I found very interesting to read the list of reasons given by a PhD Student in his/her resignation letter (after four years working towards getting a PhD at EPFL).

The full letter can be read here. Though I don’t agree with all the points s/he makes, I do agree with a few of them. In fact, I dare to say they are well-known, my surprise is that s/he was able to realize this is how academia works so early. It took me quite a few more years to reach the same level of “enlightenment” (and start this “research rants” blog). This doesn’t mean that Academia completely sucks, IMHO the problem is that students enter the PhD with too high expectations so it’s also our task as advisors to make them understand that researchers don’t live in an ideal world but they are part of the real world which basically means that we, as any other “company”, need money to operate (and to get money you need to justify the quality of your work which ends up producing some of the problems the student mentions in the letter).

Like it or not this is how life (including research) works. I just wish the best of luck to this student but I hope s/he doesn’t switch to a private company expecting a better working environment. Believe me I’ve been there and the problems (with co-workers, with “competitors”,…) are similar but the level of nastiness tends to be higher.