Nature's Virginia Gewin this week says that "academics who delay retirement could create roadblocks for early-career researchers." Graeme Hugo at the University of Adelaide in Australia tells Gewin that more than half of the academic workforce is over 50 years old. So, while Hugo says he expects around 40 percent of that workforce to retire in the next decade, Gewin says that will not produce the ideal situation for young academics because as faculty members delay their retirements, "increasingly, vacated permanent posts are divided into contractual, non-tenure-track jobs."
Harvard University's Cathy Trower says that "the pipeline isn't emptying like administrations thought it would," as academics delay their retirements. Frances Rosenbluth at Yale University says that "there is not going to be any massive wave of retirements for a while — we've got 20 years to wait for the anaconda bulge of baby boomers to work itself out."
Overall, Gewin says, "the recession has only exacerbated a growing trend towards deferring retirements; no one expects a retirement boom, even if the economy improves."
Children's Hospital Boston's Roy Peake shares peer review tips for beginners in Clinical Chemistry this week. "There is a lack of clear guidance in approaching the reviewing process practically, and young scientists may find it difficult to deliver a concise, balanced review within an acceptable time frame," Peake says. After covering the basics, Peake goes on to say that "novice reviewers should seek advice from their peers and mentors," though he adds that, in the end, "the skills required for reviewing are seldom taught; rather, they are gained with experience." Overall, he emphasizes taking a consistent approach and adhering to editors' deadlines.
Both men and women in science are affected by issues related to work-life balance, a new survey says. "More than half of the survey's 4,225 respondents said work demands conflict with their personal lives at least two to three times a week," The Chronicle of Higher Education reports, citing data from the Association for Women in Science-commissioned analysis, underwritten by Elsevier. Among the worldwide respondents, 64 percent were employed in academia, while the remainder said they work in industry or at nonprofit or government institutes. "Forty-eight percent of women are unhappy with the way their work life meshes with their personal life, compared with 39 percent of men," the Chronicle notes.
Donna Dean, who provided a preliminary analysis of the survey data, tells the Chronicle that work-life balance in science "is not a gender issue," but rather, that it is "atmosphere-related. … Both men and women are struggling with this." Still, male and female scientists are affected differently. "Nearly 40 percent of women said they short-circuited their childbearing plans, compared with 27 percent of men who said their careers stood in the way of starting a family," the Chronicle says.
The March 2012 issue of Au Science Magazine asks "Who are scientists?" and in it, reporter Chris Sutherland speaks with the newly appointed European Union Science Advisor Anne Glover to learn more about her career. Glover tells Sutherland that combating gender stereotypes and the under-representation of women in science "is a very important issue for Europe if we are to be globally competitive." She adds that tackling these issues "is an important agenda item for me for the next three years." When asked about her personal experiences as female scientist, Glover says "I never thought of myself as a women in science, but just as a scientist," though she adds that, with time and experience, "I did notice that the more senior I became, the more sexism I experienced." However, Glover is hesitant to place much blame on sexism, saying it could have been that "life becomes much more competitive" as anyone attains success in their careers. Still, she suggests that "men could just stop for a minute and imagine what that might be like if they were always the odd one out — it's not very enjoyable."
Glover tells Au Science that young women thinking about pursuing careers in science should "never wait to be asked," and "find a mentor — woman or man, a good one can be invaluable." She adds that, overall, it's important to enjoy science, as "there's no more creative thing you can do with your life."
Chad Brooks at LiveScience says "female entrepreneurs are flexing their intellectual muscles like never before." Citing data from a National Women's Business Council study, Brooks says that "in 2010, 18 percent of all patents went to women, compared with 14 percent a decade earlier, and just 9 percent 20 years before." Similarly, trademarks issued to women have increased. "Women were granted fewer than 17 percent of all trademarks to individuals or sole proprietorships in 1980; that number rose to 33 percent in 2010," he says, adding that the NWBC's study "is the first of its kind to explore the rates of women applying for and receiving patents and trademarks, mainly because federal applications do not ask for gender information."
Since its establishment, researchers have been slow to embrace the 'broader impacts' aspect of US National Science Foundation grant applications, write Britt Holbrook and Robert Frodeman, two philosophers from the University of North Texas. "This resistance stems in part from the definition of the sort of research NSF is supposed to fund — basic research. … [Vannevar Bush] defined basic research as research done without regard for its practical consequences," they say at Science Progress, a progressive science policy publication. However, Holbrook and Frodeman add that broader impact statements are not going away and researchers "should look for ways to own" them as they are "approaching parity with the Intellectual Merit criterion."
