Value of a Ph.Ds.

Subject: Value of a Ph.Ds.
From: MSTSACX -at- GSUVM1 -dot- BITNET
Date: Sun, 31 Oct 1993 19:12:24 EST

Happy Halloween!

I was out of town during the discussion about the value of Ph.D.s in
technical communication. A professor of mine proposed a structure for
explaining the value of various academic degrees:

o A bachelor's degree prepares you to practice in the field
o A master's degree prepares you to manage
o A Ph.D. prepares you to consult

Some of you might disagree with this approach but it works well for me
and perhaps for some other readeres of this list.

A Ph.D. is a research degree--whether you intend to perform academic
research to build the body of theory in the field or whether you intend to
research complex problems in organizations to propose solutions. If you
have no interest in either type of research, then you're not really
interested in a Ph.D. A second master's degree might be more appropriate.

What can a Ph.D. buy you? Many larger corporations hire Ph.Ds. to handle
consulting-types of jobs, whether they be advising internal groups about their
strategies towards documentation or consulting with external clients on
similar issues. To succeed in this type of situation, the Ph.D. needs a
strong sense of business, because recommendations must be sound ones for the
business organization being advised. In these roles, Ph.D.s generally
can earn more than people without them. In many instances, the Ph.D. is
a necessary credential to be accepted in a consulting role.

Many Ph.D.s work in industry in other types of roles. Some managers are
reluctant to hire Ph.D.s because the managers fear that the Ph.D.s might
not be challenged by the work and various types of problems would ensue.
Other business people perceive people Ph.D.s to be "ivory tower" and any
recommendation they make--no matter how sound--to be unrealistic. A
proven track record of success is one of the few ways around this barrier.
Ph.D.s in these situations generally do not have an earnings advantage.

A Ph.D. also prepares you for an academic position. Despite the claims of
the 20-hour work week, most academics have challenging jobs. The first
few years are the toughest because the academics are trying to earn
tenure. This means the new person needs to establish a research agenda,
complete some studies, publish and develop a reputation that enhances the
reputation of the school--all the while succeeding at teaching students.
Tenure isn't an easy thing to get. Salaries are generally lower in academia
than in industry. But many salaries are based on a 9- or 10-month contract
and the professor can choose to augment the salary with consulting and
contract work. The need to publish, however, limits professor's availability
to handle contracting work because time spent on consulting jobs is time
that is not available to research and publish.

About the 20-hour work week: Michael Gos, you should be embarrassed to
be making such statements publicly. Many of your students and
former students are working in companies where they are working
well over 40 hours a week to make ends meet in these days of downsizing.
Many of your colleagues are working long hours--sometimes being interrupted
during evenings and weekends to help students. Your defense of your
limited workload is, at the least, insensitive to these people.

If your real meaning is that you only have 20 hours of formal
responsibility and that the rest of the time, you have the freedom
to explore knowledge that you love--something you love so much that
it doesn't seem like work--then please say it that way. Otherwise,
most of us seem to assume you spend the rest of the week on the beach.
In that case, you have a part-time job and it's no wonder you make a
part-time salary.

Saul Carliner Ph.D. Student
Instructional Technology Geo. State Univ.
Note new userid----> mstsacx -at- gsuvm1 -dot- gsu -dot- edu 404/892-3945

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