Elsewhere in Science, 17 January 2014

Each week, Science publishes a few articles that are likely to be of interest to career-minded readers. But because those articles aren’t featured on Science Careers, our readers could easily overlook them.

To remedy that, every Friday we’re pointing readers toward articles appearing in Science—the print magazine as well as the other Science-family publications (ScienceInsider, ScienceNOW, Science Translational Medicine—Sci. TM—and Science Signaling)—that hold some relevance or nuggets of advice for readers interested in furthering their careers in science. (Please note that while articles appearing in ScienceInsider and ScienceNOW can be read by anyone, articles appearing in Sci. TM, Science Signaling, and Science may require AAAS membership/Science subscription or a site license.)

 This week in ScienceInsider, Science’s policy blog:

• On Tuesday, Mervis provided some details on science spending in the budget agreement reached by Congress, details of which were released Monday night. Following an abysmal 2013, few science advocates see overall science spending levels as adequate, but they are much improved—and in the physical sciences they’re actually pretty good. NSF will receive $7.17 billion, an increase of 4.2% over the sequestration-ravaged 2013 budget, and NASA’s science programs will get $5.15 billion, a 7.7% jump. The Department of Energy’s (DOE’s) Office of Science budget will increase by 9.7%, to $5.07 billion, and DOE’s Advanced Research Projects Agency-Energy will get an 11.2% boost, to $280 million. The National Institutes of Standards and Technology budget will grow 10.4%, to $850 million.

On the biomedical side, reviews are mixed. The research budget of the National Institutes of Health (NIH) will rise by more than $1 billion, which should fund some 385 additional research grants. But, it “won’t adequately reverse the damage done by last year’s budget sequester and ensure the nation’s biomedical research enterprise makes continued progress,” says Carrie Wolinetz of United for Medical Research, a coalition of academic and industry groups.

Mervis also wrote about the budget in a News & Analysis story in this week’s Science.

• On Thursday’s ScienceLive, Mervis hosted Hal Salzman, professor of planning and public policy at Rutgers, who studies the scientific workforce, and Susan Singer, who heads the division of undergraduate education at NSF, in a discussion about undergraduate education in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) fields and two recent studies that cast doubt on the conventional wisdom that attrition in these fields—the proportion of students abandoning STEM majors—is higher than in other fields. Click on the link above to watch and listen to the discussion.

• In aeditorial, Editor-in-Chief Marcia McNutt announced changes to Science editorial policies. The changes are aimed at addressing concerns about the reproducibility of experiments, especially preclinical studies:

For preclinical studies (one of the targets of recent concern), we will be adopting recommendations of the U.S. National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke (NINDS) for increasing transparency. Authors will indicate whether there was a pre-experimental plan for data handling (such as how to deal with outliers), whether they conducted a sample size estimation to ensure a sufficient signal-to-noise ratio, whether samples were treated randomly, and whether the experimenter was blind to the conduct of the experiment. These criteria will be included in our author guidelines.

McNutt notes that the problem is not limited to preclinical studies, but that unfortunately, no guidelines comparable to the NINDS preclinical guidelines exist for other disciplines. She also notes that journals can only do so much. “The ultimate responsibility lies with authors to be completely open with their methods, all of their findings, and the possible pitfalls that could invalidate their conclusions.”

• In News Focus, Dennis Normile wrote about the “second act” of Woo Suk Hwang, the Korean scientist who 8 years ago was dismissed from his position at Seoul National University for “his central role in one of history’s most notorious scientific frauds.” Hwang now heads the Sooam Biotech Research Foundation, a nonprofit institute with a staff of 40 and a $4 million annual budget. Some say Hwang has made great strides toward regaining the respect of the scientific community. Others disagree: “[Hwang’s] scientific fraud was simply too great,” says Insoo Hyun, a bioethicist at Case Western Reserve University in Cleveland, Ohio, who once advised Hwang.

• In Books et al., Yael Peled reviewed Does Science Need a Global Language?, by Scott L. Montgomery. Science Careers columnist Beryl Benderly reviewed the book and discussed the issue from a career standpoint last July.

• In a Retrospective, Sydney Brenner remembered two-time Nobel Prize winner Frederick Sanger, calling him a “remarkable and unique scientist,” noting that while both of his Nobel Prizes were in chemistry, the molecular biology community claims him “because the methods he developed for sequencing proteins and nucleic acids provide the basis for much of what we do today.” Yet, Brenner wrote

A Fred Sanger would not survive today’s world of science. With continuous reporting and appraisals, some committee would note that he published little of import between insulin in 1952 and his first paper on RNA sequencing in 1967 with another long gap until DNA sequencing in 1977. He would be labeled as unproductive, and his modest personal support would be denied. We no longer have a culture that allows individuals to embark on long-term—and what would be considered today extremely risky—projects.

Top Image: Senator Barbara Mikulski (D-MD) and Representative Hal Rogers (R-KY) CREDIT: U.S. Congress

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