Is it time for researchers to adapt or go on the march?

Mendeley Brainstorm: Science and Politics – Unhappy Together?

Is it time for researchers to adapt or go on the march?
Is it time for researchers to adapt or go on the march?

The worlds of science and politics appear to be in conflict. Britain voted for Brexit; it’s estimated 90% of British academics voted Remain. Recent policy announcements by the Trump administration have provoked scientists to plan a “March for Science” on Washington DC. Are science and politics destined to clash? We are looking for the most well thought out answer to this question in up to 150 words: use the comment feature below the blog and please feel free to promote your research! The winner will receive an Amazon gift certificate worth £50 and a bag full of Mendeley items; competition closes March 8, 2017.

Post-Factual Versus Evidence Based

The world of politics introduced new terms into the lexicon in 2016, including “post-factual”, “post-truth” and “fake news”; the world of science continues to rely on evidence, data and peer reviews. In 2016, politics erupted with statements that denounced “experts”; science depends on expertise to achieve its advances.

Funding Pressures

The Trump Administration has instructed the Environmental Protection Agency to freeze all grants. This could be a prelude to more cuts for research in environmental and other sciences. Mick Mulvaney, President Trump’s choice to head the White House’s Office of Management and Budget, apparently asked in September 2016 after considering studies done about the Zika virus, “…do we really need government funded research at all”.

What’s Next?

Can science learn to live with the new political environment, or is it time for researchers to march? Will “post factual” politics be compelled to yield to cold, hard data? Will science shift from countries like the United States and Britain to elsewhere? What are your thoughts on what will happen and what will you do? Tell us!

Need to Store & Publish Your Data?

Mendeley Data is a secure cloud-based repository where you can store your data (including open data governmental datasets and websites), ensuring it is easy to share, access and cite, wherever you are. Click here for more information.

About Mendeley Brainstorms

Our Brainstorms are challenges so we can engage with you, our users, on the hottest topics in the world of research.  We look for the most in-depth and well thought through responses; the best response as judged by the Mendeley team will earn a prize.

References

AHUJA, M. (2017). Scientists planning their own march in Washington. CNN. [online] Available at: http://edition.cnn.com/2017/01/25/politics/scientists-march-dc-trnd/index.html?sr=twCNN012617scientists-march-dc-trnd0530AMStoryPhoto&linkId=33790680 [Accessed 26 Jan. 2017].

BELLUZ, J. (2017). Trump’s budget director pick: “Do we really need government-funded research at all”. [Blog] Vox. Available at: http://www.vox.com/science-and-health/2016/12/21/14012552/trump-budget-director-research-science-mulvaney [Accessed 26 Jan. 2017].

KASPRAK, A. (2016). FACT CHECK: Trump’s Budget Director Pick Asked “Do We Really Need Government-Funded Research at All?”. [online] Snopes. Available at: http://www.snopes.com/trumps-budget-director-pick-asked-really-need-government-funded-research/ [Accessed 26 Jan. 2017].

WAPNER, J. (2017). Trump Freezes Grants, Approves Pipelines and Considers Sharp Budget Cuts At the EPA. Newsweek. [online] Available at: http://europe.newsweek.com/trump-freezes-grants-approves-pipelines-and-considers-sharp-budget-cuts-epa-547738?rm=eu [Accessed 26 Jan. 2017].

Is the future of data open?

Mendeley Brainstorm – Open Data – We Have a Winner!

Is the future of data open?
Is the future of data open?

Many thanks to all those who entered the Mendeley Brainstorm related to Open Data; picking a winner given the well thought out answers was not easy, however in the end, we selected Sarah’s post:

When we talk about Open Data, there are really two separate issues: the sharing of raw data and open access to publications.

Sharing of raw data is incredibly valuable for the scientific community. Any group that chooses to publish polished interpretations of their data (such as a paper) must also be responsible for the quality of the raw data and/or analysis that went into it. Because researchers may have unrealized biases in data analysis and interpretation, it is vital that the raw data also be available for examination.

Open access is a thornier issue. While the benefits (greater spread of knowledge, greater inclusion in science, greater connection with the public) are valuable, our current system of publication does not incentivize open access. Treating the scientific publication process as a public good, as academic research is treated, may therefore be a valuable approach to solve this issue of incentives.

Sarah is a graduate student at the University of Wisconsin, She wrote:

I’m….studying retinal development, so my interaction with Open Data is more the general academic experience and thinking about it abstractly. The first part of my response was mostly inspired by my experiences reading papers and the frustration of knowing they’re only the beautified surface of the work that was actually done. The second part of my response was actually inspired by economics podcasts like Planet Money and Freakonomics, which are some of my favorite things to listen to while doing lab work.

She also told us:

Also I just want to take the chance to thank everyone at Mendeley! I really appreciate that you’ve made it more than just a useful application (and it is incredibly useful).

Thank you, Sarah!

Those who didn’t win this time are encouraged to respond to the latest Mendeley Brainstorm, regarding Ageing Societies. Thanks again to all our participants.

As society ages, we need to formulate intelligent solutions for the future.

Mendeley Brainstorm: Ageing Societies – Getting Wiser?

As society ages, we need to formulate intelligent solutions for the future.

