Medical Biophysics Graduate Student Association


Updates, opinion pieces, and news related to the department

Growing PhDs Like Mushrooms

PhDMushrooms9:30 am.Coffee at hand, ready to face the last day before the long weekend. Opened inbox and among the long list of unread emails, I noticed a new Nature Alert. I subscribed to the weekly alerts about a year ago and most of the times I find it an effective tool to keep myself in the loop... not only in my particular research field of interest, but other science-related fields like Physical Sciences, Earth and Environmental Sciences, Careers & Jobs, etc.

Under the latter section I found an interesting article on the value of a PhD degree. I thought to myself, "ah, they're probably saying that there are too many out there and that they are not worth what they were worth before"... I was right.

But what caught my attention, at a first glance, was the fact that the author compared PhD's to mushrooms: "you can grow PhD's like mushrooms". Granted the author was quoting a doctor researching doctoral-education trends; nonetheless I was intrigued, so I kept reading.

This article basically states what everyone already knows, but it also suggests a couple of solutions that might target the root of the problem: the fact that PhD students are seen as cheap labour by supervisors and as source of governmental income by institutions.

Short and to the point, this article also refers to a couple of articles in Nature's latest issue that analyze the latest PhD trends and suggest further action by the government and the students themselves.

In my opinion, we are only able to sow what we harvest. So even though the number of PhD degrees is proliferating like mushrooms, it is up to us to excel in our fungi world and decidedly become the cream of the mushroom crop.