In Defense of Science: the National Science Policy Network

In Defense of Science: the National Science Policy Network

In Defense of Science: The National Science Policy Network Is Helping the Next Generation of Civic Scientists and Engineers to Organize Nationwide Network Receives More than $100,000 in Grants for Local Work   See this op-ed in Scientific American.   From the National Science Policy Network:   The National Science Policy Network (NSPN) is excited to announce a major new effort to support early-career science policy groups nationwide. With the support of Schmidt Futures and other national partners, NSPN will significantly increase assistance to grassroots STEM groups advocating for greater engagement of the scientific community in policy and advocacy.   The political turmoil of the past year has catalyzed civic engagement amongst members of the scientific community. New data from a survey conducted by NSPN earlier this year shows that out of 22 science policy groups surveyed, 45% have launched within the past year and a half, and 60% of all groups operate on an annual budget of $1,200 or less.   To support the growing trend of civic scientists, NSPN is launching three programs focused on providing training and resources.   First, we are providing microgrants for early-career science policy groups, giving seed funding to support high-impact projects and facilitate the growth of smaller, underfunded groups. Second, we are collaborating with Research!America on the Bipartisan Candidate Engagement Initiative to raise awareness among candidates running for national office on the importance of scientific research. Third, we are hosting a fall symposium in NYC to bring together student science policy, advocacy, and communication groups from across the country.   All of this is available at a new website that also...
Join us in crowdsourcing journal policies May 31st: Which journals recognize co-reviews by graduate students and postdocs?

Join us in crowdsourcing journal policies May 31st: Which journals recognize co-reviews by graduate students and postdocs?

Data from an eLife Early Career Researcher Group survey   At a recent meeting about journal peer review, one of the key outcomes was the realization that there needs to be a greater effort to recognize the scholarly contributions of graduate students and postdocs.   “Ghostwriting” of peer reviews, whereby the name of graduate students and postdocs is not passed on to, acknowledged or collected by the journal, but is instead submitted solely under the name of the PI is an apparently widespread but unrecognized phenomenon. For example, data in a recent survey conducted by the eLife Early Career Researcher Group, showed that nearly 60% of graduate students and postdocs surveyed saw no involvement by their supervisor in preparing a peer review report.   It’s clear that a number of journals do recognize that early career researchers are involved in the peer review process – but which ones? What do they require in the reporting of co-reviewers, and what language sets the expectation for this reporting? To which journals can early career researchers be directing their efforts to participated in, and be recognized for, peer review? And by recognize, this does not mean publicly disclosing the names – merely that the journal editor knows who has really carried out the review, likely key data in a climate where it is claimed there are too few reviewers to carry out all peer review.   We are therefore excited to announce, as part of an upcoming project at Future of Research on recognizing the contribution of and empowering early career researchers, that we are partnering with a number of actors in this space...
Engaging ECRs in advocating for science and scientists

Engaging ECRs in advocating for science and scientists

This is a guest post by FoR BoD member Adriana Bankston.   During the month of April, Future of Research (FoR) supported multiple efforts towards advocating for science and scientists. FoR BoD member Adriana Bankston and FoR ED Gary McDowell participated in their local March for Science, in San Diego and Oakland/The Bay Area, respectively. In addition, contributions from several FoR Board Members have also been spotted in the Science not Silence book – observe in more detail here. Also, FoR is partnered with the Union of Concerned Scientists for the Science Rising campaign, as part of which BoD member Adriana Bankston wrote a blog post on engaging ECRs in science advocacy, policy and communication (screenshot from the post is below).   These events brought up the idea of organizing a larger discussion around science advocacy. On May 1, 2018, Future of Research and the Union of Concerned Scientists co-hosted a Twitter chat on engaging ECRs in advocacy, which also highlighted resources and strategies to help ECRs be effective science advocates. Check out the #AdvForSci hashtag for the chat, which was administered from the @FORsymp account. Several very active science policy groups participated in the chat: @SciPolUCLA;  @jhscipolgroup; @UNC_SPAG and @HarvardSciPol. We were also joined by @STEMadvocacy and @dpham20 from @ASBMB. Below, we list the resources provided by each group for easy follow-up, but also to illustrate in some cases the similarities between ideas that are common to multiple participants.   EVENTS PUT TOGETHER/PARTICIPATED IN:   Engaging ECRs in advocacy activities (Sci Pol Group UCLA) Science policy certificate, classes and mini-symposium (Harvard Sci Pol Group) Seminars & workshops on diverse...
Tweetchat 1-2pm EST May 1: How do we encourage early career scientists in advocacy?

