Science, like politics, can elicit polarizing opinions. But with an ever-expanding body of knowledge — and the especially dizzying flurry of findings during the pandemic — is it fair to say that views on science are becoming more extreme? Measuring the polarization “A standard way of measuring polarization in the U.S. is asking Democrats and Republicans how warmly they … [Read more...] about Flushing Out Absolutism in Science
University Research Explained
A 17% drop in proposals over the past decade to the National Science Foundation (NSF) may be a mixed blessing. A consistently rising budget – and this is in billions of dollars – is the preferred method of keeping the number of funded proposals ever higher. But a dip in the number of proposals submitted in the first place can have a similar effect of increasing the number of … [Read more...] about Drop in NSF Proposals: More Proposals Funded?
Alternative metrics, or “altmetrics,” refers to the use of non-traditional methods for judging a researcher’s reach and impact. Being published in a peer-reviewed journal is surely a great feat. It’s the typical way professors get their research out there. But the tools established to measure this output might end up giving the skewed impression about an author’s impact in … [Read more...] about Expanding The Story of Your Research with Altmetrics
Is it necessary to share ALL your data? Is transparency a good thing or does it make researchers “vulnerable,” as author Nathan Schneider suggests in the Chronicle of Higher Education article, “Why Researchers Shouldn’t Share All Their Data.” Dark Data Defined Dark data is defined as the universe of information an organization collects, processes and stores – oftentimes … [Read more...] about Dark Data
We have all needed scholarly articles to cite in our academic careers. Now, there is a place where researchers can get millions of them, all on one site. Named after the Library of Alexandria, OpenAlex is an index of over 200 million scientific documents including publication sources, author information and research topics that can be used to conduct studies and … [Read more...] about New Open Index of Scholarly Articles Helps Researchers Connect
Fresh on the heels of an Office of Science and Technology Policy (OSTP) integrity overhaul, its leader, Eric Lander resigned in early February. This doesn’t look particularly good for the OSTP, an office trying to quell fraud and increase scientific accountability in society. For instance, the White House OSTP stated: “Violations of scientific integrity should be considered on … [Read more...] about Eric Lander Resigns from OSTP Among Accusations of Disrespectful Behavior
The White House Office of Science and Technology Policy (OSTP) is rolling out five principles of scientific integrity. This ambitious plan will attempt to repair the reputation of science in society, which may prove tricky. Allow for Dissent Scientific dissent is healthy. It leads to questioning. While hypotheses are necessary for true scientific research, sometimes the … [Read more...] about OSTP’s Science Integrity Overhaul
Time for a quick pulse-check on the Biden presidency. You may recall his Tweet: “Science will always be at the forefront of my administration,” (@JoeBiden). So, we ask again at the The Big Idea: how has the Biden administration gone about implementing a return to science through appointments, funding and policy? Uphill Battle According to the article Has Biden … [Read more...] about Biden Administration: Following the Science?
Let’s be honest, it’s always been difficult and now it seems even trickier to get a job in academia with a postdoc. Ending up as a tenured professor is just not in the cards for the majority of Ph.D.s. “In 2020, only 10% of engineering Ph.D. graduates and 16% of those in physical and earth sciences ended up in academic positions in the United States” according to … [Read more...] about To Tenure or Not to Tenure: Making the Shift from Academia to Industry
According to Allison Master, assistant professor of psychological, health and learning sciences at the University of Houston: "Stereotypes that STEM [science, technology, engineering and math] is for boys begin in grade school, and by the time they reach high school, many girls have made their decision not to pursue degrees in computer science and engineering because they feel … [Read more...] about Like A Girl: STEM and the Gender Disparity
All research is valuable, but research at the University of Houston that informs policy translates to a qualitative improvement in the lives of Houstonians. For instance, Andrew Stearns, a graduate student, used millions of dollars’ worth of commercially collected LiDAR data to study the erosion and deposition of sediment caused by floodwaters from Hurricane Harvey. What he … [Read more...] about On Research Informing Policy
In 1917, President Woodrow Wilson signed the Jones-Shafroth Act that extended Puerto Ricans citizenship in the United States. The first large wave of immigrants from Puerto Rico arrived soon after but were hardly welcomed with open arms by those in the U.S. In fact, they were treated as second-class citizens. Puerto Rican writers have endured colonialist practices, including … [Read more...] about On Giving Underserved Communities a Voice
