Future of Research's Origins

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

Find out more

Outcomes of FOR

We published the proceedings and outcomes of our first FOR meeting in 2014.
Our report

Organize your own FOR symposium

FOR conferences are organized by grassroots scientists in their local areas.
Start here

FOR in the news

News by us and about us.
Press Room
Visit our facebook page
Visit our Twitter page
Visit our google+ page

Our latest blog posts

New reports and webinar: “Reinventing the Academic Enterprise” and “Great Colleges to Work For” from The Chronicle of Higher Education

The Chronicle of Higher Education has released a report, “Reinventing the Academic Enterprise: College Leaders Consider the Challenges of the New Era”. The results are from a survey of college presidents and academic officers at both public and private academic institutions and explores attitudes towards future directions for higher education and also considers the value of higher education in the labor market (or indeed, whether there should be a value). Some of the results are discussed in a webinar, which also discusses technological issues relating to higher education.   Some of the key points discussed are that higher ed is currently on the defensive. There is declining confidence, amongst institutional leaders, in the value of higher education both in terms of value for money and value for the economy. Financial stability is expressed as a key concern.   At both public and private colleges, attracting and retaining qualified faculty and staff was a top concern of institutional leaders, and the only one to have grown significantly (screenshots of slides from The Chronicle of Higher Education webinar):     Increasing both undergrauate and graduate enrollment are in the top 3 plans of institutions for the future (screenshot of slide from The Chronicle of Higher Education webinar):       As part of the webinar discussion, the problem of attracting and retaining faculty was discussed in a very technology-heavy manner, and focused on faculty being “free agents”, able to communicate and work anywhere in the world and that it was hard to convince them to stay in the light of technological changes. There was no mention in the webinar of other possible concerns, such as...

Letters from Grad School: collecting graduate school experiences

Here at FoR, we’re continuously making calls for more data about junior scientists. There’s often a focus on quantitative data, but it’s just as important to get qualitative information; anecdotes; experiences. Below we are sharing a call for your graduate school experiences for the Letters from Graduate School project, which also has a page on their website with personal stories and resources. Call for submissions: For every graduate student, graduate school is a different experience filled with ups, downs, failures, and successes. The goal of Letters from Graduate School is to build a collective of graduate school experiences from graduate students in the biomedical/biology PhD programs–your experience, in your own voice! We are looking for graduate students who are interested in writing about their stories and experiences in graduate school–the good and the bad. We are creating a platform for sharing these stories to highlight the diversity of graduate school experiences. These stories will be shared through our web platform, and a selected set of entries will be compiled into a book. We encourage your entry to be focused on a single topic that was formative in your graduate school experience. We have a few sample topics listed below, but don’t feel limited to our suggestions; we want to include as many unique perspectives as possible. If you are interested in writing for us, please fill out the short form on our website lettersfromgradschool.org – and we will get back to you. All essays will be edited in collaboration with the author before publication. We will respect authors who wish to share their story anonymously. For any questions, email...

Effects of an Aging Scientific Workforce on Funding Success: Interview with Labor Economist Misty Heggeness

  This new paper, “Policy Implications of Aging in the NIH-Funded Workforce,” has people talking again about the aging biomedical workforce. The authors’ aim was to investigate how this “graying” population is affecting funding of science in the U.S. A key finding was that older scientists do not have a greater individual advantage than younger investigators, but that there are just more of them and so older scientists, as a group, receive more funding than younger investigators. However in some of the reporting of the story, such as, “Why Don’t Young Scientists Get More Grants? Often They Don’t Apply,” there seemed to be an implication that young researchers choose not to apply, whereas in fact it is likely the case that there are fewer young investigators than in the past. To find out more, I spoke to the lead author of the paper, Misty Heggeness, previously a labor economist at the Division of the Biomedical Research Workforce at NIH, and now with the U.S. Census Bureau.     What question(s) were you looking to answer with this research?   I am an economist, but I trained with demographers. When I came to NIH, there was a general anecdotal opinion in the community that the average age of NIH R01-Equivalent Principal Investigators was increasing because those with less experience (usually younger) were getting funded less because funding was harder to attain. The question we were looking to answer is whether or not older principal investigators had higher funding rates than their younger peers.   There seems to be some confusion about the term ‘workforce’ in the paper, and in the Supplementary Materials...

Revitalizing Biomedical Research at FoR Chicago

Revitalizing Biomedical Research: FoR Chicago publishes meeting report   Scientists from across the Midwest U.S. – IL, WI, OH, MI, MN – gathered in October 2015 for the Future of Research meeting in Chicago, IL. The meeting, organized by junior scientists in Chicagoland, aimed to educate the local community about structural problems in biomedical science. The organizers also aimed to survey scientists in the Midwest in order to find out their views on these issues and solicit suggestions for improvement.     The results of this meeting have now been published as a report, Revitalizing biomedical research: recommendations from the Future of Research Chicago Symposium. In the report, meeting organizers Kyle Dolan, Joseph Pierre and Erin Heckler outline concerns of junior scientists, discussed in a series of workshops: under “Training paradigms”, they report the near-unanimous sentiment that career development is severely lacking in training, calling for more professional PhD programs, and the need for junior scientists themselves to advocate for their own training; under “Careers” they discuss the lack of employment data and career outcomes for junior scientists and ways to collect this data; under “Funding”, a sustainable funding model is encouraged, and a shift towards younger faculty with fresh ideas and reduced bureaucracy and grant application and review; and finally, under “A better culture of research”, junior scientists overwhelmingly aspire towards a research environment that promotes robustness and transparency in discovery.     This publication is in keeping with FoR’s aim of trying to make sure that results from meetings and discussions are made freely available and transparent. This meeting was designed in much the same way as the first Future of Research meeting in Boston in...

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...