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How Safe Are Science Careers For Scientists?

Although much has been written about the difficulties that a new Ph.D. will have in getting into a first job after doing a postdoc, this article is about a different and vastly underdiscussed problem. That problem deals with hazards to the career of a scientist after he or she has been in a career for some time. These hazards often force capable scientists out of science. A scientist who is either in academia or in a research institute that permits investigator-originated research must perpetua

Arthur Sowers

Although much has been written about the difficulties that a new Ph.D. will have in getting into a first job after doing a postdoc, this article is about a different and vastly underdiscussed problem. That problem deals with hazards to the career of a scientist after he or she has been in a career for some time. These hazards often force capable scientists out of science.

A scientist who is either in academia or in a research institute that permits investigator-originated research must perpetually deal with the probability that he or she will have to write at least five to 10 proposals before one of them will get funded (H.G. Mandel, Science, 269:13-4, 1995). To deal with this situation, scientists have had to expend greater amounts of their time on fund-raising and less on science. If any existing funding is interrupted, it usually leads to termination for those...

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