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《经济学人》:读博是浪费时间?

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Doctoral degrees
博士学位

The disposable academic
学位贬值

Why doing a PhD is often a waste of time
为什么读博通常是浪费时间?

Dec 16th 2010 | from PRINT EDITION

ON THE evening before All Saints’ Day in 1517, Martin Luther nailed 95 theses to the door of a church in Wittenberg. In those days a thesis was simply a position one wanted to argue. Luther, an Augustinian friar, asserted that Christians could not buy their way to heaven. Today a doctoral thesis is both an idea and an account of a period of original research. Writing one is the aim of the hundreds of thousands of students who embark on a doctorate of philosophy (PhD) every year.
1517年的万圣节前夕,马丁路德将批判教会的95条纲论钉到了威登堡一教堂的门上。那时,论文仅作为人们辩论的场所存在。路德,一个奥古斯丁教的传教士,他认为基督徒们不能买断到天堂的路。今天,一篇博士论文是一种想法也是对某一特定时期原创性研究的陈述。完成一篇博士论文是成千上万一届又一届为取得博士学位而奋斗的博士生们的目标所在。

In most countries a PhD is a basic requirement for a career in academia. It is an introduction to the world of independent research—a kind of intellectual masterpiece, created by an apprentice in close collaboration with a supervisor. The requirements to complete one vary enormously between countries, universities and even subjects. Some students will first have to spend two years working on a master’s degree or diploma. Some will receive a stipend; others will pay their own way. Some PhDs involve only research, some require classes and examinations and some require the student to teach undergraduates. A thesis can be dozens of pages in mathematics, or many hundreds in history. As a result, newly minted PhDs can be as young as their early 20s or world-weary forty-somethings.
在大多数国家,取得博士学位是进入学术界的基本条件。博士是独立研究的开始,有点学术著作的意思,通常是在与导师密切合作的基础上完成的。不同的国家、大学甚至是不同的学科,取得博士学位的要求也不尽相同。有些申请者需首先读两年的硕士并取得相应学位或学历。他们中有些在攻读博士学位期间可以获得一定的补助,而有些则完全是自费。有些博士生专门搞研究,而有些则需完成一些课程和考试,还有些需他们给本科生上上课。至于博士论文,数学的需要几十页内容,而历史方面的需要更多。因此,博士毕业有的年轻才20多岁,而有的都到不惑之年了。

One thing many PhD students have in common is dissatisfaction. Some describe their work as “slave labour”. Seven-day weeks, ten-hour days, low pay and uncertain prospects are widespread. You know you are a graduate student, goes one quip, when your office is better decorated than your home and you have a favourite flavour of instant noodle. “It isn’t graduate school itself that is discouraging,” says one student, who confesses to rather enjoying the hunt for free pizza. “What’s discouraging is realising the end point has been yanked out of reach.”
博士生有一个通病:不满足。有些博士认为他们干的是“奴隶们才干的活”:一周工作7天、每天10个小时、低薪以及不确定的未来,这些都很普遍。有这么个讽刺:当你工作的办公室装修的比你家漂亮时,当你端起一碗泡面的时候,你就知道自己是一名博士生了。“其实学校本身并不让人沮丧”,采访中的一个博士这么说道,他坦言宁愿**,而真正让人沮丧的是不知道这样的生活何时才是尽头。

Whining PhD students are nothing new, but there seem to be genuine problems with the system that produces research doctorates (the practical “professional doctorates” in fields such as law, business and medicine have a more obvious value). There is an oversupply of PhDs. Although a doctorate is designed as training for a job in academia, the number of PhD positions is unrelated to the number of job openings. Meanwhile, business leaders complain about shortages of high-level skills, suggesting PhDs are not teaching the right things. The fiercest critics compare research doctorates to Ponzi or pyramid schemes.
这些博士生们牢骚不断也不是什么新鲜事,但培养学术型博士的机制似乎的确出了什么问题(诸如法律、商业和医学等强调实践方面的专业学位博士相比还不错)。尽管培养博士主要是针对学术研究方面的,但有很多博士专业的设置与需求却不一致。同时,企业老板们总是抱怨缺少高层次人才,表明博士期间所学的内容完全不对口嘛。更有甚者,将整个学术型博士的培养机制比作是一个庞兹骗局。

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control [kən'trəul]

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n. 克制,控制,管制,操作装置
vt. 控制

 
stipend ['staipend]

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n. 薪水,定期津贴

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compete [kəm'pi:t]

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vi. 竞争,对抗,比赛

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abruptly [ə'brʌptli]

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adv. 突然地,莽撞地,陡峭地,不连贯地

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enormously

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adv. 巨大地,庞大地;非常地,在极大程度上

 
drift [drift]

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vi. 漂流,漂移,漂泊,吹积,偏离
vt.

 
budget ['bʌdʒit]

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n. 预算
vt. 编预算,为 ... 做预算

 
rare [rɛə]

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adj. 稀罕的,稀薄的,罕见的,珍贵的
ad

 
professional [prə'feʃənl]

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adj. 职业的,专业的,专门的
n. 专业人

 
correspondent [.kɔri'spɔndənt]

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n. 通讯记者,通信者
adj. 与 ...

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