguing with them that you think they all do the same work!

 First, grad school is a completely different entity then medical school or law school. Law students don't teach prelaw classes for the university, etc. Law school students won't get kicked out if they don't get enough research done, etc. In professional degree programs like law, medical school, you take your specific sequence of courses/rotations, and then you are done. Medical and law school are very much like undergrad. Grad school is not. Graduate school is very much like work for the university. Second, obviously medical students and law students should factor in the money they could be earning when deciding to attend school! Opportunity costs are real!
I don't quite understand this. In view of what is an "employee" versus what isn't, there's more in common between graduate student in science and those going to Law school, versus graduate student and someone who is employed by an industry! Both graduate student in science and those going to law schools are both STUDENTS! In fact, graduate student in science typically are FULL TIME STUDENTS.

And to address the statement I made about IRS, as Vanadium has pointed out, your parents would know the difference between you in a full time graduate school versus you already working when they take their deductions! And yes, there is an age limit to this.

I still can't believe people still think that comparing a full-time graduate student with someone who is a full-time employee is a valid comparison.

Zz.

Recognitions:
Yes, a student can have an F-1, a postdoc not. But by the same token, one can be a resident for tax purposes but not immigration purposes. If a student is on an F-1, would his parents have him as a qualifying child for US tax purposes?

 Look beyond the superficial!
Honestly, I think you are the one looking at the superficial. Your only point seems to be that some people have the title "student" and some people don't. We can all agree on that. Graduate students are "full time students" but most of those full time students spend 0% of their time in class, and roughly 100% doing value-added tasks for the university.

This is obviously hugely different from medschool and gradschool where students spend about 0% of their time doing value-added tasks for the university and 100% of their time in class.

If a graduate student stops showing up, the university has to hire someone to replace them in the lab and classroom. If a law student stops showing up, the school probably wouldn't even notice.

 The Lab/university considers a postdoc as an employee, while a graduate student isn't! One gets medical benefits, the other doesn't!
At my old university the gradstudents got medical on a university plan, and the postdocs pay for their medical out of pocket. I don't think this is uncommon (I might be wrong).

But my point is that if you were to walk into a lab and observe the work being done for a few weeks in a lot of labs you'll be hard pressed to decide who the postdocs are and who the gradstudents are. They might have different TITLES, but they are doing the same work.

 I still can't believe people still think that comparing a full-time graduate student with someone who is a full-time employee is a valid comparison.
If someone is choosing between going to graduate school and working full time THEN THIS IS THE VALID COMPARISON OF OPPORTUNITY COST! Thats how opportunity cost works- you compare what you could be doing with what you are doing. What opportunities am I passing on in order to pursue what I'm doing now?

If someone is choosing between working full time as an engineer or pursuing their phd, do you really think how much they could make as an engineer doesn't matter?
 Recognitions: Homework Help Also, don't forget the other difference. A postdoc has the PhD, and also many more years of experience in comparison to the PhD student, and even the PhD candidates.

Recognitions:
 Quote by Pyrrhus Also, don't forget the other difference. A postdoc has the PhD, and also many more years of experience in comparison to the PhD student, and even the PhD candidates.
So yes, for management, and maybe for pure mathematics. But in general, can't a graduate student do absolutely first rate work?

OTOH, I certainly appreciate the importance of good management in science - that is a very important contribution. Still, I would count non-management contributions such as general relativity also to be scientific contributions.
 Recognitions: Homework Help I think the gap of completing a PhD dissertation is being neglected. This gap is not trivial. There are many ABD out there. A Postdoc already proved himself to be able to carry out the research, and complete it. I am not saying PhD students cannot do first rate work. I am saying PhD students do not hold the degree, and lack the experience of a Postdoc. Frankly, one of the reasons a professor may hire a postdoc is because a postdoc has more experience for a specific research subject, and this experience is required now for the project at hand instead of letting the PhD students acquire in several months or so.
 There's a lot of talk about opportunity cost here. But somewhere there seems to be this assumption that the opportunity cost doesn't actually "buy" anything for the student. That's where the disagreement is stemming from. If it takes you two years to get a master's degree where you are getting paid $20k per year, compared to starting an entry-level position that pays$45k per year, your opportunity cost is $25k per year (plus lost investments, less work experience, etc.) But you GET a master's degree out of the deal. So after 2 years, you have (1) a higher earning potential, (2) opportunities to do work you may not have been previously qualified for, and (3) the education itself. Is the opportunity cost made up for by the higher earning potential and everything else that comes with the advanced education? That's the question that a potential graduate student should be asking. Recognitions: Science Advisor  Quote by Choppy There's a lot of talk about opportunity cost here. But somewhere there seems to be this assumption that the opportunity cost doesn't actually "buy" anything for the student. That's where the disagreement is stemming from. If it takes you two years to get a master's degree where you are getting paid$20k per year, compared to starting an entry-level position that pays $45k per year, your opportunity cost is$25k per year (plus lost investments, less work experience, etc.) But you GET a master's degree out of the deal. So after 2 years, you have (1) a higher earning potential, (2) opportunities to do work you may not have been previously qualified for, and (3) the education itself. Is the opportunity cost made up for by the higher earning potential and everything else that comes with the advanced education? That's the question that a potential graduate student should be asking.
Indeed. And that also does not argue against the idea that graduate students are as good as Nobel Prize winners in research, ie. doing real work.

