Researchers customarily are obsessed with what they do. By definition, this is to the detriment of other aspects of their lives.

One activity that is grossly undervalued is career planning. A number of factors contribute: the short-term nature of science funding, the often reliable nature of that funding, a misplaced sense of entitlement (some researchers seem to feel that they are inherently deserving of the public largesse), and a research culture that is not especially materialistic.

Unfortunately, over the next few years this cavalier attitude will take a toll on the research community. Hundreds of excellent scientists will lose their livelihood. Full stop. No lab, no income, and no immediate prospects. All because they've neglected to make a proper career plan.

Dropouts from research fall into three categories. First, there's the natural attrition of the frankly lackluster, who vanish...

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