MS, MFA, or Mdes?

21 Jan 2006 - 6:28pm
8 years ago
23 replies
2315 reads
Jon Kolko [SCAD]
2005

Hi,

If you had your druthers and were pursuing a masters degree in Interaction
Design, would you rather receive an MS, MFA, or M.des? Why?

Thanks,

Jon Kolko
Professor, Industrial & Interaction Design
Savannah College of Art and Design

http://facultypages.scad.edu/~jkolko
AOL IM// jkolkoSCAD

Comments

21 Jan 2006 - 7:10pm
Dan Saffer
2003

> If you had your druthers and were pursuing a masters degree in
> Interaction
> Design, would you rather receive an MS, MFA, or M.des? Why?
>

Looking at the list of schools...

http://resources.ixda.org/archive/2005/05/graduate-programs-in-
interaction-design/

...I can't figure out why one program offers an MFA and another
offers an M.A. Traditionally, MFA and M.Des. are terminal/studio/
professional degrees, while the MA and MS are either research degrees
or stepping stones to the PhD.

I went the route I did (M.Des) because I knew I wanted a studio/
professional degree and had little interest in academic research or
going on to get my PhD. I also wanted an M.Des or MFA because I knew
I wanted to work for a design firm and those were the degrees they
were looking for. If you were interested in working at very tech-
heavy places, an MS might serve you better. But it's tough to say.

Dan

Dan Saffer
Sr. Interaction Designer, Adaptive Path
http://www.adaptivepath.com
http://www.odannyboy.com

21 Jan 2006 - 11:08pm
Challis Hodge
2003

MS to practice only (it's suggests the right curriculum balance)

MFA to teach (it's considered a terminal degree)

MDes isn't well recognized

-c

-----Original Message-----
If you had your druthers and were pursuing a masters degree in Interaction
Design, would you rather receive an MS, MFA, or M.des? Why?

22 Jan 2006 - 11:16am
Vishal Subraman...
2005

An MFA/MDes (if I'm not mistaken) are more production-less theory. And
as Dan mentioned they are terminal degrees.

MA and MS are research degrees, the difference being...an MS would be
more oriented towards the technical aspects, as opposed to the MA which
would grade one's artistic talent too.

Personally...when I was searching for grad schools, I really didn't care
too much for what degree they offered. All I looked for was the courses
a univ offered. overall direction of the program and the faculty.

Vishal
http://www.vishaliyer.com

Challis Hodge wrote:
> [Please voluntarily trim replies to include only relevant quoted material.]
>
> MS to practice only (it's suggests the right curriculum balance)
>
> MFA to teach (it's considered a terminal degree)
>
> MDes isn't well recognized
>
> -c
>
>
> -----Original Message-----
> If you had your druthers and were pursuing a masters degree in Interaction
> Design, would you rather receive an MS, MFA, or M.des? Why?
>
>
>
> ________________________________________________________________
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22 Jan 2006 - 5:39pm
Jeff Howard
2004

M.Des (Master of Design) is definately the least well-known of the three, but I would still
choose it if I had it to do over.

I don't believe that Interaction Design is a science, and an MS in Design still seems odd to
me. And while I do believe that Interaction Design is an art, it's not a fine art (I think we've
had this discussion before) and that makes the MFA not as attractive. Besides the
philosophical problems, an MFA seems like it might be personally fulfilling, but not
professionally pragmatic. The M.Des degree still has a studio component and the terminal
nature of an MFA, but it also focuses an equal amount on research, theory and process (I
would disagree with previous posts to the contrary).

Having said that, most of those distinctions weren't clear to me until I actually went through
the process, so these rationalizations are after the fact. I focused on the school and the
curriculum (and to a frightening degree on intuition) and worried less about the actual
degree.

// jeff

Jeff Howard
Interaction Designer
Smart Design

> If you had your druthers and were pursuing a masters degree in Interaction
> Design, would you rather receive an MS, MFA, or M.des? Why?
>
> Thanks,
> Jon Kolko
> Professor, Industrial & Interaction Design
> Savannah College of Art and Design
>

22 Jan 2006 - 10:48pm
deneva
2005

Dear Jon,

I am content with having an MA because it is reflects
the type of work I'd rather do. I am very creative
and highly analytical at the same time. An MFA
alludes to being creative / artistic where the MS
alludes to being more analytical. I am in between and
feel that the MA is a more appropriate description
because the name suggests a bias towards creative
brain, but not pure arts.

