The postdoctoral experience and ways to effect change in science from a series of recent talks and workshops

The postdoctoral experience and ways to effect change in science from a series of recent talks and workshops

A reflective piece by Dr. Adriana Bankston   I’ve had a long standing interest in how current problems in science affect early career scientists, in particular the postdoctoral population. In spring 2018, I was invited to several universities to talk about some of these issues and hear from trainees about their academic experiences: University of Southern California (USC) (on postdocs and international researchers); Scripps Institution of Oceanography (Scripps Science Policy Discussion Group – studying policy for science); and University of California San Diego (UCSD) (Science Policy, Advocacy, and Communication (SciPAC) Group – advocating for an improved scientific enterprise). Below, I combined information obtained from these talks and workshops into general themes and conclusions.   Note #1: Although some of these ideas were only debated at particular universities, they are larger systemic issues we have previously encountered across other U.S. institutions.   Note #2: The responses below are recorded from the opinions of trainees from various universities, and do not necessarily represent the views of Future of Research as an organization.   WHAT DO POSTDOCS EXPERIENCE IN ACADEMIA TODAY?   Loneliness: Some direct quotes were that “postdocs work too much [feel guilty not doing so], are sad, and [are] not making friends.” Postdocs generally don’t know who other postdocs are in their building, and international postdocs feel very lonely [due to the large size of the campus].   Inadequate training: Postdocs and graduate students aren’t being trained adequately for their level – for example, PIs train postdocs like graduate students and vice versa. Also, mentors seem to be more flexible with the schedule of graduate students [in terms of going...
Join us in crowdsourcing journal policies May 31st: Which journals recognize co-reviews by graduate students and postdocs?

Join us in crowdsourcing journal policies May 31st: Which journals recognize co-reviews by graduate students and postdocs?

Data from an eLife Early Career Researcher Group survey   At a recent meeting about journal peer review, one of the key outcomes was the realization that there needs to be a greater effort to recognize the scholarly contributions of graduate students and postdocs.   “Ghostwriting” of peer reviews, whereby the name of graduate students and postdocs is not passed on to, acknowledged or collected by the journal, but is instead submitted solely under the name of the PI is an apparently widespread but unrecognized phenomenon. For example, data in a recent survey conducted by the eLife Early Career Researcher Group, showed that nearly 60% of graduate students and postdocs surveyed saw no involvement by their supervisor in preparing a peer review report.   It’s clear that a number of journals do recognize that early career researchers are involved in the peer review process – but which ones? What do they require in the reporting of co-reviewers, and what language sets the expectation for this reporting? To which journals can early career researchers be directing their efforts to participated in, and be recognized for, peer review? And by recognize, this does not mean publicly disclosing the names – merely that the journal editor knows who has really carried out the review, likely key data in a climate where it is claimed there are too few reviewers to carry out all peer review.   We are therefore excited to announce, as part of an upcoming project at Future of Research on recognizing the contribution of and empowering early career researchers, that we are partnering with a number of actors in this space...
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...
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....
Registration now open for Boston 2017 Meeting: Expanding Leadership roles for Early Career Researchers #FORLeads

Registration now open for Boston 2017 Meeting: Expanding Leadership roles for Early Career Researchers #FORLeads

  Get Early Career Researchers a Seat at the Table!   Register NOW here   The 2017 Boston FoR meeting will take place at Boston University November 17-18. Check out the conference page here for more info!   Background and symposium goals Future of Research, a nationwide grassroots advocacy group comprised of Early Career Researchers (ECRs) including graduate students, postdoctoral scholars, industry scientists and junior faculty is hosting a 1-and-a-half day symposium focused on training ECRs to develop skills to self-advocate for their training and career development needs.  The goal of this symposium is to promote the inclusion of early career scientists in leadership positions to ensure their representation during decision-making conversations that affect the future of the scientific enterprise.   Conversations about getting ECR advocates a seat at the table are important for giving the early career population a voice in science, in particular as they are the most diverse population within academia in terms of race, gender, ethnicity, and socioeconomic status. There are greater barriers faced by members of underrepresented groups in the struggle to be heard by those in positions of power. Recognizing this fact, we seek to include a diverse and inclusive representation of race, ethnicity, disability status, gender identity and sexual orientation in our invitation/selection of meeting speakers and participants. The efforts taken to make sure that our organization is diverse and inclusive, and can speak to as much of the community as possible, are central also to our efforts in preparing symposia.         Participants at the 2016 “Advocating for Science” Symposium in Boston. Photo by Alina Chan   Symposium format This symposium, hosted at...
FoR College Park meeting on Mentoring in STEM: registration closes NOON EASTERN SEPTEMBER 15TH

FoR College Park meeting on Mentoring in STEM: registration closes NOON EASTERN SEPTEMBER 15TH

*REGISTRATION for the Ethical and Inspiring Mentorship in STEM Meeting will CLOSE AT NOON ET SEPTEMBER 15TH*   Register here – remember, registration refunds will be available at the registration desk, breakfast and lunch will be included. UMD College Park is just off the Green Line.   The great speakers we have lined up, plus the series of workshops to tackle how to center mentoring into academia, are going to make for an exciting meeting with lots of discussion – check out the #MentoringFutureSci tweetchat from Sep 12th on Twitter to see some of the issues we want to address!...