I wanted to know something about the education in physics. For example:

  1. I like so-and-so field of physics. Then which course would be better for me to pursue in future?
  2. I want to study something that is an intersection of Physics and some-other-field (Example: Computer Science). Which course would be better for me then?

Or does this question belong to academia? But according to me, the physicists should be able to answer such question accurately.


Questions about educational planning and careers are off topic here.

You could check on Academia and see if they would take these questions there, but I suspect they don't. I think questions about academic planning are considered off topic unless they are relevant to grad students or professors.

You can also bring up such questions in our chat room, although it gets less exposure there than on an SE site. You may or may not get good feedback depending on who is in chat at the time.

  • $\begingroup$ While you are correct about this in terms of formulating a policy, I feel this is definitely some kind of a handicap, considering that the OP's point regarding obtaining a more informed and sane answer from professional physicists, is certainly a valid argument. (Not my downvote, though!) $\endgroup$ – 299792458 Feb 16 '16 at 14:43
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    $\begingroup$ While this answer might seem harsh to the OP, the reality is that there are way too many variables. If still in college, do we really know what field of physics we like since we haven't really encountered much of it at all (at least early enough to be deciding on courses in undergraduate). Take courses that you think you will enjoy, and take a few others to see what else there is to enjoy as much or more. But listen to yourself and your adviser, not a bunch of random folks on the internet who don't know you. $\endgroup$ – Jon Custer Feb 16 '16 at 15:06
  • $\begingroup$ @TheDarkSide well, yes, it is tempting to argue that a question should be on topic here when professional physicists (and/or advanced students or whoever it is that makes up our community) are the best people to answer that question. A lot of people made that argument on Stack Overflow (years ago), but it became apparent over time that it's bad for the goal of providing high-quality focused Q&A. $\endgroup$ – David Z Feb 16 '16 at 15:08
  • $\begingroup$ Even though it's an old answer, I add for completness that now on Academia such kind of questions would be considered off-topic as shopping questions. See academia.meta.stackexchange.com/q/3657/20058 $\endgroup$ – Massimo Ortolano Oct 11 '20 at 22:47

I just wanted to write a very similar question. It seems to be a popular sport on this site to close all questions, which come up, when one searches "Career" in the search bar and similar soft questions.

I find this highly dissatisfying for a site which supposedly is made for physics students. Students also need answers to soft questions, which they can only get from physicists in academia and industry. From people that tend to hang around on this site.

Especially career choice is probably much more important for a student than every single pure physics question he might ask on here. Dismissing this out of hand as "not answerable" or "off-topic" is not helping students, that don't want to blindly march through theit studies but make informed career choices.

The answer of @DavidZ is not really an answer to this issue. It is much more an argument along the lines "it is illegal, because it is illegal." Physics SE rules are probably not mandated by god himself.

I argue that we need to be more inclusive to this kind of questions. If the rules don't allow this, then there should be a debate about whether the rules need to be changed.

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    $\begingroup$ The site has a much broader reach than “physics students” (at I hope it does). Rather “ Physics Stack Exchange is a question and answer site for active researchers, academics and students of physics and astronomy. $\endgroup$ – ZeroTheHero Oct 11 '20 at 23:09
  • $\begingroup$ We prefer questions that have objective answers. The questions asked about here are opinion based. If you think the site policy should be changed, make a new meta post about it. Complaining about site policy here though isn't really answering the meta question. $\endgroup$ – BioPhysicist Oct 12 '20 at 0:53
  • $\begingroup$ @ZeroTheHero Hope and reality are quite different things: my impression is that the questions from active researchers and professional academics are an irrelevant fraction of those of the students. $\endgroup$ – Massimo Ortolano Oct 12 '20 at 13:45
  • $\begingroup$ @MassimoOrtolano They may be a small fraction but more “advanced” question are still to be found (although I admit in ever decreasing proportion). Moreover the top users are disproportionately not students, and some have contributed a good number of questions. $\endgroup$ – ZeroTheHero Oct 12 '20 at 13:59
  • $\begingroup$ @ZeroTheHero In reality its a site for students. What serious research is being done here? Compare it with mathoverflow. There are a few researchers here answering student questions, this is what physics SE is. $\endgroup$ – user224659 Oct 12 '20 at 15:57
  • $\begingroup$ @TheoreticalMinimum Actually, PSE doesn't make any specifications as to who their users are. This is a question and answer site for anyone who has physics questions that follow site policies. There is no requirement that users have to be students to use the site. $\endgroup$ – BioPhysicist Oct 12 '20 at 16:35
  • $\begingroup$ @BioPhysicist Student is not a very well defined term. You are a student as soon as you study, no matter if this is in a physics program at a university or at home. But indeed PSE does make specification: "Physics Stack Exchange is a question and answer site for active researchers, academics and students of physics and astronomy." Besides this, my point still holds. Most of us are students in bachelors or masters programs, especially the silent majority. $\endgroup$ – user224659 Oct 12 '20 at 17:15
  • $\begingroup$ Do you have data to back that up? How do you know this? $\endgroup$ – BioPhysicist Oct 12 '20 at 17:16
  • $\begingroup$ Sure I do, first sentence: physics.stackexchange.com/tour $\endgroup$ – user224659 Oct 12 '20 at 17:18
  • $\begingroup$ Sorry, I mean evidence that most users are bachelors or masters students. I am not saying it is false; but I also want to make sure that is correct and has some data to back it up. $\endgroup$ – BioPhysicist Oct 12 '20 at 17:21
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    $\begingroup$ @BioPhysicist I’d be hard to get data but anecdotal evidence suggest the bulk of users (in numbers) are undergraduates or lower. The reality is this is also the most likely user group so there’s some self-fulfilling criteria here: I’m sorry to say that some contributors (see physics.stackexchange.com/q/34217/36194 ) probably got tired - to the detriment of the site - of browsing through undergraduate level homework questions. $\endgroup$ – ZeroTheHero Oct 12 '20 at 19:22
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    $\begingroup$ Irrespective of this, IMO “career” questions will not improve the site but will be yet another distraction. But that’s just one opinion. $\endgroup$ – ZeroTheHero Oct 12 '20 at 19:24
  • $\begingroup$ @BioPhysicist As ZeroTheHero says, one does not need to state the obvious. $\endgroup$ – user224659 Oct 12 '20 at 20:01
  • $\begingroup$ @ZeroTheHero I see this very differently, but this is fine, I see your point. At least you write "I think" and not a presumptuous "We prefer". $\endgroup$ – user224659 Oct 12 '20 at 20:06

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