On our twelfth and final day of #FoRmentors: power structures, power dynamics and anti-racism in systemic changes to mentoring

On our twelfth and final day of #FoRmentors: power structures, power dynamics and anti-racism in systemic changes to mentoring

This is part of a series of blog posts explaining our push for centering mentoring in academia. We are organizing a meeting in Chicago in June 2019 to take action – you can learn more about the effort here. Donate to our mentoring effort!   This is a post by BoD member Dr. Kaliris Salas-Ramirez. This takes us into January, which is National Mentoring Month. We will continue to discuss mentoring and provide updates as our conference planning progresses here.   Mentorship, leadership, institutional policies and systemic change should be something that researchers, as part of institutions, should always be thinking about. Understanding power structures, power dynamics and engaging in bias training that includes learning about racism as a social construct, is critical for bringing about transformative change in the sciences.  As professionals committed to innovation and improving the lives of others, understanding these different aspects of systems will allow us to deepen our mentoring relationships within our laboratories and departments. These play a critical role in the development of scientists at every career level and can elevate the voices of even the most marginalized and oppressed groups to promote equity in the research enterprise. Based on my lived experiences, identities and roles, I have many things to say when it comes to privilege, bias, racism and relationships in the academy. I am a Puerto Rican Neuroscientist that trained at Michigan State University (the first to graduate with a doctorate from an underrepresented group (URG), Black and Latinx, in Neuroscience) and is currently faculty at the CUNY School of Medicine (one of three people of color with PhD’s in the...
NIH to discuss Next Generation of Researchers, and Sexual Harassment, today (Dec 13th)

NIH to discuss Next Generation of Researchers, and Sexual Harassment, today (Dec 13th)

Today in the Advisory Committee to the Director (ACD) meeting at the National Institutes of Health (NIH), the NIH will report out the results from the Next Generation Researchers Initiative Working Group (mandated by Congress, responding to the National Academies recommendations in the “Breaking Through” Report). This will happen at 2 pm Eastern. The NIH will also discuss their plans regarding sexual harassment, responding to another National Academies report from 3.45 pm to 4.45 pm Eastern. The agenda is here, and you can watch live here. They will also be archived. FoR ED Gary McDowell will live-tweet the session on the Next Generation Researchers Initiative on Twitter from @FORsymp (follow #NGRI), and the sessions addressing sexual harassment from @MeTooSTEM (follow #MeTooSTEM). Both will also use the hashtag #NIHACD....

Today at ASCB Meeting: Helping the Next Generation of Researchers: Navigating the Challenges and Answering the Call for Change

Today at the American Society for Cell Biology (ASCB)/European Molecular Biology Organization (EMBO) Meeting, the session “Helping the Next Generation of Researchers: Navigating the Challenges and Answering the Call for Change” will discuss the Next Generation Researchers Initiative, with copies of the National Academies “Breaking Through” report available. The session will run 2:00pm – 2:50pm PST in Theater 4. Dr. Sue Biggins (Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center), Dr. MariaElena Zavala (California State University, Northridge) and Dr. Christopher Pickett (Rescuing Biomedical Research) will be discussing various aspects: Dr. Christopher Pickett will describe the current landscape of issues facing the next generation of researchers, and the context for the National Academies report, “Breaking Through”. Dr. Sue Biggins will discuss issues with peer review, particularly in study sections, that affect early career researchers. Dr. MariaElena Zavala will discuss “Training Beyond the Bench: Becoming Independent”, including what may be missing in the typical postdoc experience....
New publication: Assessing the landscape of postdoc salaries in 2016

