This entry is inspired by "Why I got out of research" at http://vwxynot.blogspot.com/ and Rob Knop's blog entry Get out; you're not good enough , and is addressed to readers considering grad school in science.
There are more people qualified for faculty positions at research universities than there are openings. By "qualified" I mean having earned a PhD, done a postdoc, and published at least one senior-authored peer-reviewed journal article from each. By this definition, one can be qualified without necessarily being competitive in today's academic job market.
Those of us lucky enough to get such a research university position find that (as vwxynot put it):
"Even if you do make it big and get your own lab, you’re suddenly responsible for your whole team’s job security as well as your own. Grants depend on the quality of the researcher and their work, yes, but also on trends, fads, luck, nepotism, reputation, political interference and geography."
The importance of nepotism, politics, and geography probably varies among countries, but there's no doubt that only a fraction of good proposals get funded. And yet, getting grants is often an expectation for tenure.
So, if most PhD's won't get a research university faculty position (RUFP), then who should consider going to grad school in science?
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