Deneva

>
> Hi,
>
> If you had your druthers and were pursuing a masters
> degree in Interaction
> Design, would you rather receive an MS, MFA, or
> M.des? Why?
>
> Thanks,
>
>
> Jon Kolko
> Professor, Industrial & Interaction Design
> Savannah College of Art and Design
>
> http://facultypages.scad.edu/~jkolko
> AOL IM// jkolkoSCAD

__________________________________________________
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23 Jan 2006 - 4:45pm
gleija at comca...
2003

I recommend an interdisciplinary graduate degree program.
I just finished the MFA in Arts & Technology at University of Texas at Dallas:
http://iiae.utdallas.edu/
It attracts artists, designers, writers, game developers, software engineers, animators, and even some cognitive psychology and business majors.
/G

24 Jan 2006 - 6:28am
Dave Malouf
2005

Ok, I think there are several things to think about here.
In essence the most important part of the equation are ...
1. What is the content of the program and from my observation of programs,
looking at the title of the degree really doesn't help a heck of a lot.

2. If you were looking for a job and said I have a Masters degree in "fit
degree title here" as a hiring manager I'd like at the "fit degree title
here part FIRST" and then maybe read the MFA, MA, MS, MD part afterwards. In
fact on my resume I would just put "Masters degree in" if I felt for example
that an MD is too uncommon. The point that I dis masters level work at all
is what is important.

3. As a hiring manager, I'm more interested in studio work done. When I've
been interviewing folks from different programs I've found that HCI degree
which are usually MS programs (typically) prepare people the least to become
practicing designers. Great usability engineers, and behavioral researchers.

4. B/c of #3 I tend to value design school degrees more than comp sci/cog
psych degrees.

But regardless masters level work is definitely a great push on your resume,
provided you already have other experience to back it all up.

So in the end the whole MS, MA, MD, MFA thing is a weird waste of time to me
to discuss.

I do think the "terminal degree" question is an interesting one. From what I
can tell, is if you are applying from an M? to a PhD program, what they'll
be looking for is not the letters, but the type of curriculum you completed,
especially if you had a thesis done of some kind. Then they would look at
the contents of your thesis work. The terminal nature of the degree is
really not all that terminal ... "I'm not quite dead yet"

I would question a PhD in Design though. It doesn't seem necessary to teach.
PhD's are good for creating teachers and think tank folk.

-- dave

24 Jan 2006 - 8:52am
George Schneiderman
2004

> So in the end the whole MS, MA, MD, MFA thing is a weird waste of time
> to me
> to discuss.

I don't know David. Surely the content questions you raise, including
the amount of studio work, are somewhat related to the type of degree.
Aren't there various accrediting organizations out there monitoring the
curricula of various degree programs, such that you can be assured a
fair amount of commonality within each type of degree?

Also, except in academia, once you are past your first post-school job,
I wonder how many hiring managers are really going to be all that
interested in the specifics of your academic work (apart from your
portfolio). I suspect that most will be a lot more interested in work
experience, and type of degree, from which one can presumably infer a
core skill set.

--George

24 Jan 2006 - 8:55am
Dave Malouf
2005

All I was saying is that I can tell a lot more from Masters in HCI than I
can tell from MS. So if you gotta put something up there ...

And I would rather see a Masters in Interaction Design (or any Design like
Product or Industrial) than an Masters in HCI (or any other non-design UX
type degree like IM, or IS, etc.)

My preference. I'm not G-d ...

You are right about the whole thing w/ a portfolio. My bit about the thesis
was speaking to moving from Masters to PhD. Regardless of the 2nd or 3rd
letter.

