January 31, 2011
January 31, 2011
According to the Conference Board survey, the number of job ads posted online increased by 439,000 in January compared to December 2010. That's an increase of more than 10% and the biggest increase since Science Careers began tracking these numbers in May 2008. It's also the biggest percentage increase since January 2010 -- and, yes, that proved to be a false start, so perhaps I should be a little too cautious in my pronouncements.
But I'll leave caution to June Shelp, the vice president of The Conference Board. "The very strong seasonal gain to start 2011 is welcome news following seven months of essentially flat U.S. labor demand," Shelp said, quoted in a Conference Board press release. "Last year, after a promising start (up about 350,000 in January 2010), labor demand fizzled, and the last half of 2010 was actually flat with no appreciable gains in job demand. Hopefully the January 2011 increase suggests that employers are seeing a pickup in their businesses and labor demand will continue to improve throughout this year."
Let's look at the numbers in more detail. After the downturn that started in April 2007, driven by the financial crisis, the number of online job ads fell by about 1.8 million, hitting a low point 2 years later in April 2009. Since then, 1.44 million ads -- about 80% of what was lost -- have been added back. One more month like January 2010 and we'll have caught up completely, according to the help-wanted-online metric.
The category most relevant to Science Careers readers -- life, physical, and social sciences -- mirrored the market as a whole: The number of online ads rose by 10.6% month over month. In computer and mathematical science, the number of online ads increased by 11.7%. In the category "healthcare practitioners and technical," the increase was nearly 15%. Online job ads in the architecture and engineering category grew by 14.6%. Even the "education, training, and library" category, which had been especially laggardly of late, rose by more than 13%. All these numbers are month over month.
There's more to report. Unfortunately (for me, not for you) The Conference Board is improving its methodology, which makes comparisons to our older data useless. However, all the data reported above, for January and for December, are based completely on the new methodology so the comparisons should be sound. The Conference Board is releasing the whole time series in revised form, which will allow us to update our older charts to make them consistent with the new methodology. But the revised time series won't be available until early February. That means you will have to wait a while for even more details.
January 28, 2011
You may read the whole article on PickTheBrain.com."Remember that ideas alone don't bring success - Ideas are important, but they're only valuable after they've been implemented. One average idea that's been put into action is more valuable than a dozen brilliant ideas that you're saving for 'some other day' or the 'right opportunity'."
January 24, 2011
January 21, 2011
I've got a rather conservative list of stuff for you this week:
Those of you who blog, Tweet, participate in social networks, and so on may have seen buzz this week about the Science Online conference (Twitter hashtag: #scio11), held last weekend in North Carolina. I wasn't there (though I have been to Science Online London the past two years), so I won't attempt to report on the surely excellent topics discussed there. But, as is often the case for a meeting of people who contribute regularly to the Interwebs, you can learn a lot by perusing the Web site, wiki, tweets, and videos of sessions. I do know at least two of our correspondents were there and there will be a forthcoming Science Careers article from the meeting. Stay tuned.
One tweet I did pick up on from #scio11 noted a new list of so called Diversity Bloggers, assembled by the folks at MinorityPostdoc.org. Their list includes our very own Micella Phoenix DeWhyse, whose column was a blog of sorts before blogs were en vogue.
Late last week, The Times' science magazine Eureka hosted a Eureka Live event at the Wellcome Collection on women in science. I was gutted to miss the event, as two of the speakers are among my favorites to listen to on this topic. They are Athene Donald, Professor of Experimental Physics at the University of Cambridge, and Ottoline Leyser, Professor of Biology at the University of York. Leyser is a recent winner of the Rosalind Franklin Award, and with her prize she put together "Mothers in Science: 64 ways to have it all" (free PDF download).
Fortunately, blogger Della wrote a summary of the event, touching on the themes of parenthood, competitiveness, social cues, and perception. Donald herself wrote a follow-up post on her own blog specifically on the theme of confidence, as the idea that women lack confidence in their credentials came up at the Eureka Live event. But in her post, Donald keeps the discussion gender-neutral and offers advice on confidence in presentations, job interviews, etc. "The key thing if you do lack self-confidence is not to let it undermine your accomplishments, but learn to fake an inner strength when in public," she concludes.
