Hello there bloggies!

Deciding whether to accept my current position in industry was not easy. One of my major concerns was simple.

Control. 

Would I be able to choose what I’d work on? Or would some faceless panel dictate my experiments and analyses?

Now after two months on the job, I can say that there is no dictator that forces you to run certain experiments. Instead, leadership sets overall goals involving certain therapeutic and treatment areas. They then expect the experts…aka the boots on the ground and the managers…to work out specific strategies and make them happen. If your observations or proposals do not make an impact on those objectives, then that work does not happen. That means a lot of those quirky side projects that inevitably happen in academic research aren’t really of interest in industry.

Now as a professor, staff scientist, and even trainee (i.e., postdoc & grad student), you can experience much more freedom in exploring that outlier observation or random hunch. That is, if you can justify it with evidence and pay for it. Academic researchers are on the constant yet necessary hunt for funding for research. But there is not the constrain of working toward an end product that will be sold and marketed in the future.

Right now, I would say that I have less control over my work than in the past. My research focuses on certain human diseases the company has vested commercial interest in. I try to ensure that my work makes impact on my department’s goals. Now, this is a very collaborative process with my colleagues and manager. So I am able to have my say in the best ways I can contribute.

But there’s a way more important question in all of this. Something that I’m still figuring out the answer to.

How important is control over my research and work to me? 

Many people enjoy working on slated projects, while others like to chart their own course and pursue their own projects. Both make innovative contributions and can be professionally fulfilling.

These early days in my new post in industry will be focused on trying to find the answer to this question. For those considering making the jump either way, ask yourself this question and truly reflect on it.

Thanks for stopping by the blog! What are your thoughts on personal control of research in industry and academia? Let me know in the comments below or on twitter @DrFsThoughts.

Happy Super Bowl!

-Dr. F

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