1. And... we're back. You'll notice that all of your images are back as well, as are our beloved emoticons, including the infamous :foo: We have also worked with our server folks and developers to fix the issues that were slowing down the site.

    There is still work to be done - the images in existing sigs are not yet linked, for example, and we are working on a way to get the images to load faster - which will improve the performance of the site, especially on the pages with a ton of images, and we will continue to work diligently on that and keep you updated.

    Cheers,

    Fok on behalf of the entire Styleforum team
    Dismiss Notice

Seriously considering going back for a PhD... (Update: and now it's in motion)

Discussion in 'Business, Careers & Education' started by Flambeur, Jun 22, 2010.

  1. Flambeur

    Flambeur Senior member

    Messages:
    5,057
    Joined:
    Mar 19, 2008
    I know that academia is (or at least should be) driven by intellectual horsepower, but what is usually considered the top level of academics? Top 10 schools in the field? Top 10 global universities? Harvard/Oxford/Cambridge only?

    What would really open all the doors a PhD can open? Also, what's more important after what JayJay mentioned, where you went to school or where you end up teaching?
     
  2. suited

    suited Senior member

    Messages:
    6,399
    Joined:
    Aug 18, 2008
    MUST be a top school. Actually, I wouldn't even recommend that anyone consider a primary or elementary school program unless it's top 3. Not a single person that didn't go to a top school has ever had a good job.
     
  3. Flambeur

    Flambeur Senior member

    Messages:
    5,057
    Joined:
    Mar 19, 2008
    I think what attracts me to academia is that I can wear "eccentric" outfits to the boardrooms and feel great about it.. [​IMG]
     
  4. Flambeur

    Flambeur Senior member

    Messages:
    5,057
    Joined:
    Mar 19, 2008
    MUST be a top school. Actually, I wouldn't even recommend that anyone consider a primary or elementary school program unless it's top 3. Not a single person that didn't go to a top school has ever had a good job.

    I'm sorry, my sarcasm meter just blew the fuck up, was that you by any chance?
     
  5. cchen

    cchen Senior member

    Messages:
    2,536
    Joined:
    Mar 19, 2006
    Location:
    NYC / HK / London
    I know that academia is (or at least should be) driven by intellectual horsepower, but what is usually considered the top level of academics? Top 10 schools in the field? Top 10 global universities? Harvard/Oxford/Cambridge only?

    What would really open all the doors a PhD can open? Also, what's more important after what JayJay mentioned, where you went to school or where you end up teaching?


    I think what matters more is your research field and advisor. One of the running jokes in my department at college (an Ivy, top in this field) is that almost all of the phd grads aren't good enough to get a job at the school they get their phd from. I've heard the same at harvard as well, and for the most part, placement stats prove this. You could be at a decent school with amazing research and end up getting a tenure track job at a top school
     
  6. Flambeur

    Flambeur Senior member

    Messages:
    5,057
    Joined:
    Mar 19, 2008
    I think what matters more is your research field and advisor. One of the running jokes in my department at college (an Ivy, top in this field) is that almost all of the phd grads aren't good enough to get a job at the school they get their phd from. I've heard the same at harvard as well, and for the most part, placement stats prove this. You could be at a decent school with amazing research and end up getting a tenure track job at a top school

    Would you say the ability to put out top research is driven more by the individual or the department he/she is at?
     
  7. cchen

    cchen Senior member

    Messages:
    2,536
    Joined:
    Mar 19, 2006
    Location:
    NYC / HK / London
    I think it depends on the individual, just from anecdotal evidence. Maybe even some luck. And its really more than just intelligence. I know too many phd grads from top schools who are ridiculously smart but their research just doesn't cut it.
     
  8. Flambeur

    Flambeur Senior member

    Messages:
    5,057
    Joined:
    Mar 19, 2008
    Cool, good stuff, thanks.
     
  9. John152

    John152 Well-Known Member

    Messages:
    72
    Joined:
    Aug 11, 2007
    Would you say the ability to put out top research is driven more by the individual or the department he/she is at?

    It is heavily dependent on the individual, but it also helps a lot to have a good adviser who you can bounce ideas around with. As I'm sure you know, putting out original, publishable research is a lot more difficult than writing a good paper as an undergrad. Sometimes just coming up with the idea itself is harder than writing the paper. This is where a good adviser can really help, especially if they're very familiar with the area you're working in.
     
