Please fill out and share the early career researcher Peer Review Survey to tell us about your peer review experiences

We are launching our #ECRPeerReview effort – focused on ensuring the recognition of peer review efforts by early career researchers. Please help us start by filling out, and sharing, this survey: https://tinyurl.com/ECRs-in-peer-review    Peer review is viewed as central to the evaluation of research, and in the case of peer review of manuscripts for journal publication, an activity that is seen as part of the service of a researcher. Graduate students, as those training in how to carry out research, should therefore clearly be participating in, and receiving training in, constructive peer review. Postdocs are researchers in a position of mentored independence – working on their own projects and research plans, and learning how to manage a research group from an independent principal investigator. As such, postdocs are already intellectually capable of being fully involved in the peer review process. But, how involved are these early career researchers (ECRs) in journal peer review? A recent survey 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...
FoR article “Changing the Culture of Science Communication Training for Junior Scientists” in Special Science Communication Issue of JMBE

FoR article “Changing the Culture of Science Communication Training for Junior Scientists” in Special Science Communication Issue of JMBE

The American Society for Microbiology’s Journal of Microbiology & Biology Education has just released a special issue on Science Communication. FoR Board member Adriana Bankston and ED Gary McDowell have a publication included: “Changing the Culture of Science Communication Training for Junior Scientists“. As stated in the editorial:   “While reviewing manuscripts for this issue, we were drawn to papers that made us think differently about these important issues. We were drawn, too, to papers that pushed traditional academic boundaries. Papers that especially piqued our interest were Aune et al. (Using Nonfiction Narratives in an English Course to Teach the Nature of Science and Its Importance to Communicating about Science), Taylor and Dewsbury (On the Problem and Promise of Metaphor Use in Science and Science Communication), Todd et al. (Fostering Conversation about Synthetic Biology between Publics and Scientists: A Comparison of Approaches and Outcomes), and Bankston and McDowell (Changing the Culture of Science Communication Training for Junior Scientists). These papers caused us to think more intentionally about three aspects of science communication. First, we are reminded that the language that we use in the classroom and in our presentations and writings matters. Second, these papers tie in very nicely with the inclusive pedagogy conversation that is ongoing at many institutions and make us consider how information is conveyed to and from diverse audiences. Third, these papers show the value and necessity of interdisciplinary training. There is great value in sharing expertise across academic departments, and numerous opportunities exist for teaching science communication skills in collaboration with other academic sectors.”   Please feel free to comment below and tell us what you think, or...
2016 Postdoc salaries – final dataset from University of Wisconsin Madison

2016 Postdoc salaries – final dataset from University of Wisconsin Madison

There is very little information available on how much postdocs are actually paid in the U.S., beyond data on institutional salary policies gathered by the National Postdoctoral Association. Following on from recent discussions about postdoc salaries changing as a result of proposed updates to U.S. Federal labor law, we have gathered data from a selection of institutions through Freedom of Information Requests, asking only for titles and salaries of postdocs, to see if we can identify actual postdoctoral salaries. The aggregate data, and more information, can be found at out “Investigating Postdoc Salaries” Resource. Here we release the belated but final dataset: University of Wisconsin Madison.   Cost for FOIA Request: $0 Additional notes: Includes names and departments.   The sharp-eyed amongst you have noticed that one institution has been missing from our dataset of postdoc salaries at public institutions with more than 300 postdocs – the University of Wisconsin Madison. While data was originally released, there was confusion over what exactly was being requested – more precisely, the eternal issue with identifying postdocs – but thanks to the physical presence of our board member Dr. Carrie Niziolek at UW Madison, we were able to resolve the issue and have now received 2016 data.   We received data for 760 postdocs, and UW Madison reported 765 postdocs to the NSF in 2015, giving us high confidence that we have all the data requested. The salary for postdocs is set at $47,476 – this policy was set around the time of Dec 1st 2016, which the data we requested are from.   Postdocs are on three titles at UW Madison – Postdoctoral Fellow,...
Postdocsalaries.com: Self-reporting postdoc salaries to increase transparency

