December 20th, 2010

“The Disposable Academic”

This weeks Economist has an article subtitled, “Why doing a PhD is often a waste of time” (subscription required). Many of the items reported are familiar for those who read phds.org, but a few new things stood out: PhD production is growing rapidly outside the US. This means possibly additional opportunities in overseas universities, but … read more


November 4th, 2010

Waiter, there’s a drosophila melanogaster in my soup

I’ve merged the two BLS data sets mentioned in the previous post and have added the merged set as the third sheet in the Google spreadsheet – there are links at the bottom of the spreadsheet to the different sheets. (The whole merge took about 20 lines of python, a language that every science and … read more


November 2nd, 2010

Janitors with PhDs

I contacted Chris Matgouranis, the student who generated the “5,000 janitors with PhDs” figure cited in Richard Vedder’s Chronicle piece. He helpfully pointed me to 2 Bureau of Labor Statistics sources. The first, here, gives the distribution of educational attainment in various professions. The second, here, gives the number of people in each profession. Alas, … read more


October 30th, 2010

A PhD is not enough

I’m sure everyone knows that a PhD by itself is not a ticket to a great job. Just to drive the point home, some data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics (via Gizmodo and the Chronicle) reveals that there are 5,000 janitors in the US with PhDs. I’m trying to get some more numbers on … read more


October 13th, 2010

“Crisis in the Humanities”

SUNY Albany is cutting its programs in French, Italian, classics, Russian, and theater, reports Stanley Fish in his NY Times column today. So not only are departments not hiring in the humanities, it looks like tenured faculty might actually be laid off – something that’s possible if universities are in dire economic straits. Fish’s proposed … read more


July 21st, 2010

A Changing Profession

The Times has a discussion about tenure in today’s paper. Nothing really stands out in the discussion pieces, but one thing in the introduction did surprise me: In 1975, 57 percent of all college professors had tenure or were on a tenure track. In 2007, that number had fallen to 31 percent, and a new … read more


June 15th, 2010

“The Real Science Gap”

A good recap of science’s perennial labor oversupply problems: It’s not insufficient schooling or a shortage of scientists. It’s a lack of job opportunities. Americans need the reasonable hope that spending their youth preparing to do science will provide a satisfactory career. The author, Beryl Lieff Benderly, has done a lot of writing for Science … read more


June 21st, 2009

America’s new export: excess PhDs?

What Helps New Ph.D.s Land Jobs in Academia? A Passport says an article in today’s Wall Street Journal. While hiring freezes and budgets cuts pervade U.S. higher education, universities in Asia and the Middle East are hungry for candidates, often amid a dearth of native applicants. Although most advertise their faculty openings all over the … read more


June 18th, 2008

Remember all those imminent faculty retirements?

Back in the late 1980′s, people were predicting that all sorts of scientists would be needed to fill the shoes of the big cohort of scientists and engineers hired in Sputnik-fueled buildup of the late 1960′s. Researchers tend not to retire early – why give up a cushy tenured faculty gig? – but these folks … read more


May 20th, 2008

Hard times in physics?

I have been paying a fair amount of attention to the NIH meltdown because of the time I spent up at NBER, but not a whole lot to current goings on in the physical sciences. This interesting graph from the AIP tells me that there are some problems there, too. The percentage of new physics … read more