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....
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...
Future of Research Statement on the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering and Medicine Report, “The Next Generation of Biomedical and Behavioral Sciences Researchers: Breaking Through”

Future of Research Statement on the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering and Medicine Report, “The Next Generation of Biomedical and Behavioral Sciences Researchers: Breaking Through”

Future of Research has issued a statement on the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering and Medicine report, “The Next Generation of Biomedical and Behavioral Sciences Researchers: Breaking Through. You can find the text of the statement below, and a downloadable PDF version of the statement here.   *****   Future of Research endorses the recommendations in the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering and Medicine report, “The Next Generation of Biomedical and Behavioral Sciences Researchers: Breaking Through,” released on April 12, 2018. This report addresses the factors influencing transitions of trainees in biomedical and behavioral sciences into independent research careers. It offers recommendations to reform systemic issues that reduce the efficiency of these transitions, and thus affect the productivity and scientific discoveries of researchers in the United States. This report, mandated by Congress under the 21st Century Cures Act, was envisioned by Senators Tammy Baldwin (D-WI) and Susan Collins (R-ME).   Though the issues that plague the biomedical research system have long been discussed within the scientific community, the key stakeholders (such as federal agencies, private funders, and universities) have frequently abdicated their responsibility for the system. The “Breaking Through” report addresses this issue head-on. The report argues that greater transparency, accountability and shared responsibility are needed to improve the biomedical enterprise.   Many of these suggestions have been made before, and while some changes and interventions have been made, others have not been heeded and have not resolved a key issue: that this enterprise depends on a large amount of cheap, and mostly foreign, labor in the guise of training. We recognize that no stakeholder seems willing to take responsibility...
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...
FoR Statement on the “Coalition for Next Generation Life Science”

FoR Statement on the “Coalition for Next Generation Life Science”

You can find a PDF copy of the statement below here.   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.   Despite repeated calls (beginning at least as early as 1969) information on the career outcomes of life sciences graduate students and postdocs has remained poor or altogether unavailable. This has recently been discussed in an effort coordinated by Rescuing Biomedical Research and spearheaded by existing efforts to track career outcomes of PhDs, particularly NIH’s BEST Consortium. These efforts are currently focused on graduate programs and PhD outcomes, and do not currently encompass data collection on postdocs.   Today’s announcement in Science that a coalition of universities pledges to release information on all of their biomedical graduate students AND postdocs represents an unprecedented watershed moment. Previous efforts have been driven by prominent advisory committees, individuals, or other groups, but in this case, strong leadership is coming from within universities themselves.   The information to be released includes:   Admissions and matriculation data of Ph.D. students Median time to degree and completion data for Ph.D. programs Demographics of Ph.D. students and postdoctoral scholars by gender, underrepresented minority status, and citizenship Median time in postdoctoral status at the institution Career outcomes for Ph.D. and postdoctoral alumni, classified by job sector and career type   FoR congratulates UCSF, Johns Hopkins, University of Wisconsin, Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center, University of Pennsylvania, University of Maryland, Cornell University, Duke University, MIT, and University of Michigan. for leading this movement. We urge other universities to join...
Effects of DACA on members of the STEM community

Effects of DACA on members of the STEM community

This is a guest post by Future of Research board member, Sarah Wong.   Future of Research has issued a statement condemning the attacks on DACA and expressing our commitment to diversity in STEM. FoR interviewed several members of the STEM community to understand more about the effects of DACA on this population. They described the barriers they have faced while in the US and their fears in the face of the DACA repeal. Finally, they discussed how the scientific community can help support them.   Karina Meneses, a math major at the University of California San Diego, arrived in the USA from Mexico at age 11. She recalled her childhood experience as an illegal immigrant: “I have faced financial hardship: my parents and I lived in a single room for years and have been on the brink of being homeless if not for people who were willing to lend a hand and let us stay with them. There have been times when we relied on the Church for food. And of course, this isn’t because my parents are lazy but because it is very hard to find a stable job when you’re undocumented”. Despite these hardships, she managed to graduate at the top of her high school class. She is now in her final year at UCSD, and plans to attend graduate school.   Meneses stressed that DACA recipients face more financial hardships in college than US citizens, as many are ineligible for certain scholarships or paid research programs. This sentiment was shared by Francisco J. López-Flores, a Senior Leave Analyst at UCLA Health, who was “part of...