-- dave

On 1/24/06 8:52 AM, "George Schneiderman" <schneidg at earthlink.net> wrote:

>> So in the end the whole MS, MA, MD, MFA thing is a weird waste of time
>> to me
>> to discuss.
>
> I don't know David. Surely the content questions you raise, including
> the amount of studio work, are somewhat related to the type of degree.
> Aren't there various accrediting organizations out there monitoring the
> curricula of various degree programs, such that you can be assured a
> fair amount of commonality within each type of degree?
>
> Also, except in academia, once you are past your first post-school job,
> I wonder how many hiring managers are really going to be all that
> interested in the specifics of your academic work (apart from your
> portfolio). I suspect that most will be a lot more interested in work
> experience, and type of degree, from which one can presumably infer a
> core skill set.
>
> --George
>

-- dave

David Heller
http://synapticburn.com/
http://ixdg.org/
Dave (at) ixdg (dot) org
Dave (at) synapticburn (dot) com
AIM: bolinhanyc || Y!: dave_ux || MSN: hippiefunk at hotmail.com

24 Jan 2006 - 12:57pm
Wendy Fischer
2004

David,

Interesting take on degrees. Comments below:

David Heller <dave at ixda.org> wrote:

3. As a hiring manager, I'm more interested in studio work done. When I've
been interviewing folks from different programs I've found that HCI degree
which are usually MS programs (typically) prepare people the least to become
practicing designers. Great usability engineers, and behavioral researchers.

In what context are you hiring these people? Design studios?

I disagree with this. I've hired for software development companies and I've hired more people coming from Psych or HCI programs than MFA programs. I have an MS in HCI.

I've found that people that come from MFA programs in Design tend to want to go more towards the graphic side, rather than the interaction design side. They also tend to be less knowledgeable about the tech side of things and user research. I'll interview people coming from an MFA program, but I qualify them based on how much graphic design they want to do as opposed to interaction deseign they want to do. I've met 1 person that has come from an MFA program that went from doing graphic design to interaction design in the past year that I would have considered hiring as an interaction designer.

The people with MS in HCI or a psych background tend to have more of a technical background and also make are more well rounded in terms of user research, interaction design and technical ability. Considering they are dealing with developers and product managers, the technical aspect is very important. I am just not finding the technical aspect or the interest in business processes present for the most part in MFA's.

4. B/c of #3 I tend to value design school degrees more than comp sci/cog
psych degrees.

My view on this is that there are certain types of programs that people are going to be geared towards, depending on their background, interest and location. I went into a MS in HCI partially due to location and convenience. I could work full-time and go to school part time. It also aligned with my job at the time, which was somewhat technical.

I think that MFA programs usually require a full-time 3 year commitment and tend to limit the number of students in the program. Additionally, an MFA program is going to require a BFA or require additional amount of design/studio work from somebody applying.

I would encourage somebody to go into a program that interests them and contains the curriculum that stimulates them. Frankly, I try not to limit my hiring to people with advanced degrees. I've found very capable designers without advanced degrees. I encourage the people that work for me to go take classes or pursue higher education if that's what they want to do.

As for Ph.d--somebody once told me that if you go for a Ph.d , you are really just doing it for yourself. For our profession, my personal opinion is that you do not need a Ph.d unless you want to teach or go into research.

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24 Jan 2006 - 1:46pm
Dave Malouf
2005

Well, the question was about the value of different Letters after the
degree, but now that we are going this route.

I have personally found it a lot harder to find IxDs who actually know
design than know technology and behavioral sciences. AND I find it a lot
easier to learn the latter two on your own than the former.

Why? Technology & Beh. Sci. are easy pick up through a combination of books,
off the cuff classes. Conferences and mild mentorship. Especially
technology.

This is why I feel that UX practice in general is way too heavily geared
towards these two elements.
What is harder to learn is design practice. Sure theory is easy enough to do
the same way, but practice in design is a combination of craft (how many
people have taken a drawing class? It really makes a difference), and honing
your intuition as a creative practitioner. Both of these require rigor of
studio work that is seldom seen in the MS or MA world. Peers can be brutally
honest (even more so than professors and mentors for that matter) and the
environment of studio life breeds practitioners who understand:
Exploration
Craft
Presentation skills
Prototyping skills

As far as the software vs. studio life in industry. A software situation (I
have worked internal on the software side now for 5 years) has enough
techies to go around. What it REALLY lacks are designers. What is your ratio
of designer to engineer? When I did a poll 3 years ago, the average was
1:100 (designers:engineers). I feel ³blessed² that I have 1:20 where I am
right now.

