Post by Old Pif
Comments to some minor points (basically have nothing to do with the
Post by straydog
Well, Yukos (the oil producer) made about $7 billion on exported oil in the last few
years. Not as much as Microsoft, but look where Yukos came from (no infrastructure,
still very young compared to MS, etc.). $ 7 bill is not to be sneezed at.
Yukos had inherited (sealed by the Western standards) infrastructure
of Gasprom - government oil production and exporting company. Then
divide 7 bil by the "last few years" and compare it to the Microsoft
Post by straydog
I think there is a 'comparable' position: the interval between the 'candidate' degree
(which is really less than a PhD [classes but no thesis or dissertation] where one does
actual research and develops a portfolio of about ten papers, then stands before a
committee and takes an oral exam on this research, then is awarded something like a DSc.
I think this is also part of the European system.
Russian (and some other European degrees descended mostly from the
German system) includes three exams: humanitarian (philosophy, economy
and political science in one), foreign language and a specialty. All
the three must be passed before the date of thesis defense, which is
the central point of acquiring, the Candidate degree. The defense is
public and the panel between 10 and 15 experts votes at the end.
Amount of publication sufficient for the degree is not specified and
varies from field to field and from institution to institution -
minimum 3 for postgraduates in universities and up to 10-12 for people
in the research institutes. Two pier reviewers and one pier review
organization that closely evaluate the work are mandatory and present
their reports to the panel. The most important difference with the US
system is that the result of this evaluation is at the final stage
reviewed and approved by a central organization in Moscow, which
supposes to guarantee a uniform quality of all degrees across the
The point, however, was not that. The point is that scientists in
Russia get into permanent employment at the very early stage of their
Well, that is at least partly true. What I have no information about is the ratio of new
jobs to the newly produced PhDs (or whatever you call it) for each year. I know from
anecdotal conversations with a few Russians I had contact with that: i) it was not so
easy to get a job, even there, if you got all of your credentials, and ii) there were a
lot of scientist wives who had PhDs (yes!!) and what were they doing? Being housewives!
I'm sure, if it were possible, they would like to have had a job (but then, someone had
to go running around all day finding out which store had any food left [from my personal
experience, you would be in trouble if you went to the grocery stores late in the
day...maybe a forerunner of the Japanese 'just-in-time' inventory management]).
But, clearly, if they do find a position, then its likely to be permanent for all time
(at least until, for example, the economy collapses). However, I also know that they,
too, had 'temporary' positions and they did not pay as well.
They don't stay in postdoc limbo and then find themselves
Post by Old Pif
unemployable by any organization between two oceans. The scientific
jobs are very poorly paid but if a person is put up consciously with
the more than modest life stile or belongs to a wealthy family he/she
can stay in science up to retirement.
Post by Old Pif Post by straydog
My overall criticism is a little different: I'd call it the 'bureaucratization' of
science that kills it. Now, instead of science, the big institutions are running a
money-grubbing rat race.
This is more than a valid point by all means. The mechanics is very
simple: what is in fact the major difference between large and small
companies? The big corporations are (include university in this
definition) the best and most effective way to keep a profit margin.
Its more than that. The top institutions are all in a kind-of economic war to:
i) grow as much as possible, and ii) improve their ranking in terms of
grant/contracts/gifts compared to others.
Post by Old Pif
In other words it is the most effective way to put into the pocket of
shareholders/owners/boards as much money as possible giving out to
employees as little as possible. As soon as the spending for R&D by
the movements have become a permanent economic phenomenon
organizations that consume the money and benefit from them have
emerged. Very quickly individuals and small companies lost the race
and at the end substantial part of the federal funding now is wasted
(go the pocket of scientific bureaucrats) rather than used for actual
research. The situation on scientific job market is a derivative of
that: an optimum between a necessity to achieve at least something and
maximize the profit margin.
In institutions, the factors of importance are: i) prestige (as measured by endowment,
grant/etc cash flow, size of campus, size of student body, etc., but not quality), and
ii) with increasing _quantities_, the institution passes on _increases_ in salary for
the administrators/bureaucrats/deans/provosts/and all the assistant/vice/associate
deans, and their entourages.
In commercial corporations, what I see is a big disconnect between how the underlings
are paid and what they are expected to do compared to what the executives get paid (vast
increases each year in compensation packages, and less and less accountability, and
less real work).