Future of Research's Origins

The first Future of Research conference was held in Boston in October of 2014.

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Outcomes of FOR

We published the proceedings and outcomes of our first FOR meeting in 2014.

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FOR conferences are organized by grassroots scientists in their local areas.
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Our latest blog posts

(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...

Follow #MentoringFutureSci on Twitter Friday June 14th to keep up with our Mentoring meeting

FoR Chicago 2019: Mentoring Future Scientists The importance that departments and institutions attach to supporting good mentorship, and providing mechanisms for accountability and addressing poor mentorship, have become an issue of intense scrutiny for early career researchers. Our meeting is imminent on June 14th 2019! We are dedicated to greater prioritization of mentoring practices in departments and at institutions, and hope to make progress at the meeting to push this forward. Follow #MentoringFutureSci on Twitter to keep up with the meeting!   Schedule – NOTE ALL TIMES IN CENTRAL TIME: Meeting Schedule June 14th, 2019 9:00 – 9:20 Opening remarks to frame need, background, and desired goals Gary McDowell, FoR and Dr. Kathryn Milligan-Myhre, Assistant Professor for the Department of Biological Sciences at the University of Alaska Anchorage 9:30 – 10:45 Framing Big Picture Needs, and Areas for Improvement Early Career Researchers: Dr. Susanna Harris,  The PhDepression LLC (https://www.thephdepression.com/) Departments: Dr. Kathryn Milligan-Myhre, Assistant Professor for the Department of Biological Sciences at the University of Alaska Anchorage 11:00 – 11:30 Reconvene for discussion of outcomes from ECR, Departmental, and Satellite workshops 11:30 – 12:00 Keynote Presentation Dr. Melissa McDaniels, Senior Advisor to the Dean for Research Mentoring, Graduate School and Postdoctoral Office, Michigan State University; Investigator, Center for the Improvement of Mentored Experiences in Research; Co-Director, Master Facilitator Initiative, National Research Mentoring Network Lunch 1:20 – 2:30 Defining Excellence Tiers for Various Mentoring Domains Dr. Danika Khong and Dr. Elizabeth Wu, Scismic 2:30 – 3:30 Reconvene as a large group for discussion...

U.S. Senate Finance Committee meeting on foreign influences highlights federal agency urgency without clarity

On Wednesday, the United States Senate Finance Committee met to discuss Foreign Threats to Taxpayer – Funded Research: Oversight Opportunities and Policy Solutions. The webpage includes a video of the session (which begins approximately 30 mins in) and written testimonies from panelists in attendance. We are preparing a statement to submit to the Committee as part of the testimony – if you have points you would like us to raise or would like to provide input, please contact info@futureofresearch.org   The hearing sought to discuss, particularly with responsive federal agencies, four main issues related to taxpayer research as laid out by the Committee Chair, Senator Chuck Grassley (R-IA): 1) the failure to disclose receipt of foreign contributions 2) espionage – or in the words of Senator Grassley, “some researchers are spies”; 3) vetting of researchers – that the federal government does not vet researchers, and neither do institutions; and 4) integrity – addressing the discovery that some peer reviewers have shared confidential grant information.   Testimony in the first panel was heard from representatives of Health and Human Services, including the National Institutes of Health, and the Department of Homeland Security, to answer “does the government have the capability to detect and counter these threats?” and discuss legislative and policy solutions to address the issue. Senator Grassley pointed out that the Counterintelligence unit at the FBI had declined to attend and had not explained why. A second panel consisted of a representative from the academic community.   We attempted to capture the discussion in a series of tweets, but some key points appeared to emerge. China, Iran and Russia were...

