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Half of Academic Scientists Quit After Just Five Years–Here's Why

Academic scientists.

Half of all people pursuing careers as scientists at institutions of higher education drop out of the field after just five years, according to a new study.

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Indiana University researchers estimated that half of all people pursuing STEM careers at higher-education institutions leave the field after only five years.

The research, led by Stasa Milojevic, associate professor at the Indiana University School of Informatics, Computing, and Engineering, tracked more than 100,000 scientific careers over five decades across several fields, including computer science.

Milojevic said long-term career prospects for scientists are not really built into academia, with the enlistment of postdocs rather than graduate students for research now a standard institutional practice.

Adding to faculty attrition is the lucrative attraction of private-sector opportunities.

Milojevic advised students considering graduate programs to "understand the realities in terms of the diminishing prospects for a stable, long-term research career, versus temporary employment opportunities that eventually result in leaving active research."

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