A peculiarity of science as a profession is that the formal qualifications of a first degree and a Ph.D., although they are hurdles to be jumped, do not in any way guarantee a future career. In this respect it is quite different from traditional professions such as law, medicine, or accountancy, where the possession of the qualifications will virtually guarantee some sort of employment in the future. Science is not like a traditional profession at all. It is more like acting, with its emphasis on individual virtuosity, the overriding importance of public popularity, and the high drop-out rate. In the early years, the positions are all temporary, usually for a maximum of three years. Because of the relatively large amounts of grant money in the system, there are many temporary graduate and postdoctoral assistantships available. But few people from this stage manage to make it to one of the coveted positions permitting scientific independence, meaning the possibility of choosing your own problems to work on and having a lab under your own authority. Even better is to have tenure, which means you are not only independent but also have a permanent job, even if it is not quite as permanent as it used to be. The main routes through the system are depicted in Fig 6.1, which shows the positions generally found in the United Kingdom. The U.S. system differs in detail but not in general conception.
KeywordsCoherence Tral Sonal Stake Exter
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