Survey: Help the eLife ECR community find out about mentoring environments

Survey: Help the eLife ECR community find out about mentoring environments

The eLife ECR community currently has a survey open, until June 1st, with the goal of Assessing the quality of mentorship in research environments.   They are looking for responses from around the world, from the perspective of early-career researchers. They have surveys for pre-independence (i.e. graduate and postdoc) and junior group leaders/scientists/faculty. The 5-7 minute surveys ask whether about mentoring they receive from those in later career stages. In their own words: “We aim to surface what mentees believe is most important for a positive mentoring experience and to identify common gaps in skills or resources that can be addressed. We also hope that the findings will help us understand the factors that negatively impact the mentee-mentor relationships in research environments. The results will serve as a basis to offer recommendations for maximizing the benefits of mentoring in academia.”   As part of our effort to create a greater focus on mentoring in departments, we are of course very keen to see their findings and how they can inform our work, so please complete the survey and share it with your colleagues!   Don’t forget – Future of Research is organizing a meeting focused on mentorship – registration closes May 14th for the Chicago meeting: Mentoring Future Scientists Lack of prioritization of mentoring practices is partly responsible for preventing ECRs from reaching their fullest potential as the next generation of leaders in STEM. To cultivate a productive training environment, those who are given training responsibilities should also be trained, supported and evaluated by institutions to provide competent and appropriate mentoring to the next generation.   To ensure mentoring is an institutional...
Postdoc Salaries: New salary threshold for overtime proposed for Fair Labor Standards Act

Postdoc Salaries: New salary threshold for overtime proposed for Fair Labor Standards Act

The data above is from our paper “Monitoring the compliance of the academic enterprise with the Fair Labor Standards Act” showing how institutions were expecting to change salaries after the last FLSA update was blocked.   The Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) establishes standards such as minimum wage and overtime pay for employees in both the public and private sectors in the United States. Through the FLSA a minimum wage and overtime pay (for working more than 40 hours per week) at 1.5 times the employee’s regular rate are guaranteed (United States Department of Labor, 2016a). On December 1, 2016, the FLSA was due to be updated by the U.S. Department of Labor (DOL). One key change proposed was an increase in the annual salary threshold for exemption from overtime pay from the 2004 level of $23,660 to $47,476. The other key change was indexing the salary level so that it would be updated automatically every 3 years pegged to the 40th percentile of full-time salaried workers in the lowest-wage Census region. On December 1st, 2016, the threshold at which salaried workers receive overtime payment for working more than 40 hours per week was due to increase from $23,660 to $47,476 per year, under updates to the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA). This was delayed by an injunction granted November 22nd (see here for more information) and was declared invalid as of August 31st by the same court. The Department of Labor has now proposed a new set of updates to formally retract and replace the 2016 proposal. The proposals: would likely come into effect January 1st 2020 would raise the threshold for overtime exemption from...
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...
Journal policies around peer review: TRANSPOSE project under way at #TriangleSci

Journal policies around peer review: TRANSPOSE project under way at #TriangleSci

As part of our effort to increase transparency about the role of early career researchers in peer review, we are trying to collect data on the policies that journals have implemented with respect to involvement of early career researchers. Particularly we are looking at how transparent co-reviewer policies are, and whether expectations around co-reviewing are made clear.   We are part of a collaborative project, TRANsparency in Scholarly Publishing for Open Scholarship Evolution or TRANSPOSE, currently working on gathering this and other data about scholarly publishing as part of the Scholarly Communication Institute 2018 Meeting in Chapel Hill, NC, where the theme is “Overcoming Risk“. One of the risks identified in our project is the risk ECRs face when it comes to ensuring their scholarly contribution is recognized.   You can find more information below, but follow along on Twitter with #TriangleSci for our updates – today’s work is populating the database with a subset of journals in the life, health and chemical sciences to have some data to work with.   If you want to find out more, please read below or check out the TRANSPOSE site – and stay tuned!   What is TRANSPOSE? TRANSPOSE (TRANsparency in Scholarly Publishing for Open Scholarship Evolution) is a grassroots project to crowdsource journal policies on peer review and preprints. The project is a collaborative effort across a number of different organizations dedicated to making publishing more transparent. Future of Research is particularly interested in the component you can search below – which journals allow co-reviewers to be named!   Why TRANSPOSE? Journal policies on peer review and preprints are variable and complex. Existing databases (such as SHERPA/RoMEO and Publons) contain some,...
Response to Columbia University’s email to faculty regarding postdoctoral researcher unionization

Response to Columbia University’s email to faculty regarding postdoctoral researcher unionization

We are about to release our FAQs on unionization for graduate students and postdocs, which attempts to provide the data and evidence around unionization, and fact-check information. As an example, Columbia University recently sent the following talking points to their faculty, which are fact-checked by a member of our Board of Directors below. By Jack Nicoludis, PhD   Columbia University postdoctoral researchers will vote on whether they want the Columbia Postdoctoral Workers – United Auto Workers (CPW-UAW) to represent them in negotiations over pay, benefits and working conditions for postdocs on October 2 and 3, 2018. Columbia University has come out against the unionization attempt, stating that postdoctoral researchers are “merely trainees who, despite having a PhD degree, still require significant education.” University administrators have sent emails to different university stakeholders – including faculty – on why unionization may not be in the best interest of the university. They have provided faculty with “talking points” to help them discuss unionization with their postdoctoral researchers. (The full email can be found on a Twitter thread by Columbia University Sociology Professor Shamus Khan.) We have found these talking points biased against unionization in ways that are neither informed by data on the effects of unionization or take into account the democratic process by which a contract is ratified. To counteract this misinformation, we have attempted to provide unbiased analysis of these talking points to provide a counterpoint to these messages from Columbia’s administration from the point of view postdocs.       Individual working conditions would likely be governed by a contract, and not negotiated outside of it. This first point raises an...
Our #ECRPeerReview survey closes soon! Please share your peer review experiences with us

Our #ECRPeerReview survey closes soon! Please share your peer review experiences with us

  Please help us by filling out, and sharing, this survey: https://tinyurl.com/ECRs-in-peer-review    Our survey of the experiences of researchers in peer review, particularly focused on whether early career researchers can (and should) get recognition for co-reviewing with the invited reviewer (for example, their Principal Investigator) is drawing to a close, and so we are asking once more for help with completing and sharing our survey. Our survey was prompted by data from a recent survey by the Early Career Advisory Group in eLife, a journal publishing life sciences research, indicated that 92% of those surveyed had undertaken reviewing activities. But more than half, and 37% of graduate students, had done so without the assistance of their advisor:   This statistic may come as a surprise to some but, anecdotally, discussions with ECRs (particularly in the life sciences) point to a number of incidences of “ghostwriting” of peer review reports: that is, carrying out peer review of a manuscript, writing the report, and submitting it to a supervisor, who submits the report (or some version of it) under their own name, and without the name of the co-reviewer.   This led us to ask: just how often does this “ghostwriting” occur? Why does it happen? Is it unique to the life sciences? What can we do to ensure the recognition of scholarly work by ECRs?   We are working on understanding more about, and resolving, this issue, and to do so we need your help, beginning with gathering more data on the subject through:   https://tinyurl.com/ECRs-in-peer-review    Please help us by filling out, and sharing, this survey!   Updates will be on our peer review...