Monday, February 15, 2010

a good news/bad news scenario for my readers

the book is coming along.

I started looking into Amazon digital publishing. It's either that or the sort of thing that FSP used. But I like the idea of having a Kindle book.

Have to figure out the legalities of using people's real names in a tell-all memoir. (read: I think I will need a lawyer)

don't know how much more blogging I'll be doing.

please continue sending your questions and comments and I will try to respond. I'll probably still see things on other blogs that inspire me to write here. For a while anyway.

the blog is not going anywhere. but I need to move on. when I can't even read that Dr. Brazen Hussy has job interviews without being jealous of her, or read the kind and encouraging comments from readers who say they hope I will get the job I want, it is time to stop torturing myself.

it's funny because one of the commenters asked why I don't have impostor syndrome about my ability to run a lab, like that was a bad thing. I thought that was weird and backwards.

but the truth is I am tired of living as a closeted blogger. Writing is one of the most rewarding things I do, I need it like air, but nobody knows I do it and nobody here knows this is me.

I kind of have impostor syndrome about being a writer, but it's backwards. It's closet fever.

so in the hopes of getting out of the writing closet, I am working on the book and plotting exit strategies.

thanks for your thoughtful input and continued participation over the years. it has been fun, and enlightening, and I'm pretty sure I wouldn't have made it this far in science without blogging and the support of the blogging community.

unfortunately, it looks like none of the sacrificing has paid off, and tenacity can't fix a certain amount of cumulative career damage.

so here I'll write what I often feel: maybe the most useful thing I've ever done for science was writing this blog.

good luck to you all

- MsPhD

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At 4:54 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Please don't stop blogging! I only just found your blog a few months ago. I wish I had seen it way back in 2005 which is when you started (from looking at the archive dates).

Are you leaving science or just leaving blogging? If you leave, who will tell it like it is amid the stupid crap that gets put out there by those who had an easier time (which is not reflective of real life for the majority of us).

Re your book - good luck with it. I have used and for self-publishing books before (not related to my science, rather related to my hobbies and other scholarly but non-science interests).

At 5:07 PM, Blogger Genomic Repairman said...

Best of luck to you with your future endeavors.

At 6:05 PM, Blogger OverEngineered said...

Good luck with your new project Ms. Phd.

At 7:19 PM, Blogger Dr. Brazen Hussy said...

!!!! Oh dear, I can't bear the thought that I might have contributed to you stopping blogging... I have been meaning to email you, will do so soon...

At 11:31 PM, Anonymous Lou Dobbs said...

Dear YFS,

You will be missed!

Well, look at it this way - there is an exponentially expanding sector of scientifically literate, well trained individuals out there with frustrated careers and wasted scientific ambitions and talents, that result from an unplanned and messy career path. What a market for any book, fiction or non-fiction!

You have indeed done the scientific community a great service, by providing a forum and a voice for those who refuse to equivocate on the fundamental immoralities of our present academic system. I only wish your blog had a citation index.

In the meantime, keep writing, you're a very talented writer. You'd probably be surprised who is reading your stuff.

Also, screw CPP and any other hack with a blame-the-victim mentality who has bought into the system and is encouraging others to do so.

From the bottom of my heart, thank you for your contributions and your writings.

Remember: It's nicer on the outside. It really is.

At 11:34 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Speaking about "naming names", here is a blog from a student who left a lab *5 years into the PhD* and named the blog after his advisor:

At 5:04 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Best of luck with your book and in finding in a new situation.

At 5:51 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Good luck!!!!

At 1:58 PM, Blogger FrauTech said...

I just wanted to say I really enjoy reading your blog. I am on the other side of the table in Corporate America but so much of what you say resonates. I wish you continued success in whatever forum you decide to express yourself.

At 6:24 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Best of luck with your next endeavor, whatever it may be. I found your blog when I was at one of my lowest points during my PhD and it has really helped me through. I can relate to many of your experiences, particularly with regards to awful advisors, and I've appreciated that you have shared!

