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A question of supply and demand

Fabrice Martin

A paper in Nature magazine tries to reconcile those saying too many PhDs are trained and those complaining about the lack of opportunities for jobseekers.

According to Michael Alvarez, the director of Stanford University's School of Medicine Career Centre (California), the solution is to recognize that "more qualitative factors must be considered". Gaining solid research skills is not anymore a sufficient preparation and "additional insight into how and where scientists can best use their skills is becoming increasingly necessary, along with opportunities to develop adjacent skills that will enable a more practical application of a researcher's training."

Then, the market law will do the rest: already, "smartest trainees are beginning to look for evidence that the PhD or postdoctoral experience offers both excellent research training and career preparation before selecting where to go. And those institutions that adapt to these demands will produce the most capable and competitive scientists of the future."

A question of supply and demand, Michael Alvarez, Nature vol 445, 4 January 2007.