The commute, the water cooler talks, the in-person meetings. Have we missed these things? Or can the research enterprise, for the most part, stay virtual? "Many people who have been working from home are experiencing a void they can't quite name," said Jerry Useem in The Atlantic. Maybe getting back to our old routine will do us good. Tracy Brower in Forbes wrote, "Many … [Read more...] about The Post-Pandemic 8 to 5
Who you hire in your lab matters when it comes to employment regulations. Two students stand in a lab, pipetting their hearts out. They look as though they are doing identical tasks, but one is training and one is working. Which is which? It depends on the funding sources and their requirements, and not necessarily on the nature of the activity performed. In fact, … [Read more...] about The Student Worker vs. The Fellow
The proposed 2022 White House Budget — is more money the only answer? By Claudia Neuhauser, Ph. D. Associate Vice President for Research and Technology Transfer, Professor of Mathematics, University of Houston Brian Herman, Ph. D. Professor, Department of Biomedical Engineering and former Vice President for Research, University of Minnesota and University of Texas … [Read more...] about Changing The Model of Research
What is the difference between a professor teaching and conducting research? When does a professor need an Institutional Review Board to provide oversight on their project? The NSF has had this come up often enough, presumably, that they wrote a vignette on their website. So, let's take a quiz! The NSF presented the following scenario: “Professor Speakwell teaches … [Read more...] about Is it Teaching or is it Research: When Do You Need an IRB?
With Loretta Byrne, ResearchMatch and Danielle Griffin, University of Houston “Up to 75 percent of Pacific Islanders are unable to convert an antiplatelet drug into its active form and therefore are at higher risk for adverse outcomes following angioplasty,” said the University of California San Francisco Participant Recruitment website. “And if the study population had not … [Read more...] about Diversify Your Human Subjects
“The pace of normal scientific progress seems hard to justify in the middle of a global crisis. So, everyone is doing their best to contribute and move at warp speed,” said Madhukar Pai, a tuberculosis researcher at McGill University in Montreal, Canada, in Nature Medicine. He also stated, “There is a fear of missing out. And it’s turned into a feeding frenzy.” Are we rushing … [Read more...] about Rushing Research
Some say that the tenure process at universities is inherently flawed and geared toward white faculty while faculty of color are left behind. According to an article in The Chronicle of Higher Education, 70 percent of the academic labor force was employed full time in 1975, compared with only 48 percent in 2019. Of the diminished ranks of tenured faculty, in 2018, Black … [Read more...] about Diversity and the Tenure Process
Aristotle, one of the most famous philosophers and scientists of all time, once said, “Patience is bitter, but its fruit is sweet.” What the phrase conveys is all too familiar to those in the scientific community. Patience needs to be cultivated by researchers who wait for the outcome of their studies. History is full of success stories of the science community showing … [Read more...] about How Researchers Can Cultivate Patience
The NSF has a Big Idea The NSF has 10 major thrusts for the future of funding and research – 10 research and process "big ideas" that will drive important aspects of NSF's long-term research agenda, push forward the frontiers of U.S. science and engineering research and lead to new discoveries and innovations. One of them asserts that we will live in a quantum world in a … [Read more...] about NSF’s Quantum Leap
You go to conferences; you network; you collaborate – all researchers and academics do. But do you need more than 150 contacts? Linkedin, Facebook, Twitter – all of these platforms open us up to the possibility of thousands of acquaintances, though fewer we would refer to as “friends.” Studying the primate brain Robin Dunbar, an anthropologist from England, has been … [Read more...] about Dunbar’s Number: How many contacts do researchers really need?
What is the difference between a project with Multiple Principal Investigators and Co-PIS? Well, it depends on the sponsor. According to the NIH, changing from a single PI model to one of Multiple Principal Investigators (MPI) model has a goal: “to maximize the potential of team science efforts in order to be responsive to the challenges and opportunities of the 21st … [Read more...] about MPIs: Team Science!
Summer Salary is any compensation paid during the summer period to an individual in excess of their Institutional Base Salary (IBS). It is calculated and paid at a percent effort rate, not in excess of the individual's official IBS divided by the number of months in which IBS is paid. In other words, if you are a full-time, nine-month faculty member working in the summer, you … [Read more...] about Summer Salaries: How Are They Calculated?
