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Is a work/life balance incompatible with becoming an international scientist?

According to experts, in order to become an international scientist, you have to put in 80 hour weeks for a decade. Is becoming an international scientist incompatible with a work/life balance?

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3 Answers

up vote 9 down vote accepted

The question is not pertinent to physics at all and should probably fit in a personal help column.

Compare with this hypothetical question:

According to experts, in order to become an <insert career of choice>, you have to put in 80 hour weeks for a decade. Is becoming an <insert career of choice> incompatible with a work/life balance?

It's only a variation of the more general: "Is it worth it to put in 80 hour weeks for 10 years in order to become successful at work?" which has nothing to do with physics, is subjective and, frankly, not the kind of question we should have here.

Actually I thought that was the original quote, based on a survey of developing expertise in any field. I dont know how it got applied to "international scientist" in particular. –  Roy Simpson Apr 9 '11 at 15:59
+1 I do the same sort of thing: if you could replace "physics" or "physicist" (or in this case "international scientist") with other careers and the question would still be just as valid, I consider it off topic. –  David Z Apr 9 '11 at 23:15
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When I read the title what came to mind was some blog post I read in the last few months. FSP and other bloggers have written about work/life balance issues for early career professors, and about the possibly gender differentiated interpretation of choices that people face in these circumstances.

We do have several career related questions scattered around the site---though it is not clear that we have a consensus about when or even if those are OK:

and also some question concerning the sociology or culture of physics

My take on this particular question is much like Sklivvz: there is nothing physics specific there, but we want to have a set of clearly-articulated, easy-to-understand metrics for telling when career-related or sociological questions are or are not on-topic.

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As long as it's truly specific to a career in physics and not generically applicable to, say, careers in other sciences.. or any career at all .. it can be OK.

It's also important that such questions don't become too dominant on the site; the focus should remain on hard(ish) Physics.

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