That's probably more than you wanted to know about what I did *not* do in the last week. In early February you'll hear about what's keeping me chained to my desk. Meanwhile, here are a few more interesting links:
On the research misconduct beat, the British Medical Journal this week published its third (and last) installment of journalist Brian Deer's investigation into Andrew Wakefield and misconduct in his research attempting to link the MMR vaccine and autism. "Thirteen years later, we are only now beginning to understand the root causes of the multiple system failures involved in the Wakefield incident," writes Douglas J. Opel of Seattle Children's Research Institute in a related editorial. "We must strengthen our ability to investigate research-adverse events. We need to use the tools and techniques available to protect the safety of patients in the clinical realm to protect research subjects. We also need to rethink and reform our customs and culture. The disastrous impact that Wakefield's study has had on vaccine coverage, recrudescence of disease, public trust, and, most of all, science, requires that we do so in haste."
The Duke Chronicle published an article looking at recently released documents in the misconduct case against Anil Potti, formerly a cancer genomics researcher at Duke. "According to the documents, the National Cancer Institute continued to raise questions about the research and its use as justification for clinical trials at Duke even after a Duke review concluded in late December 2009 that the trials could continue," the article states. "The information in the NCI documents is another indication of the growing doubts about Potti's research in the months leading up to his suspension and resignation." Science covered some of the issues in August; Nature published an extensive article last week.
If you haven't already checked it out, I highly recommend this week's Science Careers article Balancing Professional Aspirations With Family, in which our European editor Elisabeth Pain talks to neuroscientist John Apergis-Schoute about putting family before his scientific career.
January 19, 2011
Few Westerners -- including this reporter -- realized that less than 3 months after that epoch-making event, on October 3, 1978, the world's second test-tube birth took place in Calcutta, India. A team headed by physician Subhas Mukherjee (often also spelled Subhash Mukhopadhyay) conceived in vitro and delivered a baby girl they identified by the pseudonym "Durga," after a Hindu goddess who embodies the female creative force, but whose actual name is Kanupriya Agarwal. Mukherjee had devised a method different from -- and, in the opinion of some, superior to -- that used by the English team.
But unlike Steptoe and Edwards, Mukherjee's countrymen did not acclaim his achievement. Instead, the Indian scientific establishment doubted his claims. He was investigated by an official scientific committee that included no one qualified to evaluate his work. Then he was vilified for fraud and prevented from presenting his work to the international scientific community. Humiliated and dispirited, he committed suicide in 1981. Not until a quarter century after "Durga's" birth did the Indian scientific world recognize his achievement, largely through the efforts of the man previously credited with India's first test-tube birth, T C Anand Kumar. The tragic tale was popularized in an Indian movie.
Mukherjee always claimed that, had he received the support rather than the opposition of India's scientific establishment, he could have beaten the British team to the first IVF birth. And even today, writes journalist Shobha John in the Sunday Times of India for January 16, 2011, an "Indian crab syndrome" -- the tendency to pull down to the common level anyone trying to follow an innovative course -- explains why, in the words of G P Talwar, founder-director of India's National Institute of Immunology, "research at Indian universities rarely comes up with path-breaking work." John adds, "doctors admit the going is tough in the Indian universe of scientific and medical research."
"Heads of department (HoDs) put up opposition to anything unconventional and are part of expert groups which one can't fight against," Talwar observes. "Staff selection maybe biased and meritorious students may find it hard to survive and prosper unless they have a godfather, [Talwar] says," John writes. John further quotes Anoop Misra, director and head of the department of diabetes and metabolic diseases at Fortis Hospitals in Delhi, to the effect that bureaucratic foot dragging and infighting can delay research for months.
How widespread the "crab syndrome" is in India is not clear. It is clear, however, that the phenomenon is not unique to that country. Unconventional discoveries by Western scientists have also met with disbelief and even scorn. The prion and the connection of Heliobacter pylori to stomach ulcers are just two prominent examples of advances that met strong initial resistance. Steptoe and Edwards also faced skepticism, and worse, before they succeeded.
