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Is the route Academia route so tough outside US?

  1. Sep 27, 2010 #1

    These days you often read alot about how tough it is to succeed in Academia, how even the people from top 10 US grad schools can't find postdocs, and so on. This seems to be even more pronounced when it comes to fields like String/Mathematical Physics/HEP Theo.

    Is this just a US phenomenom however? I somehow get the feeling the situation is a lot less dire in Europe and the UK? that the Academic culture isn't quite so cut throat, as well as none of this "publish or perish" attittude.

    Just wondering what more experienced people think of this.
  2. jcsd
  3. Sep 27, 2010 #2
    I don't think the problem is in the cut-throat culture, it's a simple question of supply and demand and I doubt it's different in other parts of the world. Maybe there's less competition in underdeveloped countries just due to the sole fact that there aren't that many PhD's yet, but then again, there's probably less faculty needed, as well.
  4. Sep 27, 2010 #3
    One of the good things and bad things about physics is that it's quite international, so I don't think that there is a US physics culture that is much different from German physics culture or Chinese physics culture.

    In this situation it's something of a bad thing, because I don't think "publish or perish" is particularly US.
  5. Sep 28, 2010 #4
    Even if it wasn't "quite international", which it is, why would you even think it would be any less cut-throat! Throughout my career (on the fringes of academia) there have been regular newspaper reports about the brain drain from the UK to the USA - indicating that things have been *more* cut-throat in the UK. In any event, from my insider experience, things certainly *are* cut-throat in the UK, and "publish or perish" is alive and well...
  6. Sep 28, 2010 #5
    Today the market is international, and so many people who graduated in Europe are working in the US. The inverse is somewhat less common, due to the brain drain that mal4mac points, so it could even be worse here (in Europe). Anyway the situation is bad enough everywhere.

    In some countries of Europe, there is a factor that makes the situation much worse. In e.g. Spain and France, usually PhD studies are not recognized as work experience. So if you want to work in a field that is different to your PhD topic, you will usually face more difficulties than in the US. In particular, I know many people with physics PhDs who were not able to find a job in Spain, and had to leave the country. However, this doesn't happen in e.g. Germany or the UK.

    Let me clarify that this is a fact about the labour market, and not about PhD studies. For example, I know foreign PhDs that tried and failed to find a job in Spain, and spanish PhDs who easily found a job in another country.

    And I am saying this because one of the most common reasons why people leave physics after the PhD is that they don't want to move to another country (this is also least common in the US, due to cultural differences). So, if you are in one of those countries, you really need to be prepared from the beginning that you'll have to emigrate when you finish with your PhD.
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