Elsewhere in Science: Open access, Dance Your PhD, and more

Here is the past week’s career-related news from across the Science family of publications.

► “E.U. member states [last Friday] agreed on an ambitious new open-access … target,” Martin Enserink wrote that day. “All scientific papers should be freely available by 2020, the Competitiveness Council—a gathering of ministers of science, innovation, trade, and industry—concluded after a 2-day meeting in Brussels. But some observers are warning that the goal will be difficult to achieve.” Read the full article for details.

►“After meeting five Nobel laureates and a winner of the Fields Medal, the world’s top honor in mathematics, French President François Hollande has canceled more than half of an unexpected €256 million cut in research and higher education budgets that had caused consternation in the country’s scientific community,” Enserink wrote on Tuesday. “‘We’re not entirely satisfied,’ [says Patrick Monfort, secretary general of the SNCS-FSU, an influential union of scientists]. But the cuts [that were canceled] were the most controversial, he says, because they would have immediately imperiled ongoing research and the recruitment of young scientists.”   

► “[Last] month, Maria Zuber, a planetary geophysicist at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) in Cambridge, took over from Dan Arvizu as chair of the National Science Board,” which “oversees the National Science Foundation (NSF),” Jeffrey Mervis wrote Tuesday. “She has reached any number of ‘first woman to …’ milestones, including principal investigator on a NASA planetary mission and head of an MIT science department,” but, Zuber told ScienceInsider, “I’ve never realized I was first until after the fact. … This is not something I aspire to. And I long for the day when I’m not the first anymore.” Read the full story to learn how she plans to “educate Congress on how NSF does its business … in response to criticism from Republican legislators that NSF was funding frivolous research.”    

► “The ninth annual Science/AAAS Dance Your Ph.D. contest is open!”John Bohannan announced on Thursday. If you think that you can explain your Ph.D. research in a dance routine, you could “win a portion of the $2500 cash prize.” The submission deadline is 30 September. Find out more at the contest homepage, and check out last year’s overall winner for some inspiration.

► This week’s journal issues brought a trio of items related to research reproducibility and transparency. First, reproducibility is a hot topic, but not everyone is on the same page about what it actually means, wrote the authors of a Perspective in Science Translational Medicine. To address this confusion, Steven N. Goodman, Daniele Fanelli, and John P. A. Ioannidis of the Meta-Research Innovation Center at Stanford in Palo Alto, California, “review an array of explicit and implicit definitions of reproducibility and related terminology, and discuss how to avoid potential misunderstandings when these terms are used as a surrogate for ‘truth.’”

Goodman also tackled a related issue—misunderstanding and misuse of the P value—in a Policy Forum in Science. Current practices lead to “cherry-picking which analyses or experiments to report on the basis of their P values” and “corrupts science and fills the literature with claims likely to be overstated or false,” he wrote. Read the full piece for more about the P value’s history and the changes that may be in store.

More broadly, Science announced new guidelines, effective 1 January 2017, as part of a multi-journal effort to improve “the standards for research quality, transparency, and trustworthiness” of the work they publish, Science journals Editor-in-Chief Marcia McNutt wrote in an editorial. The standards, called TOP (Transparency and Openness Promotion), “[create] a framework for sharing not just the findings of a study, but also the data, samples, code, and methods, which in many cases can outlive the findings in making durable contributions to science,” she wrote. “In implementing TOP, Science strives to find the right balance between encouraging better transparency about the evidence behind the authors’ conclusions and respecting the broad array of norms and cultures across the many disciplines published in the journal.”

► Looking for some summer reading? Science’s book section this week has you covered. Of particular interest might be Listening to a Continent Sing by ethologist Donald Kroodsma, reviewed by Helena J. Barr of the Integrated Program in Neuroscience at McGill University in Montreal, Canada. “Accompanied by his son, Kroodsma embarked on a trans-American cycling adventure, carefully documenting and decoding an incredibly diverse voice calling out across the country—birdsong—along the way,” Barr wrote. “Listening to a Continent Sing recounts their journey and transports the reader into the mind of a scientist renewing his awe of nature.” “Kroodsma reminds the reader that science goes beyond the pressure to produce significant results and publications,” Barr concluded. “It is a lifestyle filled with curiosity, fascination, and appreciation for the world we live in.”

► In this week’s Working Life story, postdoc Antoni Margalida explained how blazing his “own trail [as a freelance naturalist] before returning to academia helped [him on his] road to becoming a successful, fulfilled scientist.”

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