PhDs.org Blog

A comprehensive collection of articles for you to become well versed in the world of science and engineering.

July 10th, 2009

NRC rankings are getting closer…

The methodology report for the forthcoming NRC rankings is out. It’s an interesting approach to ranking programs, but it’s complicated. For those without a statistics background, I’m sure it’s conceptually pretty weird. In the short term, the NRC rankings have two weaknesses: first, they’re quite late, and second, the algorithm takes a fair amount of … read more


July 8th, 2009

“There is power in a union”

Cue the Billy Bragg. The University of California’s postdocs have unionized. The unionization of the University of Connecticut’s postdocs seems to have gone smoothly. I’ll be curious to hear what the ultimate contract will look like for the University of California. There’s more about the union here.


June 28th, 2009

Risk aversion at NIH

“Grant System Leads Cancer Researchers to Play It Safe” in today’s NY Times highlights NIH’s crazy risk averse grant making process. …the fight against cancer is going slower than most had hoped, with only small changes in the death rate in the almost 40 years since it began. One major impediment, scientists agree, is the … 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 5th, 2009

Benefits of Female Faculty

There’s an intriguing piece in Slate on what looks like a very well designed study of the role of faculty gender on female students’ career trajectories. A few highlights: The authors persuasively demonstrate that the overall male-female student read more performance difference is due in large part to the fact that men dominate the Air Force Academy … read more


June 5th, 2009

Rankings Ruckus at Clemson

A former Clemson institutional researcher has just given an eye-opening presentation that described how the US News college rankings drove the agenda of Clemson’s administration. The measures taken ranged from promising (decreases in class sizes and increases in admissions standards) to unethical (allegations that employees lowballed other institutions in US News’s reputational surveys). Take a … read more


May 25th, 2009

Lab Safety?

There’s an interesting piece in Slate this week about lab safety (or the lack thereof) in academic settings relative to their corporate counterparts. The author may be familiar to some – Beryl Lieff Benderly writes for Science’s Next Wave. The article describes an awful chem lab accident at UCLA and then goes on to point … read more


April 28th, 2009

“End the University as We Know It”

There’s an op-ed in yesterday’s Times with a great opening paragraph: Graduate education is the Detroit of higher learning. Most graduate programs in American universities produce a product for which there is no market (candidates for teaching positions that do not exist) and develop skills for which there is diminishing demand (research in subfields within … read more


March 18th, 2009

Science Stimulus

Sam Wang (an old friend of Peter’s) and Sandra Aamodt have an interesting proposal in today’s NY Times for spending a chunk of the NIH’s $8B stimulus funds: hire a bunch of recent college graduates as lab techs in a program modeled after Teach for America. The goal is to provide the needed supply of … read more


March 17th, 2009

CS enrollments back up

The NY Times reports that undergraduate enrollments in computer science programs are back up. The explanation: competing alternatives for people with the required skill set have gotten less attractive. Investment banking is no longer luring people away. It’s further supporting evidence for Richard Freeman’s work on how numbers fluctuate in different careers – people on … read more