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By JONATHAN THON | December 08 2014

“A person who publishes a book willfully appears before the populace with his pants down. If it is a good book nothing can hurt him. If it is a bad book nothing can help him.” – Edna St. Vincent Millay Consider this your invitation to the show. Academia is a campaign, often mixing elation with […]

By DAVID KENT | November 26 2014

Last week, Rick Mercer went on a rant about science – about how impressive it is that scientists managed to land on a comet half a billion kilometres away, about how the current Canadian government fails to support “pure science,” and how the Canadian public is “as passionate and curious as anyone else.” While I […]

By JONATHAN THON | November 18 2014

Foreword from David Kent: Dear readers, last week I spoke out about the lip service that is being paid to the value of academics that choose to be science communicators, but I did not mean to under-value the contribution that such activity has for making the scientific research environment a better place and for helping […]

By DAVID KENT | November 12 2014

As many of my colleagues know, I have spent the last number of months applying for pots of money for my research. Just as in Canada, these monies are typically supplied though government agencies or charitable organisations. Over the last two decades there has been a steady increase in the excitement for and provision of […]

By JONATHAN THON | October 30 2014

It should come as no surprise that I am a strong advocate of knowledge translation. While this has customarily meant making science accessible to persons that are not experts in one’s field of study but are otherwise important supporters of one’s work, translating research across language barriers even within a field is an equally important […]

By DAVID KENT | October 22 2014

Earlier this month, I was gobsmacked when a colleague told me of their paper’s afternoon journey from submission to acceptance in a peer-reviewed journal. Not only was this a lightning fast acceptance, but it was the paper’s first submission, i.e., it had never been through peer review. It was received by the editor, read by […]

By JONATHAN THON | October 14 2014

Biomedical research at academic institutions is mostly funded by federal agencies such as the National Institutes of Health (NIH) and National Science Foundation (NSF) in the United States, and the Canadian Institutes of Health Research (CIHR) and National Research Council (NRC) in Canada that are themselves supported entirely by taxpayer dollars. While scientists are required […]

By DAVID KENT | October 07 2014

Calling all North American funding agencies! Researcher mobility appears to be a high priority for funding agencies and universities, and it has many advantages for the science community – most importantly the sharing of new ideas and the formation of new networks. Recently, there has been a backlash against the “need to move,” with many […]

By DAVID KENT | October 01 2014

Our summer posts had a theme it seems – something we didn’t plan, but which has resulted in a small series of posts on misplaced priorities in academic research. From my post on academic bullying to Jonathan’s on the difficulties resulting from indirect costs levied by universities to our guest blogger Damien on hiring strategies […]

By JONATHAN THON | September 22 2014

In last week’s blog post (“How lab managers hire for science“), Damien raised an interesting point regarding best hiring practices for new academic faculty that I felt should be highlighted here. Damien recommends that when screening research-scientist candidates for the lab, principal investigators should “identify individuals who lack skills that a new investigator can provide. […]

By JONATHAN THON | September 16 2014

We are very pleased this week to introduce a guest post from Damien Wilpitz, an experienced laboratory research manager at Brigham and Women’s Hospital in Boston. Damien is also the founder and manager of Experimental Designs Consulting, a management consulting firm specifically tailored to new academic science faculty. His article this week (hopefully the first […]

By DAVID KENT | September 10 2014

The last four decades have seen a steady increase in the number of authors on scientific publications.  Since 1975, when there was on average 1.9 authors per paper, we have seen increases each decade to 3.12, 3.76, 4.61 and finally 5.12 authors per paper in the period 2010-2013. It is clear that science has become […]

By JONATHAN THON | September 02 2014

Dave published an excellent post last week where he compared the academy to the fashion industry for its general lack of innovation and conformist social exclusion. Today I thought I’d play devil’s advocate to Dave’s very well-received piece, which almost always lands me in trouble. In the interest of staving off the expected torrent of […]

By DAVID KENT | August 19 2014

I hate to admit this, but I find an incredible number of scientific papers really boring. It seems that more and more, research papers are using the same sets of sexy and expensive tools without actually answering the question they set out to explore and overload their readers with “big data”. It further appears that this is […]

By JONATHAN THON | August 05 2014

Government support of research and development should focus on expanding its ability to engage in early basic research, where justification for government intervention is strongest, while incentivizing programs that will help bring these discoveries to market. To better appreciate this point we need look no further than across our largest border. Over the last three […]

By DAVID KENT | July 22 2014

Our guest blogging has finally started to ramp up to where we are getting numerous viewpoints on the key issues affecting early career researchers. We hope this momentum will continue and the Black Hole can be a place for people to express their opinions and generate discussion. This quarter featured the following posts: Erika / […]

By JONATHAN THON | July 02 2014

In 2010 the federal government of Canada established an Expert Panel on Federal Support to Research and Development to provide advice on maximizing the effectiveness of federal support for basic research. To sustain the current level of prosperity Canada enjoys among first-world nations and maintain competitiveness in an increasingly challenging global context, the report specifies […]

By DAVID KENT | June 16 2014

Editor’s note: A few weeks back, Jenn and Erika shared their stories about being postdoctoral moms (here and here). Today the stories continue with a point by point entry and a Q & A response on the major challenges associated with the period away from the lab…  A blank year on the CV Child-rearing is an “acceptable delay” […]

By BRIANNE KENT | June 04 2014

Publication in high impact journals often drives both the experiments and the career trajectory of early career researchers. Hardly a day goes by in the lab without somebody lamenting the peer review system or the latest rejection (or acceptance!) in Cell, Science or Nature. It is the source of much consternation and last week the […]

By JONATHAN THON | May 20 2014

I was recently invited to give a keynote address at the Human Disease Mapping conference at the Royal College of Surgeons in Ireland that was fully coordinated by a small group of the college’s PhD students and postdoctoral fellows. The scope was to share my experience and story of my academic career in a period […]