Future of Research's Origins

The first Future of Research conference was held in Boston in October of 2014.

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We published the proceedings and outcomes of our first FOR meeting in 2014.
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Our latest blog posts

Postdocsalaries.com: Self-reporting postdoc salaries to increase transparency

You may have been following along with our ongoing postdoc salary efforts, such as our page and preprint reporting postdoc salary data*. If so, one of the limitations you will have noticed is that we are only able to get data from public institutions in a standard manner through Freedom of Information Act requests; and even then, we often receive not total salaries, but what is paid through the institution (i.e. if a postdoc is paid directly on a fellowship, we see salaries of $0, or low amounts if the stipend is supplemented).   Therefore, in an effort to not only gather data more widely about postdoc salaries, but also to ensure that data collection effort results in greater transparency about postdoc salaries, we have joined forces with the team behind Personal Finances for PhDs who also run the site www.phdstipends.com (if you are a graduate student, feel free to fill this out, or please pass this along to graduate students you know). Thousand of PhD stipends have been reported on their site – and furthermore, we know of institutions using this data to benchmark their own PhD stipends. Therefore they have developed postdocsalaries.com – a site where you can enter your annual salary as a postdoc from the present back to 2013.   The site aims to make the discussion about salaries more transparent, and also by working together we hope to eventually be able to make use of salary data from the site to assist in our analysis. For institutions in the U.S., there is the option to fill in demographic data, which will NOT be posted along with the individual data entries, but will instead be used to...

FoR March Newsletter

It’s been a quiet few weeks from us as we continue to wrap up a number of things. The report from the National Academies on the future of the next generation of the biomedical workforce, which BoD President Jessica Polka, Advisory Board member Paula Stephan and myself were all on, is about to head to the printers and finally be sent to NIH this month. We also have a number of papers in press/submitted/in preparation; and we have some exciting projects being developed on the basis of meetings held in the last few months which some of you may have attended that we are excited to get under way! Stay tuned!   One project will be based on discussions from the recent ASAPbio peer review meeting (you can see a summary here) which was organized by Jessica Polka, and attended by BoD former and current members Becki Lijek and Teon Brooks, myself, and advisory board members Chris Pickett and Vitek Tracz. It transpired that there was a massive disconnect between the experience of junior researchers, who may write peer reviews, and have those peer reviews signed and submitted in someone else’s name, versus the insistence by members of the senior community that this couldn’t possibly be happening. This is not an unusual disconnect – I notice this lack of awareness of what actually happens in academia frequently in my work – but everyone agreed that “ghostwriting” of peer review reports should not be happening, and I’m excited to be welcoming Becki back to help us lead a project on tackling this issue. This also ties neatly into our efforts to...

University Coalition releases first round of data on graduate students

Information on the biomedical labor market is necessary both for the formulation of policies that ensure its sustainable future as well as for informing individual career decisions.   A recent announcement in Science by a coalition of universities pledged to release information on all of their biomedical graduate students AND postdocs, and the first set of data was released on February 1st, specifically including: Admissions and matriculation data of Ph.D. students Median time to degree and completion data for Ph.D. programs Demographics of Ph.D. students and postdoctoral scholars by gender, underrepresented minority status, and citizenship   The data can be accessed from this page. We have updated our career outcomes tracking resource with this information. Data is reported by institution and FoR congratulates UCSF, Johns Hopkins, University of Wisconsin, Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center, University of Pennsylvania, University of Maryland Baltimore County, Cornell University and Weill Cornell, Duke University, MIT, and University of Michigan for leading this movement and releasing this data.   FoR is currently looking through the data and will soon issue some analyses of overall trends.   We are urging other universities to join the NGLS coalition to demonstrate their commitment to transparency and stewardship of the biomedical research enterprise – interested institutions can get in touch with the Coalition at CNGLS@JHU.EDU   The coalition has laid out a roadmap with important milestones for releasing trainee information in a progressive fashion, and the next data release scheduled is July 1st for postdoc demographic information....

