Elsewhere in Science, 10 April 2015


Credit: Robert Neubecker

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 Medicine (STM)Science Signaling, and Science require AAAS membership (AAAS is the publisher of Science Careers) or a site license.

► Why did you become a scientist? Answers to that question trended on Twitter over the weekend, under the hashtag #IAmAScientistBecause. On Tuesday, Emily Conover collected a few of the most interesting tweets.

► “As Chief Scientific Editor at Science Signaling, I get to see some of the dirty laundry of the publishing business,” Michael Yaffe wrote in this week’s issue of the journal, which focuses on the problem of reproducibility and accuracy in cell signaling experiments. Of particular interest is the Focus article Yaffe co-authored with Kristen Naegle, a professor at the Center for Biological Systems Engineering at Washington University in St. Louis, and Nancy Gough, the editor of Science Signaling, in which the three authors consider the question, “What does ‘n’ mean?

► In this week’s STM, five authors from Germany, the United Kingdom, and the United States considered how to nurture and nourish translational research. The authors divide the process into four steps and conclude that “academic performance metrics require adjustments to reward those who pursue less elegant but more impactful research routes that lead—at substantial risk of failure—to patient quality-of-life improvements. In addition, collaborations between academia, biotech, and pharma industrial partners must be facilitated at early development stages to produce new levels of interactions and access to mutual, shared expertise.”

► In a resource-constrained environment, it’s tempting to focus on problems of narrow local interest. Recently, “the idea has reemerged from some congressional leaders and disease constituency groups to more closely align NIH [National Institutes of Health] funding for disease research with disease burden in the United States,” wrote Anthony Fauci, director of NIH’s National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, and Francis Collins, the NIH director, in this week’s Science editorial. However, Fauci and Collins argue that “it would be unwise to deemphasize diseases that exact their largest toll elsewhere in the world. The United States has a vital interest in the health of people around the globe, rooted in an enduring tradition of humanitarian concern as well as in enlightened self-interest. Engagement in global health protects the nation's citizens, enhances the economy, and advances U.S. interests abroad.”

► “Last month, the National Science Foundation unveiled a plan to require its grantees to make their peer-reviewed research papers freely available to the public within 12 months of publication,” wrote Jocelyn Kaiser in this week’s Science. “The agency's move meant that six federal agencies that provide the bulk of the nation's basic research funding now have public access policies required by a 2013 White House order. The mandate, which applies to federal agencies that spend more than $100 million a year on research and development, will eventually make hundreds of thousands of papers once hidden behind paywalls available to anyone with an Internet connection. Science took a look at the details of the policies.”

► “For decades, engineers have been building satellites like bespoke Swiss watches, sparing no expense and spending years to perfect them,” wrote Eric Hand in this week’s Science. Lately, though, the field is moving toward small, cheap, mass-produced satellites such as the CubeSats produced by San Francisco-based company Planet Labs. According to Jonathan McDowell, an astronomer at the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics in Cambridge, Massachusetts, “CubeSats are gripping the aerospace industry and changing the way business—and science—is done. ‘Now you're seeing not just student projects, but CubeSats deployed by the military, by space agencies—doing real jobs,’ he says. Jordi Puig-Suari, the co-founder of the CubeSat standard, concurs. ‘These little guys are finally ready to do serious missions.’ ”

► “Although academic research is predominantly funded by grants, scientists—like teachers and people in many other professions—sometimes dip into their own wallets to cover job-related expenses, such as conference travel or open-access publishing fees,” wrote Allie Wilkinson earlier today at ScienceInsider. “Just how much personal finance pours into professional science isn’t clear, but two scientists are now trying to tally some numbers” with a project called the #SciSpends survey.

► Many companies want lawmakers to pass legislation aimed at “patent trolls”: companies that exist to acquire patent lawsuits and then file bogus lawsuits. Universities, though, worry that laws aimed at curtailing frivolous patent suits will make it harder for the institutions to enforce their own patent rights. “This week, a group of electronics companies sent a letter to more than 120 universities asking them to rethink their opposition to recently proposed legislation aimed at disarming patent trolls—a move that may polarize the issue further,” Kelly Servick wrote earlier today at ScienceInsider.

► Are you planning to vote in the upcoming U.K. general election? Do you want to know where the parties stand on issues of interest to scientists? It might be hard to tell, because “[s]cience has not come up much in the campaigning,” Erik Stokstad wrote in a post published this afternoon at ScienceInsider. “Hoping to change that, the British Science Association interviewed representatives from six major parties about their views on research issues and has posted the videos online—but they ended up with few concrete differences to highlight.”

► “Because we are scientists, my husband and I have moved 13 times over the past 8 years, not always to the same place or in the same direction,” wrote Maria Fadri-Moskwik in this week’s Science Careers-produced Working Life column. “Now, those 3 years of searching and our 10 years together have come down to decisions we'll likely make in the next month: Will I follow him? Will he follow me? Will we take jobs in different places?”

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