Arthur Sowers <arthures at magpage.com> wrote:
> Basically, some kind of union-like agency that really looks out for the
> PhDs the same, functional, way that the AMA used to look out for MDs, and
> the ABA looks out for the lawyers.
<snippage necessary to please my newshost>
> When institutions (I've talked a lot about this over the years) can tell
> you that its OK with them for you to spend ten years after the BS degree
> to get credentialed and experienced and then its also OK with them to give
> you a crappy adjunct (non-tenure track, low pay, often or usually no
> benefits, and often part time) appointment from semester to semester, then
> its a bad deal for you. There are few winners and a lot of guys are just
> "hanging in there" waiting for some "reorganization" and then if they get
> dumped, then age discrimination automatically keeps them out.
In the UK, the university teachers union (AUT) actively recruits
post-docs on fixed term contracts and presses for universities to offer
them greater job security and better career development prospects. In
effect, this would lead to an 'elite' of permanently employed university
researchers with recruitment at the junior level taking place on a
replacement basis. In the long run, this might solve the problem of PhD
over-production, though there would be some pain in the short term as
those who fail to make it into the 'elite' are forced to face stark
The effect on science is not really possible to predict with any
certainty, but the system would almost certainly be less flexible and
responsive than the present "eat 'em alive" method which would probably
slow down the pace of science.
Is that a bad thing? Well, a lot of people seem to think that science
advances too fast today anyway (e.g. dilemmas surrounding GM foods and
human cloning) so perhaps not.