Wednesday, January 8, 2014

The three fates of researchers

Today, I read a shocking blog written by an anonymous Japan researcher.

He told that he graduated an extremely famous university (maybe Tokyo University) where he got the doctoral degree. He wrote some research articles which were published in a leading journal. He said that he identified himself as a distinguished man and convinced that he would achieve an honorable result in the future.

However, after he went to the US for further opportunity, his way of success became darkened.

He could not perform any decisive outcomes in his research in the first lab he belonged. He was fired after a few years. He thought that it was a fault of his boss who had failed to offer him much financial aid.

After that, he went through several labs in the US. But there was no fruit with all of his effort. His salary was approximately $30,000 in a year. In Japan, this amount of income is deemed as a kind of "working poor". He felt so shameful.

One day, he met his old friend in the US. He was invited to the man working at a company. He was so astonished to know his friend was far much successful than him. He was extremely disappointed to the fact that he was overcome by a man he had despised in the past.

Although I do not know whether it is real episode, I think that this is a realistic story of a defeated researcher.

Every researcher has three fates, or pitfalls.

First, everyone who is willing to be a researcher must be a genius. In college life, no one is doubtful about promised success in the future. However, it must be recognized that there are enormous competitors about your research theme all over the world. If you belong in the top 1% of the people, there are 3 million of similar superhuman in the US.

Second, research somewhat resembles a gold mining, or so called a gamble. Even if you make a great effort in addition to your own brilliant talent, whether you will success or not is determined by the Goddess of Luck.

And third, researchers are usually specialists. Once your research theme is proven to be useless, immediately you will lose the post. Some researchers are multi talented, but they cannot match to specialists.

Considering these factors, the way of researcher is quite tough. Also in Japan, there are lots of researchers who are seeking a post. Most of them cannot earn $300 in a year.

I am a researcher, perhaps less talented than him. I am thankful that I can continue my job for a while.

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