(How) do we value early career researchers in academia?

by Adriana Bankston INTRODUCTION Academia often does not value those who are in the research enterprise, thus begging the question of why, how we can change that, and who is responsible for it. We each have a responsibility of ensuring that we are not losing academic talent, and stepping in to intervene when our fellow scientists are struggling in the system. Since a large part of improving the system comes down to making the individuals within it feel valued, it is important to consider how to measure that value and consequences that might result from undervaluing people in the system. In December 2018, there was a tweet by Maren Wood on an article related to the value of someone’s work outside of academia, which included the quote “Suddenly, my work mattered” (from Loriel Anderson @LorielAnderson). This statement prompted the question of why it is that former academics always feel more valued outside of academia, and what that means for the research enterprise itself. This reply as a tweet, stating why people feel more valued outside of academia (screenshot below) elicited a number of interesting responses, which prompted this blog post.  The idea of how we can show the value of scientists is really important; however, it is also very concerning that the contributions of early career researchers (ECRs) (and likely also other groups) aren’t valued in academia. This likely contributes to the loss of talent we are seeing in academic research, in which the best and brightest choose to use these talents elsewhere. Granted, research is not for everyone and there may be those who realize this early on...

On our ninth day of #FoRmentors, Juan Pablo Ruiz discusses leaving biomedicine to become a mentorship academic

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! This is a guest post by a member of the FoR Board of Directors, Juan Pablo Ruiz. I became interested in the systems in which we train scientists early on in my PhD. While I was lucky to find myself with supervisors who did not perpetuate abusive or egregious behaviors and were supportive of my passions and interests, I also found myself working really closely with colleagues who were in abusive environments where they were continually harassed and taken advantage of. My biggest frustration (and anger), came when I realized not only how institutionalized and prevalent these toxic behaviors were, but how indifferent those at my department were towards the issue. Those with the power to do so, while aware of the problems, were unwilling to step in and put an end to the behaviors, despite having had various folks make official complaints and knowing all trainees from that lab had either left academic science or scientific careers altogether. The psychology term to describe the attitude I found at the institute was “learned helplessness,” where not a single person, at any level, thought they had a power to bring about change. Through a Peer Support training program at Oxford, in which I was trained to offer mental health support to other students at my college, I also realized the degree to which my colleagues were...
Be Bold

Be Bold

This is a guest post by FoR Advisory Board member, Dr. Christopher Pickett. On Thursday, the Advisory Council to the Director of the National Institutes of Health discussed the formation of a new working group on sexual harassment in NIH-funded labs. Well after the start of the nationwide #MeToo reckoning, the landmark National Academies study on sexual harassment in academia, biomedical leaders being recognized for their work on harassment issues in labs, the formation of a new working group on the issue is, to put it mildly, underwhelming. More than two years ago, NIH leadership clearly stated the agency would “identify the steps necessary to end [sexual harassment] in all NIH-supported research workplaces and scientific meetings.” They were going to “gather as much data as possible to more fully understand the nature and extent of sexual harassment among scientists,” and to “work with governmental, academic and private-sector colleagues” and “determine what levers are already available to influential stakeholders” to mitigate harassment. NIH leadership promised that action would happen within “weeks to months.” Where are the data collected? Where is the evidence of partnerships or the public identification of levers the agency can use to stop harassment in NIH-funded labs? The lack of any clear follow up to this article and the continual dodges and deflections on harassment issues by members of NIH leadership are a significant part of the frustration and rage the community feels with the NIH on this issue. The other part of this frustration is the sense that we know what will happen with the new working group: There will be a good showing of public...
Extended call to July 12th for applications to serve on Future of Research’s Board of Directors 2018-20

Extended call to July 12th for applications to serve on Future of Research’s Board of Directors 2018-20

Due to issue with the futureofresearch.org domain from July 4-8, we are extending our call for applications to July 12th – please see details below!   *****   Future of Research is looking to recruit new members to serve on our Board of Directors from 2018-2020.   Members of the Board serve for two years. We are looking for people interested in taking a lead on small projects, or in working groups, to support the work of the organization and help us in our goal of helping junior researchers organize local meetings; increasing transparency about the academic system; and generally advocating for change for junior researchers.   In particular, this year we are gearing up to focus on: empowerment of early career researchers, through recognition of their scholarly efforts in peer review, and to advocate for more ECRs on the boards of organizations in the research community; incentivizing and rewarding good mentoring, and calling out egregious behavior and sexual harassment in academe; and fundraising efforts to help sustain the work of the organization going forward. Applications from anyone able to commit to work on these projects will be particularly favorably viewed.   The time commitment expected is 1-2 hours per week, usually working over video calls. We would be happy to receive applications from anyone interested in helping us, regardless of field, career stage or location.   Please spread the word! To apply, fill out the form here and send a brief CV to garymcdow@gmail.com – feel free to contact us for more information! The applications are open until July 12th....

Welcome to new FoR Directors and Advisory Board members; farewell to outgoing Directors

Future of Research would like to introduce everyone to the new members of FoR’s Board of Directors, elected recently:                         This brings the board up to a total of 20, which is large but we hope will maximize the ability of everyone to work effectively on various projects going forward (stay tuned for volunteer opportunities coming soon).   We are sad to say goodbye (but not lose touch completely!) with outgoing board members Rebeccah Lijek (who is beginning an Assistant Professorship of Biological Sciences at Mount Holyoke College, MA); Rodoniki Athanasiadou (a Data Science Fellow at Fast Forward Labs and Visiting Researcher at the RiskEcon Lab in the Courant Institute of Mathematical Sciences at NYU, who will continue to work with us on data analysis as a volunteer); Kyle Dolan (Head of Science and Innovation (Chicago), UK Science & Innovation Network) and Kristin Krukenberg (Analytical Scientist Shire, Lexington, MA). We are very grateful for all the work they put into getting Future of Research started and moving forward as a non-profit.   We also welcome Chris Pickett, of Rescuing Biomedical Research, and Sarah Hokanson, Program Director in Professional Development & Postdoctoral Affairs at Boston University, to our Advisory Board, bringing our advisory board up to 13:        ...