Conservation stories from the front lines

The stories of science are told many ways, in many places. Scientists share the ups and downs of the research process over raucous conference cocktails and long hours on the road, across lab benches and conference call lines, and around campfires after long days in the field. These stories underlie every scientific paper yet rarely appear alongside the tables and graphs. To read the often dull, sometimes tedious reports that fill the scientific record, you’d never know that science is a human endeavor, like any other, shaped by tragedy, comedy, and (mis)adventures.

So over at PLoS Biology there is an entire issue dedicated to this. To the knee scrapes, the mosquito bites, the drudge and the euphoric moments of discovery. So get over there and read about them!

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Huddled against the wind, picking through weeds to find snails. Cold, wet and a little tired.

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“Fits neatly inside a lizard’s cloaca”: scientists review products on Amazon

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Ziploc bags can be used as snail carriers. Food containers make good little bee homes. A salad spinner makes a good PCR centrifuge. Any scientist who’s ever done field work knows that everyday household projects can be game changers.

And now, scientists are reviewing these products on Amazon.

Read about them here!

 

Let’s move beyond the rhetoric: it’s time to change how we judge research

Impact factors were never meant to be a metric for individual papers, let alone individual people. They’re an average of the skewed distribution of citations accumulated by papers in a given journal over two years. Not only do these averages hide huge variations between papers in the same journal, but citations are imperfect measures of quality and influence. High-impact-factor journals may publish a lot of top-notch science, but we should not outsource evaluation of individual researchers and their outputs to seductive journal metrics.

So what can we do to combat this? What’s the solution? Read about it here!

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Trying to Fix the Gender Imbalance in Science Press

Women in science face a gauntlet of well-documented systemic biases. They face long-standing stereotypes about their intelligence and scientific acumen. They need better college grades to get the same prestige as equally skilled men, they receive less mentoring, they’re rated as less competent and less employable than equally qualified men, they’re less likely to be invited to give talks, they earn less than their male peers, and they have to deal with significant levels of harassment and abuse.

Additionally, women are literally being written out of science stories.

Read about Ed Yong’s desire to combat this pattern, and what he learned in the process, here.

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Science’s Pirate Queen

Over half of all research, according to one study, is now published by the big five of academic publishing: Reed-Elsevier, Wiley-Blackwell, Springer, Taylor & Francis, and, depending on the metric, either the American Chemical Society or Sage Publishing. Elsevier, for example, boasts a nearly $35 billion market cap. It has reported a nearly 39 percent profit margin for its scientific publishing arm — which dwarfs, by comparison, the margins of tech titans such as Apple, Google, and Amazon.

And Alexandra Elbakyan and SciHub are trying to do something to combat that. And similar to research gate they are being crazy sued because of it.

Read about it here!

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A new series! Scientist in Industry

Last year, NiB ran a series called “When I Grow Up”, providing insight on various stages of the academic career ladder (undergrad, MS, PhD, Postdoc, finding a faculty job, having kids, the early years).

This year, to compliment that, I’m running a series about leaving the academic ladder and going into industry. I’ve been pretty openly talking about the research showing that there are very few jobs in academia, and more importantly, that those jobs may not be the jobs we want.

So in this space every Tuesday, we’re going to hear about other professional possibilities, what it’s like out there, how researchers decided to leave the ivory tower, and what the other side looks like.

Stay tuned.

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The US Postal Service make Bioluminescent Stamps!

The photographs of Dr. Edith Widder, founder, CEO and senior scientist at ORCA, will appear on US Postage forever stamps!

Bioluminescence, the ability of living things to generate their own light, is demonstrated by the 10 examples on the stamp: a transparent deep-sea comb jelly,  the firefly squid, deep-ocean octopus, midwater jellyfish, deep-sea comb jelly, mushroom, firefly, bamboo coral, marine worm, crown jellyfish, a second type of marine worm, and sea pen.

Read about it here.

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