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When someone asks "which is better: academic or government research?" the answer is usually "it depends." However, I imagine that if the question was posed to doctoral candidates in the life or biomedical sciences, the majority would likely respond that academia would serve them better than any other career path. When asked to describe their thoughts about government research, they might respond that the facilities are not as glamorous or that everything moves at a slower pace, and perhaps they are right. But of course there are other differences as well. What follows is a brief description of my observations in academic and government research settings in several areas that are of interest to researchers. This perspective is aimed at life or biomedical scientists and makes the assumption that academic researchers enter the field ...