-- dave

On 1/24/06 12:57 PM, "erpdeedum" <erpdesigner at yahoo.com> wrote:

>>
>> I disagree with this. I've hired for software development companies and
>> I've hired more people coming from Psych or HCI programs than MFA programs.
>> I have an MS in HCI.
>>
>> I've found that people that come from MFA programs in Design tend to
>> want to go more towards the graphic side, rather than the interaction design
>> side. They also tend to be less knowledgeable about the tech side of things
>> and user research. I'll interview people coming from an MFA program, but I
>> qualify them based on how much graphic design they want to do as opposed to
>> interaction deseign they want to do. I've met 1 person that has come from an
>> MFA program that went from doing graphic design to interaction design in the
>> past year that I would have considered hiring as an interaction designer.
>>
>> The people with MS in HCI or a psych background tend to have more of a
>> technical background and also make are more well rounded in terms of user
>> research, interaction design and technical ability. Considering they are
>> dealing with developers and product managers, the technical aspect is very
>> important. I am just not finding the technical aspect or the interest in
>> business processes present for the most part in MFA's.
>>
>

-- dave

David Heller
http://synapticburn.com/
http://ixdg.org/
Dave (at) ixdg (dot) org
Dave (at) synapticburn (dot) com
AIM: bolinhanyc || Y!: dave_ux || MSN: hippiefunk at hotmail.com

24 Jan 2006 - 4:44pm
Wendy Fischer
2004

Most HCI programs should include or have a design track. If a grad student is focused on design, then they should be taking classes in the design track. I'd expect a curriculum to contain the education elements that are required for a student to go out and get a job. Current HCI programs should include design classes that are taught by practioners and geared towards:

Exploration
Craft
Presentation skills
Prototyping skills

These skills are not inclusive of just an MFA program. Other programs should be teaching these also. I know that I learned these skills in both my undergrad in Art & Design and my MS in HCI program at Depaul. I also honed these skills by working as an intern, doing self-directed projects and studies and working as a practioner for the last 8 years. I do say that I learned more practical skills about design and application of design in my masters program than I ever learned in undergrad. Undergrad didn't prepare me to get a design job; my graduate program did.

I will admit that MS in HCI programs do not utilize the studios technique of design reviews, from my experience. However, again this may vary from program to program. It is a good technique and internally, my group does try to do design reviews of other's projects wherever possible.

It's really up to the student to take the design classes as part of their studies, as opposed to taking CS or behaviorial classes. The student should have a portfolio that is indicative that they can practice design, particularly if they are looking for a design job. They should be able to talk about design and design process.

Additionally, while you think someone can learn behaviorial sciences and technology "off the cuff", there is a lot more required to apply behaviorial sciences/technology within an industry and team setting, such as knowledge application, methodology, collaboration, team work, process, etc.. Some programs can help facilitate those skills; others may not.

Intrinsically, a future practioner must bring basic innate skills (such as curiosity, creativity, exploration, communication) to the table before they even enter a program or become a designer. You can train and hone these abilties, but if there aren't a part of the person's personality and abilities, it's kind of pointless for them to become a designer.

I would suppose that an MFA program would require more "studio" time but it also raises the question of what that studio tiime is in. Considering the fact that I am not in an MFA program (it wasn't the choice for me at the time, and I still don't think I would do it), I can't speak for the experience other than what co-workers/colleagues have shared. You also raise the issue of what "design" really is? What do you think it?

The ratio of designers to developers at our company is 1 to 14 if I include 5 designers, including our creative director.

The advanced degree breakdown of my group is:

2 MS HCI
1 MS English
1 MFA Graphic Design
1 person without an advanced degree

Any designers that I've hired have exhibited the "skills" that you described. I do not think that MFA programs have a lock on the market for teaching/honing these skills.

-Wendy

29 Jan 2006 - 12:32pm
Lada Gorlenko
2004

e> As for Ph.d--somebody once told me that if you go for a Ph.d ,
e> you are really just doing it for yourself. For our profession, my
e> personal opinion is that you do not need a Ph.d unless you want
e> to teach or go into research.

I might be beating a moribund horse, but am disappointed that no one
has questioned the above statement.

"Going into research" does not make one less of an interaction
designer. Quite the opposite: to be able to go into applied IxD
research, one has to be MORE of an IxDer than any chap from a design
shop.