At 9:46 PM, Anonymous figuring-it-out said...

hi YFS,

very sad to hear that you've decided to stop blogging - i've been a reader since 2006. i'm glad that you've found new direction though and am hoping to do the same for myself ! what's your email again for those of us who want to contact you?

here's to hoping that Lou Dobbs is right and that things are much shinier for you (and the rest of us) on the other side.

At 10:35 PM, Blogger femme de science(s) said...

This may be a stupid question, but by "closeted", you mean anonymous, right? If yes, how are we going to know it's your book, when it comes out, huh?

At 11:03 PM, Anonymous Thinkerbell said...

Good luck! Please do let us know when and where we can read The Book. As far as naming names goes: Just be careful. Might only come back to bite you in the ass.

At 10:58 AM, Blogger Ms.PhD said...

@Anon 11:34, is a fucking brilliant idea! I love it! I totally want to do something like that.

Thanks FrauTech, I know you've been a frequent commenter!

femme de science(s), um, the idea would be to come OUT of the closet in the book.

I'll advertise it here if that comes to fruition - right now the details are fuzzy, lots of decisions to make and I can't say I'm fully educated on all the issues involved.

thinkerbell? what ass? my ass is already grass. I am starting to think now that I might have to cull parts of the blog, although I know it is archived in various places forever.

email is yfsblog at gmail.

At 5:29 PM, Blogger Amanda@Lady Scientist said...

I'm sorry to see you leave blogging, but I'm looking forward to your book. I've lurked here for the past few years and what you've written has been very helpful for me! Thanks for writing about this.

At 6:45 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

This is anon 10:27. i respect your decision. I have also made a small exit recently, as you know. I also tried to remove any trace of myself on the web recently and was nearly in tears looking at myself as an outsider--so much promise, yet, without a sound destination. As much as I tried, I can't remove the scientist in me. This is now almost a month since I started my new position, away from the bench, but I have not stopped thinking about my former life. Rather, I have been critical of the new environment; doing so probably more than I should. It is strange to think that I could just toss it all away like that, but in reality, we can never go back to the way we were. Science has become somewhat of a lifestyle and in my new position, I am constantly aware of this and the attitudes that others harbor toward me. I am working in a non-science, non-PhD environment, so I am seeing things with new eyes in many ways.

I, too, was thinking about a book. But, I don't feel as though enough time has gone by for me; I am considering to return to research. Sometimes we have to see what we may not like to know what we really do like--even with all the not-so-wonderful memories that are attached.

In any case, I and the rest of your readers wish you luck.

At 3:45 AM, Blogger Caro said...

Good luck

At 8:39 AM, Blogger a physicist said...

I only read two blogs: this one and FSP. I hope you keep posting here even no matter what the topic, no matter what the frequency of posting. And I also hope to read your book. I have learned a lot from your blog.

My favorite post: On failure, November 13, 2007. When I first read it, I printed it out just to make sure I'd always have a copy.

At 10:32 AM, Blogger femme de science(s) said...

Yeah I got that, I guess my question was more: will you allow us to link the real you and your book to your currently anonymous blog? (Is my question clearer?)

At 11:03 AM, Blogger Prof-like Substance said...

Congrats Ms.PhD. I really hope you find the job satisfaction that has eluded you recently and that you continue to blog about it. I think it would be tremendously useful and interesting for your readers.

At 11:09 AM, Blogger Ms.PhD said...

Amanda@Lady Scientist, I like your blog. I will try to make a point to visit you there sometimes.

Anon 6:45, Yes, I suspect I will feel differently as time goes on. I still don't like the idea of giving up. But I don't think that my chances are good that a t-t position will fall out of the sky and land in my lap.

