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Dear Followers of FoR,
Welcome to the first newsletter about the activities of Future of Research. We have had an exciting and busy few months; and the remainder of 2016 will also be keeping us busy!
Current Action – the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) and Postdocs
First and foremost, what is keeping us on our toes is collecting information on how institutions are responding to the changes to the FLSA. Briefly, the salary for exemption from overtime has been raised from $23,660 to $47,476, taking effect Dec 1st 2016. This is above the minimum stipend at most institutions for postdocs, and so institutions must decide to raise salaries for all postdocs, or track their hours and pay them for overtime. This affects all postdocs regardless of visa status and funding source unless they are in a primarily teaching role. We currently take the opinion that hours tracking is near impossible for institutions, but some institutions are planning to do so. To find out why we think this and to see what institutions are doing, take a look at our new FLSA and postdocs resource.
Want to help? Please spread the word about this resource; and send info about your institution (and encourage others to send their info too) to email@example.com and tweet it out using #FLSA.
Recent meetings held/attended
- Advocating for Science meeting and Symposium, Boston, September 2016: With keynote speaker Rush Holt, CEO of AAAS, this meeting focused on discussing advocacy for science and a series of workshops to develop skills for advocacy. The conference website is being updated with materials – stay tuned for videos, and summaries of the meeting from our travel award recipients!
- FoR Canada: Calgary, September 2016: The keynote speaker was Dr. Pamela Valentine of Alberta Innovates and this local meeting included discussions about the state of postdocs in Canada, with data from the Canadian postdoc survey by CAPS, and news about recent Canadian funding issues from a representative of the Association of Canadian Early Career Health Researchers. Stay tuned for materials from that meeting being made available on a dedicated page on our website.
- Association of American Medical Colleges (AAMC) Group on Graduate Research and Training (GREAT) and Group on Research Advancement and Development (GRAND) Professional Development Meeting, September 2016: I attended this meeting and presented a poster with data on the biomedical workforce analyzed in a recent collaborative project (stay tuned). I will be writing up a blog post on the meeting, what I learned and saw so please follow the blog to keep up to date (subscribe using the box on the right hand side of the page as you scroll down).
Meetings/webinars coming up – Oct/Nov
- Jessica Polka, President of FoR, will be part of the first webinar in the eLife #ECRwednesday series, on “What’s the deal with preprints?” The webinar is on October 26th at 12pm EST – see more details here.
- I will be attending OpenCon 2016, at which Jessica Polka will be speaking on a panel, in Washington DC, November 12-14 2016. The conference is about “empowering the next generation to advance open access, open education and open data”. I will hold a satellite event on return to San Francisco, in December – stay tuned for more info.
- Jessica Polka will also be speaking on November 14 2016 at the 2nd Annual NYU Postdocs Interdisciplinary Symposium (PoIntS). Paula Stephan, a labor economist with expertise on the economics of science, will be the keynote. You can register here.
- I will be attending the “Bolstering Efforts to Prepare STEM PhD Students and Postdocs for a Full Range of Careers” workshop November 16-17, Washington DC, organized by the University Industry Demonstration Partnership (UIDP uidp.org).
You can read about FoR’s support grant from Open Philanthropy here.
We are also involved with NSF award 1624169, aiming to develop a community of experts around diversity and inclusion in STEM, primarily focusing on undergraduate retention in biology. Stay tuned for a blog post on the subject.
- FoR submitted a response to the NIGMS Request for Information (RFI): Strategies for Modernizing Biomedical Graduate Education (NOT-GM-16-109). You can read the RFI and response in full here.
- “Junior biomedical scientists and preprints” is on the FoR F1000Research Channel – there is still time to submit comments on the piece before it is revised.
- Jessica Polka and I wrote a letter to the editor of Nature, “Junior researchers: Fewer papers would scotch early careers“, in response to an article about Daniel Sarewitz about the number of publications in science.
- A piece for Science, “The fool’s gold of Ph.D. employment data“, talks about what unemployment numbers for PhDs tell us or, more importantly, do not.
- Viviane Callier (HHMI) and I wrote a piece in The Scientist, “Opinion: Retool Biomedical PhD Admissions” on how the arguments used to justify the number of PhDs do not address the issues in admissions practices, and in creating a supportive culture for students.
FoR in the News
- “NIH sets new postdoc stipend levels” By Maggie Kuo, Science – quotes from myself and Chris Pickett from Rescuing Biomedical Research (RBR) on the new NIH NRSA stipends to comply with the FLSA changes.
- “Speaking up for Science” By Connie Lee (University of Chicago) in Trends in Immunology – discusses FoR in the context of researchers advocating for science.
- “Young European researchers set groundwork for policy changes” By Elizabeth Pain, Science – quotes from myself and Chris Pickett from Rescuing Biomedical Research on the “Bratislava Declaration” of junior researchers in the EU.
- “Science’s 1%: How income inequality is getting worse in research” By Corie Lok, Nature – quotes on salaries in science.
- “So many research scientists, so few openings as professors” By Gina Kolata, The New York Times – quotes on pressures on junior scientists.
- “Steering the biomedical workforce away from the iceberg” By Sarah Bay, Genes to Genomes – quotes from FoR and RBR on our efforts.
Keep up to date with what we are doing:
What should we be doing?
Let us know your thoughts. Get in touch at firstname.lastname@example.org
What would you like to do?
We are looking for volunteers for blog posts and writing projects. We are also looking for volunteers for local meetings, particularly in the Boston, New York, San Francisco, Chicago, and Washington DC areas. If you are in the San Francisco area and have ideas for events that you would like me to organize in the Manylabs workshop space, please let me know. Also feel free to get in touch with project ideas/suggestions. We are looking forward to developing projects with you in the near future!
What has Gary been up to?
I began working full-time in the role of Executive Director in May funded by our grant with Open Philanthropy; since then I’ve been busy settling into Manylabs on a residency funded by the Moore Foundation and transitioning to full-time FoR work. Most recently, I spent just under a month traveling to Boston (for the Advocating for Science meeting); New York; Edmonton; Calgary (for the FoR Canada Calgary meeting) and Chicago (for the AAMC GREAT and GRAND Professional Development meeting). I gave talks at Harvard (with 100 postdocs in attendance!), Tufts (on the FLSA, see talk and slides), University of Alberta Edmonton, FoR Calgary and presented a poster in Chicago (more on this work in the next newsletter!). The travel was tiring but extremely invigorating, discussing the work to be done all over, most particularly meeting engaged advocates at the meeting in Boston, and seeing lots of interesting data in Calgary about postdocs, who have many similar concerns to the U.S. The next month should be quieter!