Losing a major grant funding PhD scientists

As I’m sure everyone has heard by now, the NSF is cutting the Doctoral Dissertation Improvement Grant (also known as the DDIG). This is a huge loss for scientific research in the United States.

Dollar per person, of all the NSF grants the DDIG was the biggest bang for the buck. It helped launch innumerable careers, and started many a scientist on the path to full adulthood.

The internet and twittersphere are full of stories about how DDIGs helped careers, but I want to highlight one from Jeremy Yoder. As usual, it’s well written and gets to the heart of the concept.

Also, call your members of congress to object to the continued reduction in funding for scientific research.

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The deficit model of STEM recruitment

Over at Small Pond Science, there is a thought provoking post about how to truly ‘diversify STEM fields.

If you want to truly diversify, then we need to stop trying to fill in the holes based on perceived deficiencies. Instead, we need to focus on training complete scientists. We need to fundamentally change our mindset about what a successful student looks like in a way that doesn’t reflect systemic inequities — and then enact a training and recruitment agenda based on that mindset. We can continue investing our time and resources trying to get URM students to look more competitive against white students from private universities.”

Interested? Read more here. 

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Arguments against anti-science arguments

In the best titled blog post ever “Scientists aren’t Stupid, and Science Deniers are Arrogant” the anonymous author Fallacy Man openly confesses:

“Debating those who reject scientific facts has been a hobby of mine for several years now. It’s not a very rewarding hobby, and it comes with high stress levels and periodic fits of rage, so I don’t particularly recommend it.”

This in and of itself would make me love this post. But he then goes on to talk about how the biggest problem with science deniers is their arrogance. They genuinely believe that they know more than people who have years, and sometimes decades of experience studying science. While this makes my blood boil, the more important part of post for me was an outline of different arguments that science deniers have made, and good peer-reviewed sources to respond. 

Read it here!

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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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The battle between global health charities and open access mandates

Global health charities are funding more and more scientific research (as NIH and NSF funding rates are scarily low).

However, one prominent charity, the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation have an open-access policy stipulating that any research that they fund must be available open-access.

Which conflicts with Science and Nature policy. So at the moment any research funded by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation cannot be published in two of the top journals for science.

Thoughts?

Read about it here. 

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Make America Informed Again

One thing that sprung out of the 2016 Presidential Election is the role that fake news played in the spread of misinformation, and potentially lead to the current disastrous result.

Sometimes this is because the editorial staff has a slant on an issue that they are actively pushing. But sometimes there’s simply bad reporting because it’s easier to do and can make you more successful than good reporting does. Even when addressing something as objective as science.

Think about it: a new study comes out, with a sweeping groundbreaking conclusion. There’s a press release that accompanies the study, if you’re a journalist do you:

  1. Only write about it if you, yourself, are an expert in the field, capable of digging into the details and evaluating it in the context of everything else known yourself?
  2. Consult with a slew of experts, assuming you’re not one yourself, to ensure you evaluate the release properly — as best you can — before you craft your narrative?
  3. Call a few people to interview them, writing down quotes, so that when you write about the study and its conclusion, you can add in either affirming or dissenting opinions from experts?
  4. Or do you simply write a catchy headline designed to highlight the new, spectacular conclusions, and base your story entirely on the press release?

Forbes wrote an article addressing this exact problem. 

Or if you want the TL;DR version watch this Last Week Tonight clip, where John Oliver explains how important it is to understand science.