For the past year and a half, Lou Woodley and I have been running MySciCareer, a website with first person science career stories. It’s not just jobs in research and it’s not just jobs outside of research – it’s both. MSCQuote_JenniferGardy

If you just watch the images on the front page for a while (or look at the ones in this post), you’ll see a lot of very different jobs and people come by. Researchers, writers, teachers, politicians, startup founders. The only thing they have in common is that they have been trained as a scientist at some point in their lives.


Continue reading “MySciCareer”

Do we still need science journals? What are the functions of science journals anyway?

In my latest Pacific Standard column, I write about Nature Publishing Group’s new read-only access policy, allowing subscribers and select media outlets to share links that tunnel through the paywall. I argue that it’s time to get back to basics: We need to ask, why do we have science journals, and do we still need them in the 21st century?

Ever since their inception, science journals have served three primary roles:

#1 They disseminate research findings to the community

#2 They provide quality control by organizing peer review

#3 They serve as a record of priority and research accomplishment

In his Very Short Introduction volume on economics, the economist Partha Dasgupta has a nice explanation of how these functions of a journal were an important innovation of the Scientific Revolution, as a way to provide incentives for researchers to produce and share knowledge as a public good: Continue reading “Do we still need science journals? What are the functions of science journals anyway?”

Nature on the PhD Glut

This week Nature covers the online response to Eve Marder’s piece in eLife arguing that we shouldn’t shrink PhD programs. The article mentions my response and adds a few more comments by people with different perspectives. Go over and read it, and chime in with your opinions!

The Economist weighs in on what’s wrong with science

This week’s Economist is out with a provocative article about how science goes wrong. It’s a good piece, raises some good points, and it reaches a conclusion that is completely the opposite of mine.

Science goes wrong, the piece argues, because “Modern scientists are doing too much trusting and not enough verifying—to the detriment of the whole of science, and of humanity.” I don’t think this is true, and the old adage that scientists need to “trust but verify” actually doesn’t reflect how scientists throughout history have worked. Scientists have never been particularly interested in spending much time and effort verifying anyone else’s results – unless it advances their own research. Science is not founded on the idea that results need to be replicated – it’s founded on the idea that results need to be fruitful. A scientist’s new ideas and experimental results become accepted because they lead to success in other people’s labs. They lead to progress in other people’s research programs. Continue reading “The Economist weighs in on what’s wrong with science”

Good times for those of us trying to make a career out of science

This week’s funding roundup from the AAAS:

U.S. R&D Funding Showing Little Recovery. In a recent data release, the National Science Foundation’s National Center for Science and Engineering Statistics has found that estimated U.S. R&D funding across all sectors did not keep pace with economic growth or inflation in 2011. While national R&D expenditures did grow somewhat, especially in comparison to recent years, this growth was not enough to prevent a decline in national research intensity, measured by R&D expenditures as a share of GDP. According to NSF’s estimates, minor inflation-adjusted increases in federal and university funding were more than offset by declines in industry R&D. Among performers, only university-based R&D managed to gain in 2011 relative to inflation, while federal intramural research – including at the national labs – showed a marked decrease.

What a great time to build a career.