The landscape of scientific research and funding is in flux, affected by tight budgets, evolving models of both publishing and evaluation, and questions about training and workforce stability. As future leaders, junior scientists are uniquely poised to shape the culture and practice of science in response to these challenges. We are planning a symposium to give voice to graduate students and postdocs in the ongoing dialog about policies that shape the scientific establishment.

How?

We are a group of postdocs in the Boston area invested in improving the scientific endeavor. We represent eight institutions: Harvard Medical School, Brandeis University, Boston University, Brigham and Womenโ€™s Hospital, Tufts University, Harvard School of Public Health, Dana Farber Cancer Institute, and Massachusetts Institute of Technology.

We are planning a postdoc-organized two day event in the Fall of 2014 in Boston. The event will consist of talks and panel discussions on issues affecting the future of science as well as breakout sessions to expand on these topics. Participants will have the opportunity for in-depth discussion on specific areas of interest including:

  • Metrics for evaluating science
  • Efficiency of scientific research and communication
  • Funding structure
  • Focus and duration of training
  • Sustainability of the workforce
  • Causes and consequences of competitiveness

Each discussion will be moderated by postdocs who have assembled current data and other pertinent background information for workshop participants. The goal of each session will be to elucidate a majority opinion on which challenges are most important to address, and to develop recommendations for moving toward an equitable, sustainable research enterprise.

The output

After the symposium, we will publish a report representing the majority opinion of participants. This document will be available online for a one month period, during which participants and the scientific community at large will be asked to comment on and/or endorse the document. The final report, including an appendix of comments, will be disseminated to journals, policy makers, administrators, and the scientific community at large. We are open to recommendations on the format, content, and recipients of this document.

What next?

This conference will give young scientists a voice in defining the future culture and practice of science. Furthermore, we will begin the process of working with policy-makers, administrators, and senior scientists on achieving needed change.