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Goodbye and Godspeed

Researchers sometimes come to the conclusion that they need to leave academia, and in an editorial, Nature says that scientists should wish them luck in their new endeavors.

The editorial notes that many researchers are dissatisfied with academic life — after all, there's the long hours, low pay, high pressure, and lack of opportunities to contend with. A survey by the Careers Research and Advisory Centre and others found that those who leave aren't those who "couldn't hack it," as is often said. Instead, the survey found that more than 75 percent of people who left were published principal authors, 20 percent had had a paper in a high-impact journal, and about 25 percent had received a competitive grant.

Nature notes these researchers had three common reasons for wanting out. In particular, they wanted better long-term prospects, job security, and didn't want to deal with short-term or fixed contracts. After leaving, 80 percent said they were satisfied with their new jobs, which often dealt with science to some degree.

"Science should wish them well," the journal says. "As Nature has pointed out before, a regular flow of bright, highly trained and scientifically literate workers heading into the wider world can only benefit society and science."

It adds that "[i]t is time to normalize these sideways steps, and for universities, senior scientists and research funders to accept and embrace the different paths that young researchers choose to follow."