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Three | 2017

A selection of current news items for managers of Early Career Researchers.

Management matters

Nurture your hybrids. A research manager/academic warns a lack of status and career progression are blighting the prospects of the 'all-rounders' who bridge universities' academic and professional streams.

Research as a volume business. A critique of 'grant-counting' management behaviours in research argues that more focused investment strategies, inter-organisational collaboration and greater selectivity in support for early career academics would serve institutions, and research, better.

University-industry collaborations: measuring success. Analysis of patent registrations shows quite a different picture of collaboration success to the usual OECD-based ‘league tables’.

Patent or perish. A dissenting view on the best way for certain types of research to create impact in the public domain.

When money doesn't talk. Research funding is as much a benchmark for a university's profile as it is for a successful research career; so is there enough space for researchers who don't need grants?

Trial grant cap revoked. The US's $30bn-a-year biomed research funder flirted with boosting early career research by capping the number of grants held by established labs, but the move has been abandoned for a Next Generation Researchers Initiative with no new funding.

A new era in the UK. Part of the UK's response to the implications of Brexit is a consolidated funding agency, UK Research & Innovation, and a £100m (US$128m) fund to attract international researchers.

Keeping research "pure and holy". Does academia need to be more 'self-consciously ethical', and would a Hippocratic-like oath help uphold better, more moral practices in research?

Bullied into bad science. A campaign begun at the UK's University of Cambridge is attracting support from academics concerned at the pressure to prioritise 'eye-catching' work over high quality research.

Transparency in the spotlight. Nature's editorial policy includes new reporting requirements that may catch on with other life-science publishers.

Image integrity. There is growing concern about manipulation of images in published work. Are emerging researchers well enough aware of the limits, and their responsibilities?

Issues in early career research

V-C heads above the parapet. Whatever their intent, reflections by two UK-based Vice-Chancellors on life for early career researchers drew well-aimed fire as well as some sympathy.

DIY postdoc association. Structured postdoc networks offer practical, professional and personal support at a career stage when many researchers feel most insecure and isolated. If your institution doesn't have one, here are simple rules for building your own.

Ways to prosper. A career development expert explains how successful researchers have built their careers.

Chasing JIF, or the right audience? A thought-provoking interview on the potentially mesmerising effect of Journal Impact Factors; and parallel advice on finding balance and coming to terms with JIF's 'hard, cold, imperfect numbers’.

Yoda on grant writing. A tired and philosophical grant reviewer finally gets to the 4-point nub of what makes an exciting grant proposal (via Homer, Captain Kirk and Willy Wonka...).

Doctoral data. Nature's 2017 global survey of PhD graduates shows high levels of satisfaction with PhD programs overall, but highlights areas of concerns and a continued enthusiasm for academic careers that isn't matched by the opportunities available

Accelerated PhD programs. Are 3-year PhDs better for graduate students, research and employment outcomes?

Re-working PhD training for the job market. The Director of a Centre of Excellence in Teaching says there is "no reason that strategic preparation cannot coexist with the intensive intellectual commitment of PhD study."

Career diversity for PhDs. Have PhD training and faculty attitudes shifted enough to embrace non-academic paths, and what more can be done to make PhDs, "... CEOs of their own graduate education"?

Bridge to industry. University of Toronto's Industry Team Case Study program gives PhD students a place in mentored career-development projects, to give them skills and confidence focused on their specific industry career ambitions.

Handy References

Rules for reviewing. The Committee on Publication Ethics has produced new guidelines on the peer review process, covering different models of review, reviewer responsibilities and best practice.

Academic health toll. A report for the Royal Society and Wellcome Trust says there is too little evidence for clear conclusions about the mental health status and needs of researchers, but sees a need for a standard model for assessing stress, and for further study, singling out postdocs for attention.

Research integrity in the dock. More than 10 years after the reproducibility of results became a focus of public debate, a useful summary of what's been done and what's still to do to improve restore confidence in the reliability of published research.

Personal press

Secrets of the academic leader. Thoughts on the need for leaders to resist the 'inner control-freak' in order to build trust.

Aargh: productivity! There are so many productivity tipsters, it can be hard to maintain enthusiasm... but the 5 tactics offered here are both slightly unconventional and surprisingly effective.

Meetings that matter. Meetings are too often a necessary evil, but there are ways to make them good.

The walking meeting. Maybe an unusual way to meet with students and junior team members but worth a try for the sake of everyone’s health and new types of conversations.

Work-life balance: A valuable distinction while juggling work and private life: not all balls in the air are equal - some are rubber and others, glass.

PostdocTraining Update

We are now taking bookings for workshops in 2018. If you are looking for training for your graduate students or early career staff in areas such as career planning for paths within or outside academia, navigating research careers or developing leadership skills, please get in touch here.

We hope you find this brief news digest helpful.
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