Career paths have twists and turns. They’re never straight forward, however much time you spend planning them. One single email changed the careers of Anthony Barnosky and his wife, Elizabeth Hadly. They had co-authored a paper in Nature about climate change (Barnosky, A. D. et al. Nature 486, 52–58 (2012)), and the media attention it created caught the eye of Jerry Brown, the governor in California. He wanted them to turn their paper into a consensus statement – a document that could be used in political circles, and could be understood by political leaders, policy makers and the public. Read more from Virginia Gewin on this story of politics and science.
The Scripps Research Institute president, Michael Marletta, has resigned from his post after the faculty rebelled against him. The reason for the rebellion is that Marletta had started making plans to join the research institute with the Los Angeles based University of Southern California. Read more about the Scripps president’s resignation on the Nature News blog.
The National Institute of Health (NIH) has set gears in motion to save its budget for the coming years. Senator Tom Harkin, the Iowa Democrat, introduced a legislation that will prevent the NIH budget dropping below its current level of $29.9billion. Read more about NIH budget fight here on the Nature News blog.
Going from science to law is not something many academics would consider possible, but working as a lawyer can be a fresh challenge for scientists who are looking to leave the bench and stay immersed in science. This week on Nature Careers, Cameron Walker speaks to several people who have done exactly that. There are several options to choose from too: patent law, legal counsel, regulation development, each offering different challenges and requiring different skills.
In February 2014, Ethan Perlstein launched his very own laboratory: Perlstein Lab. It’s not based at a university. Instead, it is an independent laboratory that has grown from grass roots. In his guest post Open biotech, on the Nature blog Trade Secrets, Perlstein explains how social media (blogging and Twitter in particular) helped him once he had left academia.
The impact factor was invented as a tool for librarians to judge which journals to store. Now it has become a measure for the quality of the journal. It’s a bone of contention for many scientists. Some love it, some are indifferent, and others wish it would vanish all together. Whether it will vanish is unknown, but in the meantime, Thomson Reuters announced that they will become more transparent about how they calculate impact factors, says Richard Van Noorden.
Finally, the Chief Scientist at Digital Science, Jonathan Adams, writes a guest post about the relationship between impact factors, research achievements and career progression as a scientist on the Nature blog Of Schemes and Memes. He refers to the first Digital Science Report that they launched on the 8th of June this year (Evidence for excellence: has the signal overtaken the substance?). The report, according to Adams, “shows that researchers put on their best show for the UK’s Research Assessment Exercise, they think journal articles are the best bet – even where surveys say that monographs or conference proceedings are key to their subject. And they think that articles from high impact journals provide a better signal than other highly-cited work. The evidence suggests that the ‘right’ signal has become more important than the real substance.”