Scicurious this week shares "tips on surviving, and thriving, during your dissertation." While writing and defending a thesis can be a daunting task, Sci says it's best to break it up. She also suggests finding a writing partner. "Seeing another face close to a laptop screen can help drive you to focus as well," she says. "There's someone next to you egging you on." Sci says one of the most important things to do when writing a dissertation is to take breaks. "Do something else. An hour or two of going out with a friend for dinner, going running, or reading a novel will not sink the ship of your dissertation. And it will help clear your head when you need it most," she says. Seeking outside support can also provide perspective, she adds. "Call your friends, talk to people who defended before you. … Don't be afraid to seek support!"
Prefacing a live Q&A hosted at The Guardian's careers blog this week, Alison White says that while nearly a quarter of biosciences graduates opt to pursue PhDs, "there are apparently a wealth of [career] options you could consider" straight out of a bachelor's program. "Biosciences graduates are found in a variety of sectors, including the food industry, local and central government, environmental health, sports science, the pharmaceutical industry, and academia," she says.
Guardian panelist Chris Rawlings says:
And panelist Jeremy Pritchard echoes these sentiments:
Panelist Guy Poppy adds that a major "advantage of training in biological sciences is that it is of relevance and importance across the world."
One of the best jobs for 2012 is to be a clinical laboratory technician, writes Nathan Hellman at US News and World Report. "With steady population growth and the development of new lab tests, the job market for clinical laboratory technicians is expected to remain strong," Hellman says. Further, he notes that the median annual salary for a clinical laboratory technician was $36,280 in 2010, according to the US Bureau of Labor Statistics. "There are few lulls in hospital laboratories," Hellman says. "Most of the time, clinical laboratory technicians are on the move, performing a test here and analyzing a fluid sample there. [Cathy] Otto [president of the American Society for Clinical Laboratory Science] says that while the job keeps people busy, it is not overwhelming."
Cross-posted at our sister publication The Sample.
Losing his job in pharma helped Jan Kieleczawa corner a niche, launching his own sequencing service provider business. [More.]
Prof-Like Substance shares what he's learned since becoming an associate journal editor two months ago. "Like it or not, we are the vehicle that drives the speed of publication," Prof-Like says, as he lays out his experience so far. He says that when it comes to papers that are "seemingly similar in content and quality," it's typically easier for journal editors to find reviewers for those manuscripts that list prominent authors than those that do not. "I assume that people are more willing to spend their time reviewing for those they see as producing good work," Prof-Like says. He adds that having a paper rejected prior to review is often "better than dragging the process out. ... Rather than going through the whole review process, only to have the manuscript spit out the other end, you can now reformat and send somewhere else," he says. "Not ideal, but the better of two bad options." Finally, Prof-Like adds that timeliness is important. "If you sit on reviews, you lose the right to complain about time in review," he says.
The Washington Post this week says advances in nanotechnology and synthetic biology, among other fields, may provide "a solution to the unemployment puzzle."
The World Economic Forum's Global Agenda Council on Emerging Technologies' Javier Garcia-Martinez and Sang Yup Lee write in the Post that "from nanotechnology to synthetic biology, these [emerging] technologies are beginning to show their potential in the lab if not already in the market whether in sun block, planes or sports equipment."
The authors add that advances in synthetic biology are sure to drive job growth, saying:
Overall, though, technology development along is not enough. "Commercialization is key to creating new jobs," Garcia-Martinez and Lee write.
University College London's Thomas Mrsic-Flogel spent a year preparing for his $2.7 million Wellcome Trust fellowship application, and this week shares with Nature his tips for grant success.
Mrsic-Flogel "sought input from dozens of people, from UCL grant advisers to colleagues in neuroscience and other fields, in effect creating an informal peer-review panel," Nature's Karen Kaplan writes. "He revised the document several times, once deleting an entire section, and when something stumped him, Mrsic-Flogel called grant recipients he knew to find out how they had dealt with similar problems."
Much like Mrsic-Flogel did, Kaplan says it's best to "get editing and streamlining recommendations from as many senior colleagues as possible, both in and outside the research field." Clarity, she adds, is also important. Overall, Kaplan says "applicants need to communicate the pay-offs of the research straight away."