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Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Corruption in Academia

I applied for two academic jobs for which I was clearly qualified. In both cases they were looking for a person with exactly my research/teaching interests. A few words on my qualifications:

  • I've managed to publish 12 papers during my PhD program
  • I have exceptionally high teaching evaluations
  • I have experience developing new courses
  • My adviser is a top 10 professor in my field
School one is a decent school. Well, they didn't even invite me for an interview. The school hired a PhD student of a professor who was a buddy of the school's department chair.

School two is a crappy teaching place. I have better qualifications than most of their existing faculty members. They did invite me for an interview. Immediately, it was clear that they were just wasting my time. The department chair kept saying things like "well, this is going to be a good practice for you in your job search". Guess who they hired? A son of one the school's administrators. Interestingly, one of his sons is already working for the department. Now they hired his second son.

So if you think that academics are not like the evil corporate types, your are being naive. Corruption in academia is even more rampant than in the corporate world. When I see discussions on ethics on our field's mailing list, I just want to tell those hypocrites to shut the fuck up.


  1. This is interesting. Did you apply to Indiana University's Department of Central Eurasian Studies, unquestionably one of the most corrupt departments in the so-called American Academy?

  2. I'm a Ph D candidate at the university of new mexico's center for biomedical engineering and i must say that I am saddened by how much corruption and politics run this center. I cam into graduate school with the desire to become a professor, but after seeing how ruthless and corrupt academia is I can say with certainly that I will not pursue academia any further after I graduate in November.

  3. LOL

    I was looking for articles on the most corrupt subjects in academia, of which I perceive economics to be the most corrupt, and well; at least you're not in that subject of quackademia!! xD

  4. Yep, same shit has happened to me. I applied for a job at a university a European country. I was totally qualified for the job, and they hired somebody who doesn't have half the experience I have in the necessary field. The other person just happened to have the nationality of that country...

    It's all about who you know. It's total bullshit.

  5. >So if you think that academics are not like the evil corporate types, your are being naive. Corruption in academia is even more rampant than in the corporate world.

    I've been saying this for years: most of the anti-corporate, wal-mart-is-evil screeching comes from academics, who treat their subordinates far worse than Wal Mart at al treats the people at the bottom of their respective pyramids.

  6. corruption in the universities of California is sickening: corrupt to the marrow of the bone!!! disgusting,,,, Half of the professors should not work in academia if academia was clean and honest.... amazing that governments do nothing to reform these dens of corruption... shows the worst side of human nature... and public universities are even more corrupt than private ones... and these incompetent and corrupt people get huge salaries of $10,000 per month or more... no less than evil... these academics are quacks and some should be in jail

  7. academia is out of control-biomedical sciences leading the way. It's hard to count how many examples of prosperous students and postdocs doing great work got crushed. Why? Wrong geography of birth. 3rd world imports are not treated as colleagues, rather slaves that should rejoice the chance to earn crazy little money for crazy hours of work invested. Many say to themselves, hang on, it will be over soon and than you'll get to choose...right."famous" professors often lock up results (thesis), refuse to publish over some lame excuse (even trashing people who've done it as discrediting the author if he/she dares to request acknowledgement that rightfully belongs to them. Slandering the weak makes it easy to dismiss their claims and complaints while taking the focus of the community away from actual results. What goes on next is channeling that work into their private-owned companies that further sell results to big pharma or biotec. Government pays for research only to get billed by big pharma resulting in unfavorable changes in the healthcare system. Meanwhile, everyone forgot students and postdocs, their careers or any progress largely depending on published work and recommendation, none of which goes through. There is no legal body to protect from these career killers. Addressing other professors for help is just making it worse, as they are likely to have been doing the exact same thing. Funny how this doesn't apply to famous established researchers that sell themselves as humanitarians. The youngsters are the same and act on the same set of rules. Generally, we stand to witness how promotions go to either their buddy's kids, kid's from powerful families,their own kin or, if the quota is still not filled, a few talented first world kids may get a shot. Foreigners in EU at higher ranking academic positions are marginalized to 10-15%, and EU is mentioned here as one of the striking examples that teaches proudly about it's values, democracy etc. Check out how many immigrants are working in lower positions in academia (Ph.D students and postdocs), and than take a look at their representation in junior or, God forbid, full professor positions. From what I heard and checked out, Austria and Switzerland are a few to start with. Other EU countries are just behind them and US, not biased towards nationality, struggles with racial discrimination and money-buddy corruption. As one colleague said recently:" well the difference btw US and EU is that we have 4-6 week holidays and a year of maternity leave,and THAT makes-up for the fact that I'll end up nowhere while boosting my libido." The joke is on me, I'm a man and will have to cope with that same conclusion while enjoying a two-week annual time off. A word of caution for all Ph.Ds, this is a summary of very bad experiences in academia. There are better and there are worse than these. You have to know this before making the decision to leave your home and invest precious years of your life. Never make decisions out of desperation and never ever go for the "famous" supervisor. Being famous today means breaking all moral rules. Yours is to learn. Choose a "just started" junior PI, it is in his/her interest to publish and they will work with you side by side as papers need to flow. You will also learn how to deal with their stress and frustration, what starting a lab is really like(and if that's really what you want) you will work your arse off but in the end, you will publish and be able to move on. Most importantly, research about the fastest way to resolve your immigration status from employing institution-bound to permanent.