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Kate Travis

Around the web: post-Holiday edition

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.