On the bottom of page 43 of the newly-released Igniting Potential document (PDF file) outlining the National government R&D initiative is this interesting graphic:

(Source: Igniting Potential, p43; MoRST.)

(Source: Igniting Potential, p43; MoRST.)

What I find interesting are the ’sidetracks’ from ‘permanent research staff’, what this might imply, and the lack of paths from the non-research and non-academic sectors back the other way.

Does our tendency to import new research staff from overseas (not shown; see page 44 of Igniting Potential) reflect a flow-through effect reflecting poor retention of staff within the country and why?

Should the lack of flow from non-university research or business back into academia be a concern?* (Perhaps this reflects a catch-22 requirement of academic publications that blocks otherwise talented people from (re-)entry? What about the re-establishment of staff after maternity leave?)

Share your thoughts.


*I have suggested the establishment of a ’re-entry’ fellowship to FRST (or was it MoRST or one of the other organisations?!), but got no response.

*** UPDATE ***

Please note the data have been corrected by MoRST in a comment received a short time ago (5:50pm, 13 May 2010). I have copied the entire comment immediately below. The broad nature of the graph remains similar after the correction, but the figures involved are revised.

Ministry of Research, Science and Technology

Please note that an error has been made in the description of this diagram. It is entitled ‘Career pathways for New Zealand science PhD students’, but what the diagram shows is all 14,148 PhDs employed in New Zealand* — not just those with science PhDs. This diagram also excludes the 2,619 PhDs not in the labour force, about 15.6% of the total PhDs in New Zealand.

Also note that this diagram does not show all movements within the workforce, such as career breaks or people with PhDs returning to research after pursuing another career.

Below is a breakdown of the employment of science-related** PhDs. An amended diagram showing these is available from the Ministry of Research, Science and Technology. However, the picture of New Zealand science careers shown in this diagram is similar to the diagram in Igniting Potential.

Total science-related* PhDs: 11,505

Careers outside science or not in the labour force: 7,914 (68.8%)

Careers inside science: 3,591 (31.2%)

Non-university research staff: 1,665 (14.5%)

University research staff: 1,926 (16.7%)

University professors, estimate: 202 (1.76%)

* All data from 2006

** Includes natural and physical sciences; information technology; engineering and related technologies; architecture and building; agriculture, environmental and related studies; health. Excludes areas such as society and culture; education.

A permanent copy of the corrected graphic is available at the MoRST website.

Other articles on Code for life:

Scientists’ other lives

Career ruminations

More inclusive re-entry to encourage departure to businesses?

Study of where academic careers lead

Advice for students heading to university