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I was wondering whether we should allow questions about academics searching for industry positions. This question on jobs outside of academia was closed, based on our brand-new FAQ, but I thought the question was a good one. Do we want to allow those sorts of questions here? This would include questions about...

  • Which industries may be a good match for a particular field of researchers
  • Networking with industry while in academia
  • Any questions from non-research master's students

I personally (and quite biased-ly) feel that this is relevant to academicians, as the move from research to industry is quite common, and it is something many academicians will want to know about. What's your thoughts?

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I think we should allow these questions, as long as there's a particular link to academia in the question. This site is about academia, not people with advanced degrees.

But there are definitely some questions I can see being appropriate to this site that serve as examples as to why I don't think there should just be a blanket ban.

  • Dealing with, or working in, areas of academia with a heavy industry focus - engineering, pharmaceuticals, etc.
  • Transitioning to and from academia and industry. Are there ways to do research outside the "Ivory Tower"? How do Business-Academia partnerships work? Once I leave academia, can I come back? What's the environment like at research companies - or government labs, compared to universities.

Those are just two that popped to mind. I think since academia can lead into industry, and isn't solely devoted to the perpetuation of itself, questions about the interaction between the two can work on this site, as long as its not just a job question where the OP happens to have a Masters.

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I think there is a thin line between academia and industry, and in general, I wouldn't exclude questions concerning industry that are related to research (after all, the New Oxford American definition of academia is "the environment or community concerned with the pursuit of research, education, and scholarship", so I would say that somehow, a company like Microsoft Research could fit in).

That being said, it's clearly not a forum where one could ask for particular advices, and I think the rule that there should be no "question about me" but only "question for people like me" should also apply in this case. In other words, if someone asks what companies are active in research in a given field, I don't see any problem. But I think questions like "I've done a Master in X, where can I go find a job?" should closed as off-topic. So, in your bullet list, I wouldn't have any problems with the first two, and be careful about the last one.

As for the question you mention, I think the question was wrongly formulated, there was not enough context given, in particular what kind of jobs was the OP looking for. And the question of the edge form computational astrophysics over analytical/observational astrophysics was a bit too localized without any further explanation.

  • Yeah, your position and EpiGrad's more or less express my opinions on this. No need for me to chime in a "me, too" answer. – aeismail Feb 29 '12 at 13:44
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Certainly not. There's a risk as it is that there are several posters treating this site as a careers advice forum. That's only slightly mitigated by the fact that they're asking about academic careers.

Whereas the post in question, was seeking careers advice for a future career outside academia.

This question should be downvoted and closed.

Indeed, all careers-advice questions should be closed, whether about careers in or out of academia, as off-topic.

This is not a forum; nor should it be a careers advice centre.

There may be questions related to careers in academia which would fit under the usual StackExchange remit: that is, questions to which there are factual objective answers, that are of interest to the broader internet, and not localised to a specific place, specific time, or specific narrow readership.

But the example given is not such a question.

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    I disagree! Knowing answers to the first two example questions is part of my job as a professor. As part of my professional academic duties, I advise students on how to hunt for research jobs, both in academia proper and in industry. A significant fraction of my research colleagues and former students work in industry; they are non-academics only in the most pedantic sense of the word. – JeffE Mar 8 '12 at 18:08

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