Another question that really made me think was posed last night on the Academia site of StackExchange, and once again I'd like to share my answer with you, my dear readers.
The question was simple in its essense, yet deep and rather challenging:
Is academia really just a huge competition?I started writing an answer several times before I finally ended up with a direction that I could really believe in what I was saying. The result was this statement, that I think reflects some difficult passages of my own over the years, back and forth along the tension between cooperation and competition:
You've asked a question that is both very important and very difficult, as well as one that is likely to draw different answers from different people depending on their own experiences in academia.
This is because there are both competitive and cooperative aspects to academia. Different people take different strategies with respect to the balance between these two, and that affects their communities as well, so that the mixture of competition and cooperation that you encounter will also radically differ between different academic communities.
Some of the key factors for inducing cooperation are:
Some of the key factors for inducing competition are:
Bottom line: just like everything else, academia can be a competition, and everyone faces some aspects of a competition. But it's not just a competition, and I feel sad for anyone who experiences it in that manner.