How many of the research administrator’s duties can be done from home? COVID-19 is showing us emphatically that the answer is many. There are some aspects that take a little bit of inventive scheduling to make happen, but overall, the telework paradigm may be here to stay in research long after the COVID pandemic tapers off. Meetings and more meetings Research … [Read more...] about Telework and the Research Enterprise
When a grant is awarded, the auditor's job typically involves reading financial reports, accounting transaction processes and internal controls. The auditor also reviews and evaluates complex financial statements. But did you know that the auditors also read the technical/progress reports as part of their financial review? So, let me get this straight... A PI must verify … [Read more...] about Auditors Read Your Technical Reports Too!
Most principal investigators spend many hours laboring over proposals to fund their research programs – and for good reason. While competing for funding is the big business for researchers, some have opted to fund their programs in other ways, like building a research consortium. The word “consortium” means a group of individuals, companies or governments that work together … [Read more...] about How to Build a Research Consortium
A data management plan is invaluable to researchers and to their universities. “You should plan at the outset for managing output long-term,” said Reid Boehm, research data management librarian at University of Houston Libraries. At the University of Houston, research data generated while individuals are pursuing research studies as faculty, staff or students of the … [Read more...] about Manage Your Data Better: Data Management Plans
Being mindful of inclusive language practices is more important than ever. Education is growing rapidly on this important topic to help writers – in fact, anyone writing words – avoid potentially harmful language. Universities are growing pockets of diversity, often representing faculty, staff and students from different backgrounds who have varying life experiences. … [Read more...] about Using Inclusive Language at Your University
Balancing your research checkbook is like managing your personal finances. However, it's much less common these days to do so with a paper bank statement and check register, as many people now use digital resources to follow their money. Regardless of how you do it, managing your income and expenses is important if you want to keep your finances healthy. Reconciling research … [Read more...] about Balancing Your Research Checkbook
Financial compliance is a very important aspect of any researcher’s work, but more so for a faculty member with multiple projects and different funding sources. It can be a tricky mathematical challenge to handle cost allocation appropriately and document it properly. First, let’s consider costs that are for items that benefit multiple projects or university activities. In … [Read more...] about Cost Allocation: Multiple Projects, One Funding Source
A meteorologist named Kelvin Droegemeier, whose main concern was cybersecurity and artificial intelligence, wasn’t appointed to the Office of Science Policy and Technology (OSTP) by Donald Trump until over one and a half years into his presidency. President Joe Biden appointed his new OSTP leader before his inauguration. Since 1976 when the OSTP was created, only four heads … [Read more...] about “Just the Facts, Please…” Will Biden’s Appointments Mean Funding?
Facilities and Administrative costs (F&A), also known as Indirect Costs or IDC, are at the very least misunderstood by researchers. At their worst, they smack of “Big Brother.” But F&A costs truly are transparent and nothing to fear (or despise!) Keeping the Lights On F&A are costs that cannot be uniquely associated with a particular project, but which are … [Read more...] about F&A: Don’t Let Me Be Misunderstood
There is a sport where two individuals clash in front of thousands of screaming fans. A heated bout where both participants throw jabs at each other and launch haymakers hoping to land a knockout blow; and it’s all for money. A bloody display of barbarism and competition not unlike the violent exhibitions of Roman gladiators. That sport … is called politics. Unlike boxing, … [Read more...] about Election to Electron: How Election Time Inflames the Fight for Federal Funding
The road to the next life-altering discovery, invention or device often begins with university-imagined Intellectual Property (IP) and ends when an outside company makes the investment to productize the discovery. Is there enough emphasis placed on this pipeline nationwide? The more one looks at this complicated question, we see there are numerous problems; in a rush to publish … [Read more...] about From Concept to Commercialization: The Importance of Supporting IP in our Universities
We’re not spending money on that anymore. We consider that to be a waste of your money. These words regarding climate change were spoken by Mick Mulvaney, director of the Trump Administration’s Office of Management and Budget. The government has rolled back policies that aimed to slow down climate change and reduce environmental pollution. It has also limited federal funding … [Read more...] about Getting (Un)Involved: Climate Change Researchers and The Paris Agreement
These months have been difficult. Every person has tired of the quarantine. Tired of the anxiety, the endless memes on social media, the debates. At the same time, we're facing issues of race relations. These issues are taxing. But higher education is strong. Universities are using its font of resources to understand these important issues better. Internal awards Many … [Read more...] about Internal Awards for COVID and Racial Justice Research
