On our eleventh day of mentoring, #FoRmentors gave to me: how and why we want to help 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! We are focused on our project to center mentoring as a priority at academic institutions. We are organizing a meeting in Chicago on June 14th 2019 that is looking on what changes, and importantly how to effect them, need to take place in departments and institutions. We are aiming to bring together those working in this space already, and are discussing our proposal for a third-party to evaluate mentoring at the departmental and institutional levels. We have released a brochure summarizing the meeting, and in brief what we are doing and why we are doing it. We are calling for abstracts from those who may have best practices to share, particularly from who are not at the research-intensive institutions on which these efforts usually focus. If you would like to submit an abstract, or know of someone who would be interested, please submit using this link. We also aim to have satellite meetings, live-streaming the Chicago talks to campuses around the country but allowing departments or institutions interested in moving forward in the mentoring space to hear the discussions and discuss how to take action. Please let us know if you think your campus/organization might be interested in providing a space for a satellite meeting, by emailing info@futureofresearch.org We are still asking for help in raising funds for this meeting, and hope that maybe at the end of the...
Our third of twelve days of #FoRmentors: the perception gap between lab members and lab leaders

Our third of twelve days of #FoRmentors: the perception gap between lab members and lab leaders

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! One of the issues we most frequently encounter at Future of Research is a gap in perception between what early career researchers experience, and what senior researchers perceive to be happening. This comes up in issues such as salaries and financial hardship; career awareness and development opportunities and even issues related to scholarship. In “Some hard numbers on science’s leadership problems“, survey data illustrates some of these gaps in perception. From “Some hard numbers on science’s leadership problems” in Nature, survey data illustrating the perception gaps between junior and senior lab members. One of the reasons for our focus on mentorship is improving communication between junior and senior lab members. Often junior researchers are not communicating issues to more senior members, likely due to fears about power dynamics and the role senior members can play in career progression (we will discuss power dynamics in an upcoming post). But likewise often senior lab members are simply unaware of issues junior researchers may face, even when entirely sympathetic to them, especially when the system is more competitive than when they may have passed through it, depending on when they navigated their way through the academic system. Greater communication is needed between researchers at all levels of the research enterprise, to fully appreciate what the realities of the system are, but also to ensure research and training are...
Putting mentoring at the heart of academia #FoRmentors #GivingTuesday

Putting mentoring at the heart of academia #FoRmentors #GivingTuesday

Image by Lipofsky: Future of Research members at our first summit in Boston in 2014   Academia is reaching a critical turning point, where effective and positive mentoring is more necessary than ever before. A slew of recommendations, reports and surveys are showing that recognition for good mentoring and appropriate responses to poor mentoring (or even egregious behavior) are currently not up to par with the standards of excellence required to sustain the research enterprise. Most importantly,  early career researchers are recognizing this deficit, and demanding change. Failure to effect this change will cause the research enterprise to lose or squander talent.   There are a number of striking problems that can be traced back to a lack of mentoring focus by departments, institutions and funding agencies:   ⅓ of those who start biology PhDs in the U.S. do not complete them. Sexual harassment in U.S. academia is at a rate second only to the military. For foreign postdocs, precarious visa situations are being exploited to make them work more, for less. There are postdocs facing barriers to taking their own research projects with them when they leave a lab under someone else’s “mentorship”. Retention of underrepresented populations in research is hindered by a focus on diversity in numbers, rather than on generating more inclusive and welcoming environments with culturally-appropriate mentoring.   However, there is also increasing recognition of the need to center mentoring in the research enterprise: The National Academies of Sciences, Engineering and Medicine (NASEM) are currently carrying out a study, with a report due next Fall, on The Science of Mentoring in STEMM; The NASEM sexual...
This #GivingTuesday, let’s put mentoring at the heart of academia!

This #GivingTuesday, let’s put mentoring at the heart of academia!

Future of Research is bringing mentoring back to the heart of academia.   Mentoring the next generation of scientists is critical to the future of research. Unfortunately, academia has lost its focus on the development and wellbeing of young scientists. This has led to problems including: Mental health problems at crisis levels, Sexual harassment in academia at levels second in the U.S. only to the military, and Creating barriers to scholarly independence and academic freedom As an organization built by and for young scientists, we can see the profound effects this culture has on our up and coming scientific talent first hand. Poor mentoring and egregious behavior can be a selection factor in who stays in research regardless of ability, and can particularly affect those from populations underrepresented in academia. Future of Research is committed to making a better and more successful academic environment for everybody. We are developing a framework for mentoring evaluation, to introduce accountability and to act as an incentive for institutions to pay more attention to the environments they are providing for their academics. We have a proposal to kickstart discussion on how to succeed in this mission. Key roadblocks to inspiring and ethical mentoring which we seek to overcome with this project are: Awareness of mentoring best practices; Incentives for positive mentoring; and Accountability for egregious behavior. We are building a consortium of partner organizations and are also looking for “early adopter” institutional partners to pilot a possible evaluation mechanism. Our goal is for these initial steps to culminate in a Mentoring Summit at University of Chicago in June 2019.   How can you...
Thanks to our donors and volunteers on National Philanthropy Day

Thanks to our donors and volunteers on National Philanthropy Day

November 15th is National Philanthropy Day®, set up to recognize the philanthropic contributions, and those who make them, to improve communities and efforts to effect change.   We are extremely grateful to those who donate their time, effort and resources to further our mission of championing, engaging and empowering early career researchers.   As a nonprofit organization, Future of Research is dependent on the support of the community to keep its efforts going. We’d like to take this opportunity to thank all of those who have donated to our cause so far:   Champion level ($500-$999): Anonymous Dan Simionescu* Vlad Simionescu *recurring monthly donor   Corporate Sponsors: Donors through Employee Giving/Matching Programs: Microsoft (through Benevity)   We are also extremely grateful to have received major support from the Open Philanthropy Project:       Tuesday 27th November is Giving Tuesday – please mark your calendars and stay tuned for news on our fundraising goal for a new project! Remember, anything that you can donate sends us a message that you support our efforts and want us to continue improving transparency, and pushing for change, for the next generation of researchers.   You can make one-off, or recurring monthly donations to us with PayPal: You can also support us through Amazon Smile here.     Your employer may encourage donations, and provide matching, through Benevity – check to see if your organization is part of the network....