Elsewhere in Science, 22 Jan 2016

Every Friday, Science Careers points to articles in the Science family of publications that are relevant to careers in science and other technical fields. Some of them are accessible to anyone, but access to articles appearing in Science Translational Medicine, Science Signaling, and Science may require AAAS membership (AAAS is the publisher of Science Careers) or a site license.

► “Turkish academics who have openly criticized Turkey’s military crackdown on ethnic Kurdish communities are now feeling the wrath of their government,” John Bohannon wrote Tuesday at ScienceInsider. “In recent days, the government arrested 33 academics. Although all have since been released, ScienceInsider has learned, 15 have been fired from their university posts.” It  began “on 11 January, when a letter protesting violence in Turkey’s ethnically Kurdish southeastern region, and calling on the government to make peace with Kurdish rebels, was posted online. More than 1000 academics in Turkey and abroad signed it. At a press conference the next day, Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan denounced the letter as ‘treachery.’ By the end of the week, the government had launched 109 criminal investigations into academics based in Turkey.” “The arrested academics may have been freed, but many do not feel safe, [says Caghan Kizil, a Turkish neuroscientist at the Dresden University of Technology in Germany].”

► “A trio of recent sexual harassment cases involving university scientists is drawing extensive attention from at least one lawmaker in Congress,” Warren Cornwall wrote at ScienceInsider on Wednesday. “Representative Jackie Speier (D–CA) says she wants to strengthen a federal antidiscrimination law to help solve the problem. But it’s not clear how her proposed solution—still in the formative stage—would work, or whether it can be enacted into law.” Specifically, “[s]he said that when students, faculty, or staff move from one university to another, the new university should be alerted if the person was found to have violated provisions of a 1972 federal law targeting gender discrimination in higher education, commonly known as Title IX,” “[b]ut legal experts say it could prove tricky to craft a congressional response that reaches down to the level of university labs,” Cornwall wrote.

► McGill University’s Montreal Neurological Institute (MNI) and Hospital in Canada is “going ‘open’ to accelerate science,” Brian Owens reported on Thursday. How? “[A]ll results and data will be made freely available at the time of publication, for example, and the institute will not pursue patents on any of its discoveries.” By doing so, all researchers will have “access to the tissue samples in MNI’s biobank and to its extensive databank of brain scans and other data.” This move will make MNI the first scientific institute to follow the open-science path, says Guy Rouleau, the director of MNI. “We think that it is a way to accelerate discovery and the application of neuroscience,” Rouleau says.

► “There is growing alarm among the scientific community about the prospect of the United Kingdom exiting the European Union,” Tania Rabesandratana and Erik Stokstad wrote in this week’s issue of Science. “Many universities fear they could lose the hundreds of millions of pounds that their researchers win in grant competitions run by the European Union, such as Horizon 2020. Another concern is the potential loss of influence in shaping the directions of these research programs. But campaigns for a U.K. exit argue that the United Kingdom as a whole would save money if it didn’t have to contribute financially to the European Union, and researchers would be spared E.U. bureaucracy and regulations.”

► In a follow-up analysis of a recent Science paper, which we initially covered here at Science Careers last month, Jeffrey Mervis wrote in this week’s issue of Science that, of recent Ph.D. recipients from research-intensive Midwestern public universities, “[n]early three in five remained in academia, many presumably as postdocs, with salaries that reflect their lowly rank. But 39% took industry jobs, and disproportionately worked at companies that conduct research. A relative handful (4%) joined the government.” The study is “based on an unprecedented blending of university administrative records with employment and earnings data collected for the U.S. Census Bureau” and focuses on “the immediate postgraduation employment of those who earned Ph.D.s between 2009 and 2011 from eight research-intensive public universities in the Midwest: Indiana, Ohio State, Pennsylvania State, and Purdue universities and the universities of Iowa, Michigan, Minnesota, and Wisconsin.” Mervis also pointed out that “Midwestern policymakers may be surprised to learn that newly minted Ph.D.s from two of their flagship institutions are more likely to end up working in California than in their home states.”

► In this week’s Science Careers-produced Working Life story, Jesse Shanahan wrote about the struggles she faces as a researcher with a visible disability, but nonetheless proclaims that “[d]isability is not a disqualification.” You can read her story here.

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