Friday, October 08, 2010

Everybody's Working for the Weekend

It's Thanksgiving Weekend in Canada. Despite the holiday, many people will still make their way into the lab to get some work done, whether it's big experiments or simply maintaining cell cultures. The rest will be travelling to visit family or otherwise enjoying some well earned time off, right? Or maybe they just lack passion. That's what Dr. Scott Kern of the Johns Hopkins Medical Institute thinks.

In a recent editorial in Cancer Biology and Therapy, Dr. Kern takes a swipe at cancer researchers' lack of passion. Their "country-club mentality". Their desire for a life outside the lab.
During the survey period, off-site laypersons offer comments on my observations. “Don’t the people with families have a right to a career in cancer research also?” I choose not to answer. How would I? Do the patients have a duty to provide this “right”, perhaps by entering suspended animation? [...] Should I note that productive scientists with adorable family lives may have “earned” their positions rather than acquiring them as a “right”? Which of the other professions can adopt a country-club mentality, restricting their activities largely to a 35–40 hour week?
Read the whole thing if you don't mind being irritated.

Or just skip that part and read one of the many great responses by the likes of Isis the Scientist, Mike the Mad Biologist (here also), Drugmonkey, Scicurious, and Janet Stemwedel (and here).

Or just skip it all, and just watch this video:


Anonymous Coward said...

This is hitting close to home. It's been conveyed quite clearly to me in my new lab that we are expected to work minimum 12h days and that weekend and holidays are for "regular" people. And this situation seems to generalize to everybody in that institution. Now I'm not sure if this is typical for America, or if it seems a tad excessive because it contrasts so much with my prior lab environment in Canada, but it doesn't seem sustainable. I love science but I don't know how long I'll be able to last, especially considering we're underpaid and face poor job prospects as post-docs. Then how could we possibly attract the best minds with those conditions, and does it truly lead to higher productivity?

Kamel said...

Where's your passion, AC?!

At least suffering now, it seems you'll later be allowed to just roam the halls and annoy the people there as the basis for clueless editorials.

As for your question about productivity, there's this, which reviews the history of that sort of research.

Anonymous Coward said...

That's a really cool link.