Thursday, 19 March 2009

Research for America

There's an interesting guest-post on Olivia Judson's blog, proposing a formal mechanism for recruiting fixed-term workers for scientific research,
[following the model of] Teach for America, which harnesses the energy of college graduates who are willing to give a little time before moving to the next stage of their careers... Research for America could serve a similar purpose of giving smart young people a chance to see if research is the right career for them, without committing five or more years to getting a postgraduate degree.
The writers have specifically biomedical research in mind, and (obviously) are thinking about the American situation. That said, they have at least addressed what seems to be a general problem with research at the moment: it needs a lot of workers, far more than can go on to full-fledged research careers of their own, so the academic system of apprenticeship-by-research-degree-and-postdoctoral-work strains to accomodate them. As a result we either create expectations that cannot be met, or damage the apprenticeship system for those that still truly need it, or both ...

A different mechanism, of the kind proposed, would seem to meet a need.

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