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'Honorary,' Indeed

The University of Birmingham has withdrawn its advertisement for an "honorary" — unpaid — research assistant position after critics voiced concern that such cost-free assistance was exploitative, reports Paul Jump at Times Higher Education.

"The position, advertised last week on, required applicants to commit to working at least two days a week on a 'voluntary basis' on a new clinical study of mental illness," Jump reports. In a statement, Birmingham said that "although the honorary research assistantships were conceived as training positions, the university recognizes that this was not clear and has, consequently, withdrawn the advertisement," THE adds.

Speaking with THE, University of Roehampton’s Rebecca Boden suggested that "a better way for universities to recruit cost-free assistance would be to recruit PhD students and to waive their fees."

The Scan

Missed Early Cases

A retrospective analysis of blood samples suggests early SARS-CoV-2 infections may have been missed in the US, the New York Times reports.

Limited Journal Editor Diversity

A survey finds low diversity among scientific and medical journal editors, according to The Scientist.

How Much of a Threat?

Science writes that need for a provision aimed at shoring up genomic data security within a new US bill is being questioned.

PNAS Papers on Historic Helicobacter Spread, Brain Development, C. difficile RNAs

In PNAS this week: Helicobacter genetic diversity gives insight into human migrations, gene expression patterns of brain development, and more.