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The Black Hole

BY JONATHAN THON | February 02 2015

To succeed outside the narrow career trajectory of “university professor,” early career scientists must be exposed to the job market earlier.

BY DAVID KENT | January 26 2015

We need to assess who gets funded based on research merit, not journal label.

BY JONATHAN THON | January 19 2015

The earnings of grad students and postdocs is so low that they have little to lose by engaging in business start-ups.

BY DAVID KENT | January 12 2015

This quarter featured one of our most heavily commented on posts since the classic “Say NO to the second postdoc entry” in 2009, but unlike the personal angst that the postdoctoral post dredged up, this quarter’s “Sorry Rick Mercer, I’d love to agree but I think you’re wrong” post was about the level of interest […]

BY JONATHAN THON | January 05 2015

By signing this fiscal years’ (FY) appropriations bill in the United States, the American president has provided greater certainty about the National Institutes of Health’s (NIH) 2015 budget. The forecast is not positive, and uncertainties of year-to-year appropriations cycles in the U.S. continues to make it challenging for organizations like the NIH to develop long-range […]

BY DAVID KENT | December 17 2014

Changes to eligibility rules should be adopted by any agency looking to encourage women to continue in science.

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 […]