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Studying Chaotic Systems and Careers

  1. Oct 7, 2013 #1
    If a person gets a phd studying controls theory, shouldn't they have the skills (as a researcher) to publish electrical engineering research one year, economics the next year, and biology the next?

    Since someone that studies "systems" generally works in high abstractions, I don't see why the subject at hand really matters. Sure, some systems will require far too much background knowledge to be practical, but I don't see why many topics would require a vast background.

    So, if a person studied heavy on controls theory in an Electrical Engineering graduate program, what would keep them from suddenly conducting economics research or something in a field completely unrelated to their thesis used to obtain the phd? Is it unrealistic for someone in academia to jump around between fields constantly?
  2. jcsd
  3. Oct 7, 2013 #2
    When you publish in someone else's field they will likely greet your contribution with skepticism.

    Jumping around fields would be hard because you cant write a grant for general problem solving and people are less likely to approve your grant for something outside your field.

    Some things cant be overly abstracted sometimes the microscopic details matter.
  4. Oct 8, 2013 #3


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    In my experience, people who are arrogant and/or ignorant enough to think they can walk straight into a field they know nothing about and start doing useful work are usually called "management consultants".

    But they don't usually bother to publish their consultancy reports in academic journals!
  5. Oct 8, 2013 #4


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    Sounds like you don't think very highly of management consultants or consultancy companies. Am I right? :tongue:
  6. Oct 8, 2013 #5
    I find that there is evidence all over the place that people often do walk straight into a field they "know nothing about" and make useful contributions. The mistake is that just because they are unfamiliar with the terminology and history of the subject, that they don't know anything about it.
  7. Oct 8, 2013 #6
    Research is conducted by human beings which by nature are territorial
  8. Oct 8, 2013 #7


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