Disadvantages of moving into industry

Although there are many benefits, working in the pharmaceutical industry isn't for everyone, and making the transition from academia to industry can be a bit of a culture shock.

Working as a research scientist in academia offers flexibility in the projects you work on, often with the chance to explore interesting observations or alternative techniques that are not directly linked to the target of the project. In comparison, projects in industry will normally have a very defined goal and set time frame for the work to be carried out in; this may make your work may feel a bit constrained. ​

Sometimes, what seems to be a successful project can be stopped for business reasons as opposed to scientific ones. This may prove unsatisfying, but the reasons are generally valid and there are always other motivating projects to work on. Understanding the reasons behind these decisions will add an extra dimension to your work, and help you to develop a business mind-set. 

It’s a common misconception that research scientists working in industry don’t publish their work. It is true that the commercial nature of the work can restrict collaboration with other scientists outside of the company, and you may have fewer opportunities to publish work. This is likely to mean that you publish less often than if you had stayed in academia, and could make it hard to transition back into academia in the future. 

However, research scientists in industry are expected to report progress internally within the project team as well as contributing externally through publications in peer reviewed literature. High-impact publications do emerge from biotech and pharmaceutical companies, and small biotech and start-up companies tend to maintain more of an academic ethos. ​

Last modified: 20 September 2023

Last reviewed: 20 September 2023