Can we reopen this question? Originally it presented some arguments for reducing the number of PhD positions offered, and asked, "What's your opinions about this". It's been edited so it's fairly clear what it's asking (Are my arguments valid, What counter-arguments are there), it hasn't been answered in an especially satisfactory way, and it's a valid (and useful) question. (Although it would benefit if it would be more clear who "we" is in the context of the question.)

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    It still looks pretty opinion/discussion-based to me. There are individual claims that could be countered or investigated, but the question isn't really asking about that, it's asking for an opinion on the synthesis, by my read. The title is also terrible: "Is there any valid reason..."
    – Bryan Krause Mod
    Commented Mar 21, 2019 at 15:25
  • Eh, the title is asking an especially clear and answerable question. What exactly counts as "valid" might be up for discussion, but it asks for any reason. I suspect what you're attributing to the question can be pretty safely attributed to the asker, i.e. they have an agenda and want to know about the synthesis, but the question itself seems fine to me as a question. (Is it really more opinion-based than "How should I deal with discouragement as a graduate student?"? That's the highest rated question on this site.)
    – sgf
    Commented Mar 21, 2019 at 19:17
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    Given that the question is based on a large fallacy (that the number of PhDs awarded should somehow line up with the number of faculty openings), a valid answer to the question is, "Yes, there are valid reasons to not limit the number of PhDs". No, it is still a biased question with answers that are personal opinion.
    – Jon Custer
    Commented Mar 21, 2019 at 20:26
  • @JonCuster So you're saying that the question should stay closed because there's a valid answer to it? Or because the answer is especially obvious? Every question has answers that are personal opinion. But there are (I assume) answers that are not purely opinion. Is there some sort of guideline for when a question counts as "opinion-based"?
    – sgf
    Commented Mar 21, 2019 at 20:37
  • But it is an entirely useless 'valid' answer, since the question is broken to begin with.
    – Jon Custer
    Commented Mar 21, 2019 at 20:41
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    @sgf stackoverflow.blog/2010/09/29/good-subjective-bad-subjective is the canonical reference linked from the help. In general, academia.SE tends to allow subjective questions when the answers are based on personal experience, either in the position of the question-asker or the people they are interacting with (admissions and other committees, journal editors/reviewers, etc). This question doesn't fit those categories.
    – Bryan Krause Mod
    Commented Mar 21, 2019 at 20:42
  • @BryanKrause I'm aware of that. I'm not convinced yet that the question falls into camp subjective to begin with. After all, Jon Custer is convinced that there is an objective answer to it.
    – sgf
    Commented Mar 21, 2019 at 20:44
  • I don't want this to turn into a fight, by the way. It seems to me that the kernel of the question is this: "It is generally understood that many more people go into a PhD with the intention of staying in Academia than actually will be able to. Does this mean that there should be fewer PhD positions." That seems like a legitimate question to me.
    – sgf
    Commented Mar 21, 2019 at 20:50
  • I agree it's a legitimate question, but I don't think it fits the SE format well. The answer will be based on personal opinions and will solicit discussion. There is no reference that will support an opinion either way (except to say someone else shares that opinion).
    – Bryan Krause Mod
    Commented Mar 21, 2019 at 21:00
  • Let’s put it this way - I have a PhD and do not work in academia. My company employs more than 1000 PhDs. I’ve hired dozens of them. The question is bad and simply unfounded.
    – Jon Custer
    Commented Mar 22, 2019 at 2:41
  • @JonCuster Perhaps, but if so, it doesn't follow from what you're saying. Honestly you give the impression you want the question closed because you don't agree with the underlying assumptions, but to me that sounds like a good reason to answer the question, challenging those assumptions, not to close it.
    – sgf
    Commented Mar 22, 2019 at 11:44
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    @sgf - you seem quite passionate about an admittedly flawed question. I suggest that you craft a clear question in line with your interpretation of the question and ask it.
    – Jon Custer
    Commented Mar 22, 2019 at 14:30

1 Answer 1


The linked post isn't a question; it's a persuasive essay. There isn't even much of an attempt to frame it as an objectively addressable question; it's simply an attempt to argue a philosophical viewpoint from one particular angle. While this is a great "letter to the editor" or blog post, I would suggest that this is a perfect example of a question that we aren't looking for on this site.

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