Elsewhere in Science, 3 January 2014


CREDIT: Wikimedia Commons, Rhoda Baer

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 MedicineSci. 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.)

• In this week's Sci. TM, Hans-Gustaf Ljunggren of the Karolinska Institutet described a new collaboration between Karolinska and the global pharmaceutical giant AstraZeneca. The 5-year, $100 million agreement, Ljunggren says, "represents a deeper form of collaboration between industry and academia" than previous industry-academia deals. At the new Karolinska Institutet/AstraZeneca Integrated Cardio Metabolic Center "[r]esearchers from both academia and industry will work side by side … on shared projects of mutual interest." AstraZeneca will provide all of the funding. The article includes some interesting discussion of the difference in orientation between academic and industry scientists, which Ljunggren believes is a factor in the difficulty the pharmaceutical industry has had in creating new drugs. That difference in orientation—specifically, academia's focus on discovering new knowledge versus industry's focus on products—is often cited as one of the main barriers that keeps scientists trained in academia from getting hired in industry.

• In a Science editorial, Editor-in-Chief Marcia McNutt discussed science budgets and their impacts in the light of the recent congressional budget agreement. That agreement is a positive step, she noted, and because of it, funding for science in 2014 won't be as bad as it could have been, under sequestration. But it's not enough to keep science from continuing the "decades-long slide in the ratio of the federal R&D budget to the GDP (gross domestic product)," which has fallen 25% in the last decade, even as investments in science in other countries have risen. U.S. science, consequently, is likely to continue to lose ground. Among the consequences: "The best and the brightest students trained at world-class U.S. universities grow disillusioned and seek other careers or better opportunities overseas for pursuing their research. Research programs are narrowing their scope as budgets decline to maintain reasonable funding success levels, and gaps appear between programs such that some areas of fundamental investigation fall between the cracks. Ultimately, the flow of discoveries from basic research, primarily supported by the federal government, will slow down, as will the pace of innovation."

• In News & Analysis, John Bohannon wrote about Google Scholar, an increasingly viable alternative to more traditional methods of scientific search including Pubmed, Scopus, and Web of Science. But some people—including Nicolás Robinson-Garcia, a bibliometric researcher at the University of Granada in Spain—question Google Scholar's reliability as a way to track citations. As an experiment, Robinson-Garcia and colleagues placed six fake papers on their university's Web site containing long lists of citations to their own work, and they showed that Google Scholar tallied them as real citations. Because Google's algorithm isn't transparent, fake citations cannot routinely be filtered out.

• Also in News & Analysis, David Malakoff reported on the debate over the importance of the research and experimentation tax break that expired on 31 December. "[E]stimated to be worth $7 billion to U.S. firms last year," the purpose of the tax credit was to encourage U.S. companies to invest in research. Economist Jerry Jasinowski, a former president of the National Association of Manufacturers who would like to see the tax credit made permanent, is fuming, noting that this isn't the first time it has expired. "I have heard it said that in Washington it isn't one damn thing after another, it's the same damn thing over and over—and the repeated expiration of the credit is a prime example," Jasinowski says, quoted in the article.

Some groups, however, argue that the subsidy rewards companies for work they would have done anyway. And Citizens for Tax Justice would prefer to channel "the billions of dollars that it costs into … truly scientific research, which businesses rarely engage in because the payoffs often take years to arrive," as the Washington, D.C.–based advocacy group wrote in a report issued last month.

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