Artist’s diagram of an RNA molecule.

Artist’s diagram of an RNA molecule.

Vossman/Wikimedia Commons

Elsewhere in Science: Science comedy, authorship complications, sexual harassment, and more

Every Friday, Science Careers points to articles in the Science family of publications that are relevant to careers in science and other technical fields. Some of them are accessible to anyone, but access to articles appearing in Science Translational MedicineScience Signaling, and Science may require AAAS membership (AAAS is the publisher of Science Careers) or a site license.

► Science comedian Brian Malow “was one of three presenters … who entertained the crowd with a mixture of jokes and serious insights about how comedy can educate the public and help scientists become better communicators” at the AAAS Annual Meeting in Washington, D.C., Jon Cohen wrote last Friday from the meeting . “The same tools that are good for comedy are just basic communication tools,” Malow said. “Be yourself. Be human. Be passionate, present, and prepared.” Read the full article for more on how lessons from comedy can help presenters engage audiences.

► “In the wake of an ever-widening scandal surrounding surgeon Paolo Macchiarini, the vice-chancellor of the Karolinska Institute (KI) in Stockholm has resigned,” Gretchen Vogel wrote on Saturday. “Anders Hamsten was in charge of an investigation last year into Macchiarini’s work at KI. ... Hamsten decided in August that Macchiarini had made mistakes but was not guilty of misconduct.” In a piece in a Swedish newspaper, Hamsten wrote that “it seems very likely that my decision in this case was wrong. … I realise it will be difficult for me to continue working as Vice Chancellor of Sweden's most successful university with credibility and effectiveness.”

► The researchers who developed a computer game to investigate the structure of RNA molecules found themselves in an unusual situation this week: The publication of their paper was nearly delayed because the journal had “‘ethical’ concerns” about identifying some of the authors by their game names instead of their full names, John Bohannon wrote on Wednesday. The issue was resolved when the player-authors agreed to be identified by their full names. Nonetheless, it holds a lesson for scientists stretching the boundaries of traditional research norms, who should remember that they may encounter unexpected complications as they conduct and publish their work.      

► Tomorrow, Italian optical physicist Massimo Inguscio will take over as president of the National Research Council, Italy’s largest research organization, Edwin Cartlidge reported on Thursday. In the Q&A, Inguscio discussed some of his plans, including those for addressing issues with recruiting and hiring. “Research managers must be free to choose people on the basis of merit,” Ignuscio said. “The presidents of research institutions are asking the government to start up a process of tenure track, as happens in other countries. New recruits would go through a trial period, and if they prove themselves good enough [they] would then gain a permanent position. We need to have a serious hiring policy that doesn’t rely on personal contacts.”

► “Even on eBay, women get paid less for their labor,” Bohannon wrote today. According to a study published today in Science Advances, women who sell items on eBay “receive consistently less money than men for selling the very same products,” he wrote. Looking at the most popular products auctioned on the site between 2009 and 2012, the authors “found that when the seller of these popular items was self-identified as female, the auction got fewer bids and a lower final price. For used items, the gender gap was small, with female sellers getting 3% less money on average. But for new products, women received only 80 cents for every dollar that men got for auctioning a similar product on eBay.”

► “Scientific societies need to widely disseminate policies that declare their intolerance for harassment of any sort,” Science journals Editor-in-Chief Marcia McNutt wrote in the editorial in this week’s issue of Science. After describing an incident in which a student received “unwanted attention from a senior colleague” and was shut down when she looked for help from “her institution's formal channels,” McNutt concluded that “it is the responsibility of the officers, board, and council members of scientific societies to make sure that policies and procedures are in place to combat harassment in all forms during all society-sponsored events.”

► Since Roc Ordman retired from his post as a professor of chemistry and biochemistry last year, he has found that “partner[ing] with the younger generation” of scientists can be a rewarding way to continue his research career. Read more about how he did it in this week’s Science Careers-produced Working Life column.

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