Elsewhere in Science, 20 March 2015

Chancellor of the Exchequer George Osborne with the red budget box.

Chancellor of the Exchequer George Osborne with the red budget box.

Suzanne Plunkett/Reuters

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 federal investigation into the release of a dangerous bacterium from the Tulane National Primate Research Center in Louisiana has found serious problems with biosafety procedures, including workers who improperly used or even eschewed protective clothing,” wrote Jocelyn Kaiser last Friday at ScienceInsider. “[T]wo rhesus macaques became ill in late November with melioidosis, a disease caused by the tropical bacterium Burkholderia pseudomallei.” U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention investigators “could not pin down ‘the specific transmission event’ that led to the monkeys’ infections but ... ‘plausible mechanisms were uncovered.’ ”

► There has been a lot of talk lately about utilizing more staff scientists in academic labs in place of trainees, as a way of providing jobs for more Ph.D.-level scientists and addressing the glut of trainees that exists in many fields of biomedical science. In a Monday ScienceInsider, Kaiser provided some details of an award planned at the National Cancer Institute, the  K05 “research specialist award.” It “would be aimed at scientists with a master’s, Ph.D., M.D., or other advanced degree holding positions such as lab research scientist, core facility manager, or data scientist.” The 5-year, renewable award has one surprising provision: While it requires sponsorship by an institution and a principal investigator, it’s portable—if another institution wants you, you can bring your own salary.

► A scientific study published at the preprint server arXiv has concluded that there are too many scientific studies. No, this is not The Onion—it’s a Sifter.

► “Venkatraman ‘Venki’ Ramakrishnan has been selected to head the Royal Society, the United Kingdom's 354-year-old science academy.” Ramakrishnan, who shared the 2009 Nobel Prize for his work on the structure of the ribosome, is the deputy director of the MRC Laboratory for Molecular Biology in Cambridge, U.K.

► “Under the conservative government of Prime Minister Stephen Harper, Canada has become a tough and frustrating political environment for researchers trying to advance evidence-based policies to reduce emissions,” wrote Lesley Evans Ogdon Wednesday at ScienceInsider. “The country has withdrawn from international climate pacts, muzzled government climate researchers, and put new regulatory efforts on the back burner. Now, one group of prominent Canadian academics is trying to change the dynamic by releasing its own set of climate policy recommendations for the nation.”

► In “the latest twist in the endless battle between Congress and the executive branch over how to set funding priorities,” Jeffrey Mervis reported on Wednesday, “[t]he new chair of a congressional spending panel that oversees the National Science Foundation (NSF) and NASA thinks those agencies should submit their budgets directly to the committee, without vetting by the White House.” “One thing that has always aggravated me is that we don’t get a recommendation directly from the scientific community when it comes to NASA or NSF,” Representative John Culberson (R–TX) told NSF Director France Córdova. “We’re hearing from [the White House Office of Management and Budget], and we ought to be hearing from you.” Still, “[m]ost science lobbyists scoff at Culberson’s suggested change and assert it has little chance of becoming law. And the reaction crosses party lines.”

► “The National Science Foundation (NSF) today released a long-anticipated policy that will require its grantees to make their peer-reviewed research papers freely available within 12 months of publication in a journal,” Kaiser reported on Wednesday. The “announcement marks a milestone: It means that essentially all of the major U.S. federal science agencies now have a public-access policy.” “The NSF repository will contain abstracts, authors, the journal issue, and other metadata,” but users will be sent to the original publishers’ website to obtain the full text of the article. “Although that’s what most observers expected, it’s not what open-access advocates hoped for. … But scientific publishers who worry that full-text archives will harm journal revenues praised the plan.”

► The U.K. annual budget announced Wednesday “contained few surprises for researchers—the core science budget is planned over 5 years—but did yield more than £240 million of additional funding and some details about previously announced commitments,” Erik Stokstad wrote on Thursday. “The new money will be spent mostly on technology-related research,” including driverless car technology, an “Energy Research Accelerator,” and analysis of health data.

► In “What is the Question?” a Perspective on statistics in this week’s Science, Jeffery T. Leek and Roger D. Peng, who are both at the Bloomberg School of Public Health at Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore, Maryland, wrote that “[w]e have found that the most frequent failure in data analysis is mistaking the type of question being considered.”

► “Since becoming a postdoc, I've mentored several incoming graduate students. In doing so, I've reflected on my own scientific experiences studying spinal cord injury repair,” postdoc Andrew Gaudet wrote in this week’s Science Careers-produced Working Life column. “I've compiled a short tutorial aimed at making the road to a Ph.D. less bumpy, with a focus on the day-to-day tasks that fill a graduate student's life, common hazards to avoid, and useful shortcuts you can take.”

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