But if John's interpretation is correct, India would need, as John puts it, "institutional reforms and a process to keep department heads in check" if it wants to unleash the full talents of its scientists.
January 19, 2011
January 18, 2011
January 18, 2011
January 17, 2011
One of my favorite headlines on a Science Careers article is Disasters of the Famous, in which we asked some now-prominent scientists about their laboratory mistakes. A surprising number of the anecdotes involve fire. But the point is, all of them overcame those setbacks and mistakes to go on to have successful scientific careers.
In August in the inaugural issue of iBioMagazine, Science's editor-in-chief Bruce Alberts recalls in a video presentation how 5 years' worth of his Ph.D. research experiments failed, and he went on to fail his oral exam.
It worked out for Alberts in the end: He went on to become a prominent cell biologist, served as president of the National Academy of Sciences, and is one of the original authors of the textbook, Molecular Biology of the Cell. "Success doesn't teach you much. Failure teaches you a lot," he says in the iBioMagazine video (below). Study your failures very carefully, he says: Those who are successful don't make the same mistake twice.
In 2008, we published a profile of Cambridge scientist Tony Kouzarides, who spoke honestly about his struggles with his research during his Ph.D. and postdoc, most of which was unpublishable. "Spend as much time as you like thinking about the experiment because if you waste your time doing the wrong experiment, you might as well not do it at all," advises Kouzarides, who is now a group leader at the Gurdon Institute.
An item in the Wall Street Journal last May offered up an example from the corporate world: Peter G. Peterson, the billionaire co-founder of private equity firm Blackstone Group LP, got kicked out of MIT for plagiarizing a paper from another student.
"The humiliating expulsion made Peterson realize he should avoid 'self-serving rationalizations about questionable behavior,'" the author writes in the article. "He instead asked himself: 'What would a person I admire greatly think about this behavior?'" The result, Peterson says, has framed his business practices since.
"To rebound from early mistakes, you need time to reflect constructively," Joann S. Lublin writes in the WSJ article.
And, if you don't want to take their word for it, you could listen to Michael Jordan:
January 14, 2011
Wow, 2011. I'm still not used to typing that. I'll stop marveling at the new year soon, I promise.
Anyway, here's a tour around the web this week for career- and career development-related items of note:
*This week's Science has an editorial, Boosting Minorities in Science, from Freeman A. Hrabowski III, president of the University of Maryland, Baltimore County. "Because the
minority groups underrepresented in science and engineering are the most rapidly growing in the U.S. population, the country must develop strategies to harness this resource to grow a robust science and engineering workforce and remain globally competitive," he writes. One place to start is to focus on retention of minority students who start, but don't finish, science and science-related degrees. Another is to focus on mentoring.
*A group of HHMI-funded investigators write an Education Forum this week called Changing the Culture of Science Education at Research Universities. "To establish an academic culture that encourages science faculty to be equally committed to their teaching and research missions, universities must more broadly and effectively recognize, reward, and support the efforts of researchers who are also excellent and dedicated teachers," they write. They then propose 7 ways in which universities can accomplish this.
*Teachers, check out this report on an intervention that improved test scores: Researchers asked college and high school students to write about their anxiety about taking an exam before taking the exam. These students ended up performing better on the exam itself than a control group that didn't complete a writing exercise. You can listen to a podcast interview with the author.
As usual, the fine folks at Science Insider have been busy:
*The National Research Council issued a report calling for the National Institutes of Health to "maintain or even increase the number of graduate students and postdocs it supports," Jocelyn Kaiser reports. Recommendations include increasing the postdoc stipend to $45,000 per year and increasing the Medical Scientist Training Program to train M.D.-Ph.D.s by 20%.
Other Science Insider items of note:
- Report: Complex and Burdensome' Rules Thwart U.K. Medical Research
- Who Wins If Fewer Foreign Grad Students Come to U.S.?
