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Responsible use of preprints, need for animal research, PhD career prospects, and more (Good reads, August 2018)

Good reads, August 2018

The month of August was remarkable for the scholarly communication and Academic Publishing Community. Several important discussions around preprints, use of animals in research, about the job prospects of Ph.D. students, and more took place. If you have been too busy to catch up with these, you need not worry. We have you covered! Below is a list of some of the most interesting developments and conversations. Happy reading!

The month of August was remarkable for the scholarly communication and academic publishing community. This month, several discussions around preprints, use of animals in research, about the job prospects of Ph.D. students, and more gained traction. If you have been too busy to catch up with these, we have you covered! Below is a curated list of some of the most interesting developments and conversations you can read to stay updated. Happy reading!

1. Are preprints being used responsibly?: Preprints have revolutionized science but are they being used responsibly? This interesting question is raised by Tom Sheldon, a senior press manager at the Science Media Centre in London, in Nature. He acknowledges the benefits of using preprints for researchers who can make their research available quickly and avoid being scooped before their research is published in a journal. However, as a journalist, he wonders if the accessibility of research that has been peer reviewed can be detrimental to the public and science as well. Citing instances where reporters have sensationalized preprint publications, Sheldon states that there is a lot of room for misinformation among the public. Through his article, he calls out for researchers, institutions, and preprint server owners to think of ways to avoid the research published on preprints to be used irresponsibly.   

2. Leaving academia is not a failure: Academia could be a rather stressful world, especially for Ph.D. students whose bleak job prospects are a matter of scrutiny and discussions, discusses Philipp Kruger in this interesting article. This perception of a dull horizon is quite unnecessary he feels, as researchers should be encouraged to pursue other career options outside of academia as well.,  He stresses that researchers who leave academia are not failed academics and highlights a number of ways Ph.D. students and supervisors can encourage different career approaches for academics. Amongst the many, he talks about how students should develop a range of skills and browse career options with the help of their university’s career services, career advisors, job adverts, and science fairs. He also states that supervisors should be more encouraging, and create an explorative and flexible work environment for the students.

3. No-deal Brexit: a nightmare for UK science? In this interesting article published by BBC, David Shukman talks about the challenges UK researchers will face after Brexit. They will lose out on the European Union funding they currently receive. A document released by the government states that UK will no longer be eligible for what is estimated to be 45% of the total of EU science funding coming Britain's way. The government is hoping to work out a deal with the EU before leaving that will allow the UK to participate in EU-funded research projects similar to the counties that hold an associate status, such as Israel, which will allow them to be part EU projects. According to Dr. Mike Galsworthy of Scientists for EU, a non-deal Brexit "would mean losing over half a billion a year in high value grants,” which would “wreck nearly half the funding” Britain is eligible for. Maintaining good relationships with the EU is a top priority for Britain at the moment. A spokesperson for the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS) said: "The government's priority is to conclude and finalize the Withdrawal Agreement. This would ensure that the UK's participation in Horizon 2020 would be unaffected when we leave the EU."

4. NIH fears foreign governments accessing funded research:  Feeling threatened by the allegations that foreign governments may be tapping U.S. funded research for valuable information, NIH is taking steps to protect the research it is funding. It has sent out notices to more than 10,000 research institutes asking NIH grantees to report details about their foreign associations. The agency is also investigating cases where NIH terms and regulations are suspected to have been violated. Research reviewers have been reminded not to share data with outsiders as well. At a Senate committee hearing on NIH oversight, NIH Director Francis Collins said: “The robustness of the biomedical research enterprise is under constant threat” and that these risks are increasing. Previous incidences of illegal data transfer have created a growing fear and increased need for awareness in the US science community.

5. How plausible is animal research: Andrew Menache, a veterinarian from Israel, discusses the concept of ‘silent fraud’ to bring to light the way animals are used in research and their efficacy in furthering human well-being. Going beyond the conversations about animal welfare, he discusses how animal studies are susceptible to biases and how such misleading studies can render the findings ineffective or even dangerous for humans. “Animal tests are less predictive of human outcome than a coin toss,” he states citing the evidence from pharmaceutical industry. To replace animal studies, he suggests the use of evolving technologies, such as 3D cell cultures. Menache concludes by stating: “It should also be obvious that animal experimentation is not going to provide the hoped-for and much-needed answers to our current health crisis. To pretend otherwise is tantamount to 'silent fraud' in the light of current scientific knowledge.”  

Also, browse through our previous Scholarly Communications Good Reads collections where we have featured more such interesting discussions from the scholarly publishing world. 

And if you’d like to stay tuned to important happenings in the journal publishing industry, visit our Industry News section.

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Responsible use of preprints, need for animal research, PhD career prospects, and more (Good reads, August 2018)

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