Monday, August 30, 2010

People Who Do Research

We present a novel excuse for the relatively ...oops, sorry. Wrong writing style :-p. Let us start again.

Let us first explain why we could not post for some time. We heard a lot of bad news over the last couple of weeks. Quite a few of our friends (who do research) lost their jobs during that time. They say the reason given to them was the lack of money to pay them. With so many of them without jobs, finding a job is even harder. One of our friends, with a PhD, ended up working part time in a gasoline station(we are not making this up).

Having heard all the bad news, we stopped everything else and held tight to our job until our toenails grew very long. Now we are using them to claw on to our job, even as we write this post.

In this post, I will briefly introduce the different types of people you meet in the research community. So, you are going to find out whom we are going to make fun of.

1. The enthusiastic:
Undergrad students who do their first research projects, and interns who come to work in a research lab.

2. The lazy and underpaid:
Graduate students (masters and PhD) fall in to this category. Some of them actually feed a family with a stipend lower than unemployment benefits in their countries (this is true for the USA). There is a lot more to write about them, but for now we will just tell you the one question you should never ask them. Never ask a grad student "when will you graduate?"

PhD Comics (http://www.phdcomics.com) will tell you a lot more about these people.

3. The bitter:
Postdoctoral researchers and junior researchers are here. They are happy for a few months after getting the PhD. But as the glory fades away, they see the reality. They have lower pay than the rest of their age group. They have to publish boring articles in passive voice, at a faster rate, to keep their jobs. And the only people who help them are the lazy ones above. So they work hard and keep feeling bitter until they finally creep in to the next level.

4. The pseudo-gods
senior professors and senior researchers are here. The undergrads, interns and most grad students think their supervisors are like gods. But the real gods (explained later in the post) are actually above the pseudo gods. They just cover up the presence of real gods.

The pseudo-gods are know for weird habits such as forgetting appointments, making several appointments for a given time slot, etc. The most annoying habit, in my opinion, is asking a student or intern to describe something and falling asleep right in the middle of it.

5. The real gods:
The real gods in research are the officials of funding agencies, and administrators of universities. They scare the hell out of the fake gods, and even enjoy doing so. However, the real gods rarely appear in front of the enthusiastic and the underpaid beings, so they might not be aware of the existence of the real gods.

6. The media:
While they are not involved all the time, the media sometimes does work with our community. They occasionally visit research labs, talk with researchers, blow up whatever they could understand, and publish it for the benefit (?) of everyone.

Example: sentence in research paper:

"The probability of abortion among mothers who ate selected Soy Bean products regularly during this study was 1% higher than those who did not"

Title of the news paper article:
"Soy Beans are Evil, And They Are Here to Get You!"

So much for today. In later posts, we will write more details about these people.

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