- Watchdog: Universities Must Confront Their Conflicts of Interest
- Students' Deaths in Colombia Cast a Pall Over Research
*This week's issue of Nature has a news feature that looks at the state of science in Romania and Bulgaria, both of which joined the European Union in 2007 and, according to the article, occupy positions at the bottom of the league tables for research expenditure and output. "Romanian scientists working outside the country say that the changes give them hope of some day being able to continue their research careers back home. Meanwhile, the Bulgarian diaspora despairs," Alison Abbott reports. Also see our recent article on nearby Turkey, which apparently is doing quite a bit better.
*In his World View column in Nature, Colin Macilwain writes about how universities are faring in the era of tight budgets. "While governments defend research spending, they are simultaneously slashing public funding for universities, where most research takes place," he writes.
*Nature Jobs this week takes a look at scientists with disabilities.
*This week's PLoS Computational Biology features an editorial from Philip E. Bourne, of the Skaggs School of Pharmacy and Pharmaceutical Science at the University of California San Diego, called Ten Simple Rules for Getting Ahead as a Computational Biologist in Academia. "This is not just about you, but an opportunity to educate a broad committee on what is important in our field. Use that opportunity well, for it will serve future generations of computational biologists," he writes.
*For those interested in clinical and translational research, the organization FasterCures has issued a white paper called Crossing Over the Valley of Death, which emphasizes the importance of translational research in the drug development process. The report also identifies some of the major challenges in translational research and offers some solutions.
*As always, there are many insightful posts in the blogosphere about science career development. This week I'll point you to just one: How to Ask For Help on the American Chemical Society blog. This is an important topic, and, as Lisa Balbes (who has written for Science Careers) points out, it's one many of us are not very good at. "Building your own professional network, one person at a time, will hold you in good stead when you next need to ask for help. And knowing what to ask for will make it easy for them to help you find it," Balbes writes.
*Last but not least, check out the new articles on Science Careers. First up is a profile of veterinarian-scientist Laura Richman, whose research at the National Zoo ultimately led her to become interested in human translational medicine. Now she's in charge of translational science R&D at a biotech company. Her story is an excellent illustration that career paths can lead in unexpected directions and that, rather than worrying about following in the footsteps of people before you, you should focus on following your interests and passions.
*We've also got a historical perspective on two African-American brothers who were chemists during the 1930s-1960s. Larry and William Knox achieved success despite discrimination against them. "Perhaps the strongest message of all is that science moves forward via the contributions of many scientists of all stripes, not only the great names -- a fact that a proper reading of the history of science must acknowledge," the authors write.
January 14, 2011
Albert Einstein (1879-1955) is widely regarded as the father of modern physics. For those of us old enough to have seen him in person, listen to him speak in public or on the radio, and read his writings when they were current, these memories are precious. In addition to being a great theoretical physicist he was looked upon as a philosopher and statesman. His intellectual interests and profound observations extended widely into the other sciences and the social aspects of human endeavor. In the 21st century he remains one of the most influential and iconic thinkers of all time.
Einstein is possibly the most frequently quoted figure in the history of science, but as is often noted, many of these quotations are of dubious authenticity. Alice Calaprice, a senior editor at the Princeton University Press, has worked with the Einstein papers at the Institute for Advanced Study for more than 30 years. In 1996, she published a volume entitled The Quotable Einstein, a comprehensive, meticulously referenced, annotated, and carefully arranged compilation of Einstein's quotes. For 2011, Calaprice has enlarged this to The Ultimate Quotable Einstein, a nearly 600-page volume of approximately 1600 quotations--the "final" and definitive edition.
On a recent visit to Princeton, I had the good fortune to obtain an advanced copy of this work and delighted in it as I have in few other books. I have selected and arranged these quotations to simulate an interview with Einstein, circa 1955, on the topic of science careers.
January 12, 2011
The workshop -- Responsible Research Practices in a Changing Research Environment -- will take place on Thursday, 17 February 2011. Among the questions the workshop will consider are these:
- What are the ethical challenges and range of responses associated with research collaborations across national borders?
