Perspectives on changing science from the 2nd Homo scientificus europaeus Meeting

Perspectives on changing science from the 2nd Homo scientificus europaeus Meeting

This is a guest post by Future of Research policy activist, Adriana Bankston.   Being part of Future of Research, I often wonder whether the issues we are facing in the scientific system in the U.S. also exist elsewhere in the world. Although I grew up in Eastern Europe, most of my research experiences have been in laboratories across the U.S. This has definitely given me a great variety of experiences and perspectives. But, as I’ve recently witnessed in the March for Science events, science is indeed global and most likely we all face the same issues and can learn from each other.   Very recently, I had the great chance of remotely attending the 2nd Homo scientificus europaeus Meeting, entitled “A pan-European Scientists’ Community: Promoting an Open Science in an Open World“, which took place in Barcelona, Spain, and was introduced here. The main goal of this meeting was to foster the creation of a large pan-European community of citizen-scientists supporting the new social contract between science and society. The meeting was divided into 3 areas: 1) initiatives from grassroots organizations and organizers of various European “March for Science” marches; 2) a discussion of citizen science projects/engaging the public with science and 3) open science and broader issues in the scientific enterprise. The Future of Research Executive Director Gary McDowell gave a brief talk and participated in the debate in the final session.   Common themes emerged throughout this meeting, which are great reminders of how science is done or should be done in the future, not just in Europe, but everywhere in the world. To some extent,...
Rigor and Reproducibility One Year Later: How Has the Biomedical Community Responded? A Workshop at the 2017 AAAS Meeting

Rigor and Reproducibility One Year Later: How Has the Biomedical Community Responded? A Workshop at the 2017 AAAS Meeting

This is a guest post by Future of Research policy activist, Adriana Bankston.     The AAAS meeting is a useful platform in which to discuss many important issues plaguing science today. Fundamental to the integrity of the scientific enterprise is being able to perform rigorous experiments at the bench, and successfully reproducing research findings. To this end, the National Institutes of Health’s (NIH) has implemented Rigor and Reproducibility guidelines, which represent fundamental changes to the grant application and review process. These guidelines went into effect on January 25, 2016. A session at the 2017 AAAS meeting entitled “Rigor and Reproducibility One Year Later: How Has the Biomedical Community Responded?” explored the feedback received from both the NIH and the research community following these guidelines, and discussed how to best implement them to achieve both increased rates of reproducibility and dramatic returns on research funding investments.   The session was moderated by Leonard Freedman from Global Biological Standards Institute (GBSI), a non-profit organization dedicated to enhancing the credibility, reproducibility, and translatability of biomedical research through best practices and standards. One of their initiatives, Reproducibility2020, aims to significantly improve the quality of preclinical biological research by the year 2020. The session featured Michael Lauer from the National Institutes of Health and William Kaelin from the Howard Hughes Medical Institute as speakers, and Judith Kimble from the University of Wisconsin, Madison, also a member of the steering committee for Rescuing Biomedical Research, as the discussant.   Michael Lauer on p-hacking and cognitive biases Michael Lauer began his talk by discussing the John Ioannidis paper from 2005 entitled “Why Most Published Research...
Future of Research statement on immigration Executive Order, and commitment to future work

Future of Research statement on immigration Executive Order, and commitment to future work

FoR’s mission is to improve the scientific research enterprise. We promote grassroots advocacy amongst junior researchers to discuss the problems they perceive with science, and possible solutions to fix them. We then work on making these solutions a reality, working with and advocating to institutions, scientific societies, federal agencies and senior scientists to effect change – and to speak as a voice of junior researchers. We also seek to empower junior researchers by collecting data about academia and scientific training, and make the data available to help them make rational decisions when figuring out how best to use their passion for science to benefit society.   This mission applies to problems like postdoc salaries and the recent Fair Labor Standards Act fiasco. It also applies to problems like the President’s Executive Order banning nationals of Iran, Iraq, Syria, Sudan, Libya, Yemen and Somalia from entering the U.S. for at least the next 90 days, and how we as a scientific community respond to them.   A huge number of junior researchers in the U.S. are not U.S. citizens. Two-thirds of postdoctoral researchers are estimated to be foreign nationals, and the majority of those are estimated to be on temporary visas such as J-1 or H-1B visas. Considering just one of the seven affected countries, there were more than 10,000 Iranian students alone in the U.S. in 2013-14, and 1,364 Iranian scholars at U.S. institutions.   This Executive Order prevents these scientists from re-entering the country if they leave, or entering if they are currently outside. It prevents scientists from traveling to and from conferences.   But these actions not...
Advocating for Science Travel Scholarships – Part 6: Interview with Elisa van der Plas