Ideas that push the IxD envelope don't appear out of the blue. Many of
them are by-products of research or research thinking. Adaptive
interfaces, multimodal interfaces, semantic webs, collaborative tools
- you name it - have all been research sandboxes at some stage. IxD
researchers may be less skilled in handling clients and less
business-savvy, but they are highly apt technically and design-wise.
They ARE interaction designers. Talk to IxD lab folks from any serious
technology company; try them.

Would Google exist, if Brin and Page were not in the middle of their
PhDs? Maybe. But it is hardly a coincidence that they were in a
particular state of mind: the one of research, enquiry and reflection.

PhD is not and should not be the ultimate degree for every designer, no
questions about that. However, I do disagree with the attitude "PhD is
useless, if you want to become a design professional". Even if you do
a PhD just for yourself, good for you. This is your golden chance to
learn how to think big and design wisely. Smart employers will
undoubtedly recognise its value.

Lada

ps. I dropped out of a PhD course after three years, with more or less
the same attitude "let's not waste any more time". Once in a while, I
regret it, but I am eternally grateful for what I managed to pick up
during those years. The skills and attitudes acquired a decade ago
largely help my career now.

29 Jan 2006 - 6:18pm
Andrew Otwell
2004

> ps. I dropped out of a PhD course after three years, with more or less
> the same attitude "let's not waste any more time". Once in a while, I
> regret it, but I am eternally grateful for what I managed to pick up
> during those years. The skills and attitudes acquired a decade ago
> largely help my career now.

It's interesting how often you'll hear a variation on the above from
former PhD students, not just in our field. Learning to read and
write quickly, critically, and well are great skills. (I'm also an ex-
PhD student who got through coursework before deciding to take a job
outside of academia.)

Of course it's useful to spend a couple of years doing mostly reading
and writing in your field, and it's fun to have the built-in
community that the university provides. But it's not true that a PhD
program provides any training or set of skills that cannot be learned
equally well in other ways, possibly while earning an income. The
"research, enquiry and reflection state of mind" that Lada mentions
can be reached in other ways. Most PhD programs are oriented towards
producing academics who want to teach at the University level or do
research at an institution. Given the vanishingly small number of
those jobs, this is not an economically viable approach and, in my
opinion, robs many smart people of several years that they could have
spent earning an income and saving money, rather than racking up
student loans. Again, this is just my opinion.

My advice to anyone considering a graduate degree is this: a Master's
program is relatively short, enjoyable, and can be useful to set you
apart in some job searches. If you have some money saved up, go for
it! A PhD will consume several years of your life and is *not* a
requirement for most jobs you might enjoy after you're finished with
it. Again, the jobs that do require it--University-level teaching
positions or funded research positions--are very rare and shockingly
underpaid.

In either case, grad school applicants should try to get full funding
for your graduate tenure from the universities that accept you.
University departments give money to students that they consider
promising and exceptional. Funding is, quite simply, the only real
measure of your value to a department, and a lack of it suggests they
don't consider you a first-tier candidate. Competition for teaching
and research positions is so severe that lack of grants easily
discounts you, compared to the many students who do get them. You
should seriously ask yourself if you want to spend five, six, or more
years paying for the privilege of occupying space in a graduate program.

30 Jan 2006 - 5:11pm
Andrew Otwell
2004

This is a self-response to my post yesterday about graduate programs,
which I realize now may have sounded too harsh. Naturally, if you are
driven to pursue a subject out of true passion for it, graduate school
may be a great place for you to do that. (In fact, show up with anything
less than true passion for your subject and you'll be sorry quick!)

I stand by my main point, though: that jumping into grad school without
*seriously* considering its real value and very real costs (especially
when compared to several years of actual professional experience and
income) is very unwise.

> Of course it's useful to spend a couple of years doing mostly reading
> and writing in your field, and it's fun to have the built-in
> community that the university provides. But it's not true that a PhD
> program provides any training or set of skills that cannot be learned
> equally well in other ways, possibly while earning an income.