- What preparation should researchers have to engage effectively with the media?
- What do increasing public demands for more socially accountable research imply for the social responsibilities of scientists?
- What should scientists consider when deciding whether, and if so, how, to engage in policy advocacy? What are the professional and societal risks associated with advocacy? What are the appropriate boundaries of "responsible advocacy"?
The agenda is posted at http://www.aaas.org/spp/sfrl/workshop‐on‐responsible‐research‐practices‐2011.shtml#Agenda. Direct all queries to Dr. Mark S. Frankel at email@example.com
To register for the workshop, for which there is a $25.00 fee, go to http://registration2.experient‐inc.com/showAAA111/Default.aspx. Follow the steps for "General Attendee." Registrants have the option of selecting only the workshop or choosing also to attend the AAAS Annual Meeting.
January 12, 2011
The minute you get off a plane at Bangalore (or, more correctly, Bangaluru), you know you're someplace different from the general run of Indian cities. The terminal is sleek, immaculate, and elegant, devoid of the mild chaos that generally seems to characterize Indian public places. The drivers and guides waiting to pick up their expected arriving passengers hold signs not for tour companies but for international corporations. The expressway out of the airport is up-to-date and full of private passenger cars and modern taxicabs rather than the motorbikes and tiny motorcycle based vehicles that serve as taxis in other places. There's not a cow or an elephant (not usual sights on Indian streets and roads) to be seen.
Your correspondent did not get to spend much time in the city that Indians proudly call their Silicon Valley, but the high-tech prosperity of this digital boom town was obvious in the plush high rises and modern office buildings, not to mention the heavy traffic and billboards advertising lavish residential properties. The influence of this influx of good jobs is obvious throughout the country, in the countless schools and colleges, ranging from fine universities to small places in country towns, that claim to provide education in the arcane arts of high tech. In addition, ubiquitous billboards promise academic success for graduates of these institutions..
Holders of engineering, medical, and other technical degrees, especially those "well-settled" with "MNCs" (multinational corporations), also dominate the matrimonial ads that are a standard feature of Indian newspapers. In these ads, the parents of both men and women tout their eligible children's undergraduate and graduate degrees. Families demand nothing less of the prospective spouses who answer their ads. In addition to the traditional proper caste standing and horoscope, some even specify a desired medical specialty.
The tech-based wealth of Bangalore is so great that the city has begun to suffer from the ills that eventually affect all boom towns. Bangalore has grown from about 2 million people to an estimated 5.7 million in just the past decade. Crowding, traffic, and high costs, especially for real estate, are daily realities. The high cost of living is forcing companies to raise salaries in order to continue attracting desirable employees to Bangalore.
American technical workers whose jobs have been "Bangalored," -- outsourced to India -- may enjoy the irony that increasing pay is already causing some Bangalore-based jobs to be "Phillipined" or "Vietnamed." Those countries have educated populations that in the former case generally know English and in the latter have a language that uses the Roman alphabet, which makes it much easier for them to learn the language than their Far Eastern competitors. A couple of years ago, an engineering professor in Vietnam told me of plans to create a "mini-Bangalore" in Saigon.
Some Indian observers note, however, that the jobs moving from nation to nation are generally filled by lower-level scientific and tech workers. The heavy-duty research, they say, remains in the United States.
January 11, 2011
January 7, 2011
Congratulations on making it through the first work week of 2011! Did you start with a clean desk like I did? Is it already covered in papers, magazines, and to-do lists, like mine is?
Here is a (biased, as per usual) selection of the week's career-related tidbits:
* GenomeWeb's Daily Scan found a great link at the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases: new examples of "exceptional" R01 applications in the shorter format. NIAID has also published a new article in its New Investigator Series called "Start Writing Your Application." If you are a checklist person, this article is for you.
* Speaking of grant writing, The Scientist's blog Naturally Selected this week writes about the Three deadly sins of grant writing. "Write highly dense, technical prose that is designed only for a specialist in your field to read," Morgan Giddings cites as her first sin. The bottom line of all of her list is to make your reviewer's job easy.
