Recent reading – science, careers, gender, policy and a look forward
This blog post was written by James Lush, the Biochemical Society’s Policy Officer
This is an abridged collation of some of the interesting reading I came across/finally got round to over the Christmas break.
Careers and science
- Steve Caplan, Associate Professor of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology at the University of Nebraska, questions whether the increasing focus on ‘translational research’ will restrict the next generation from asking the fundamental questions in basic science – and why this is dangerous.
- … Elsewhere, he argues that despite a lack of academic careers (relative to the number of PhD positions) we should train more students to PhD level if we also improve their training – not just preparing them for academic careers. (I tend to refer to this as ‘PhD 2.0’.) He also highlights this Individual Development Plan tool from AAAS’ Science Careers.
- Science Insider reports that a blogger who exposes scientific fraud has stopped posting following legal threats. Paul Brookes, Associate Professor at the University of Rochester Medical Center, hopes to set up a new site with his real name behind it. (In related news, Fang Shi-min – a freelance science journalist and biochemist – recently shared the inaugural John Maddox prize for uncovering scientific fraud in China.)
- Times Higher Education publishes an article highlighting a US study, which argues that international groups of scholars bring complementary skills and ideas that aid research, resulting in a greater number of papers, which – in turn – are more highly cited.
- The BBSRC will announce full details of two schemes to support the translation of new ideas in biotechnology and bioenergy into commercial applications this month. Both will aim to foster industrial collaboration.
- Christine Fernandez, a Postdoctoral Research Associate at the Manchester Institute of Biotechnology, summarises a workshop which gave eight tips to publish high impact.
Women in science
- The organisers of the SpotOn London conference compile a useful selection of resources for female scientists looking to raise their profiles online (some also apply to men).
- Curt Rice, Vice President for Research & Development at the University of Tromsø, writes a great article about how quotas raise quality, and how diversity is about more than social justice. He also includes a succinct account of the ‘paradox of meritocracy’.
- The House of Commons Business, Innovation and Skills Committee take oral evidence for their Women in the Workplace inquiry. The transcript of the session with Dame Professor Jocelyn Bell Burnell (Chair of the Royal Society of Edinburgh inquiry into Women in Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics), Kate Sloyan (Institute of Physics 2012 Very Early Career Woman Physicist of the Year Award winner), and Helen Wollaston and Trudy Norris Grey (both of the Women in Science and Engineering (WISE) Campaign) is worth reading.
Science for the economy
- David Docherty, Chief Executive of the Council For Industry and Higher Education, summarises the Growing Value report (PDF), which urges the government to make sustained, ‘steady-handed’, strategic commitments to research; prioritising collaboration between universities and business, and entrepreneurism.
- The Technology Strategy Board explain that the biosciences are a priority for them because they “could form the basis of a new technical revolution” (PDF, from page 12). They outline the opportunities for business and the challenges for innovation.
- Curt Rice (again), summarises a recently published paper on Open Evaluation, arguing that changes to how we evaluate are essential to the Open Access movement.
- The latest issue of The Journal of the Foundation for Science and Technology (PDF) features articles on implementing the Finch Report from Professor Sir John Enderby, as well as an article from Julian Huppert MP about how he uses social media. There is also a piece by Professor Pete Downes (former Chair of the Biochemical Society Policy Committee) about how universities can catalyse innovation. Crucially, he highlights that we must produce graduates who understand this and are interested.
The policy process
- Kirsty Newman (from the Department for International Development, but writing on her personal blog) says that when looked at in the right context, policy making processes need not be complex or complicated to engage with.
- Nature has published a forward look at what they see the key stories of 2013 being, including the results of a clinical trial which uses human embryonic stem cells.