reponse to comment on last post
Dear person who wrote as "lou dobbs" (pretty sure that's not your real name, but if it is, boy that sucks),
I know what you mean. But. I have no intention of hiring cheap, international postdocs just so I can, how did you put it, chain them to the bench? HIre and fire? Ruin lives? That's not me, and I will do everything in my power not to let it be.
I'm already the corporate psychopath, as you put it, in the sense that there is a significant split here with blogging and my daily life. I am both very devoted to mentoring and very devoted to actually getting science done.
I find I am in the minority in more ways than one.
I'm not the sort of person who is going to burn out my students so I can profit off their labor. Besides, I wouldn't want students who are obedient to the point of self-destruction. The smart ones never are. Call me a crazy optimist, but I think when you find good students and encourage them to be creative, they will be motivated.
If I were running a lab, I would keep it small but with the aim of high productivity per person. I liked the way Janelia Farm talked about it when they first started (although I don't know if they have actually stuck to their original plan of capping the size of labs, or how that is really going).
Of course, those people don't have to compete for NIH funding the way everyone else does. NIH caps the size of labs, too, actually, but for whatever reason they don't care if folks out in the rest of the country want to have a 30+ person factory. I don't understand why it would be so bad to cap it everywhere, for everyone.
I know plenty of people who feel like you do. They quit science for exactly that reason. Nobody IN science (or at NIH) seems to consider the possibility that Americans are quitting science, not because of the low pay, or the lack of job security, or the difficulty of having a family, or the geographical restrictions, or any of the other practical reasons, but because they have a CONSCIENCE.
And I absolutely agree with you that we need to track where postdocs end up. I have been saying this for years. For that matter, most grad schools don't track past "our students get postdoc positions". Puh-leeze. Of course they do. That is nothing to brag about.
The numbers I've seen are pretty dismal. Nobody tells you, when you are an undergrad thinking about going to grad school, that less than 10% of PhDs will get research university faculty positions. They all act like, "When you grow up, you can have your own lab!" hahahaha.