  10. Flambeur

    Flambeur Senior member

    Messages:
    5,057
    Joined:
    Mar 19, 2008
    It is heavily dependent on the individual, but it also helps a lot to have a good adviser who you can bounce ideas around with. As I'm sure you know, putting out original, publishable research is a lot more difficult than writing a good paper as an undergrad. Sometimes just coming up with the idea itself is harder than writing the paper. This is where a good adviser can really help, especially if they're very familiar with the area you're working in.

    Makes sense, it would help to have feedback from someone who really understand the body of knowledge and its direction for a particular discipline...
     
  11. imschatz

    imschatz Senior member

    Messages:
    895
    Joined:
    Apr 26, 2010
    Location:
    Canada
    In economics .. publishable papers come from finding quality data. If you can get your hands on some unique datasets, the paper comes easy. Many people in the past have literally taken one author's paper, and applied the same techniques to datasets in different countries. Look at the history of papers written on the effect of tuition on enrollments. There is probably a dozen papers with the title "Education Demand in (insert random country here)". Very few publish papers on pure theory. As for research .. depends on the journal. Ability to write "publishable" papers is driven by the individual, anyone .. even at the Undergraduate level can come with an idea and write a solid paper (many undergraduate thesis' go on to be taken by faculty to get published). On the other hand, getting published in certain journal's is entirely the school you end up at. The top journals only publish from authors at top universities. If you teach at random state college good luck getting published in the American Economic Review. As for what is considered top .. really, depends on the person applying. Do you feel you deserve to be at that university? You have to be proud of your education at the Ph.D. level. If you think you are underachieving, that will follow you throughout your education, and beyond. You'll end up teaching at a school that you feel is below you, and it'll just be a waste of time. Be proud of your education, and you'll be proud of where you end up after. Personally .. I'd take anything that is formally ranked if I go onto my Ph.D. Still dream every night of being at Penn or Boston U though.
     
  12. onix

    onix Senior member

    Messages:
    3,847
    Joined:
    Jan 19, 2009
    Would you say the ability to put out top research is driven more by the individual or the department he/she is at?
    The department plays a minimal role. I would say the advisor is a crucial factor. The advisor gives you the direction, you execute it. If the direction is not good enough, your effort will go to a trash can since nobody cares, even if your advisor and you think it's a breakthrough. Furthermore, many journals in econ are not blind reviewed, so people read your name and your advisor's name first before they read your papers, it changes many things. I had to change my advisor by the end of my third year, and that was one the best decision I've made.
    In economics .. publishable papers come from finding quality data. If you can get your hands on some unique datasets, the paper comes easy. Many people in the past have literally taken one author's paper, and applied the same techniques to datasets in different countries. Look at the history of papers written on the effect of tuition on enrollments. There is probably a dozen papers with the title "Education Demand in (insert random country here)". Very few publish papers on pure theory.
    I work in theoretical econ, so I beg to differ.
    As for research .. depends on the journal. Ability to write "publishable" papers is driven by the individual, anyone .. even at the Undergraduate level can come with an idea and write a solid paper (many undergraduate thesis' go on to be taken by faculty to get published). On the other hand, getting published in certain journal's is entirely the school you end up at. The top journals only publish from authors at top universities. If you teach at random state college good luck getting published in the American Economic Review.
    I would fix this and say "The top journals mainly publish from top authors" (all of them are from top departments anyway).
     
  13. imschatz

    imschatz Senior member

    Messages:
    895
    Joined:
    Apr 26, 2010
    Location:
    Canada
    I work in theoretical econ, so I beg to differ.

    I would fix this and say "The top journals mainly publish from top authors" (all of them are from top departments anyway).


    1) The point I was trying to make .. was the connection between idea and published paper. Very few (as a proportion of total economic researchers) publish paper's on pure theory. Most papers I've read (mind you, fairly limited sample), seem to follow a similar path. Come up with interesting topic, find (or in experimental econ, create) data relevant to your topic, analyze, publish. Very few journals publish economic ideas that are not supported by data. But I'm a newbie when it comes to academic economics .. so I fully admit I may be just talking out my ass.

