Postdocs are the slaves of the modern ‘Science Plantations’. If you look carefully, some cases of horrible treatments of the postdocs may just qualify to be the cases of human trafficking. Strong horrifying words? You betcha!
There used to be a time when postdoc-ing was done only to finish an unfinished business of a project or to get highly desirable additional training to conduct independent research. Not anymore!
Postdocs are the workhorses of the modern labs. Given a choice, a scientist with his own lab will hire a postdoc rather than a technician. Why? Read the first line- a postdoc is a virtual slave.
- A technician will work 8 to 5; a postdoc will practically live in the lab.
- A technician has a life outside the lab; a postdoc has never seen life, neither here nor in his own country.
- A technician’s rights are protected by the institution and government’s labor laws; who gives a fuck to the postdoc?
- A technician will do research only if you have a brain to tell him what to do; a postdoc will bust his ass to find a new project even if you are a dud.
- A technician observes weekends and holidays; a postdoc will be tormented by the guilt of holidays.
- You tell a technician about the virtues of scientific tempo and most likely he will give you the middle finger; you can make the postdoc cry in shame by telling him that he is not up to the snuff.
- You ask a technician to work harder and you will see the bird flipped up again; a postdoc will kowtow to you because you got the power of writing the reference letter for him.
- You cannot threaten a technician about the pending immigration visa; you can manipulate the postdoc’s entire life by dangling the visa/immigration/green card in front.
- You have to pay a technician a salary that is defined by the institution/labor law; you pay what you think is ‘commensurate with experience’ to the postdoc, and if you are a real asshole, you can make the postdoc even work for free in your lab as a volunteer.
- A technician will only do what a job description is; you can make postdoc do any dirty job in the lab or, if you are a scum bag, even your dirty laundry at home.
- You cannot easily find a good technician who can do the job right; you can find hundreds of mail-order postdocs simply by placing a 10 dollar advertisement in Science magazine.
So, what do you want? A technician or a postdoc?