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Did academic career requirements change in recent years?

  1. Dec 18, 2014 #1
    In the past it appeared that in some institutions, the very fact that a postdoc could get research funding on his/her own might have been the impetus for them to continue to hire his/her as a staff member. As much is stated in the PhysicsForums guide (https://www.physicsforums.com/threads/so-you-want-to-be-a-physicist.240792/page-2). I also heard that publishing as a first author in places like Nature or Science went a long way in securing some form of academic career at least somewhere.

    Recently the only faculty hires I personally witnessed seemed to be on the order of 3d-rate universities attracting people with several years of uninterrupted external funding, bringing with them at least 300k+ in further external funding and having published 5+ papers in Science/Nature. The two faculty hires I saw a bit earlier in higher-rated universities were people with 5000+ citations and 10+ years of uninterrupted external funding.

    Has the bar really risen that high recently? Or is it just a few coincidences in my personal experience?
    Last edited: Dec 18, 2014
  2. jcsd
  3. Dec 18, 2014 #2


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    As a retired academic, I can speak to this, at least in part. There was a time when relatively few folks went as far as a PhD, and those that did usually intended to teach. There was a degree of balance between supply and demand.

    In more recent times, with the progressive dumbing down of the whole educational process, it has become necessary to get an MS in order to have a good baccalaureate level education. In today's PC universities, just about anyone with a temperature above room temperature can get a BS, and thus the BS has been devalued. Similarly, those who once would have stopped at an MS are now going on to get PhD degrees, and there is a glut of PhD graduates. This is aggravated by the fact that universities have built up great research empires that demand more and more students, just to keep them afloat. This drives schools to admit more an more students, less qualified and foreign in particular, just to feed the machine. It is essentially a Ponzi scheme. I think it may soon come crashing down and PhD degrees will be sold in cigarette machines, at the corner drug store, etc.

    In short, the supply far exceed the demand, and this makes for a buyer's market. In this case, an extreme buyer's market.
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