 Quote by Choppy There's a lot of talk about opportunity cost here. But somewhere there seems to be this assumption that the opportunity cost doesn't actually "buy" anything for the student. That's where the disagreement is stemming from. If it takes you two years to get a master's degree where you are getting paid $20k per year, compared to starting an entry-level position that pays$45k per year, your opportunity cost is $25k per year (plus lost investments, less work experience, etc.) But you GET a master's degree out of the deal. So after 2 years, you have (1) a higher earning potential, (2) opportunities to do work you may not have been previously qualified for, and (3) the education itself. Is the opportunity cost made up for by the higher earning potential and everything else that comes with the advanced education? That's the question that a potential graduate student should be asking. That's true, but don't forget the other benefits of the job. Two years of work experience is a huge boost to your resume for a young person, and of course it can also teach you a lot, both about the job itself and just about yourself in figuring out what you like/dislike.  Is the opportunity cost made up for by the higher earning potential and everything else that comes with the advanced education? That's the question that a potential graduate student should be asking. Absolutely. The opportunity cost of not pursuing graduate school is not getting a phd. Of course, lots of phd holders end up in jobs you don't need a phd for, and not everyone who starts graduate school finishes, so how to calculate the cost of not attending graduate school is tricky.  Quote by ZapperZ I have ZERO problems with telling graduates to open up their view and to consider non-academia employment, considering that the majority of them will end up there! What I have a problem is the condescending view that has been taken towards those going into graduate school, and the comparison in earnings being made with someone who is a full-time employee. I don't disagree that a condescending view has been taken by the writer. Whether it contains elements of truth is another issue. Now it means that we only have one main disagreement - with regards to the validity of this comparison. As ParticleGrl said, that's the very definition of opportunity cost and how you apply it in decision-making: take a B.Sc-level job or go to graduate school? There's absolutely nothing wrong with this comparison at all. (Well, of course, not all people go to graduate school immediately after they have graduated from college. But this is not a big sample of academia. Moreover, the comparison is still valid for many of these people, those who aren't sponsored by their employers for this endeavor, as there is greater inertia/higher opportunity cost for quitting their job.)  Quote by ZapperZ I still can't believe people still think that comparing a full-time graduate student with someone who is a full-time employee is a valid comparison. I think it's a perfectly fair comparison. One important thing when Ph.D.'s go out for work is to write their resumes such that the research that they are doing is counted as work experience (which it is). People with bachelors and masters degrees are hired at the Analyst level in banks whereas Ph.D.'s are hired at the associate level.  Quote by ZapperZ Look beyond the superficial! The Lab/university considers a postdoc as an employee, while a graduate student isn't! One gets medical benefits, the other doesn't! I got medical benefits as a teaching/research assistant. In fact, I got the same coverage as my adviser.  I don't quite understand this. In view of what is an "employee" versus what isn't, there's more in common between graduate student in science and those going to Law school, versus graduate student and someone who is employed by an industry! Disagree very strongly. People that are full time employed get more money, but that's it. All of the work that I did when I was in graduate school gave me more seniority once I started looking for work, and when I wrote my resume, the teaching/research assistant job that I got was just another job.  I still can't believe people still think that comparing a full-time graduate student with someone who is a full-time employee is a valid comparison. Full time employees work less than graduate students.  Quote by llstelle Your GPA largely doesn’t matter (modulo one high profile exception: a multinational advertising firm). Your GPA also largely does not matter for anything beyond graduate school admissions.  I was once reduced to tears because a minor academic snafu threatened my ability to get a Bachelor of Science with a major in Computer Science, which my advisor told me was more prestigious than a Bachelor of Science in Computer Science. Academia cares about distinctions like that. The real world does not. In fact, more often then not, they don't. A lot of research is interdisciplinary, and there are lots of examples of people that have crossed fields.  Remember, market wages for people capable of producing research are$80~100k+++ in your field.
They aren't.

