Elite Engineer

My job is more marketing than science...what to do?

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So I'm a research scientist  for a small diagnostic company. Been working for the last 2.5 years. When I first started, I wasn't crazy about it(reasons listed below), but I waited till I moved up in my lab,

hoping I'd have a new experience. Turns out, no. The lab I work in does very minimal science, and more of "product development", which involves slapping together a half-assed product that's already on

the market with "XYZ" modification that company A doesn't have. The majority of my work is based around market strategy in product design, and very little investigative science. This company 

 has the scientists acting as regulatory, marketing and part-time scientists. I was hoping to work in a lab environment similar to that of an academic lab where there's actual research. I've looked for such

jobs, but they all pay as much as 15-20% less than what I'm currently earning. 

 

Is this a common theme in the science industry? Have any of you guys had a similar experience? Am I doomed to the same fate where ever I go? 

 

~ee

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It's my impression that most scientists do not work as scientists, if by scientist one means a research scientist engaged in front line research. So I doubt your experience is that unusual. IF you are that unhappy, take the pay cut, but don't be surprised if it turns out to be equally disappointing. (Here's hoping someone comes in with a more uplifting and practical approach.)

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There s a theory which states that all jobs are ****, that's why you get paid to do them.

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7 hours ago, John Cuthber said:

There s a theory which states that all jobs are ****, that's why you get paid to do them.

How do you like your job? You're a PhD correct? Academia or private sector?

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If you want to have dream work, make your own company...

 

If you want to have dream Universe, make your own Universe.. or not.. ;)

because you will have to destroy it, if it's not meeting your quality criterion.. ;)

ps. Actually I feel your pain. Tell your's boss that you want to research! And immediately start searching new job, just in case..

 

 

Edited by Sensei

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54 minutes ago, Elite Engineer said:

How do you like your job? You're a PhD correct? Academia or private sector?

Just a degree, and I work in the civil service.
Bit's of the job a re good; bits suck.

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I have friends and colleagues working in various biotech and pharma companies. Almost none are doing significant proportions of fundamental research. At most, there is product/process development  and optimization. The reason is rather trivial, actual research is expensive with no guarantee of a return. Sometimes they get to a point where they hit a place where they think it could help them to do some more academic-like research. That type of research is typically outsourced to specialized labs and academic groups. 

Rather obviously, the goal is to generate profit and any research will have to be very applied to be useful to that goal. Also note that in academia there is not a lot of space for full-time bench scientists. Most of the bench work is conducted by students (i.e. transient workers) whereas the PI (if successful) can be less and less involved in the actual science but becomes more of managerial role (to various degrees, typically dependent on funding). 

The only job that could fit the bill would be technicians, but everyone below a PhD is not necessarily expected to have a self-directed project.

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11 minutes ago, CharonY said:

I have friends and colleagues working in various biotech and pharma companies. Almost none are doing significant proportions of fundamental research. At most, there is product/process development  and optimization. The reason is rather trivial, actual research is expensive with no guarantee of a return. Sometimes they get to a point where they hit a place where they think it could help them to do some more academic-like research. That type of research is typically outsourced to specialized labs and academic groups. 

Rather obviously, the goal is to generate profit and any research will have to be very applied to be useful to that goal. Also note that in academia there is not a lot of space for full-time bench scientists. Most of the bench work is conducted by students (i.e. transient workers) whereas the PI (if successful) can be less and less involved in the actual science but becomes more of managerial role (to various degrees, typically dependent on funding). 

The only job that could fit the bill would be technicians, but everyone below a PhD is not necessarily expected to have a self-directed project.

Would you say the purest research one might do is during an MSc/PhD? But the only trouble is you don't get paid.

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You generally do get paid (at least in natural sciences). However, MSc and PhD is essentially training. While your work contributes to research, typically it is a bumbling process in which you slowly learn how to do things (and perhaps more importantly, how not to do things). Typically only at the end or in retrospect do they get a real grasp at what they are doing (and quire a few not to a satisfying degree). That being said, there are rare exceptions who kind of do some level of self-directed research (typically by getting really knowledgeable in a small area) so that they can use the last bits of their PhD to do actual research.

In the end it really depends on where you are. In some labs you are cheap labor where you just work your way through existing pipelines. These are typically good for building careers as you can get a decent output. In others you may be more or less independent but for the vast majority of students  it means dealing with a string of failures combined with a slow learning process. However, the rare few come out of it with quite a decent set of problem solving skills. Though their CV may look less impressive. Even as a postdoc that issue crops up.

As whole, the image of a researcher as someone who ponders about problems and solves them is mostly a myth. There is a short, transient phase when your skills are actually adequate to do it and you actually got time allows to do it. But rather quickly your career dictates a different direction. The  rare exception to this in my mind are permanent research scientist positions, which are quite rare (but you can find them in some larger institutions and at the NIH, for example). It is a pity that the middle layer in academic research is so thing, as I do think that it would alleviate a lot of limitations in academic research. But that is probably going far too off-topic already.

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19 minutes ago, CharonY said:

You generally do get paid (at least in natural sciences). However, MSc and PhD is essentially training. While your work contributes to research, typically it is a bumbling process in which you slowly learn how to do things (and perhaps more importantly, how not to do things). Typically only at the end or in retrospect do they get a real grasp at what they are doing (and quire a few not to a satisfying degree). That being said, there are rare exceptions who kind of do some level of self-directed research (typically by getting really knowledgeable in a small area) so that they can use the last bits of their PhD to do actual research.

In the end it really depends on where you are. In some labs you are cheap labor where you just work your way through existing pipelines. These are typically good for building careers as you can get a decent output. In others you may be more or less independent but for the vast majority of students  it means dealing with a string of failures combined with a slow learning process. However, the rare few come out of it with quite a decent set of problem solving skills. Though their CV may look less impressive. Even as a postdoc that issue crops up.

As whole, the image of a researcher as someone who ponders about problems and solves them is mostly a myth. There is a short, transient phase when your skills are actually adequate to do it and you actually got time allows to do it. But rather quickly your career dictates a different direction. The  rare exception to this in my mind are permanent research scientist positions, which are quite rare (but you can find them in some larger institutions and at the NIH, for example). It is a pity that the middle layer in academic research is so thing, as I do think that it would alleviate a lot of limitations in academic research. But that is probably going far too off-topic already.

Cheers. 

Upon giving you a rep it is green and zero. Never seen one of those before.

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4 hours ago, StringJunky said:

Upon giving you a rep it is green and zero. Never seen one of those before.

What you may have given is the cross section of a cucumber. Since Charon-Y is a biologist that seems appropriate.

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13 minutes ago, Area54 said:

What you may have given is the cross section of a cucumber. Since Charon-Y is a biologist that seems appropriate.

His has turned into 1 now but yours is a cucumber. :) 

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