How many are deserving?
September 5, 2007
YoungFemaleScientist took umbrage at a recent post from YHN in which there was some discussion of the usual postdoc / grad student meme about exploitation within the system. I was pointing out that sometimes postdocs can be a little blind about what it really takes to be a PI. Amidst a rebuttal insisting that, no, she’s really the unique postdoc that “gets it” and is indeed being screwed by the system, YFS notes:
Another great example of the Blame the Victim mentality.
In the best of circumstances, I’d like to think that most of us would be wildly successful.
Throw some roadblocks in the mix, and most of us would quit. And there’s no doubt I have the scientific ability.
Regular readers will note that I follow a theme suggesting that some deserving scientists are being unjustifiably hindered, blocked and dissuaded in the transition to scientific independence. Also that I have some pointed views on how grant review may need to be adjusted to fix the problem. In meatspace discussions anyway, it is fairly common for me to be misunderstood with people thinking I am taking YFS’ position that “most” scientists would be “wildly successful” as PIs. I don’t take this position at all. In fact I think it is still a minority of those that enter grad school that can and should succeed as eventual PIs.
The question is, what fraction? What fraction, say, of postdocs who are interested in an independent career, trying to have an independent career actually deserve an independent career? That, DearReader, is the interesting question. At your level of training / career progression, what fraction of trainees are bozos? What fraction are getting screwed by the system?
Or, do you take the definitional position that those that “make it” are worthy and those that do not were just not up to it?