* Last Friday, the Augusta Chronicle profiled David Pollock and Jennifer Pollock, a dual-scientist couple at the Medical College of Georgia who work together on translational research related to kidney diseases, among other research questions. "The key that's allowed us to be successful is the fact that Jennifer has all this expertise in an area that I don't have," David Pollock said in the article. "And I'd like to think I have expertise that she doesn't have, although I think she's learned more about what I do than the other way around."
* The Chronicle of Higher Education published an article this week on moving abroad, written by a historian who moved form the U.S. to England (a move that I'm well familiar with). "In any long-distance move, you can expect many headaches. When moving abroad, expect a multiplication of hassles, large and small," the author writes. I'll second that.
In Nature Jobs this week, Paul Smaglik writes a 'where are they now' article that follows up with scientists who wrote journal entries for Nature. "One writer called her scientific career a "winding road". Today, many of those writers would add that the road also presents potholes, detours and dead ends," Smaglik writes.
* Science Insider this week summarized a white paper from a group of MIT researchers on what the group calls "convergence": "Their report defines convergence as 'the merging of distinct technologies, processing disciplines, or devices into a unified whole that creates a host of new pathways and opportunities' by combining life sciences, physical sciences, and engineering," Insider reports.
* Also this week, Insider took a look at the America COMPETES act, which President Obama signed into law this week. The act has implications for training and career development money from the National Science Foundation. "It's a reaffirmation of the value of integrating research and training at our universities," says Debra Stewart, president of the Washington, D.C.-based Council of Graduate Schools, in the Insider article. "It's what has made our research enterprise the best in the world, and it says that we are still on the right track."
* In Science this week, editor in chief Bruce Alberts introduces a new prize to recognize "outstanding 'modules' for teaching introductory college science courses that can readily spread to other settings and schools," Alberts writes. "Science is looking for lessons in which students become invested in exploring questions through activities that are at least partially of their own design. Instead of a typical laboratory exercise that begins with an explanation and results in one correct answer, an inquiry-based lesson might begin with a scenario or question and then require students to propose possible solutions and design some of their own experiments."
* In the News section of Science, writer John Bohannon takes a look at some pilot projects for virtual peer review panels. "Can the hard work of grant review be done without face-to-face meetings?," Bohannon asks. "With budgets tightening, scientific organizations like NSF are exploring ways to reduce the number of their physical meetings. Proponents see it as a win-win scenario, saving not only time and money but also carbon emissions. Whether the technology is up to the task is another matter."
Have a good week!
January 5, 2011
Developing a thick skin is essential for meetings in the Daley Lab, says Lensch... Without the personal comfort level the group has acquired by spending time together socially, the level of honesty they express in their meetings would be difficult, says Lensch. When you know your lab mates well, 'they're not going to take it personally' when you criticize their data, he says. 'They've seen you in the morning in a bathrobe.'
January 4, 2011
This correspondent is currently touring South India. Even here, amid the splendor of the temples and monuments, the hubbub of the bazaars, and the razzle-dazzle of 21st century cities, there seems to be no getting away from issues surrounding early science careers. On the plane from New York to New Delhi, for example, I encountered a young chemist I'll call Ashok, on his way home from 2 years as a postdoc in a mid-tier university in the Northeastern United States.
Ashok earned his Ph.D. in his native India. He would have preferred to stay in the United States when his postdoc ended (his PI lost a grant). The end of Ashok's postdoc meant the end of his his visa, and without a new position he could not remain in the United States. He had hoped to find a job with an American company but did not succeed. He doesn't have a job lined up in India, either; he will start looking soon after he arrives. He's not sure how good his prospects are of landing a desirable position.
Ashok's impression from friends at home (that is, in India) is that the job market for scientists there has gotten worse of late. He reports that Chinese postdoc friends in the States were saying the same thing about conditions at home. In Ashok's opinion, the American young-scientist glut is spilling over into the big supplier countries, China and India, as postdocs return home after their time in the United States.
