Ready to give up a science career?

© iStockphoto.com/Alexander Raths

Spending four years or more in a PhD program is enough to make some budding scientists think about other options. A popular one is science communication, Becky Ham writes in a post on "don't get caught." "Why does science writing sound so good?" she asks. "I think it’s because most scientists want to share their research. And new scientists haven’t given up on the idea that they’re allowed to talk to everyone — not just their peers — about what they’re doing."

Nice piece Becky, I can relate. I ran screaming from the lab the day I defended. Literally. And I've been writing about science ever since and loving it. I think that you really picked up on something that I experienced--scientists, and particularly young scientists, don't feel they have a forum (or at least I didn't 10 yrs ago) to discuss their work in a broader, more holistic sense. After 5 years of training in neuroscience, I had a sense that the entire field was working in these very fragmented, isolated niches. I yearned to unite them, and that's more the job of science communicators like us. But I also feel like (at least in neuroscience) I've seen research come around (mature, maybe) to more systems-oriented, holistic questions rather than using tunnel vision to explore molecules in isolation. And media has changed so much that scientists do have those forums now, and people are listening. But one point of disagreement: tweeting breaking research does not a writer make. Practice actual writing.