As more biotech companies have battened down the hatches to survive this recession, it hasn't been surprising to see rounds of layoffs in industry — particularly as mergers and acquisitions have become more common in the field. What has come as a surprise to many scientists are the rumors of coming layoffs in academia. Even institutions that seem quite stable have watched their endowments dwindle and are going into cost savings mode.
It was in this gloomy environment that we sat down to plan our seventh annual salary survey. It's the only resource of its kind — targeted at scientists in the systems biology community — and we wanted to acknowledge that the landscape's a little different this year. So for the first time, we split out the survey with questions for people who have jobs and people who don't. (We all breathed a sigh of relief on seeing that just 3 percent of respondents reported being unemployed. That number is undoubtedly a bit lower than it should be, as some unemployed people won't bother taking a salary survey, but it's a far cry from the general unemployment stats we're routinely seeing in mainstream media.)
Many thanks to the 1,468 of you who responded to the survey this year, giving us all sorts of great data to showcase in this issue. Thanks also to those who took the time to send us your career questions, which we ran past experts in the field to get insight into how to handle salary negotiations, factors to consider when working abroad, why there's disparity in pay between men and women, and much more. You can check that out on p. 42.
Also in this issue, don't miss our feature articles on innovations in qPCR and new studies of genome-wide methylation enabled by microarray and sequencing advances. And for those of you who have been following the debate over the relevance of GWAS data, we've got a Q&A in this issue with Andrew Singleton at NIH, as well as a tech guide on best practices for running and analyzing association studies.