I have no way of knowing whether Ashoks' impression is correct or why he did not get the American job he hoped for. Of course, the Great Recession has made finding jobs harder for nearly everyone, scientists -- foreign and domestic -- included. Beyond that are the usual questions: Does he have a good publication record? Is his field in demand? Does his PI have good connections in relevant industries? These questions did not get answered during a chance conversation across the aisle in the economy section of a jam-packed commercial jet. But I suspect that Ashok, who seemed serious and intelligent, is not alone in his view of life in the middle reaches of the American postdoc scene. His opinions are not definitive -- as he surely would admit -- or based in rigorous research, but they should not be ignored, either.
P. Thrihurthy, president of the Computer Society of India (CSI), is more sanguine on the subject of scientific employment in India. There are "plenty" of jobs for computer scientists and IT graduates, he is quoted as saying in the education supplement of The Hindu, South India's leading newspaper. But in his opinion, the article states, to be "100 percent employable" technically trained people need exposure to a broader range of subjects, especially management, with an emphasis on "real-life scenarios." CSI offers a range of educational opportunities including "industry-oriented professional development for new graduates" and continuing education for mid-career workers. Thrimurthy's opinion echoes that of American proponents of broader
training for technical and scientific graduates seeking opportunities in
Ashok told me he spent his American sojourn at the laboratory bench, not learning management skills. Perhaps if he'd had an opportunity to familiarize himself with some of the practical aspects of industry, his job search would have been more successful.
January 3, 2011
Several career-related stories came out during or just before the holidays. I thought I'd round some of them up in case you missed them. Keep in mind that I'm sampling only the publications and blogs I read regularly!
* The Friday before Christmas week, the White House released a guidance for federal agencies on developing policies on scientific integrity. A mere 4 pages long and 17 months late, Science Insider says, the guidance suggests 4 areas in which agencies should develop clear integrity policies: the foundations of scientific integrity in government, public communication about science, the use of advisory committees, and the professional development of scientists. (See also our recent articles on research integrity.)
* Science journalist Elizabeth Pennisi did a follow-up interview with scientist Felisa Wolfe-Simon, lead author of the arsenic bacteria paper published online in Science in December that quickly came under heavy criticism, both for the hype surrounding it and for the science itself. "Since the press conference, my life has been really busy and stressful," Wolfe-Simon tells Pennisi. "We thought that our findings would generate some discussion, but we didn't anticipate the reaction we saw."
* Also on Science Insider, Jeff Mervis reported that Congress failed to reauthorize the Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) and Small Business Technical Transfer (STTR) programs, both of which are intended to move scientific discoveries into the market. The future of the programs, whose current authorization expires January 31, 2011, is uncertain.
A couple of items of note from the 24 December issue of Science:
* An article in the News section summarizes the upcoming federal court case of an astrophysicist who claims he wasn't hired by a university because he's an evangelical Christian. Beryl Benderly has written about the case on the Science Careers Blog.
* This week's Policy Forum, The Challenge of Feeding Scientific Advice into Policy-Making, presents three case studies that illustrate general principles that can guide scientists and policy-makers in interactions with each other and the public.
* In the 23 December issue of Nature, Nancy Baron, zoologist and science outreach director of COMPASS (Communication Partnership for Science and the Sea), writes about the importance of scientists' communication skills. "For scientists who would be agents of change, communication is not an add-on. It is central to their enterprise. ... Yet learning to communicate is a critical life skill not typically taught as part of scientific training. It should be."
* The Wall Street Journal's Career Journal had a post on Scoring Unlisted Jobs - using the oft-cited statistic that some 80% of jobs are never advertised. This is something Dave Jensen, our Tooling Up columnist, tells you, too, most recently in A Job-Search Plan for the Person Without One (Part One) and A Job-Search Plan for the Person Without One (Part 2).
* Finally, The Scientist has an opinion piece from immunologist Douglas Green on what it takes to publish a paper, get a grant, or get a job. His two-word advice: "Astonish us." "A favored application has astonished the reviewers, who can be very forgiving about mistakes, chancy experiments, and the occasional missing control if they are convinced that the work has a real chance of affecting how we think about something important," Green writes.