NEW resource: Tracking career outcomes of PhDs and postdocs at institutions

  For decades, institutions have been asked in various reports to track and report out on their PhD and postdoc alumnae career outcomes. A number of recent efforts by a variety of stakeholders in the last year suggest that 2018 may be the year when this comes to pass, and we are keeping track of all the efforts and which institutions have released data in our new Tracking Career Outcomes at Institutions resource.   As stated in a Policy Forum by ten University Presidents in Science, “A new data effort to inform career choices in biomedicine,”:   “The biomedical research enterprise finds itself in a moment of intense self-reflection, with science leaders, professional organizations, and funders all working to enhance their support for the next generation of biomedical scientists. One focus of their attention has been the lack of robust and publicly available information on education and training outcomes. In the absence of such information, students are prevented from making informed choices about their pre- and postdoctoral training activities, and universities from preparing trainees for a full range of careers.   The piece points out that reports that have asked for this data have included: Sustaining Discovery in Biological and Medical Sciences: A Framework for Discussion (FASEB, 2015); The Postdoctoral Experience Revisited (National Academies Press, Washington, DC, 2014); Bridges to Independence: Fostering the Independence of New Investigators in Biomedical Research (National Academies Press, Washington, DC, 2005); and Reshaping the Graduate Education of Scientists and Engineers (National Academies Press, Washington, DC, 1995).   Greater transparency could allow junior researchers to act more rationally, or prepare in a more informed manner, their...

January 2018 Newsletter items

You can sign up to receive the full monthly newsletter here   Postdoc salaries in the U.S.   The image above was kindly given to us by Drew Doering of UW-Madison. Some of the data is currently being updated e.g. University of Illinois has now sent corrected information; the resource will be updated in the coming days. We released a resource in December about postdoc salaries on our website here. A story about the resource, “Pay for US postdocs varies wildly by institution” came out in Nature discussing some of the general points. After analyzing the data, we have put this preprint on bioRxiv: “Assessing the Landscape of U.S. Postdoctoral Salaries” and have submitted a manuscript to a journal on this data. Please take a look and tell us what you think! You can also see a summary of the data and issues surrounding it in the poster I presented at ASCB in December (see also the effort in harmonizing postdoc titles at institutions published in eLife, in “What’s in a Name?“, and “The GSS is an unreliable indicator of biological sciences postdoc population trends“). Career outcome tracking for PhDs and postdocs     A number of groups including Rescuing Biomedical Research and the Coalition for Next Generation Life Sciences (or CNGLS as I like to call it) have been pushing efforts towards making institutions keep track of where their graduate student and postdoc alumnae go. CNGLS is a coalition of ten institutions committed to releasing various pieces of data about their populations over the next 2 years – you can see their website here and read their coauthored piece in Science on the rationale behind this move here. We have...

What a pilot course taught us about biomedical research data management practices

  This is a guest post by Adriana Bankston, who participated in the pilot phase of this course along with fellow Future of Research board member, Calvin Ho.   Training in research data management is critical for early career scientists. Proper data management is a responsible research practice that can facilitate collaboration and ensure that research outputs are properly generated, stored and made available for future use. In addition, it allows for discussions on measuring the scholarly influence and impact of such data, which is critical for the scientific training and career progression of early career scientists. Finally, this type of course is also valuable to organizations who rely on evidence-based resources to effect change in the scientific enterprise, including Future of Research (FoR).   In fall 2017, Elaine Martin, DA and Julie Goldman, MLIS, from The Francis A. Countway Library of Medicine at the Harvard Medical School, led the pilot phase of the Best Practices for Biomedical Research Data Management Massive Open Online Course supported by the NIH Big Data to Knowledge (BD2K) Initiative for Resource Development. The pilot phase of the course consisted in nine online modules (approximately 20 hours of content) focused on specific components of data management best practices. Module topics included the research data lifecycle, metadata, data access, curation, long-term storage and preservation, as well as data ownership and related institutional policies. It also discussed open access and open data sharing, measuring the impact of research data, and the role of librarians in working with researchers to facilitate their data management needs.   While specific aspects of the pilot phase of the course are...