31 Jan 2006 - 6:24am
Pierre Abel
2004

To continue on Lada comments on PhD.
Speaking about my personal experience, you learn a lot of things in a
PhD, you learn to define precisely a problem, analyze how others people
dealt with similar problems, define what is missing in others'
solutions to solve your problem, and finally create a new solution that
fit your problem. You also learn to write papers/books. All this kind of
things changes the way you look at things afterwards (as all major
experiences do), and so it changes the way you work (it does not matter
if you do budget interaction design or you're in a large IxD Lab)

So, no it is not useless, but yes it is not the fastest way to go into
the professional world and make a great career (at least in France,
where PhD is not really recognized by the professional world, in fact
professional world don't really understand what is the added value of a
PhD...as farm as I know, it is rather different in the US..)..But you
will learn a lot of thing, will have the time to think (which is pretty
rare in professional world ;-) ), will go deeply into a problem...so a
lot of good fun (at least for me!)

Pierre

31 Jan 2006 - 9:24am
Janet M. Six
2003

>I stand by my main point, though: that jumping into grad school without
>*seriously* considering its real value and very real costs (especially
>when compared to several years of actual professional experience and
>income) is very unwise.
>
>
>
>
>

I think that Andrew puts it very well. Grad school is not an
experience or expense to take lightly. If you are considering it,
please understand what you are getting into by talking to alot of people
and then give it deep thought. Grad school can be really wonderful or
really horrible: it depends on the student, the program and the
advisor. Grad school by itself does not guarantee any level of success
or failure. I think the best part of grad school is the opportunity to
loose yourself in thought for many years.

If you are lucky enough to have a deep passion for your subject and
are willing to make *all* the sacrifices which come with grad school,
then I say Believe in Yourself and Go For It! :-)

Janet Six

31 Jan 2006 - 6:45pm
Lada Gorlenko
2004

AO> I stand by my main point, though: that jumping into grad school without
AO> *seriously* considering its real value and very real costs (especially
AO> when compared to several years of actual professional experience and
AO> income) is very unwise.

I very much agree that thinking twice before doing a graduate program
is a must. Moreover, I'd strongly advise to go out and acquire some
work experience before doing any such program.

At the same time, I very much disagree with the black-and-white divide
"either income and experience OR grad school". In fact, PhD is the
only degree that allows you to combine both - and very nicely. [Try
exploring the option, you might be surprised at what's available.]
It shouldn't be abstract research, it can easily be about placing
everyday work in a bigger context. J.J.Garret's "Elements of User
Experience" would have made a first-class PhD thesis (with some minor
"academic" padding, granted). Is it "research" as we often think of
it? No. Is it an original framework for placing things in context?
Sure. Pragmatical yet conceptual.

Also, cannot agree that critical thinking is something you can easily
pick here and there, running like a hamster squashed by deadlines and
project battles (that's what most of us do at work, right?). It's a
special skill that needs special learning (and teaching). Alas,
neither schools nor undergrad programs are particularly good at it any
longer.

A final comment on MA vs MSc vs MDes. Pick a grad program that
doesn't enhance your natural (or earlier acquired) abilities, but the
one that complements them. If you are an artistic type, consider MSc;
if you are natural heavy-weight thinker, consider MFA or MDes. In this
way, you will learn other ways of doing things; you'll pick up things
that you are natural at anyway.

Lada

1 Feb 2006 - 1:10pm
David
2005

I have a different viewpoint to throw out there. I have an M.Ed. with a
focus on Instructional Design (ID). I was an Instructional Designer for
years and have found the knowledge and experience from that profession
to transfer over very well to Web and interactive design. I found in my
transition that the principles are very similar across fields, more so
for me and my colleagues with ID experience in interactive training
applications (DVD, CD, and network resident apps), and Web based
distance learning courses.

Take the ADDIE model (or PADDIE if you like) for example. It's a ID
specific design process taught in ID 101 that can be applied to any
design profession.

Having gone through a profession transition, I learned to place more
emphasis on experience and the role one took on projects and less on the
actual degree.

Are there any others on the list with an ID background?

> David Jaeger, M.Ed.
> Florida Gulf Coast University
> Director, Web, Multimedia & Publication Services
> Instructional Technology & Broadcast Services
> Broadcast Building, Office #15
> 239.590-2315
>

2 Feb 2006 - 8:22pm
Oleh Kovalchuke
2006

On pursuing advanced degree in academia or going to business

I have met more original thinkers with Bachelor or Master degrees than
those with PhD. The reason is simple: the biggest virtue of research
scientist is methodical patience.

