Elsewhere in Science, 16 January 2015

Tamer Elsayed and his daughter, Yara, last summer at the picturesque Danube Bend in Hungary.

Courtesy of Tamer Elsayed

Each week, the Science family of publications publishes articles that are likely to be of interest to Science Careers readers. So, every week, we're pointing our readers toward articles relevant to careers in science and other technical fields. Many of the articles appearing in Science Translational MedicineScience Signaling, and Science require AAAS membership (AAAS is the publisher of Science Careers) or a site license.

► “A new open-access scientific journal hopes that paying peer reviewers a little hard cash will help strengthen efforts to make research results freely available to the public,” Dalmeet Singh Chawla wrote in a Monday ScienceInsider. The journal’s publisher, University of California (UC) Press, will “watch closely to make sure the payment system isn’t unfair or abused.” Neil Blair Christensen, director of digital business development at UC Press, says that payments will be “fairly low. … It’s unlikely anyone will profit by reviewing papers.” “He also expects many reviewers and editors will donate their checks back to the journal or other open-access efforts.”

► In another ScienceInsider published on Monday, Jocelyn Kaiser reported that “newly revealed documents suggest that Duke [University] officials dismissed a medical student’s concerns about cancer researcher Anil Potti’s work.” “[A] 2012 Institute of Medicine (IOM) report found problems with Duke’s handling of the case.” Potti didn’t leave Duke until 2010, two years after Bradford Perez, “a medical student in Potti’s lab, ... raised concerns about the statistical analyses in Potti’s papers in e-mails and a memo to Duke officials.”

► In his 39 years of life, Tamer Elsayed has been an immigrant in the United States illegally, a prison inmate, a doctoral student in computational mechanical engineering, a university faculty member, and an exile. In a Tuesday ScienceInsider, Jeffrey Mervis wrote about Elsayed’s “tightrope walk through the U.S. immigration system and his improbable ascent into the academic stratosphere before crashing and burning.” The piece draws from Elsayed’s self-published autobiography, Inadmissible.

► In a 1 January online news item, Jennifer Couzin-Frankel wrote about a Science article by Bert Vogelstein, a cancer geneticist at Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore, Maryland, and Cristian Tomasetti, a Johns Hopkins biostatistician, about the importance of random genetic variations in cancer. The article drew more than 200 comments, many of them critical.

Online and in this week’s Science, Couzin-Frankel followed up, writing about the experience and lessons learned (the teaser for the print version says, “How subtleties got lost in the telling”). “Readers wasted little time in skewering the authors,” Couzin-Frankel wrote, and “[r]eporters, if anything, fared worse.” “Given the furor,” she continued, “I wondered: Had I gotten it wrong? Had the authors? Answering these apparently straightforward questions proved surprisingly difficult, exposing the challenges that come with communicating science, and the desire by scientist-authors and reporters to streamline the story they’re trying to tell.” It’s a useful lesson for scientists about how to work with journalists and doing what they can to get the story reported right.

► In a Wednesday ScienceInsider, Kaiser reported that the National Institutes of Health’s National Institute of General Medical Sciences (NIGMS) “is imposing a strict one-grant limit on scientists who already have plentiful no-strings support.” The move falls in line with NIH’s attempts to stretch its budget, Kaiser wrote, and “could free up at least $6 million, or 25 grants for other scientists.” The one-grant rule will take effect in January 2016 and “will apply to researchers who already have at least $400,000 per year in research funding not tied to a specific project (not including salary or overhead costs).”

The new policy will hit some well-funded scientists hard—including Howard Hughes Medical Institute (HHMI) investigators. “NIGMS Deputy Director Judith Greenberg estimates there are at least 22 HHMI investigators who hold two or three NIGMS research grants.”

► Also on Wednesday, David Malakoff reported that “[f]unding for the Department of Homeland Security’s (DHS’s) research programs would remain essentially flat under a 2015 spending bill approved [14 January] by the U.S. House of Representatives.” The “House Republicans … attached provisions to the spending measure that would make it” harder for the White House to “make it easier for some undocumented immigrants to remain in the United States without fear of deportation.” If the spending bill does not win Senate passage or gets vetoed, Malakoff wrote, it “would leave DHS’s budget frozen at last year’s levels for months to come.”

► Was Europe’s relatively rich Horizon 2020 program—the new research framework that extends through the year 2020—too good to be true? Perhaps so. Months after floating the idea of diverting Horizon 2020 funds toward a stimulus plan for the European economy, legislation detailing the funds shift has been unveiled. “The new investment fund would take €2.7 billion over 5.5 years from Horizon 2020, the commission’s main funding stream for research that will invest about €80 billion between 2014 and 2020,” Erik Stockstad wrote at ScienceInsider.

► On Thursday, Rachel Bernstein reported on a study investigating why there are more women in some academic fields, like biology, than others, like philosophy. An important factor, the study's authors find, is how much the field emphasizes innate talent versus hard work. They surveyed academics in 30 fields across the sciences, social sciences, and humanities about the beliefs in their own field and found that the more a discipline prizes brilliance, the smaller the percentage of Ph.D.s awarded to women.

The paper, published in this week’s Science, is accompanied by a Perspective article by sociologist Andrew Penner of the University of California, Irvine.

► In this week’s Science, Richard Stone wrote about two U.S. fellowship programs that bring Iraqi scientists to the United States to train in top U.S. laboratories.

► In this week’s Science Careers-produced Working Life column, Michele Gabriele Sandrian suggests that young U.S. scientists consider spending their postdoc in Europe—especially if they plan on having children.

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