Postdocsalaries.com: Self-reporting postdoc salaries to increase transparency

You may have been following along with our ongoing postdoc salary efforts, such as our page and preprint reporting postdoc salary data*. If so, one of the limitations you will have noticed is that we are only able to get data from public institutions in a standard manner through Freedom of Information Act requests; and even then, we often receive not total salaries, but what is paid through the institution (i.e. if a postdoc is paid directly on a fellowship, we see salaries of $0, or low amounts if the stipend is supplemented).   Therefore, in an effort to not only gather data more widely about postdoc salaries, but also to ensure that data collection effort results in greater transparency about postdoc salaries, we have joined forces with the team behind Personal Finances for PhDs who also run the site www.phdstipends.com (if you are a graduate student, feel free to fill this out, or please pass this along to graduate students you know). Thousand of PhD stipends have been reported on their site – and furthermore, we know of institutions using this data to benchmark their own PhD stipends. Therefore they have developed postdocsalaries.com – a site where you can enter your annual salary as a postdoc from the present back to 2013.   The site aims to make the discussion about salaries more transparent, and also by working together we hope to eventually be able to make use of salary data from the site to assist in our analysis. For institutions in the U.S., there is the option to fill in demographic data, which will NOT be posted along with the individual data entries, but will instead be used to...
University Coalition releases first round of data on graduate students

University Coalition releases first round of data on graduate students

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.   A recent announcement in Science by a coalition of universities pledged to release information on all of their biomedical graduate students AND postdocs, and the first set of data was released on February 1st, specifically including: 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   The data can be accessed from this page. We have updated our career outcomes tracking resource with this information. Data is reported by institution and FoR congratulates UCSF, Johns Hopkins, University of Wisconsin, Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center, University of Pennsylvania, University of Maryland Baltimore County, Cornell University and Weill Cornell, Duke University, MIT, and University of Michigan for leading this movement and releasing this data.   FoR is currently looking through the data and will soon issue some analyses of overall trends.   We are urging other universities to join the NGLS coalition to demonstrate their commitment to transparency and stewardship of the biomedical research enterprise – interested institutions can get in touch with the Coalition at CNGLS@JHU.EDU   The coalition has laid out a roadmap with important milestones for releasing trainee information in a progressive fashion, and the next data release scheduled is July 1st for postdoc demographic information....
NEW resource: Tracking career outcomes of PhDs and postdocs at institutions

NEW resource: Tracking career outcomes of PhDs and postdocs at institutions

  For decades, institutions have been asked in various reports to track and report out on their PhD and postdoc alumnae career outcomes. A number of recent efforts by a variety of stakeholders in the last year suggest that 2018 may be the year when this comes to pass, and we are keeping track of all the efforts and which institutions have released data in our new Tracking Career Outcomes at Institutions resource.   As stated in a Policy Forum by ten University Presidents in Science, “A new data effort to inform career choices in biomedicine,”:   “The biomedical research enterprise finds itself in a moment of intense self-reflection, with science leaders, professional organizations, and funders all working to enhance their support for the next generation of biomedical scientists. One focus of their attention has been the lack of robust and publicly available information on education and training outcomes. In the absence of such information, students are prevented from making informed choices about their pre- and postdoctoral training activities, and universities from preparing trainees for a full range of careers.   The piece points out that reports that have asked for this data have included: Sustaining Discovery in Biological and Medical Sciences: A Framework for Discussion (FASEB, 2015); The Postdoctoral Experience Revisited (National Academies Press, Washington, DC, 2014); Bridges to Independence: Fostering the Independence of New Investigators in Biomedical Research (National Academies Press, Washington, DC, 2005); and Reshaping the Graduate Education of Scientists and Engineers (National Academies Press, Washington, DC, 1995).   Greater transparency could allow junior researchers to act more rationally, or prepare in a more informed manner, their...