New classification for misconduct, the need for "luxe labs," and more (Good reads, December 2018)

New classification for misconduct, the need for "luxe labs," and more (Good reads, December 2018)

An entire month, and of course an entire year, has gone by! Some interesting discussions and conversations marked the month of December in the academic publishing and scholarly communication industry. If you’ve been too busy with your personal and professional duties to keep up with them, worry not! Our editorial team has curated some of the most notable of these discussions for you. So read on!   

1. Does postdoctoral training land researchers academic posts? Recently an interesting article posted by Nature discussed two reports that indicated post-doctorates are often ill-prepared for future career opportunities. Two studies were conducted to assess the compatibility of postdoc qualities with job requirements. As per one study published in Research Policy, the skill set employers look for don’t match that of the skills learned in postdoctoral positions at five institutes, including four top US universities. The other study based on postdocs at four European institutions, which was published in the Scandinavian Journal of Management, concluded that the postdoc recruitment and hiring process undermines job security and long-term employability.  One potential employer who was interviewed as part of the study said that postdocs “have all the academic science skills you [they] don’t need, and none of the organizational skills that you [they] do.” The studies highlight the need for redesigning of the postdoctoral training.  

2. Does impressive workplace architecture enhance scientific research? There seems to be a widespread belief that workplace architecture and amenities has an influence on scientists’ innovativeness and their overall performance. Kendall Powell, a freelance science journalist, examines in this article how true this is. She discusses the book Laboratory Lifestyles that chronicles the “history and trends of laboratories built around lifestyles.” Powell writes that although many are in favor of “luxe labs” and believe that fancy workspaces affect the productivity of scientists, others question whether scientists really need lavish settings for intellectual discussions to trigger. She argues the need for a controlled study to understand the correlation.  

3. How to boost your research career in 2019: Are you looking to boost your career in 2019? In this article 5 researchers, Martijn Bijker, Philipp Kruger, Irini Topalidou, Mirjana Povic, and Andy Kah Ping Tay, who featured in Nature Careers in 2018 share some great tips and pieces of advice that can be helpful for academics at different stages of their career. Of some of the many useful tips that they share are taking an initiative to expand one's horizons, ways to prepare yourself for an interview, and so on.

4. A new classification system for scientific misconduct: Misconduct in research has been a big topic of discussion for years now. Take a look at this interview where Toshio Kuroki, special advisor to the Japan Society for the Promotion of Science and professor emeritus at the University of Tokyo and Gifu University, talks about his recent research on research misconduct and a new system of classification of misconduct. In his book Accountability in Research, Kuroki presents a classification system that includes three classes of misconduct:  Class I Misconduct: Betrayal of truth (fabrication and falsification), Class II Misconduct: Betrayal of trust (plagiarism, irreproducibility and inadequate research practice), and Class III Misconduct: Risk to safety (risk to the safety of health and industrial products). According to him, the third class “takes into account the outcomes of misconduct, while reflecting the core values of truth, trust and risk in a more tangible fashion.” He says, “I am concerned that sanctions for misconduct have not been well defined and are ambiguous in terms of assessment of culpability, inequitable judgment, retroactive determination and so on.” Therefore, the new classification might help in making more accurate analyses and enable appropriate corrective actions to be taken.

5. Should journals publish the ‘CRISPR babies’ paper? Chinese researcher He Jiankui’s announcement of creating the world’s first genetically edited babies met with a lot of criticism from academics across the world. Moreover, it has sparked big questions pertaining to ethical research since he made heritable changes in the DNA of human embryos. Jiankui had mentioned that his paper was under consideration in a journal. However, given the speculation surrounding his ethical conduct during research, this article explores the current argument of whether journals should accept his papers or not, and what their considerations should be. Some journals have openly commented that they are unlikely to accept papers from him, while others believe that it is important to scrutinize the paper than believing what is being reported by media. Adam Marcus, the author of this post, suggests that journals should inspect closely the level of involvement of Jiankui’s co-authors in the research and confirm the ethical approval.  

Well, we hope you enjoyed our top picks for this month. If you have something you’d like to share, please do so in the comments section below.  Do browse through our previous Scholarly Communications Good Reads collections where we have featured more such interesting discussions from the scholarly publishing world. 

And if you’d like to stay tuned to important happenings in the journal publishing industry, visit our Industry News section.

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