It’s not me, it’s you: why I'm breaking up with medical research

Jonathan T McGuane
Med J Aust 2016; 205 (11): . || doi: 10.5694/mja16.00923
Published online: 12 December 2016

Leaving a toxic relationship was the only solution, but it hurts us both

Non-renewal of contract and being forced to abandon the career path along which one was steadily progressing (albeit not at the “correct” pace) is an experience that is increasingly common among young medical researchers in Australia. In 2014, when our application for grant renewal was not funded despite receiving excellent scores, and I could find no other position in my field (women’s reproductive health) in Australia, I was one of those faced with the harsh reality of the modern scientific career. That reality was neatly summed up in a 2010 submission to the then federal Department of Innovation, Industry, Science, and Research (tellingly perhaps, the “Research” has since been dropped) from the Australian Association of Medical Research Institutes, who surmised that “increased casualisation of the workforce, over-reliance on short-term grants, lack of a sustainable career path and low salary scales relative to industry and other professions” results in “low attractiveness of research as a career”.1 Having been optimistic and, arguably, blasé to this point, I was blissfully unaware that this situation had already been recognised by several authors.2-4

  • Jonathan T McGuane

  • Australian National University Medical School, Canberra, ACT


Competing interests:

No relevant disclosures.


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