I might take a benchwork type position in industry someday if I really find that I miss it too much, but right now I don't miss it that much.

thanks caro

a physicist- thanks! That was a great post, wasn't it? and pretty much sums up my philosophy. you'd think a person who could write a post like that would make a great PI, so how come I can't figure out how to get a job doing something I could be really good at?

and most people just answer by telling it me it takes "luck". i still think that's a cop-out.

femme de science(s), I guess I don't understand what you're asking. I thought I answered it, as much as I have decided right now. Yes, it would all be linked up, at least in theory. I have to finish writing the book first. And there is still that miniscule chance that a job I want will fall from the sky and bonk me on the head.

but I'm not holding my breath.

At 1:04 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

These t-t positions aren't at all the happy-happy-joy-joy experience they are made out to be either, as it turns out.

At 5:29 PM, Anonymous Lou Dobbs said...

To Anon 10:27;

You don't know me, but I do understand the difficulty of making a decision to step away from the bench, as I've done it myself. I don't want to pretend that I understand your situation but I hope ther are some useful parallels. As I've said on this blog, stepping out has been a positive experience for me, but just because you take the scientist out of the lab doesn't mean you ever take the lab out of the scientist. Like me, you'll always want to experiment, explore things in a way that is different from non-scientificaly trained people and you will feel more alone in this regard away from that community.

Many years ago, scientists were not separated from society by institutional PR agencies and policy wonks. We had an active role in society as advocates for what is essentially a belief system; ie., in the value that empirical science offers our civilization as a whole. This was an individual and a personal commitment, as much as a professional one. We stood up against the dumbing down of science and the snake-oil salespeople, and helped to make complicated findings both wondrous and understandable to the rest of the world.

What I hope to do in my present position, although it is not my professional obligation, is to continue that tradition. To advocate for the public understanding of science. As part of that, I see it as important to advocate for a change in how science is presently structured and performed, much like Ms PhD's inspiring example.

This is a challenging and complicated task; to reform scientific labor without challenging or losing the importance of science to our society, while confronting people defending a morally bankrupt system that view us as 'failed postdocs'.

It needs scientifically trained, resolute, intelligent, and dedicated people who are willing to work for little or no recompense, other than the ability to confront dogmas and fail repeatedly in the face of stern and unyielding opposition, until the task is completed.

Fortunately, a government-funded training scheme, deliberately implemented over the last thirty years, has produced a massive pool of such individuals.

Now all these ex-postdocs have to do is organize and get to work.

I sincerely hope that whatever passion you have in science can be diverted to this cause in your new position. Your experience and training places you in a unique position. There is a definite need for these advocates in society at every level; local, state, federal.

There will always be labworkers, on the other hand. Help make the world a better place for them, from the outside, if you have the time, energy and inclination to do so. Perhaps this will be enough to compensate for the loss of bench science. In any case, at some point, even the bench scientists have to move away, into administration, grant-writing, teaching, &c.

Good luck to you, whatever you choose to do, and I hope that things work out.

At 7:02 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Thank you for sharing your challenges, thoughts, and perspectives on your experiences here. You and FSP helped me through the last months of grad school! I'll keep my eyes out for the imminent book. Good luck with the writing!

At 12:44 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

This is truly sad for me to read: I don't want to believe that you'll stop blogging.

I totally understand the closet fever, too. Blogging anonymously can take it's toll. Even though it protects one from certain professional consequences, it also, to some extent, can dehumanize us in the face of our readers (but, then again, most internet interactions kinda do that, too).

Best of luck with your book and other future endeavors. I have really enjoyed reading your thoughts over the years, as well as felt your pain as a postdoc. Your blog was one of the first I ever found on the postdoc experience in biomedical research, and it informed me quite a lot. Thank you.

