Response to Columbia University’s email to faculty regarding postdoctoral researcher unionization

Response to Columbia University’s email to faculty regarding postdoctoral researcher unionization

We are about to release our FAQs on unionization for graduate students and postdocs, which attempts to provide the data and evidence around unionization, and fact-check information. As an example, Columbia University recently sent the following talking points to their faculty, which are fact-checked by a member of our Board of Directors below. By Jack Nicoludis, PhD   Columbia University postdoctoral researchers will vote on whether they want the Columbia Postdoctoral Workers – United Auto Workers (CPW-UAW) to represent them in negotiations over pay, benefits and working conditions for postdocs on October 2 and 3, 2018. Columbia University has come out against the unionization attempt, stating that postdoctoral researchers are “merely trainees who, despite having a PhD degree, still require significant education.” University administrators have sent emails to different university stakeholders – including faculty – on why unionization may not be in the best interest of the university. They have provided faculty with “talking points” to help them discuss unionization with their postdoctoral researchers. (The full email can be found on a Twitter thread by Columbia University Sociology Professor Shamus Khan.) We have found these talking points biased against unionization in ways that are neither informed by data on the effects of unionization or take into account the democratic process by which a contract is ratified. To counteract this misinformation, we have attempted to provide unbiased analysis of these talking points to provide a counterpoint to these messages from Columbia’s administration from the point of view postdocs.       Individual working conditions would likely be governed by a contract, and not negotiated outside of it. This first point raises an...
#ECRPeerReview: Which journals recognize co-reviewers? The TRANSPOSE project

#ECRPeerReview: Which journals recognize co-reviewers? The TRANSPOSE project

  Reminder: our survey on attitudes and experiences in peer review is open until September 21st – please fill it in and urge your peers to do so too! https://tinyurl.com/ECRs-in-peer-review     As part of our effort to increase transparency about the role of early career researchers in peer review, we are trying to collect data on the policies that journals have implemented with respect to involvement of early career researchers. Particularly we are looking at how transparent co-reviewer policies are, and whether expectations around co-reviewing are made clear.   We are part of a collaborative project, TRANsparency in Scholarly Publishing for Open Scholarship Evolution or TRANSPOSE, to work on gathering this and other data about scholarly publishing. This project has been accepted as part of the Scholarly Communication Institute 2018 Meeting in Chapel Hill, NC, where the theme is “Overcoming Risk“. One of the risks identified in our project is the risk ECRs face when it comes to ensuring their scholarly contribution is recognized.   What is TRANSPOSE? TRANSPOSE (TRANsparency in Scholarly Publishing for Open Scholarship Evolution) is a grassroots project to crowdsource journal policies on peer review and preprints. The project is a collaborative effort across a number of different organizations dedicated to making publishing more transparent. Future of Research is particularly interested in the component you can search below – which journals allow co-reviewers to be named!   Why TRANSPOSE? Journal policies on peer review and preprints are variable and complex. Existing databases (such as SHERPA/RoMEO and Publons) contain some, but not all, of this information.     How can I help?   If you’d like to...
Future of Research – Questioning the Status Quo at SIGNS Summit 2018

Future of Research – Questioning the Status Quo at SIGNS Summit 2018

This is a post by Dr. Adriana Bankston.   Future of Research participated in the S|GNS (Science | Government, Institutions & Society) Summit held in Chicago, IL, from July 6-8, 2018. This was an amazing event bringing together members of communities that rarely interact but are deeply invested in the future of science in society. There were many great presentations and discussions revolving around the three focus areas of the event: science advocacy, education & outreach, and community organizing. If you would to review the @FORsymp tweets from the event, please look up #SIGNS2018.   The workshop given by Future of Research (Adriana Bankston, Harinder Grewal, Dean Procter, Gary McDowell) was entitled “Questioning the Status Quo: Re-imagining Pathways, Structures, and Incentives in Scientific Careers” and in the science advocacy category. The workshop description from the program is below.       Prior to the workshop, we initially prepared a slide deck designed to focus on recommendations for change in the scientific enterprise, leading to the formation of FoR as a nonprofit, and discussions of the 2016 FoR meeting on Advocating for Science where we learned about views of the academic community around science advocacy. However, upon attending the S|GNS Summit and gaining a better understanding of the audience, we refocused the talk on how FoR seeks to empower early career researchers through grassroots movements. We then guided the group discussions around ways in scientists can achieve change and how the S|GNS Summit community can support their advocacy efforts towards improving society.   This workshop structure resulted in a great discussion around the three main questions. The participants were PhD...
Contact your Senators to request they ask the NIH Director why the NIH continues to give grants to scientists found guilty of sexual harassment

Contact your Senators to request they ask the NIH Director why the NIH continues to give grants to scientists found guilty of sexual harassment

On Thursday, August 23, at 10 AM EDT the Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor and Pensions (HELP) will hold a hearing entitled “Prioritizing Cures: Science and Stewardship at the National Institutes of Health”. The hearing will be webcast here. Last week Senate HELP Ranking Member Patty Murray sent a letter to Dr. Francis Collins, who will be testifying at the meeting, posing a number of questions about how NIH handles sexual harassment among funded investigators. They draw attention to the NIH’s role in this problem, ask for evidence of the NIH’s actions to date, and request policy change. Francis Collins, Hannah Valentine and Michael Lauer wrote a letter to Nature in 2016 about the need for policy changes.   We are asking you to join those who have a started a campaign to contact elected representatives on the HELP Committee. A graduate student at Yale, Sarah Smaga, has produced a call script for the HELP Committee Meeting including the names and telephone numbers of Senators on the committee which you can access here. The call asks for specific policies to ensure that those found guilty of sexual harassment are not able to receive NIH funding, enabling them to put more trainees and their careers at risk.   Two members of the committee are particularly focused on prospects of early career researchers: Susan Collins of Maine and Tammy Baldwin of Wisconsin led a bipartisan effort focused on trainees that resulted in the Next Generation Researchers Initiative at NIH being mandated under the 21st Century Cures Act. It seeks to improve prospects for early career researchers, paying attention to recommendations from a study at the...
Coalition of Next Generation Life Science Releases Initial set of Postdoc Data

Coalition of Next Generation Life Science Releases Initial set of Postdoc Data

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. After announcement in Science, a coalition of universities pledged to release information on all of their biomedical graduate students AND postdocs.   The first set of data was released on February 1st 2018, focusing on admissions and demographics data about Ph.D. students. The next set of data released July 1st 2018 includes: Number of postdoctoral researchers Demographics of postdoctoral scholars by gender, underrepresented minority status, and citizenship For some institutions, length of postdoc and career outcomes. The data can be accessed from this page by institution and we have updated our career outcomes tracking resource with this information. Data is reported by institution and again 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.   Below, we discuss some highlights of these datasets that illustrate the importance of having this data available. 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 October 1st for time in postdoctoral training at each institution.   Highlights of the latest data release Demographic representations It is important to remember that, in contrast to graduate admissions which are carried out at a program- or department-wide level,...
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...