    2) Ah .. ya .. over generalization, but ya.
     
  14. MasterOfReality

    MasterOfReality Senior member

    Messages:
    137
    Joined:
    May 6, 2010
    Location:
    Brisbane, Australia
    Wow, from reading and participating in other threads about PhD's, there is a huge difference compared to the way we do it in australia, particularly regarding the university you attended.

    Reputation of university - this isn't really an issue here, the majority of our universities have government funding and our bachelor degrees are heavily subsidised so it eliminates the need for numerous universities trying to attract students. Population is much smaller too so thats another major factor. My BEng cost $21k, instead of $85k at one of the very few private universities that exist here. We have a quite punitive taxation system though to help pay for a lot of the stuff thats subsidised in this country. We pay over 45% income tax if you earn over $180k a year but thats a story for another time.

    I completed my PhD in mining engineering at a smaller university, but one that is internationally reknowned for mining education. I think that the institution isn't the question, but the quality of your research work and original contribution to the field you are researching. I have found that if I front up for an interview, I often get asked questions about papers I have written for prominent journals and usually get asked to do an impromtu presentation on my research, but no questions about the university I attended.

    I wouldn't worry about the restrictions that the university places on you regarding how much you can work outside university. This was written into my stipend contract, but I went and worked for a local mining consultant for $600 a day. Not a bad earner for a PhD student. I just simply kept quiet about it, although my supervisor knew about it and encouraged it. Common sense really.

    The only reason why I have gone into private industry is money. Academia and research are not fully appreciated here. Why bust your ass to get a compulsory PhD and end up earning less than a tradesman?
     
  15. onix

    onix Senior member

    Messages:
    3,847
    Joined:
    Jan 19, 2009
    The only reason why I have gone into private industry is money. Academia and research are not fully appreciated here. Why bust your ass to get a compulsory PhD and end up earning less than a tradesman?
    It depends. Being a professor, you have benefits that are not generally enjoyed by other professions: - flexibility to decide what to work on (either on your classes, or your research projects) - flexibility on time management - vacation time (even if you work for the whole year, not just the academic year) you still have 1-3 weeks between semesters/quarters off, that's about 1-1.5 months/year paid depending on the institution, that's a lot of vacation time. - most importantly, job stability if you got tenured - other random benefits: your kids go to college with deep tuition discount (70-90%), often free with some (even minor) scholarships - and the pay is in fact not bad, econ professors in top-15 schools earn 6-figure salaries, even associate professors earn high 5-figure - many other source of additional incomes: research grants, outside consulting service, etc., Nevertheless, I don't work in academia anymore, though it was a very tough decision.
     
  16. MasterOfReality

    MasterOfReality Senior member

    Messages:
    137
    Joined:
    May 6, 2010
    Location:
    Brisbane, Australia
    It depends. Being a professor, you have benefits that are not generally enjoyed by other professions:
    - flexibility to decide what to work on (either on your classes, or your research projects)
    - flexibility on time management
    - vacation time (even if you work for the whole year, not just the academic year) you still have 1-3 weeks between semesters/quarters off, that's about 1-1.5 months/year paid depending on the institution, that's a lot of vacation time.
    - most importantly, job stability if you got tenured
    - other random benefits: your kids go to college with deep tuition discount (70-90%), often free with some (even minor) scholarships
    - and the pay is in fact not bad, econ professors in top-15 schools earn 6-figure salaries, even associate professors earn high 5-figure
    - many other source of additional incomes: research grants, outside consulting service, etc.,


    Nevertheless, I don't work in academia anymore, though it was a very tough decision.


    Hmm, its quite different here. I worked in a government research organisation (similar to NIOSH) for 1.5 years.

    In terms of flexibility between lecturing and research, as the universities are partly government funded, there is always that pressure to bring in external funding and perform consulting work on behalf of the university. So, you are expected to act like a consultant but not get paid for it.

    Time management would be the only benefit. I was pretty much free to do what I wanted. I only lived 10 minutes away so that was a bonus as well. I was renovating at the time so it was most useful.

    Vacation time - there is a legislated 4 weeks a year here, regardless of private or public industry. One mining company I worked for gave us 5 weeks. The consultancy I work for at the moment give me the option of 'purchasing' extra vacation time from my salary as a tax deduction.

