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The Black Hole

BY MARIANNE | January 06 2011

I have had the unique opportunity to make this decision, recently.  After nearly seven years of postdoctoral experience, I was ready for my first ‘real job’.  By ready, I mean I had already been seeking that job for nearly 3 years. I can tell you from personal experience that the job market in Canada has […]

BY DAVID KENT | January 02 2011

Happy 2011 everyone – we hope you’ve all enjoyed 2010 and are looking forward to engaging you on many new (and old) issues in the coming year.  It’s been a great quarter for us with increased traffic despite a slightly lower number of posts.  Dave has signed up for twitter @scienceadvocacy and we hope that […]

BY DAVID KENT | December 30 2010

Those who know me might recall a certain penchant I have for making terrible acronyms (or jokes in general) and I can’t believe that this one has escaped me for so long: PHD = Professionals in High Demand This tidy little phrase underscores many of the issues that we have written about on this site […]

BY SONJA B. | December 15 2010

In response to Dave’s recent post on formal undergraduate training programs, I felt that it would be worth sharing my thoughts as someone who has just finished 16 months of co-op in academia and industry.  I first started to think about enrolling in a co-op program after talking to an international student advisor, who suggested […]

BY DAVID KENT | December 09 2010

Although an identical number of women get a PhD in the life sciences, only 15-20% of tenured positions are secured by women ~Frank Gannon, EMBO 2007 This is a frightening statistic, and I’m not convinced it’s gotten much better since 2007. Gannon goes on to introduce two articles in the same issue of EMBO that […]

BY BETH | December 04 2010

Student loans. They are sort of the dirty little secret among grad students. Not something people generally like to talk about, because having student loans means you weren’t good enough to have won the big scholarships that the other grad students were able to use to sustain themselves through undergraduate and grad school. And that […]

BY DAVID KENT | November 20 2010

After some requests and a few months of “oh yes, I’ll get around to that”, we have created a Twitter account for you to follow if that is your method of choice for keeping your news, blogs, etc organized. We are located at: Just to enrich the post a little more, I think it’s […]

BY DAVID KENT | November 15 2010

Quick Hit:  Earlier this week, I published a blog entry with the Stem Cell Network on scientists holding back the details of their data prior to publication entitled: The Royal Society and the philosophy of openness: Are we moving backwards? As it overlaps with many of the themes on this site, I figured it wouldn’t […]

BY BETH | November 09 2010

A friend of mine who is close to finishing her PhD and is trying to figure out what she wants to do next (“To postdoc or not to postdoc….that is the question :)”) emailed me recently looking for advice on where to look for job postings. As I compiled a list of the places I’ve looked […]

BY DAVID KENT | November 01 2010

It’s term time here in Cambridge and this means that rotation students start passing through the labs (6-10 week projects in multiple labs to determine where to complete PhD research).  This is a curious stage in the development of young scientists, because undergraduate degrees rarely equip students with a real vision of what graduate school […]

BY BETH | October 28 2010

Recently a new website – – launched by the Professional Institute of the Public Service of Canada came onto my radar in the form of this news story: Science undermined by politics: federal union. From the article: “The site aims to highlight science done for the public good — much of it taxpayer-funded and carried […]

BY DAVID KENT | October 18 2010

Two of the most common complaints heard over coffee in medical science labs and the source of much mental anguish are 1) “Is there any hope in getting a Cell, Science or Nature paper” followed by 2) “Does my career hang in the balance”? Currently, it seems that the sole determinant of one’s first faculty […]

BY BETH | October 12 2010

Another site has recently come to our attention and Dave and I though that fans of The Black Hole might be interested in checking it out – it’s called  The Versatile PhD and its mission is to help humanities and social science PhDs develop and demonstrate their versatility as professionals.  We want you to be informed about academic employment realities, educated about nonacademic career options, and supported in […]

BY DAVID KENT | October 03 2010

Just a very short note to highlight the upcoming Canadian Science Policy Conference and point out that today (October 3, 2010) is the last day of early bird registration. This conference landed on the map last year and is a total “must attend” for those interested in “science for policy” and “policy for science” type […]

BY DAVID KENT | September 30 2010

In light of the one year anniversary, we’ve decided to bring a little more organization to the quarterly summaries that will make a little more succinct, as their main purpose is to help the not-so-regular reader find the articles and links that might interest them.  Any feedback on these summaries is certainly welcome and we’ll do our best […]

BY SONJA B. | September 28 2010

I almost entitled this post, When I grow up, I want to be “what all my friends are”.  Indeed, almost everyone around me, apart from a few sane friends whom I treasure dearly, currently holds the title of either MD or PhD or is in the process of acquiring one or both. To many life […]

BY BETH | September 26 2010

This is the final entry in the So you want to be a “____” when you grow up series for the year. As Dave mentioned, this series has gotten a lot of positive feedback and we plan to bring it back again next summer, so if you have suggestions for career ideas you would like […]

BY DAVID KENT | September 20 2010

This is the penultimate entry in our So you want to be a “____” when you grow up series and we have received some really good feedback on it – one final one to come from Beth later this week.  We’ll definitely consider a similar series for the slow web months of Summer 2011, but […]

BY BETH | September 13 2010

I had two experiences this week that got me thinking about the potential benefits of scientists working with designers. First was when I received the proofs of an evaluation report that I’d written – since the report was to be given out to the community partners with whom the program works, it was sent to […]

BY DAVID KENT | August 30 2010

I have written before about how scientific information gets (poorly) communicated to the Government in entries about the routes of information acquisition and about getting scientists to understand how policy works.  In my mind, one of the best ways of improving things is to have members of the public service who have a good baseline […]