Tweetchat 1-2pm EST May 1: How do we encourage early career scientists in advocacy?

On May 1 at 1-2pm EST FoR will be co-hosting a Tweetchat on “Advocating for science,” where various science policy groups will discuss how to engage early career researchers in advocacy and will also provide resources.   How do you get involved in advocacy? What groups exist waiting to channel your energy and enthusiasm into productive actions? What are the kinds of problems that scientists are or should be trying to fix?   Join us to find out more about how to get involved with groups on campuses and nationwide. We hope it will be a very useful discussion and will help everyone share ideas and resources on how to advocate for science.   For more discussion about the role of early career scientists in advocacy, see this recent post by FoR BoD member Adriana Bankston: Empowering Early Career Scientists to Engage in Science Advocacy, Policy and Communication...
Increasing transparency around postdoctoral salaries in the United States

Increasing transparency around postdoctoral salaries in the United States

  There is very little information available on how much postdocs are actually paid in the U.S. It is generally assumed that biomedical postdocs in particular are paid roughly in accordance with the NIH NRSA scale and indeed the National Postdoctoral Association’s Institutional Policy Report and Database show that most institutions have a policy to pay postdocs in accordance with the NRSA scale. This scale is a guideline, however, and the absolute legal minimum for postdoc salaries is largely determined by the Fair Labor Standards Act, or FLSA.   In 2016, we tracked how institutions were changing policies for salaries in response to updates to the FLSA, which would in effect have brought the legal salary threshold from $23,660 to $47,476. The tracking effort is documented in our FLSA and postdocs resource and published in our paper, Monitoring the compliance of the academic enterprise with the Fair Labor Standards Act.   The updates never came to pass, and so the mandate to raise salaries was removed. Many institutions committed to continuing to raise salaries, as did the NIH; but a very small number of institutions chose to cancel plans to change salary policies. This led us to consider the question of what the salary landscape for postdocs looks like in the U.S. – and whether it would be possible to determine salaries easily, given that we are already involved in efforts to harmonize postdoc titles, and have pointed to the difficulties in even counting postdocs caused by the administration of postdocs. We are also gathering information on differences in compensation and benefits for postdocs on research grants, vs postdocs on fellowships or training mechanisms in the U.S. At some institutions,...
Urgent ACTION: Contact the NIH Next Generation Researchers Initiative Working Group with your comments

Urgent ACTION: Contact the NIH Next Generation Researchers Initiative Working Group with your comments

The National Institutes of Health currently have a working group discussing what action to take under a Congressional mandate to address the production of the next generation of biomedical researchers. The Advisory Council to the Director’s Working Group, which is described in further detail here, is charged with advising NIH leadership on the development of an NIH-wide policy. You can also find the working group’s charter here.   This follows on from the recent discussion of the Grant Support Index (GSI), which was abruptly introduced and abruptly dropped as an idea to cap the amount of NIH support a researcher can receive, roughly equivalent to three major research project grants. Board member Adriana Bankston summarized her thoughts and recent discussions on the funding cap in this post.     What does the NGRI look like in comparison? A number of concerns have been raised, and there was a discussion held recently by the eLife Community as part of their #ECRWednesday series. Key concerns that have arisen are that without a cap mechanism, money will just be taken away from smaller mid-career or late-career labs; that because this is not a centralized NIH initiative (like the GSI was) but will instead be at the discretion of individual institutes, there will be a lack of transparency that could compound racial and gender funding disparities that NIH already has; and there is no consideration of what happens to investigators once they move from early to mid-career stage, and so we just may end up with more people shutting down labs rather than sustaining the generation through all career stages. You can find some...