New publication: Assessing the landscape of postdoc salaries in 2016

A plot of the National Institutes of Health’s National Research Service Awards Year 0 stipend by Financial Year. Also includes a comparison of salaries with their approximate value in 2017, using the Personal Consumer Expenditure Index.   In 2016, the very earliest days of Future of Research’s existence as a nonprofit were dominated by the announcement of updates to the Fair Labor Standards Act, and in particular how that would effectively raise postdoc salaries to $47,476 on December 1st 2016.   The birth – and death – of this update to the Fair Labor Standards Act, and how it was being implemented at institutions, occupied much of our attention, and is summarized in our publication Monitoring the compliance of the academic enterprise with the Fair Labor Standards Act. But even though the update was ultimately not implemented, the academic research system largely went ahead with changes to institutional policies to raise recommended postdoc salaries.   We were however aware of the issue that institutions vary significantly in their ability to count, and presumably, identify postdocs. This led us to ask a number of questions:   If institutions are unable to count their postdocs, and presumably are not overseeing them, do all postdocs receive the salaries set out in an institution’s policy? How strong is the relationship between the National Institutes of Health National Research Service Award stipends (which affect only 15% of graduate students and postdocs funded by NIH, which is not the only funder of postdocs) and what postdocs are getting paid? Are there any factors affecting salary, such as location, gender, or job title?   We therefore began...
Future of Research endorses call for Science magazine to retract, and apologize for, “Harassment Charges: Injustice Done?”

Future of Research endorses call for Science magazine to retract, and apologize for, “Harassment Charges: Injustice Done?”

On August 17th, 2018, Science magazine published the letter “Harassment Charges: Injustice Done?” in which colleagues wrote in to defend Francisco Ayala, an academic formerly at UC Irvine who resigned after findings of sexual harassment at that institution.   The letter decries the negative effects on Ayala of the consequences of the investigation, and implies that the reputation of a scientist should somehow excuse scientific misconduct such as sexual harassment. In publishing the letter, which does not provide evidence to substantiate its claims, Science legitimizes attempts to discredit victims of sexual harassment, blaming them for the consequences of their accusations and findings made against harassers. Emboldened by the platform that publication of the letter in Science has given them, we hear that Ayala’s colleagues are now contacting local newspapers attempting to discredit his accusers.   A letter to Science has been drafted by representatives of the #MeTooSTEM movement, calling for retraction of the letter, and an apology to Alaya’s accusers.  There is a petition urging support for this letter, which we endorse, and you can sign here. The text of the letter follows below.   Science has issued a statement that it will not publish letters of this nature again. However it has neither retracted, nor apologized for, the original letter. We add to the call from #MeTooSTEM, and the calls of other organizations such as 500 Women Scientists to urge Science to retract the letter, and to apologize to Ayala’s victims for its publication. You can join us in signing the petition here.   Text of the letter: “The letter “Harassment charges: Injustice done?” by Moya et al. (8/17/18) defends Francisco Ayala, recasting him...
Peer Review Week: Diversity in Peer Review

Peer Review Week: Diversity in Peer Review

Peer Review Week is a global event celebrating the essential role that peer review plays, with the view that good peer review, is critical to scholarly communications. This year, Peer Review Week has been focusing on Diversity in Peer Review – aiming to focus discussions on diversity and inclusion in peer review.     A major motivator for our “What is the current role of Early Career Researchers in Peer Review?” effort is that the most diverse part of the research workforce is in the early career population of postdocs, graduate students and undergraduates. We are trying to uncover how to ensure the roles of early career researchers across fields and across the world are recognized as part of peer review, with a view to ensuring that greater transparency about who gets to do peer review can further the conversation about how to make peer review efforts and experiments more inclusive.   We are currently carrying out a survey on the experiences and opinions of researchers in peer review, and identifying which journals provide an opportunity for ECRs to participate in, and be recognized, for their efforts.   Please help us by filling out, and sharing, our survey:   https://tinyurl.com/ECRs-in-peer-review   You can find out more about the efforts of Peer Review Week and discussions around diversity and inclusion in peer review at https://twitter.com/PeerRevWeek and at peerreviewweek.wordpress.com. Peer Review Week has been running this week and concludes on September 15th. We will be adding resources shared to our #ECRPeerReview resource page in due course....