As a peer-reviewer are you gatekeeping or editing?

In academia, sometimes you need to be a gatekeeper, sometimes you need to be an editor. But knowing when to play either role is important, and can really make a difference to the student/young scientist/person whose work you are editing.

In their ongoing discussion of the role of peer review, Dynamic Ecology has an excellent blog post addressing this distinction.

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It’s hard to overstate what a disaster cutting the NIH budget will be

Although the proposed budget cuts are still just that (“proposed”), the amount of cuts they are suggesting to scientific research is no joke. In an excellent post over at “Butterflies and Wheels”, it’s explained exactly why this will be a disaster not just for academia, but for industry in the United States.

“Some people may think that what I and my fellow scientists do is so removed from their everyday life that making our lives harder won’t affect them. I guarantee that it will. It might not be obvious, at least at first. But as the US falls behind in scientific research in all disciplines, a new powerhouse will emerge. And businesses who rely on that basic research for their applied research, may decide it’s easier to just move to whichever country comes out on top.”

Read it here! 

 

We Are Never Just Scientists

During the Women’s March on Washington, a group formed called 500 women scientists. Their mission statement is to promote minorities and women in science and to make the inequality inherent in this system known.  Read about them here.

Along those same lines, for international women’s day, a few female scientists (Krista Bywater, Kristy L. Duran, Rukmani Vijayaraghavan, Claire Horner-Devine, Kelly Ramirez, Jane Zelikova) posted this excellent post on Scientific American about how as women and minorities we are never just scientists.

Please read the post, and consider marching (as a woman, as a minority, or as a white male ally) in the March for Science on April 22.

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Why Your Dog Can Get Vaccinated Against Lyme Disease And You Can’t

Lyme disease: a bacterial disease vectored by ticks that can cause long-term health issues.

It turns out that a vaccine was developed when lyme disease was first discovered to be a serious problem on Cape Cod. AWESOME! FIGHT THOSE TERRIBLE DISEASES!

But anti-vaccine advocates protested that the vaccine caused arthritis (a symptom which was never seen in clinical trials, and there is no evidence linking arthritis to the vaccine) and in the media backlash it was taken off the market.

So although it exists, and your dog can get vaccinated and live a lyme disease free life, we the people cannot. Read all about it here.

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EPA’s Environmental Justice Head Resigned After 24 Years. He Wants to Explain Why.

“To move backward didn’t make any sense.”

In his resignation letter, Ali attempted to make the case for the Office of Environmental Justice by appealing to Pruitt’s interest in economic growth. He described what happened in Spartanburg, South Carolina, which received a $20,000 grant from the EPA to address the community’s abandoned dump sites that were leaching toxic chemicals. The mostly low-income, African American residents of the region experienced high rates of cancer and respiratory disease. Local black leaders leveraged that grant into $270 million from investors and the government to revitalize the city, “creating jobs and improving their environments through collaborative partnerships,” Ali wrote. “When I hear we are considering making cuts to grant programs like the EJ small grants or Collaborative Problem Solving programs, which have assisted over 1400 communities, I wonder if our new leadership has had the opportunity to converse with those who need our help the most.”

Read the rest of it here. And check out yesterday’s post about the budget slashing funding for scientific research, and gutting the EPA budget.

And finally, call your representatives, this fight is far from over (and consider marching for Science in April).

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Seismic Disruption in Medical and Science Research

What is the role of government? Above all, I think this question has been driving the political divide that has occurred since the election last November. It affects whether you think everyone should have healthcare, whether jobs should be brought back, and importantly for us, whether science should be funded.

It’s well-known within scientific communities that governments (This is universally true) are the major source of funding for all academic scientific research. And basic research is important because it expands our knowledge. Science builds on previous science, so there is no way to tell what the work we are doing now will lead to in the future. It doesn’t have to be applicable, it might become applicable in the future, or lay the foundation for applicable research. And because of this lack of immediate profitability, basic science is often not funded by for-profit companies.

So, is it the role of the government to fund science? I think so, because of the argument laid out above. But the Trump administration apparently does not share my sentiments, as their budget drastically cuts science research across all fields of research. Read about it here, or feel free to weigh in on my argument above.

Also, please note, this is why the march for science is so important. It’s not just our livelihoods that are on the line. It’s our future and the future of the next generation.

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9 Tips For Communicating Science To People Who Are Not Scientists

The clickbait title is not my own. But it is the title of an article in Forbes about how to better communicate science with the public.

The too long; didn’t read version is below, and if you’re busy and want to focus on a few, I recommend 1, 6 (“Reflect on what you want (or do not want) on the record days, months or years later and use that as a filter.”), and 9.

1. Know your audience.

2. Don’t use jargon.

3. Get to the point.

4. Use analogies and metaphors.

5. Three points. Studies continue to show that three key points are effective with audiences.

6. You are the expert.

7. Use social media.

8. The myth of “popularizers.”

9. Relate.

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