Worldwide scientific cooperations, international meetings, internet-based literature. In today’s world we are deeply interconnected and the leading expert on that obscure method or topic you need to make your proposal truly interdisciplinary is just one email away. After all, global problems require global efforts (and lots of
cheap labor bright and motivated young minds). Fen has a question that naturally follows from the exciting state of the world we live in:
With the globalization of science is it that different to do research in different parts of the world?
Yes. Yes it is.
Research life is not the same in, say, the Berkeley, London or Macau. It’s true that you may find consecutive positions in the four corners of the globe and never change your research topic. Maybe you still work on the same code that you saved on a GitHub repository since your PhD years, visiting all the collaborators you collected along the way. After all, you might tell me, “math is math, satellites are satellites and physics works the same in Berkeley, London and Macau”. To that I answer: “True, but not everybody has a Large Hadron Collider”.
Lab equipment aside, universities and research centers work in a different way in different parts of the world. Do you remember how you struggled with your advisor during the PhD? Or how the HR department at your university seemed to work against you, rather than with you? Do you remember how hard it was to get fundings for your research in the country your PhD was based in? Do you remember how horrible the coffee was at the local cafeteria? Really a bad start to your day, wasn’t it? All this varies a lot among research groups, universities and countries (and I mean an awful lot). Perhaps that one thing you hated during your PhD and almost made you quit research (it was the bad coffee, wasn’t it?) is not a common denominator of academia after all.
And it’s not only work we are talking about here. I hope you are sitting down already, because this next piece of news may come as a shock: not every department has a Friday Beer. I know!! Shocking!!! Social life is not the same in every research group. Although we have to give to Caesar what belongs to Caesar: social life in Earth Science departments usually rocks!
The Sassy Scientist
PS: Man! I want a good cup of coffee now!