There are two kinds of people who would be happy pursuing scientific
careers: geniuses and those who are able day after day reproduce the
same observations to prove the point. Geniuses are generally hard to
come by in any field (when you do the experience might be devastating
to your ego). There are also other personality types but they do not
fit very well, have to adjust against the grain.

In science 99% of time is spent reproducing results to prove an
occasional inspiration. Thus scientist digs deeper and deeper into the
rabbit hole to prove single point. If the point is good enough there
could be entire new world on the other end of the tunnel. More often
than not all you get is really deep hole with scientist in it.
Scientists with advanced degrees are often indispensable specialists
in exceedingly small field.

In business inspirations compete with each other in different
businesses. One does not have to reproduce observations to prove their
validity, if idea is wrong it, like any other meme, simply dies with
its originator often left unemployed (in ideal world - right away, in
the real one - hopefully and eventually). One has to constantly move,
innovate, and reinvent himself to stay afloat. People skills are
essential (that's why bullshit is rampant).

All of the above is oversimplified generalized view of course.

And so the choice is between personality types (not so much money, by
the way, in the long run). If you are happy with methodic paced
lifestyle and excited about the field enough to be motivated to dig
the same tunnel for years, go for PhD. If constant change is more to
your taste get educated well enough to understand the ropes and get
the rest from solving problems while you work.

As far as material compensation is concerned, on average and in the
life-long run it is about the same. Once more you trade relative long
term security for relative opportunity.

Academia does have one trump card though - the campus life with all
those Bachelored youngsters filled with inspiring ideas swarming
around.

--
Oleh Kovalchuke, PhD, Molecular Biology

PS I have PhD in Molecular Biology. I know one tango musician with
degree in Molecular Biology, but I doubt there are many IxD
practitioners with the same.

3 Feb 2006 - 9:44am
Jack L. Moffett
2005

On Feb 2, 2006, at 8:22 PM, Oleh Kovalchuke wrote:

> PS I have PhD in Molecular Biology. I know one tango musician with
> degree in Molecular Biology, but I doubt there are many IxD
> practitioners with the same.

No, but my wife has a Ph.D. in Human Genetics. Given your own degree,
I'm surprised by your view of what scientists do.

> In science 99% of time is spent reproducing results to prove an
> occasional inspiration.

From my own observation, I would say at least 50% of the time is
spent finding new applications for the data gathered in current
research. I consider successful scientists to be highly creative.
They are constantly writing proposals for new research on multiple
topics. This is in part driven by the need for funding and the need
to publish, but just as much by a genuine interest in the subject and
a desire to learn and solve problems.

> All of the above is oversimplified generalized view of course.

I think this is an understatement.

Jack

Jack L. Moffett
Interaction Designer
inmedius
412.690.2360 x219
http://www.inmedius.com

When I am working on a problem,
I never think about beauty.
I think only of how to solve the problem.

But when I have finished,
if the solution is not beautiful,
I know it is wrong.

- R. Buckminster Fuller

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3 Feb 2006 - 4:15pm
Oleh Kovalchuke
2006

You are right, creative grant writing is essential and time consuming
for scientists. However as Dilbert would immediately have noticed it
is not the core activity, since it is twice removed from the actual
work, hence it didn't make it into my outrageously grossly
oversimplified generalized post (99% comes from "1% inspiration, 99%
perspiration" saying - I shouldn't have used the number). The switch
in direction of the dig, especially radical switch of direction does
not happen very often in the life of scientist (relatively speaking).

You are right again about motivation - if you have that, creativity
follows. Motivation comes from complementing combination of
personality type and nurturing environment (as a side note: oppressive
could be nurturing too). One needs to understand her strengths,
personality to choose complementing environment (I am well aware that
this view is at least couple thousands years old and therefore might
seem trite). It would be good if one were able to do this in your
teens, unfortunately that is not always possible.

