Future of Research Board of Directors issues response to NSF Sexual Harassment policy

Future of Research Board of Directors issues response to NSF Sexual Harassment policy

The Board of Directors of Future of Research has submitted a response to the National Science Foundation’s request for comment on Reporting Requirements Regarding Findings of Sexual Harassment, Other Forms of Harassment, or Sexual Assault. You can find the statement here as a downloadable PDF and below. At time of writing, there was still time to comment (comments due end May 4th 2018); we urge you to submit comments here. Future of Research Response to the National Science Foundation’s request for comment on Reporting Requirements Regarding Findings of Sexual Harassment, Other Forms of Harassment, or Sexual Assault Future of Research (FoR) is an early-career researcher-led nonprofit that seeks to champion, engage and empower early career scientists with evidence-based resources to improve the scientific research endeavor. The hypercompetitive research system and the dependence on faculty for research and career development create a power dynamic that can facilitate exploitation and harassment. For the approximately 45% of graduate students in science and engineering, and 55% of postdocs on temporary visas that are tied to their employment status, this dynamic is even more skewed. Many early career researchers thus cannot report sexual harassment without endangering their careers and/or immigration status. We therefore applaud and support the National Science Foundation’s proposed changes in Important Notice No. 144 issued February 4th 2018.   Data illustrating the landscape and power dynamics that make academe an environment particularly conducive to sexual harassment of postdocs were discussed by Future of Research President Dr. Jessica Polka and National Postdoctoral Association Chair Dr. Kate Sleeth at the Fourth Committee Meeting of The Committee on Impacts of Sexual Harassment in Academia as...
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...
FoR article “Changing the Culture of Science Communication Training for Junior Scientists” in Special Science Communication Issue of JMBE

FoR article “Changing the Culture of Science Communication Training for Junior Scientists” in Special Science Communication Issue of JMBE

The American Society for Microbiology’s Journal of Microbiology & Biology Education has just released a special issue on Science Communication. FoR Board member Adriana Bankston and ED Gary McDowell have a publication included: “Changing the Culture of Science Communication Training for Junior Scientists“. As stated in the editorial:   “While reviewing manuscripts for this issue, we were drawn to papers that made us think differently about these important issues. We were drawn, too, to papers that pushed traditional academic boundaries. Papers that especially piqued our interest were Aune et al. (Using Nonfiction Narratives in an English Course to Teach the Nature of Science and Its Importance to Communicating about Science), Taylor and Dewsbury (On the Problem and Promise of Metaphor Use in Science and Science Communication), Todd et al. (Fostering Conversation about Synthetic Biology between Publics and Scientists: A Comparison of Approaches and Outcomes), and Bankston and McDowell (Changing the Culture of Science Communication Training for Junior Scientists). These papers caused us to think more intentionally about three aspects of science communication. First, we are reminded that the language that we use in the classroom and in our presentations and writings matters. Second, these papers tie in very nicely with the inclusive pedagogy conversation that is ongoing at many institutions and make us consider how information is conveyed to and from diverse audiences. Third, these papers show the value and necessity of interdisciplinary training. There is great value in sharing expertise across academic departments, and numerous opportunities exist for teaching science communication skills in collaboration with other academic sectors.”   Please feel free to comment below and tell us what you think, or...
The National Academies of Sciences Engineering and Medicine report “Breaking Through” public debut on April 12th

The National Academies of Sciences Engineering and Medicine report “Breaking Through” public debut on April 12th

On April 12th, the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine report “Breaking Through” will be released and publicly discussed in DC and over livestream at 1.30pm EST. FoR President Jessica Polka and ED Gary McDowell, and FoR advisory board member Paula Stephan, were all on the committee. The study was Congressionally mandated under the 21st Century Cures Act.   Register here for the meeting and webcast.   The study, which “examines the policy and programmatic steps that the nation can undertake to ensure the successful launch and sustainment of careers among the next generation of researchers in the biomedical and behavioral sciences, including the full range of health sciences supported by the NIH” includes: • An evaluation of the barriers that prospective researchers encounter as they transition to independent research careers; • An evaluation of the impact of federal policies and budgets, including federal agency policies and procedures regarding research grant awards, on opportunities for prospective researchers to successfully transition into independent research careers and to secure their all-important first and second major research grants; • An evaluation of the extent to which employers (industry, government agencies and labs, academic institutions, and others) can facilitate smooth transitions for early career researchers into independent research careers.   You can see additional information about the study, including released responses to the call for public information, and the reports on the systems in Canada, China, the EU, the UK and Singapore here.   In addition, Gary McDowell will be giving the postdoc seminar at the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor, MI on April 12th at noon, where the contents of the report will also be discussed....
Changes to funding policies proposed to help young NIH-funded scientists

Changes to funding policies proposed to help young NIH-funded scientists

The increasing age of principal investigators funded on R01-type* mechanisms by the NIH. (A) Age distribution of PIs in 1980 and 2016. (B) % PIs plotted against year.    In a preprint deposited in PeerJ Preprints in January, members of Rescuing Biomedical Research discuss shifting demographic trends in the ages of those being funded on major NIH funding mechanisms. The authors point out that: “Despite a large increase in the NIH budget since the early 1980s, there has been more than a five-fold decrease in the number of investigators aged 36 or less who hold R01-type grants…Expressed in terms of NIH dollars, the proportion of all NIH grant funding awarded to scientists under the age of 36 has dropped from 5.6 percent in 1980 to 1.3 percent in 2012.” In addition, they discuss the perception that in order to successfully have a grant proposal funded, early career investigators are seeking to write proposals in a window of riskiness – not too risky that it won’t be funded, but just risky enough that it isn’t seen as incremental. They lay the blame for this at the feet of study sections perceived to be conservative, and too focused on translational research rather than research addressed at more fundamental questions with less obvious direct application to medical problems. The authors highlight the strategy undertaken by the European Research Council Starting Grants program as part of a tiered system of funding announcements. They champion the division of proposals into tiers where researchers are competing against peers of a similar career stage. Likewise they highlight the recent evaluation of the New Innovator Awards (DP2) funded 2007-09,...
Postdocsalaries.com: Self-reporting postdoc salaries to increase transparency

Postdocsalaries.com: Self-reporting postdoc salaries to increase transparency

You may have been following along with our ongoing postdoc salary efforts, such as our page and preprint reporting postdoc salary data*. If so, one of the limitations you will have noticed is that we are only able to get data from public institutions in a standard manner through Freedom of Information Act requests; and even then, we often receive not total salaries, but what is paid through the institution (i.e. if a postdoc is paid directly on a fellowship, we see salaries of $0, or low amounts if the stipend is supplemented).   Therefore, in an effort to not only gather data more widely about postdoc salaries, but also to ensure that data collection effort results in greater transparency about postdoc salaries, we have joined forces with the team behind Personal Finances for PhDs who also run the site www.phdstipends.com (if you are a graduate student, feel free to fill this out, or please pass this along to graduate students you know). Thousand of PhD stipends have been reported on their site – and furthermore, we know of institutions using this data to benchmark their own PhD stipends. Therefore they have developed postdocsalaries.com – a site where you can enter your annual salary as a postdoc from the present back to 2013.   The site aims to make the discussion about salaries more transparent, and also by working together we hope to eventually be able to make use of salary data from the site to assist in our analysis. For institutions in the U.S., there is the option to fill in demographic data, which will NOT be posted along with the individual data entries, but will instead be used to...