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Why don't theorists employed outside academia continue to publish and collaborate?

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Nabeshin
#19
Jan29-13, 01:05 PM
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Another overlooked reason is the importance of an academic environment in which your peers are ready to poke any and all holes in any ideas you have. The importance of this part of theory cannot be overstated. With all the advents of the internet, it's still not the same as being physically surrounded with people. And, unlike popular conceptions, theory is still a highly collaborative endeavor.
Arsenic&Lace
#20
Jan29-13, 01:36 PM
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Hm, I was going to suggest skype conferences, but the spontaneity of working with others isn't conserved under those circumstances; working near my collaborators in the lab group I'm working in right now has lots of benefits I suppose would be lost by replacing the environment with contrived teleconferences.
ZapperZ
#21
Jan29-13, 01:53 PM
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Quote Quote by Arsenic&Lace View Post
Hm, I was going to suggest skype conferences,
Er... you obviously have never been to an APS March or April meeting!

Zz.
Arsenic&Lace
#22
Jan29-13, 02:11 PM
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Explain, Zz? I'm not saying they're ineffective, I'm saying that lack of accesibility/contrived nature makes them unable to substitute for constant contact with colleagues.
Blackforest
#23
Jan29-13, 02:24 PM
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Quote Quote by Nabeshin View Post
Another overlooked reason is the importance of an academic environment in which your peers are ready to poke any and all holes in any ideas you have. The importance of this part of theory cannot be overstated. With all the advents of the internet, it's still not the same as being physically surrounded with people. And, unlike popular conceptions, theory is still a highly collaborative endeavor.
That's absolutely true and that is the reason why people like me (who are highly concerned by your very interesting discussion) have exactly zero chance to come into the arena. Theorist: yes (self-made man manner for theoretical physics - no official level), academic formation: yes (in dentistry) but no more real contact with the academy and too old... Furthermore, as said before, even if some one would be very creative, research needs hours and hours of imagination, concentration, reading... so, short said: an impossible challenge for a lonely cow-boy. Alone, nobody is able to recognize his own errors. We need the mirror of the partners. Collaboration creates a natural synergy, emulation... Illuminations at midnight under a moon ligth are rare and should perhaps be reserved for love.

Anyway: thanks for all the discussions made via the forums.
Timo
#24
Jan29-13, 03:07 PM
P: 309
See it from the bright side: I won't become a dentist, anymore. And not only did I pull the short stick in terms of salary, I would actually go to jail if I tried to "self-made man manner" work in the field.
StatGuy2000
#25
Jan29-13, 09:14 PM
P: 564
It sounds to me from the above discussion that the only true place where researchers in physics can continue to publish and collaborate is in academia or in an academia-type style research lab (e.g. Bell Labs, PARC). Am I correct to reach this conclusion? Because I know that in other fields (e.g. biostatistics) it's not uncommon for researchers in industry to continue to publish in journals and to collaborate with those in academia.
ParticleGrl
#26
Jan29-13, 11:15 PM
P: 682
It sounds to me from the above discussion that the only true place where researchers in physics can continue to publish and collaborate is in academia or in an academia-type style research lab (e.g. Bell Labs, PARC). Am I correct to reach this conclusion?
From my limited experience, this seems to be correct, especially if you addend the sentence to read "can continue to publish and collaborate IN PHYSICS". I imagine the theory phds who find work in biostats, to use your example, will take up the culture of that field and publish and collaborate as much as is common in biostats.

One of my advisers former students worked for a hedge fund for many years, and then published a flurry of finance papers before taking a job at a business school, and this doesn't seem that uncommon (late career finance people publishing slightly outdated models they used to trade on, and then jumping back into academia) but certainly the papers had nothing to do with physics and probably weren't developed in the same sort of environemnt.

I did a brief literature search for my theorists friends who have left the academic environment, and it looks like the only ones who have published anything in the last 4 or 5 years were postdocs.
Simon Bridge
#27
Jan30-13, 12:46 AM
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There has been a trend (or a fad - don't know enough), particularly in engineering firms, to allow researchers to spend some company time and resources on personal projects. Some firms have found that their researcher's productivity in their core business increases as a result, and the personal research can sometimes pay off in some other ways which may be difficult to anticipate.

There is a lot of experimentation with business models, particularly in tech startups. So if you want to do publishable research in the private sector, this would be one way to go. But ... if anyone is thinking that they just want to make a lot of money as well as get academic credit for their work ... well: it can happen, just don't hold your breath while you wait.

As for reading the publications - researchers have to keep up.
Reading 20 or so papers a day was not uncommon when I was an academic - especially papers directly apropos to ones own research. (As a result you end up with very definite views on what counts as a well written paper!) Mostly you skim to see if the paper says anything you don't know yet so you can concentrate on contrary views (and people who beat you into publication). Unless you are formally doing a meta-study or a lit-review.

The discipline kinda spoils the experience of science-as-entertainment though.

Doing science as your job is pretty much like any job - not everyone finds the same things satisfying. I enjoyed the academic thing, and didn;t get to do it nearly long enough, but I understand that many don't and that is as it should be.

Answering questions here is relaxing compared with the contractual science I've been doing lately because I get to tell people what they need to hear instead of what they think they want to hear ... which is pretty unusual in any circumstance where the person you are telling is expected to pay you.
atyy
#28
Jan30-13, 01:07 AM
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Not sure if these count:

John Bell was employed as a physicist, but Jackiw and Shimony say his work on quantum foundations was done in his spare time as a "hobby".

Carl Brannen seems to be an amateur, but http://arxiv.org/abs/1006.3114 was accepted in a peer-reviewed journal.

Greg Egan co-wrote http://arxiv.org/abs/gr-qc/0110045 and http://arxiv.org/abs/gr-qc/0208010 although having no university affiliation at that time (and I think of him primarily as a famous science fiction writer).

Julian Barbour has published with co-authors many papers including http://arxiv.org/abs/gr-qc/0012089 while outside of academia.

Raychaudhuri was employed as a physicist, but not to work on general relativity, when he discovered his famous equation.

Schwarzschild was a soldier when he discovered the spherically symmetric vacuum solution.

Einstein was unemployed for 2 years after his PhD then worked at a patent office from 1903 to 1909, but managed to publish some papers in 1905.


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