Friday, September 19, 2014

NSF finds chemist "involuntary out-of-field" rate is 2.0% for 2013

Via H1-b skeptic Norm Matloff's blog*, I see that NSF has reported the rate of all chemistry Ph.D.s that are involuntarily working outside of their field at 2.0% for 2013. This is defined as "Involuntarily-out-of-field rate is the percentage of employed individuals who reported, for their principal job, working in an area not related to the first doctoral degree at least partially because a job in their doctoral degree field was not available."

As far as I'm concerned, this is incredibly low, to the point where I'm rather skeptical. I'd be much more inclined to believe a higher number, but perhaps I'm wrong.

(Also, perhaps it is that Ph.D.s who work outside of their field in chemistry consider themselves 'voluntarily out of field'?)

*I label this not pejoratively, just for those who do not recognize Prof. Matloff. 

10 comments:

  1. The data at http://ncsesdata.nsf.gov/doctoratework/2013/html/SDR2013_DST32_2.html are ludicrous, and not just for PhD chemists, but rather for all fields. For example, look at the numbers for "political scientists" 0% ??

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  2. Is there a "Fed Up, Left Field" category?

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  3. With the huge contraction of Pharma since 2000 and the dearth of jobs for chemists, the figure of 2% is arithmetically impossible.

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  4. I think the key word is "Involuntarily" if people left the field because they threw up their hand and said "F*ck it!" then technically they wouldn't be in that category.

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  5. The number is pure garbage and that's it. There is a significantly higher number of chemistry PhDs working outside of chemistry (like my old man after he bought another business and quit last year) including many from my university. They can argue about semantics of 'voluntary' and 'involuntary', but if they are gathering data, they should be reporting on the pure number of those working outside the field and not engaging in word definitions. Either the question was wrong, or the methodology is suspect. Maybe they have a general definition of STEM (including medicine) as 'the field', and even then I don't believe the 2% number.

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  6. Lies, damn lies and statistics...

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  7. How do you even locate a person who is out of field? Let's suppose I am a fleet sales manager at my local Ford dealership (with a doctorate in chemistry, naturally), how do the bright minds at NSF go about reaching out to me?

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    1. That bothered me as well. A lot of doctoral advisers don't even bother keeping tabs on their former students. (I don't think mine does, and he was a pretty decent guy.)

      Are they drawing from census data perhaps?

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    2. Personally, I think they draw from whatever data that helps them maintain status quo.

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    3. Answered my own question: Nope. It's a survey, and they acknowledge the non-sampling error.

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