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Study of engineering papers points to collaborations as a key factor in reducing gender disparities in scientific publishing. Above, nuclear engineer Melissa Teague works at the Idaho National Laboratory in 2013.

Study of engineering papers points to collaborations as a key factor in reducing gender disparities in scientific publishing. Above, nuclear engineer Melissa Teague works at the Idaho National Laboratory in 2013.


Elsewhere in Science, 8 Jan 2016

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 (the publisher of Science Careers) or a site license.

First, catching up on some of the news from the last 2 weeks:

► On 21 December, Daniel Clery reported that the University of California, Berkeley, released its report on the behavior of Geoff Marcy, the astronomy professor who resigned from his post after sexual harassment allegations.

► On 22 December, ScienceInsider published a Q&A with John Culberson (R–TX), the “chairman of the Commerce, Science, and Justice (CSJ) appropriations subcommittee in the U.S. House of Representatives, which sets the budgets of NASA, the National Science Foundation (NSF), and the Department of Commerce’s sizable investment in research.” “His scientific priorities so far have left many scientists scratching their heads, if not shaking their fists,” Jeffrey Mervis wrote. When asked what he planned to do with the extra $4.3 billion CSJ received in the October budget, Culberson said, “My top priority was federal law enforcement, in particular, the [Federal Bureau of Investigation], to protect us against terrorism at home and cyberterror attacks. And my next priority was to make sure that NASA and NSF have all the resources they need to accomplish their vital missions.” Read the full article for more on his plans.

► The 31 December issue of Science provided some important financial updates. First, Mervis wrote, “[a]dvocates for U.S. science succeeded in winning more dollars for most federal research agencies in the final 2016 spending bill signed into law last month. Just as importantly, however, they also dissuaded Congress from imposing policies that they believe would have harmed the scientific enterprise.” On a less upbeat note, Jocelyn Kaiser reported that “[s]everal widely used biology databases supported by the National Human Genome Research Institute (NHGRI) are facing unsettling change. Over the next 4 years, NHGRI expects to bow out as sole funder for these resources,” and “[w]ho will pick up the tab is not yet clear. Other databases could face a similar threat as the National Institutes of Health (NIH) takes stock of all its data resources. … NIH leaders are searching for ways to cut costs, and they are urging the databases' overseers to consider charging for use.”

Now, onto this week:

► “For academic researchers, whose careers are measured largely by authorship on papers, name ambiguity is a killer,” John Bohannon wrote at ScienceInsider on Thursday, but a solution may be on the horizon. “The scientific community seems to be coalescing at last around a single researcher identification standard. In an open letter released online [that day], some of the largest academic publishers and scientific societies are announcing that they will not just encourage, but ultimately require, researchers to sign up with ORCID, a nonprofit organization that uniquely identifies people with a 16-digit number.” Read the full article for more on how ORCID came to be and its benefits and implications.

►“[T]he International Linear Collider (ILC) took another small step forward [Wednesday] when Japan's High Energy Accelerator Research Organization (KEK) released a plan for getting the country ready to host the $10 billion project by tripling its relevant science and engineering workforce over the next 4 years,” Dennis Normile reported Thursday at ScienceInsider. The organization “hopes to fill the gap by luring experienced hands as well as signing up new recruits. ‘We think the ILC is a project which can attract young talent,’ [says Yasuhiro Okada, a theorist at KEK who led the working group that drafted the plan.]”

► “Female engineers are publishing in slightly more prestigious journals on average than their male colleagues, but their work is getting less attention,” Bohannon wrote in another Thursday ScienceInsider, reporting on a paper published in the journal PLOS ONE. The author team “doesn’t commit to a particular explanation for the gap,” but they “do offer some ideas on how it might be reduced. They found that women play a more marginal role in the collaboration networks identified by their co-authorship analysis, and it's not just men to blame: Women also co-authored multiple papers with female colleagues less often than chance alone would dictate. ‘Women engineers are complying with the male-dominant engineering scientific system instead of changing its structure,’ they conclude. They say women could close the gap if they were to collaborate with each other as often as they do with men.”

► Psychologist Brian Nosek, a crusader for openness and reproducibility in science, announced this week that his nonprofit Center for Open Science (COS) is “offering $1000 to every scientist who preregisters their protocol with COS,” Mollie Bloudoff-Indelicato reported Thursday at ScienceInsider. “The payment is meant to be a carrot leading to greater transparency and accountability in research, says Nosek, a professor at the University of Virginia in Charlottesville. … It’s a limited offer. Only 1000 scientists will receive the money, which will be awarded once they have met all the requirements. The research must appear in a journal that has agreed to practice many of the open-science principles that the center espouses. And scientists don’t receive a cent until after publication.”

► In this week’s issue of Science, Sir David King, the U.K. Foreign Secretary’s Special Representative for Climate Change, wrote an editorial about the “importance of the agreement reached at the Paris climate Conference of Parties … last month.” King noted that research and innovation have a major role to play in moving “world economies away from fossil fuels toward a more sustainable low-carbon future.” In fact, “‘Mission Innovation,’ the initiative announced in Paris, will see 20 countries, including the United Kingdom and the United States, double their public sector budgets for clean energy research and development. In addition, the Breakthrough Energy Coalition, a global group of private investors including Bill Gates, will provide investment flows of potentially $20 billion in its early stages, for the most promising new clean energy technologies that can be streamlined into the marketplace.”

► The Cambridge Conservation Initiative (CCI)—a collaboration between the University of Cambridge and a number of conservation groups in the area—has moved to the newly renovated David Attenborough Building, with hopes of fostering collaboration and creating a “hub [that] will become a go-to resource for government, business, and philanthropy leaders,” Erik Stokstad reported from Cambridge, U.K., also in this week’s issue. “The offices will be occupied by up to 150 people from university departments, including zoology, plant sciences, law, and business, along with an estimated 350 from conservation organizations.”

► “A new study by a congressional watchdog agency finds that female scientists are less likely than men to receive research grants from the U.S. government,” Mervis wrote in this week’s issue of Science. “But the analysis by the Government Accountability Office (GAO) comes with several caveats. Some agencies don't collect the data needed to reveal gender disparities in funding, which forced GAO to a find a novel way to address the concerns of the three Democratic congresswomen who requested the study. In addition, discrimination may not be the reason for the disparity. Finally, some agencies aren't doing what the law requires to track the impact of their investments on gender equity at U.S. universities.”

► In this week’s Science Careers-produced Working Life story, Roger Day argued that ghostwriting letters of support, while common, is a major problem—but applicants and senior researchers can help fix it. Read the story to find out how.