    Job stability - Agreed to a certain extent - it does depend on whether you are sucessful in bringing in external funding. If not, then you are out the door.

    The pay - academia is highly unionised, so the salaries are pretty much standard across the country for the different levels. A professor can hope to earn max $150k, and thats after working his way up. The downside of a collective agreement is individual achievement is not recognised.

    I was actually courted by the university to work for them as a lecturer, starting at $50ka year. To me the $50k difference in salary was too big to ignore in the private sector.

    I will head back to academia/research when I have had enough of the private sector and want to relax before I retire. The one thing I miss the most about it is the cruisy and relaxed working atmosphere (when they aren't hounding you for external funding).
     
  17. kwiteaboy

    kwiteaboy Senior member

    Messages:
    569
    Joined:
    Apr 8, 2006
    It depends. Being a professor, you have benefits that are not generally enjoyed by other professions:
    - flexibility to decide what to work on (either on your classes, or your research projects)
    - flexibility on time management
    - vacation time (even if you work for the whole year, not just the academic year) you still have 1-3 weeks between semesters/quarters off, that's about 1-1.5 months/year paid depending on the institution, that's a lot of vacation time.
    - most importantly, job stability if you got tenured
    - other random benefits: your kids go to college with deep tuition discount (70-90%), often free with some (even minor) scholarships
    - and the pay is in fact not bad, econ professors in top-15 schools earn 6-figure salaries, even associate professors earn high 5-figure
    - many other source of additional incomes: research grants, outside consulting service, etc.,


    These are all the things that attracted me to academia initially. Unfortunately, these jobs seem to be about as rare as professional movie star jobs going forward [​IMG]
     
  18. imschatz

    imschatz Senior member

    Messages:
    895
    Joined:
    Apr 26, 2010
    Location:
    Canada
    Hmm, its quite different here. I worked in a government research organisation (similar to NIOSH) for 1.5 years.

    In terms of flexibility between lecturing and research, as the universities are partly government funded, there is always that pressure to bring in external funding and perform consulting work on behalf of the university. So, you are expected to act like a consultant but not get paid for it.

    Time management would be the only benefit. I was pretty much free to do what I wanted. I only lived 10 minutes away so that was a bonus as well. I was renovating at the time so it was most useful.

    Vacation time - there is a legislated 4 weeks a year here, regardless of private or public industry. One mining company I worked for gave us 5 weeks. The consultancy I work for at the moment give me the option of 'purchasing' extra vacation time from my salary as a tax deduction.

    Job stability - Agreed to a certain extent - it does depend on whether you are sucessful in bringing in external funding. If not, then you are out the door.

    The pay - academia is highly unionised, so the salaries are pretty much standard across the country for the different levels. A professor can hope to earn max $150k, and thats after working his way up. The downside of a collective agreement is individual achievement is not recognised.

    I was actually courted by the university to work for them as a lecturer, starting at $50ka year. To me the $50k difference in salary was too big to ignore in the private sector.

    I will head back to academia/research when I have had enough of the private sector and want to relax before I retire. The one thing I miss the most about it is the cruisy and relaxed working atmosphere (when they aren't hounding you for external funding).

    Canadian academia is the same. Big problem with it comes to many degree's. A religious studies professor and a economics professor earn the same pay .. when an econ phd could earn double or tripple outside academia. Sure makes attracting and keeping quality professors difficult.
     
  19. Asch

    Asch Senior member

    Messages:
    1,301
    Joined:
    Feb 13, 2007
    Regarding pay, an economics Ph.D. can also apply for business school jobs, many of which start (at the assistant prof level) at 100K+. And I know many more advanced b-school profs who earn 200-300K+ salary (not counting consulting engagements and other income sources).

    Because of the pay available at b-schools, social science departments (e.g., economics, psychology, sociology) sometimes have a tough time retaining the best young researchers today.
     
  20. Flambeur

    Flambeur Senior member

    Messages:
    5,057
    Joined:
    Mar 19, 2008
    Yeah salary isn't exactly a problem here. Competition to get in is just amazing, but if you're in and make it through the program at one of the good school, you're ok.
     

Share This Page

Styleforum is proudly sponsored by