Advocating for Science Travel Scholarships – Part 6: Interview with Elisa van der Plas

The “Advocating for Science” symposium and workshop is taking place at MIT September 16-17, 2016, to enable junior scientists to advocate for science. The purpose of the meeting is to give an opportunity to those with a passion for advocating for science to develop their advocacy skills, meet like-minded junior scientists and develop focused efforts together to effect positive change. To try to extend this meeting beyond the Boston area, we recently put out an application call for travel scholarships for attendees from further afield. Following interviews with our Kansas City Area Life Sciences Institute Travel Award Recipient, Alex Erwin, and Advocating for Science Travel recipients Holly Hamilton, Katherine Simeon, Adriana Bankston, Tess Eidem, and Sridhar Vedachalam, here is our final interview with Elisa van der Plas:     Tell us a little about your career path so far and what you are currently working on. I am currently a graduate student in Brain and Cognitive Science at the University of Amsterdam, with several ongoing research projects with labs at the University of Oxford and at Donders Institute of Brain, Behaviour and Cognition in Nijmegen. My research uses computational modelling and imaging techniques to investigate the neuronal fundaments of social decision-making, like moral decision-making and empathy-based attention reorientation. My obsession with developing research ideas on interdisciplinary boundaries originally started in Costa Rica, where I minored in biology at the capital’s university. The intensive program combined field trips in conservation areas (see picture) and governmental debates to experience the country’s radical environmental policy from both an administrative and academic perspective. This enabled my consideration of sustainability as being more than just the intrinsic value of nature, and helped...
The Bratislava Declaration of Young Researchers

The Bratislava Declaration of Young Researchers

In July, the Bratislava Declaration of Young Researchers – prepared for the Slovak Presidency of the European Union (EU) – was presented to the Council of Ministers responsible for competitiveness (Research)  from the 28 EU member states and European Free Trading Association countries. The declaration calls on member states and the European Commission to recognize the special role that young researchers play for science, development, innovation and economic growth in Europe.   The authors declared: “1. We aspire to enable great people to realise their ideas to understand and improve the world. 2. We aspire to sustainable and transparent career trajectories. 3. We aspire to a diverse, collaborative, inter-disciplinary, open, and ethical research environment. 4. We aspire to a healthy work-life balance.”   These ideas are expanded upon within the Declaration itself. For example, the authors talk about a need for sustainable funding schemes for junior researchers and a call for a greater duty-of-care in training and career development of junior researchers, and greater transparency in career outcomes. Authors commented on how easy it was to reach a consensus across nations and indeed there is much agreement with ideas that have been expressed by junior researchers at Future of Research meetings in the U.S. also.   The Declaration will be submitted for adoption at the Competitiveness Council, Research section, in November 2016.   The authors of the Declaration are (with the countries they are currently working in): Shane Bergin, Ireland Sarah Glück, Germany Miguel Jorge, UK Ciara Judge, Ireland Lynn Kamerlin, Sweden Clara Isabel Luján Martínez, Spain Emília Petríková, Germany Piotr Sankowski, Poland Charikleia Tzanakou, UK Bruno González Zorn, Spain...

German Early Career Researchers win reforms

Since 2002, early career researchers in Germany have been striving to make changes and the Max Planck Society, which administers 82 research institutions, has decided to treat junior scientists as employees. You can read about it in the University World News article “Huge rise in funding for junior scientists“, and you can hear from some of the early career researchers themselves in the Science Careers article “Junior Max Planck researchers win reforms“....