As far as my own personality and views are concerned I got used to
them over the years.
--
Oleh Kovalchuke

On 2/3/06, Jack Moffett <jmoffett at inmedius.com> wrote:
> [Please voluntarily trim replies to include only relevant quoted material.]
>
>
>
> On Feb 2, 2006, at 8:22 PM, Oleh Kovalchuke wrote:
>
> > PS I have PhD in Molecular Biology. I know one tango musician with
> > degree in Molecular Biology, but I doubt there are many IxD
> > practitioners with the same.
>
> No, but my wife has a Ph.D. in Human Genetics. Given your own degree,
> I'm surprised by your view of what scientists do.
>
> > In science 99% of time is spent reproducing results to prove an
> > occasional inspiration.
>
> From my own observation, I would say at least 50% of the time is
> spent finding new applications for the data gathered in current
> research. I consider successful scientists to be highly creative.
> They are constantly writing proposals for new research on multiple
> topics. This is in part driven by the need for funding and the need
> to publish, but just as much by a genuine interest in the subject and
> a desire to learn and solve problems.
>
>
> > All of the above is oversimplified generalized view of course.
>
> I think this is an understatement.
>
> Jack
>

3 Feb 2006 - 5:38pm
Janet M. Six
2003

I take some exceptions to your broad statements.

First, I've met many original thinkers: with Bachelor, Master, PhD or
even high school degrees. Personally, I don't think that education
level has much to do with the ability to think originally.

What I have experienced in the computer science field very much
differs from your experience that "the biggest virtue of a research
scientist is methodical patience" and that "99% of time is spent
reproducing results." In computer science, original thinking is key to
success. Different fields are different. IxD may be different from
both molecular biology and computer science. Furthermore people at
different universities or research centers may have vastly different
experiences. Some PhD IxDers are in the business world. :-) Any PhD
IxDers want to chime in with their experiences?

I have a PhD in computer science and have never been stuck in a
methodic paced lifestyle. If you are thinking about pursuing a PhD in
any field, I encourage you to talk to alot of people, know that getting
a PhD is very serious and life-consuming activity, determine if and how
a PhD can help you reach your personal goals and then follow what is in
your heart.

Regards,
Janet Six

Oleh Kovalchuke wrote:

>[Please voluntarily trim replies to include only relevant quoted material.]
>
>On pursuing advanced degree in academia or going to business
>
>I have met more original thinkers with Bachelor or Master degrees than
>those with PhD. The reason is simple: the biggest virtue of research
>scientist is methodical patience.
>
>There are two kinds of people who would be happy pursuing scientific
>careers: geniuses and those who are able day after day reproduce the
>same observations to prove the point. Geniuses are generally hard to
>come by in any field (when you do the experience might be devastating
>to your ego). There are also other personality types but they do not
>fit very well, have to adjust against the grain.
>
>In science 99% of time is spent reproducing results to prove an
>occasional inspiration. Thus scientist digs deeper and deeper into the
>rabbit hole to prove single point. If the point is good enough there
>could be entire new world on the other end of the tunnel. More often
>than not all you get is really deep hole with scientist in it.
>Scientists with advanced degrees are often indispensable specialists
>in exceedingly small field.
>
>In business inspirations compete with each other in different
>businesses. One does not have to reproduce observations to prove their
>validity, if idea is wrong it, like any other meme, simply dies with
>its originator often left unemployed (in ideal world - right away, in
>the real one - hopefully and eventually). One has to constantly move,
>innovate, and reinvent himself to stay afloat. People skills are
>essential (that's why bullshit is rampant).
>
>All of the above is oversimplified generalized view of course.
>
>And so the choice is between personality types (not so much money, by
>the way, in the long run). If you are happy with methodic paced
>lifestyle and excited about the field enough to be motivated to dig
>the same tunnel for years, go for PhD. If constant change is more to
>your taste get educated well enough to understand the ropes and get
>the rest from solving problems while you work.
>
>As far as material compensation is concerned, on average and in the
>life-long run it is about the same. Once more you trade relative long
>term security for relative opportunity.
>
>Academia does have one trump card though - the campus life with all
>those Bachelored youngsters filled with inspiring ideas swarming
>around.
>
>--
>Oleh Kovalchuke, PhD, Molecular Biology
>
>PS I have PhD in Molecular Biology. I know one tango musician with
>degree in Molecular Biology, but I doubt there are many IxD
>practitioners with the same.
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