One might not expect the game of checkers to have anything to do with Artificial Intelligence, but the game really marked the beginning of machine learning in 1959. Pioneered by an MIT professor named Arthur Lee Samuel, it was discovered that teaching a simple strategy game to a computer is not so simple when every move needs to be anticipated. Smart machines Additionally, … [Read more...] about Opening Moves: Expanding Research in Machine Learning
Ask any researcher – proposals are a lot of work and they take a long time to get approved. At least, that’s how it usually goes. But with the COVID-19 pandemic, there has been a natural uptick in the amount of funded Rapid Response Research (RAPID) grants from the NSF. With an abbreviated timeline, these grants go to the researchers on the frontlines who are doing all types of … [Read more...] about RAPID-ly Slowing the Spread of COVID-19
Researchers across every discipline are redirecting their work in order to study COVID-19. The well-being of our global community depends on it. While some are exploring vaccines for the respiratory illness (according to the Guardian, 78 strains of the vaccine are currently in the works), others are saying that researching mental health issues around the pandemic is an equally … [Read more...] about Staying Sane: Mental Health Research in the Time of COVID-19
Many researchers have begun to work from home due to the novel COVID-19 pandemic, and only essential personnel are allowed to work on university campuses. For a researcher, what is considered “essential personnel”? Isn’t all research essential to the workings of a public research university? In a word, no. As much as one would like to believe their respective job is of the … [Read more...] about Are You “Essential Research Personnel”?
The Internet of Things (IoT) “There are a number of problems with ushering in the era of the Internet of Things (IoT), which all center on the security capabilities of the connected system,” writes Nick Ismail of Information Age magazine. The Big Hitter Aron Laszka, Ph.D., an assistant professor in the Department of Computer Science in the College of Natural Sciences … [Read more...] about Securing the Internet of Things
Imagine a hypothetical “Dear Abby” letter to the science community: “I am the principal investigator and corresponding author on a paper detailing research findings in our lab. A leading investigator at another university contacted me and states that she cannot duplicate our results. I re-ran the samples analyzed by my post-doc and I couldn’t either. What do I do? … [Read more...] about Reproducibility, Rigor and Rigmarole
Kardashians over the cosmos, sports over science, memes over medical breakthroughs, dragons over discoveries; the American public is the neglectful parent that can’t take their eye off the big game while their bespectacled, bright-eyed daughter is trying to show them the A+ she got on her science project. In a world where most Americans don’t consume science news, NASA … [Read more...] about Down to Earth: Has America Returned from its Giant Leap?
Congratulations, your proposal has been funded! These are words that every principal investigator (PI) wants to hear. But much like the lottery, the amount that glitters on signage near freeways is not the amount the investigator will receive. When the money is set up in the PI’s project cost center, a portion of the awarded amount, which is based on the university … [Read more...] about Keeping the Lights On: The Cost of Research
By Claudia Neuhauser, Ph.D. and Brian Herman, Ph.D. Free exchange of ideas created a global community of scholars We have enjoyed and benefited from decades of relative tranquility in academia where the focus on fundamental science created a global community of scholars that came with a free and unrestrained exchange of ideas. Research thrived in this community without … [Read more...] about How Should Universities View China?
Running a Research Center It takes bravery, creativity and a plan. Long days and constant pressure. It takes a lot to launch a successful business. The same is true for starting and managing an effective research center. A research center may not be about the bottom line, but it still has to stand out from its competitors. It still has to collaborate with colleagues in … [Read more...] about Finding Success in Running a Research Center
What is Public Scholarship? When we talk about public scholarship, we are referring to the various modes of communicating and disseminating knowledge for the public. Science-based startups and companies are eventually going to cross this river. This stream of communication that flows from the mountains of science and tech and pours into the sea of the public. Given this … [Read more...] about A Quick Guide to Engaging in Public Scholarship
Communicating science So you’re a researcher. Communicating science to a non-scientific audience scares the chemistry out of you. You’ve spent your entire career studying fungiform papillae density. The mere thought of fungiform papillae density gives you a rush that even love cannot provide. You know everything about fungiform papillae density. One day you have an … [Read more...] about Word Choice Helps With Communicating Science
There are so many instances of university research misconduct that the spotlight is shining brighter on institutions now than ever. Not the good kind of spotlight, either. Findings involving university research can be either good or bad. We celebrate, publish and acknowledge scientific contributions at universities. After all, research is part of our mission. Conversely, there … [Read more...] about 3 Ways to Prevent University Research Misconduct