 The prof in charge of my research project offered me a spot in his lab, a tuition waiver, and a whole $12,000 dollars as a stipend if I would commit 4~6 years to him. That’s a great deal if, and only if, you have recently immigrated from a low-wage country and need someone to intervene with the government to get you a visa. I think that's a pretty good deal. The thing about getting a Ph.D. is that if you know what to do with it, you can get a job that is much higher paying than something with a bachelors.  You can lead the life of the mind in industry, too — and enjoy less politics and better pay. But it helps to have a Ph.D.  You can even get published in journals, if that floats your boat. For physics it's very difficult/impossible to do.  Quote by atyy What if you are not someone's qualifying child, is there any distinction then? Or are all students qualifying children? This is a bad example, because while you can be listed as a student, or you can tell the IRS that you are a full time employee. There are good tax reasons for not being listed as a dependent on your parent's income tax if you have your own earnings. It also works the other way. I'm still a full time student. The fact that people pay me more money for being a student makes things cool, but I'm learning as much new stuff now as I was when I was in graduate school. Mentor Blog Entries: 27  Quote by ParticleGrl Honestly, I think you are the one looking at the superficial. Your only point seems to be that some people have the title "student" and some people don't. We can all agree on that. Graduate students are "full time students" but most of those full time students spend 0% of their time in class, and roughly 100% doing value-added tasks for the university. This is obviously hugely different from medschool and gradschool where students spend about 0% of their time doing value-added tasks for the university and 100% of their time in class. If a graduate student stops showing up, the university has to hire someone to replace them in the lab and classroom. If a law student stops showing up, the school probably wouldn't even notice. The problem here is that the comparison keeps shifting its shape! Look at my original argument in which the comparison was done between a graduate student, and someone who is in a full time employment. Without knowing what that graduate student does, I can easily argue that the student makes ZERO money per year, while the full time employee can make way more. The fact that if the student also happens to earn a STIPEND (not a salary) only makes it a little better, but not by much (if one also ignores the fact that he/she gets a tuition waver which can be considerable). That is why I asked why not compare this to typical law or medical school students which typically make NO money while they are in post-graduate schools. But when I did that, somehow the comparison and criteria then shifted to "potential" possible future earnings, which was NEVER applied to the original argument and to the poor graduate student income as a factor! I can't play this game when the goal post keeps changing! I would say that this is NOT a fair comparison because these are two entirely different situations. Both the IRS and the USCIS make the distinction. The employer, be it a university or a Nat'l Lab, makes a distinction. What is superficial is to simply look at what physical activity that person does, and declares it to be the same! I didn't say that there can't be situations where they do similar work. I'm saying that you have to look BEYOND just what you can see and look at the bureaucratic status!  At my old university the gradstudents got medical on a university plan, and the postdocs pay for their medical out of pocket. I don't think this is uncommon (I might be wrong). Ah, but is this universal? Postdocs ALWAYS gets benefits. It is part of the job offer. Graduate assistance are never guaranteed of getting such benefits at all schools. Postdocs are full-time employees, even if temporarily. Graduate assistance aren't! International postdocs cannot be on F1 visa (at least, not for very long). International graduate students can and do! If I want to hire you as a postdoc, I have to check if you can LEGALLY WORK in the US. I have no such requirement to take you on as my graduate assistant. There labor laws that govern the hiring of a postdoc. Would you like to guess if such labor laws also apply to graduate assistance? There are distinct differences, and there are official differences (beyond just looking at what they do) in these two groups of people! Don't believe me? Ask the HR people!  If someone is choosing between going to graduate school and working full time THEN THIS IS THE VALID COMPARISON OF OPPORTUNITY COST! Thats how opportunity cost works- you compare what you could be doing with what you are doing. What opportunities am I passing on in order to pursue what I'm doing now? If someone is choosing between working full time as an engineer or pursuing their phd, do you really think how much they could make as an engineer doesn't matter? There is a difference between these two situations: 1. I just graduated with my B.Sc degree. What should I do next? Should I got into graduate school? Or should I go and pursue a career? 2. Students A makes$12,000/year in stipends. Employee B makes \$60,000/year in salary.

Those two situations are different! In Case 1, it is a valid question to ask when one is about to start the next phase of one's life. One has to weigh all the options, all the possibilities, etc.

Case 2, on the other hand, has already happened. The option has been decided! When that happened, the comparison being done, especially in terms of PURE INCOME ALONE (i.e. not having any discussion on earning potential, which was NOT part of the original equation) is not valid! The student has a huge amount of responsibilities that comes with being a student that isn't part of what he/she being paid for, such as going to class and studying for exams. He/she is NOT a full-time employee! That is why I said this comparison with a full-time employee is not valid!

Zz.