Thursday, June 10, 2010

This week's readings

Lift the veil of secrecy over peer review - New Scientist:
But the authors of the protest letter suggest a compromise, which should make abuses easier to spot while preserving the main strength of peer review: keep anonymity, so scientists aren't discouraged from being critical, but publish the reviews and editorial correspondence. Indeed, The EMBO Journal already does this.

For justice to be seen to be done more widely, other journals should follow this lead. Like democracy, peer review may be flawed but it's the least-worst system we've got. It should be nurtured, through exposure to a little more sunlight.
To be a science ignoramus is simply not on - Times Online:
To ordinary people our top universities often seem somewhat elite and mysterious where arcane subjects are explored. Universities should foster a culture of open access and strengthen educational activities in the community and in schools.

In the past, the mark of a civilised person was an appreciation of Shakespeare, Thucydides, Rembrandt and Beethoven. Today the pursuit of science is so demanding that scientists are more likely to neglect their cultural inheritance. Perhaps, by broadening our own interests, we scientists may also help non-scientists see science more as part of our culture.
Are We Training Too Many Scientists? - The Scientist:
Career disappointment for postdocs is not just about finding a job, it's finding a job that is rewarding: one that pays reasonably well and offers a career path. The recent prospects for PhDs - rising numbers of postdocs, few tenure track positions, and poor funding - do not live up to that expectation. (...) The unintended consequence of the shortage of faculty positions was longer postdoctoral fellowships as young scientists received low wages, endured little job security or respect, and delayed starting families while waiting for a job.
Shrinking budgets + skyrocketing subscription fees = UC boycott of NPG  - Adventures in Ethics and Science:
Scientific publication, after all, isn't just about keeping score. It's also about communicating findings, ideas, techniques, and conclusions. And NPG surely has no monopoly on the technologies by which that communication can -- and will -- take place.
I also made a comment on the NatureNews report about the last Brazilian scientific meeting - which had very nice talks as well (link in pt_BR).

PS: HT to @BioMedCentral for some of the links.

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