Future of Research's Origins

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

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Outcomes of FOR

We published the proceedings and outcomes of our first FOR meeting in 2014.
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FOR conferences are organized by grassroots scientists in their local areas.
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Our latest blog posts

Come meet FoR in San Francisco at Manylabs Open House June 22nd

If you are in the San Francisco area, please come along to the Manylabs Summer Open House event on Wednesday June 22nd, 6-8 pm!   Manylabs is an open science skunkworks, in which FoR Executive Director Gary McDowell has just arrived to start a 6-month residency supported by the Moore Foundation. Gary will be presenting a short pitch and a poster on recent work by FoR and soliciting questions and suggestions for small projects, which could even be carried out on the night in the spirit of June 17-23 as the Week of Making!   There will also be a whole host of residents presenting demos and lightning talks on their projects on topics such as: • Constructing food webs using open data • Using eco air quality sensors to monitor the environmental health in your neighborhood • Low-cost paper-based electronics Learn how to make and use open science tools to solve local and global challenges!   Sign up for the event here.      ...

Statement from FoR on the Department of Labor Overtime Rule

Statement from FoR on the Department of Labor Overtime Rule (Fair Labor Standards Act)   Earlier this week, the Department of Labor (DoL) increased the threshold at which salaried workers receive overtime payment for working more than 40 hours per week from $23,660 to $47,476 per year, effective December 1st, 2016. This ruling affects academics engaged primarily in research, including postdoctoral researchers. A summary is discussed in the New York Times article, White House Increases Overtime Eligibility by Millions and how it will specifically impact higher education (including teaching exemptions) is covered in Overtime for Some and DoL guidance documents. The salary level will be reviewed and revised upward every 3 years.   This means that institutions must either 1) track postdocs’ hours and compensate them for working overtime, or 2) raise their salaries above the threshold in order to comply with the new regulation.   Future of Research (FoR) strongly supports the DoL’s efforts to increase the pay of so many workers, including postdocs. This is an important step towards paying postdocs in a manner reflective of their expertise and importance to the research enterprise. We further believe it is in institutions’ interest to raise salaries above the threshold level. Many institutions currently have guidelines that postdoc salaries follow the NRSA stipend scale, which begins at $43,692 for 0 years experience.  Francis Collins, Director of the NIH, has stated that, “in response to the proposed FLSA revisions, NIH will increase the awards for postdoctoral NRSA recipients to levels above the threshold.”     To ensure that their postdocs are compensated above the salary threshold, or to track their...

The U.S. National Postdoc Survey: make sure you are counted

While problems facing the scientific workforce have lately been receiving increased attention, e.g. through efforts such as Rescuing Biomedical Research and meetings such as the Future of Research, data collection on the status of postdocs has been inadequate.  In many cases, postdocs have not been clearly defined, in part due to lack of consistency in job titles, and it is unclear how many postdocs positions there currently are nationwide, with estimates ranging anywhere from ~40,000-90,000.    A shortage of data has limited national efforts to propose and assess policy changes.  The last large-scale survey of postdocs was performed in 2006.  While recommended reforms such as Individual Development Plans (IDPs) have been proposed and implemented over the past decade, such ongoing policy efforts have been severely constrained without access to adequate data to assess the effects of these policy changes.   At UChicago, postdocs have been collecting longitudinal data from postdocs at our institution for over 15 years.  These data have led to substantial policy changes that have improved the local postdoc experience.  While attending the National Postdoc Association annual meeting two years ago, Sean McConnell and Erica Westerman (UChicago survey committee leaders) realized that other institutions have also been conducting surveys of their postdocs, but rarely has this data been shared beyond individual institutions (limiting its impact), underscoring the need for postdoc data collection to be conducted on a national scale.   To address this need, last month a team of postdocs from the postdoc association at the University of Chicago launched the National Postdoc Survey (NPS).   This postdoc-led (grassroots!) survey [more info at https://postdocsurvey.org ] is being sent...

New iBiology videos focus on young scientists

iBiology, a collection of open-access videos about biology, has added new videos in its series about the future of the U.S. biomedical workforce.   In “Creating Opportunities for Young Investigators,” Ron Daniels talks about the challenges facing junior scientists in the current scientific enterprise and discusses potential changes that can be made to improve the situation. Ron Daniels is President of Johns Hopkins University, and a member of Rescuing Biomedical Research.   In “The Malthusian Dilemma in Biomedical Research,” Shirley Tilghman talks about the dramatic increase in PhDs despite a lack of sustainable funding for research, leading to the rise in the number and duration of training positions in science. Several concrete solutions are suggested to remedy this problem. Shirley Tilghman spoke at the Future of Research session at ASCB in 2014 and is an author on a PNAS publication resulting in the Rescuing Biomedical Research effort, of which she is a member.   In “The Problem in Biomedical Education,” Henry Bourne talks about the need for new experiments and changes to how we carry out graduate education. Henry Bourne is Professor Emeritus at UCSF and has been the author of several pieces about graduate students and postdocs such as “A fair deal for PhD students and postdocs” and “The postdoc holding tank“. Henry was the keynote speaker at Future of Research Boston 2014.   **If you are in the Boston area and have thoughts about training and in particular on career development, make sure to come along to the NatureJobs Career Expo #NJCE16 where Future of Research will be running a workshop on career development resources for junior scientists. More news about this workshop to come!**  ...

FoR receives grant to fund new non-profit and begin full-time operations

The team at Future of Research has been extremely busy over the last few months, and is pleased to announce that The Future of Research, Inc., or (FoR), is officially a MA-based non-profit organization and has received support for full-time activities through a generous grant from the Open Philanthropy Project. The Open Philanthropy Project identifies outstanding giving opportunities, makes grants, follows the results, and publishes its findings. Its mission is to give as effectively as it can and share the findings openly so that anyone can build on them. You can read more about the grant from the perspective of the Open Philanthropy Project here.     We have issued a press release about the grant, which will fund full-time support through the new Executive Director Gary McDowell and assist in developing infrastructure and projects for FoR. The Executive Director will report to the Board of Directors, who will be holding their first retreat in Boston, MA on May 1st.   Full-time work for FoR will begin in May 2016. While the non-profit will be based in MA, members of the Board have been drawn from across the country, and work will be based at the Manylabs open science workspace in San Francisco, CA, where a 6-month residency has been awarded funded by the Gordon and Betty Moore Foundation.   Everyone at FoR is very excited, and is looking forward to being able to have full-time support for junior scientists, who have been advocating for changes to science on top of their scientific research. Please stay tuned as we go forward, and get in touch with us at info[at]futureofresearch.org or on Twitter or...