You can't accuse us of having good timing. Our salary survey this year came out during a few major grant application deadlines and some of the field’s most popular conferences — including the BIO annual meeting and Cold Spring Harbor’s wildly oversubscribed Biology of Genomes. Still, nearly 1,800 of you somehow managed to find time to respond. I can’t thank you enough. After all, without your input, our annual salary report wouldn’t be the treasure trove of useful data that it is.
This is our fifth annual salary survey, and it's a great thing to look at it over time and see that it's gotten better every year. In this edition, we split up some of our earnings brackets to give you even more specific salary range information, and we worked to assemble the results in new ways to make them easier to read. If we’ve done our job well, this should be a tool that you can actually bring into your next review as a factual, well-grounded basis for a discussion of your compensation package.
Continuing an idea that was well received last year, we offered survey respondents the opportunity to submit career-related questions, which we then brought to experts in the field. Their answers to your questions begin on p. 38. (Be sure to check out our humor page this month as well, where GT editors had a little fun with your most common question: how do I network?)
Elsewhere in the issue, we've got plenty of non-financial articles to keep you up to speed. Our next-generation sequencing feature checks in with current users of the Roche (454) and Illumina (Solexa) platforms to get candid feedback about their experiences with the instruments, as well as what types of applications they’re best suited for. Whether you're already a customer or you've been sitting on the fence waiting for the perfect time to buy, this article should prove helpful.
On the computing front, reporter Matt Dublin investigates the growing skirmish as Microsoft sets its sights on life science cluster users. Can the software giant win over a die-hard Linux community? Probably not, Dublin finds, but it might well open the doors to cluster computing for scientists who are less familiar with high-performance computing. In another article, GT's Ciara Curtin looks into claims that simulation software vendors are making their tools “biologist-friendly.” According to her research, that’s true, but only to a point. In the modeling software realm, ease of use seems to be inversely correlated with the power and functionality of a tool — so the ones that truly are easiest for a non-programmer to use may also not offer that much in the way of sophisticated simulations.
You may recall that in December of last year, we published a special issue profiling the rising stars of this community. The members of "tomorrow's PIs," as we called them, were nominated by today's leading PIs. We got such great response to that issue that we’ll be running another one at the end of this year, so we're looking for your nominations now. If there's a terrific scientist early in his or her career that you’d like to recommend, don't hesitate to e-mail me.