Archive for June 7, 2011

LOL: Jun 7, 2011

June 7, 2011 8 comments

Keeping Aztec traditions alive has not been easy, but some people are trying their best to fuse the best parts of the old traditions with newer influences.


Categories: LOL

How Biomedical Research Is Destroying Itself: Shit Wages

June 7, 2011 7 comments

In case you have not figured it out yet- academic research is rapidly destroying itself all over the world. Certain areas have however been far more affected than others.

Biomedical research is, in my opinion, the most fucked up of all sciences. It is also the most highly funded on an aggregate basis- if not per capita.

I started my MSc at 20 in an area of biomedical research. However my adverse experiences made me leave that area, and switch fields, after finishing my degree. I then went into an area somewhat related to bio-medical research, but with significantly better job prospects- at least at that time.

So what is the real problem with biomedical research?

For beginners- there are many systemic and somewhat interlinked problems with that area. The single biggest problem is however that it offers shitty wages and low chances for advancement.

How shitty are the wages?

For starters, MSc and PhD students receive a stipend that is barely above minimum wage. Even scholarships and bursaries do not make much of a difference. You are looking at something between 20k-30k per year (pretty much tax-free). Even these wages could be justified if the next step in your career paid significantly more- but it does not.

Biomedical researchers, unlike those in chemistry, engineering, mathematics have few job opportunities outside academia or various institutes. Nor are their skills of much use outside their very narrow fields. A person from almost all specialties in chemistry, engineering or mathematics is employable in a number of other areas that require those skills.

Consequently most of them are stuck in academia type positions. The average postdoc in N. America makes about 35-50k/ year, often working long hours, in jobs with no overtime and pretty low job security or room for advancement.

For comparison, a manager at an average restaurant or Starbucks makes between 50-60k/year and you can get another similar job with that experience. Similarly a clinical clerk, medical tech/help type can make more than a postdoc by working 9-5 than a postdoc can ever make- with much less education, skills and intelligence.

The point I am trying to make is that obtaining a PhD which does not help with getting a job at a company (80-120k/year) or starting your own business (tech startup) is a horrible waste of time and money. The single biggest reason that many science fields, especially biomedical research, have few whites (or native-born) people studying or working in them is that the wages and working conditions are so shitty! -People who deliver large water bottles for office coolers probably make more than biomedical postdocs. As a consequence, most whites (or native-borns)who enter that area leave it after a short stint.

Greedy morons, also known as established academics, try to benefit from this situation. They are aided in their cynical and sadistic quest by funding agencies who prefer connected, political conmen pushing fraudulent “incremental” research over real innovation. The quality of biomedical research has been dropping over the last 20-odd years and today it is acknowledged that probably half the research published in top-tier journals is essentially unreproducible- aka bullshit. Even reproducible research is often exaggerated, manipulated or trivial.

In the next part of this series, I plan to write about the effects of such scam ridden crap on the credibility of biomedical research- and the public view of science in general.