At 6:38 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Good luck to you! I'm glad you're writing, and thanks for writing here. Hearing about your struggles has made mine more bearable. I'm a postdoc in the semisoft sciences and this year has shown me that an R1-oriented career is not for me. Thankfully I'd be happy doing mainly/only teaching, so I *think* I have some options. A lot of my diehard science friends--determined hard workers, extremely focused, putting everything they have into their work--are finding that their considerable technical skills and pubs are not enough to get a job. The jobs aren't there. For the most part these friends seem to be relieved that they get longer and longer postdocs. I feel like they're suckers, frantically churning in a broken system depends on their labor but does little to advance them. However, I'm still not over the guilt and shame of leaving (e.g., maybe I am leaving because I can't cut it, I am anti-intellectual, etc.). We have invested a lot in this by now.

It will be interesting to see how this job market sitch turns out--whether it's temporary or symptomatic of a larger trend (fewer and fewer jobs, explosion of qualified applicants, you know). I am happy when this problem gets attention anywhere...

Good luck!! Thanks again :)

At 10:08 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Lou Dobbs:

Your writing is so awesome -- clear, articulate, and insightful. Like breathing clean air amongst all the smog out there. Just thought I'd let you know this.

At 10:46 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Dear Ms. PhD,
Thanks for your blog. It is the only bookmark I have in firefox! As a PhD student wrapping up my degree and thinking of going into a postdoc, your blog has been great to see what a hell of a world I could be entering. You open the eyes of people like me of the reality out there lurking in the shadows. I beg that you reconsider and keep the postdoc and blog going longer! But I guess nothing lasts forever.

best of luck.

At 5:47 PM, Anonymous Lou Dobbs said...

To Anon 10:08:

Thank you! I'll be here all week. Don't forget to tip your waitresses. :)

Personally I think Ms PhD is better, in terms of prose and conviction; it's hard to write constructively about problems when you're in a place of continual frustration. She's done an admirable job in this; proposing solutions, providing useful advice, and (more importantly) definding her concept of what an independent young scientist should be.

I'm taking the cop-out route, lurking and posting anonymously on blogs. While I do enjoy the opportunity to vent my frustrations and difficulties, I don't think I could argue my point as forcefully, for years, as Ms PhD has done.

So, respect where it's due, as I'm sure you'd agree. :)

At 3:28 PM, Blogger R.ValĂ©ria said...

YFS I hope that you have chosen the best for you! You deserve it! Thanks for all fun you put in my academic way of life!
Good luck!

At 1:30 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

YFS, your blog is really an outstanding piece of writing, I am looking forward to the book!

At 7:57 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

This is a milestone in your career/life, MsPhD, and thank you for sharing it with us!! I look forward to your book. I am sure that you are now going to go on to be ten times as successful as the jerks in your old horrible lab. They can remain stuck in their weird little universe, while you return to the rest of the real world.

At 5:24 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Best of luck with your future endeavours.

Your Blog was a good company, it was good to know I was not the only one with a shithead supervisor. I know this sounds terrible :P but it's true, knowing others have similar experiences helps you detach sentimentally from the situation and work out a solution.

It felt comforting to see other people express their concerns. In modern day academia everyone seems too willing to but-kiss the more senior and no-one steps up for anything. Without no-one confronting sick attitudes, they get even worse.

Reading your blog helped me to dump an ex-supervisor for my PhD and report him at the Uni. He got trouble for his attitude, not what he deserved, but I still was happy to see him on the defensive and watching him give the graduate office staff a good laugh with his (totally) pathetic excuses.

It also helped me reject the idea of doing a postdoc. I'm finishing up my PhD with a good (new!) supervisor, a quite good publication record and at a top Uni. Going into industry felt like throwing away years of effort, then I realized that yet another Nazi PI would make me again so miserable that I'd rather make some money for my self than be a slave. I don't expect industry to be better than academia but it pays better. It's more like Industry has a couple of merits, while academia has lost its merits like freedom of expression, reward intelligence (now its reward ass kissing :P)

Well not quite a woman, rather the other genre, I understand your blog was more focused on the shit in academia from a female perspective but, if it feels comforting, men also get plenty of that as well. I had discriminations against me on a race basis, didn't feel good either.

TLDR: best of luck with your life, screw academia and its nepotism.


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