U.S. Senate Finance Committee Hearing on Foreign Influences in Research: Wednesday June 5th 9.45am Eastern

On Wednesday June 5th at 9.45am Eastern, the U.S. Senate Finance Committee will hold a hearing on “Foreign Threats to Taxpayer – Funded Research: Oversight Opportunities and Policy Solutions“.   This is part of the growing discussion about threats to research from foreign nations. NIH and institutions that it funds have recently come under scrutiny for their attempts to deal with these concerns, and the recent removal of five ethnicially Chinese researchers from 2 institutions (see “Chinese American scientists uneasy amid crackdown on foreign influence” in Nature from June 3).   You can watch the proceedings here or follow the @FORsymp twitter account which will tweet about it using #foreignresearch – we will also post a summary of the discussion (details of the schedule are at the end of this post).   Future of Research will then submit a statement for the record for the committee – if you have anything you would like us to highlight or discuss, or bring to our attention, please email info@futureofresearch.org   The Federation of American Scientists is facilitating submission of statements to the committee for the record: “To help the debate during the hearing be balanced, the Congressional Science Policy Initiative at FAS is submitting testimonials from the science community to the Committee regarding the critical contributions of foreign-born researchers to US competitiveness. We will also submit the testimonials we’ve received for the record. If you wish to also submit a statement for the record, email it to us, and we will get it to the Committee.” Note the guidance on submitting a statement: “Any individual or organization wanting to present their...

Please help us in responding to an NIH request for information on inclusion at institutions

The Board of Directors at Future of Research has been preparing a response to the Request for Information (RFI): Institutional Accountability to Promote Inclusive Excellence (Notice Number: NOT-RM-19-001) issued recently by the National Institutes of Health, and due by June 14th 2019. However we are looking for additional input from those wishing to help us with their thoughts and critiques.   We are looking for help not only in the form of others submitting comments, but also in helping to craft our response. In promoting the call for responses, we experienced a great deal of frustration from the community – which we share – about the constant discussion about such issues without any concrete actions. We’d like to try to give voice to those frustrations, and channel it into some concrete push for action, if possible.   Therefore we have placed out draft response to questions below; we plan to do more work on preparing a final response for next week. We would be extremely grateful for any criticism you have – you can comments on this post, on social media, or email info@futureofresearch.org, and we are happy to give voice to frustrations you have, particularly if you would not feel comfortable making such comments yourself. Ultimately we hope to provide information that compels NIH to ultimately take action, and particularly to recognize the power that it has to compel institutions to do so.   In summary, NIH is looking for the following information: “Information Requested NIH seeks input from key extramural community stakeholders, including academic institutional leadership, biomedical faculty, and interested members of the public on strategies to...

Future of Research issues response to NIH RFI on need for an Administrative Data Enclave

The NIH recently issued a request for information (RFI) seeking input on the need for an administrative data enclave. The RFI is here and a blogpost related to the RFI is here. Given the lack of information about the NIH-funded workforce, and particularly the non-investigator workforce it supports, we have submitted a response, detailed below the text for the RFI copied below. RFI Purpose The National Institutes of Health (NIH), Office of the Director, Office of Extramural Research (OER) issues this Request for Information (RFI) to gauge interest in NIH expending funds to develop, host, and maintain a secure environment (data enclave) that would allow approved research organizations-controlled access to structured, de-identifiable NIH administrative and scientific information not made available to the public. (NOT-OD-19-085) Background The NIH is committed to transparency about its research investments and currently makes grant award information available to stakeholders (e.g. grantee institutions, researchers, professional organizations, the public) through web-based self-service tools. Currently RePORTER provides the public a searchable public repository of NIH-funded projects, and ExPORTER provides bulk files on funded projects for download. These tools contain non-sensitive information on NIH funded projects, including the institutions and principal investigators funded by NIH, with project abstracts and basic administrative data on those grant awards. In recent years NIH has noted an increasing demand for access to sensitive information collected via the grants process. Such data includes information on peer review outcomes, progress reports, as well as, demographic information such as age range, sex/gender, race and ethnicity of individuals listed in NIH grant applications, etc. A recent report released by the Advisory Committee to the NIH Director...