The elderly is one of the fastest growing segments of the world’s population. For example, the number of people in Japan aged over 65 hit a record high in 2016. What changes will we see in technology and society as a result? How do we get wiser about getting older? We are looking for the most well thought out answer to this question in up to 150 words: use the comment feature below the blog and please feel free to promote your research! The winner will receive an Amazon gift certificate worth £50 and a bag full of Mendeley items; competition closes February 8, 2017.

Another Year Older

The New Year brings us closer to an unprecedented milestone. The worldwide number of people aged 60 and over will soon exceed 1 billion; the ratio of working people to pensioners is also experiencing a dramatic shift.

Bonanza or Bankruptcy?

Companies like BMW are adjusting their working practices to accommodate this demographic change. BMW found that such changes help them retain valuable skillsets. On the other hand, countries like Japan are struggling to pay pensions and health care for all their retirees; in fiscal 2012, the cost to the Japanese taxpayer was ¥109 trillion.

Technology to the Rescue?

Will Artificial Intelligence and / or Robotics help? More and more labour is being performed by machines; will this help countries adapt to this change? Or are governments going to have to restrict benefits to the elderly? Will the elderly have to work for longer? What would wise policy in response to this change look like? What are your thoughts on what actually will happen? Tell us!

About Mendeley Brainstorms

Our Brainstorms are challenges so we can engage with you, our users, on the hottest topics in the world of research.  We look for the most in-depth and well thought through responses; the best response as judged by the Mendeley team will earn a prize.

References

THE GUARDIAN, (2016). Are you worried about our ageing population? Share your thoughts. [online] Available at: https://www.theguardian.com/world/2016/nov/15/are-you-worried-about-our-ageing-population-share-your-thoughts [Accessed 15 Nov. 2016].

HALL, A. (2011). Built by Mature Workers: BMW opens car plant where all employees are aged over 50. Daily Mail. [online] Available at: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/sciencetech/article-1357958/BMW-opens-car-plant-employees-aged-50.html [Accessed 15 Nov. 2016].
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JAPAN TIMES, (2015). Public pensions, health care stretched as Japan’s population ages. [online] Available at: http://www.japantimes.co.jp/news/2015/11/25/national/social-issues/public-pensions-health-care-stretch-japans-population-ages/#.WCr3pdxgst8 [Accessed 15 Nov. 2016].

2017 Reaxys PhD Prize

Open for Submissions: the 2017 Reaxys PhD Prize

Today marks an important day in the chemistry calendar: the launch of the 2017 Reaxys PhD Prize! From now until March 13, talented and ambitious chemistry PhD students from all around the world will be sending their submissions, all hoping to show the Review Board that they deserve a place on the list of finalists.

It’s considered a high honor to be a Reaxys PhD Prize finalist. Each entry is judged in terms of originality, innovation, importance and applicability of the research. The reviewers also look at the rigor of approach and methodology and the quality and clarity of related publications. Recommendation letters and CVs are also considered. Hundreds of applications come in each year, with students from over 400 institutions having participated to date, and the Review Board have consistently praised the quality of the submissions.

It is the Review Board’s task to select the 45 finalists, who are invited to present their research at the Reaxys PhD Prize Symposium. This year’s event will be held in Shanghai in October, with travel bursaries and accommodations provided to ensure that the finalists can attend. The 2016 symposium was in London—you can see the highlights in this short video:

In addition to gaining recognition for their research excellence and an opportunity to present their work, all the finalists are invited to join the Reaxys Prize Club, a unique, international network of chemists from all researchers and career paths. Now with over 300 members, the Club has proven to boost the careers of young chemists, helping them to meet with other chemists, attend conferences, and organize events. Prize Club members also receive personal access to Reaxys and Reaxys Medicinal Chemistry and discounts on Elsevier books.

Being a finalist is an accolade in itself, but the participants all certainly hope to be selected as one of the three winners. The shortlisted best finalists make a final oral presentation of their research at the Reaxys PhD Prize Symposium, based on which, the Review Board Chairs select the winners. Each winner receives a prize of $2000 in addition to all the benefits that finalists get.

The competition is open to anyone who has just finished or is currently engaged in a PhD program where the research focus is related to chemistry. Previous finalists have hailed from institutions in Asia, the Americas, Europe and the Middle East—and they are all members of the Reaxys Prize Club, meaning it is a global network of dedicated and talented chemists.

Could you or someone you know be one of this year’s finalists? All the details about applying can be found here.

As our world is ever more networked, so too is it ever more vulnerable

Mendeley Brainstorm – Hacking – We Have a Winner!

As our world is ever more networked, so too is it ever more vulnerable
As our world is ever more networked, so too is it ever more vulnerable

Many thanks to all those who entered the Mendeley Brainstorm related to Hacking; picking a winner given the well thought out answers was not easy, however in the end, we selected Dr. Frances Buontempo’s post.

Dr Frances Buontempo is a post-doc at City, University of London in the Centre for Software Reliability, http://www.city.ac.uk/centre-for-software-reliability working as a consortium on a H2020 project using diversity enhancements for security information and event management : http://disiem.lasige.di.fc.ul.pt/ She wrote:

We are increasingly see IoT devices (including toothbrushes?!) which a little investigation reveals is just using the default user name and password. Many problems are announced on https://cve.mitre.org/ and people reporting vulnerabilities they observe is vital. You then need a way to automatically monitor your machines; not everyone will have a home network set up to keep an eye on their fridge or kettle or toothbrush. I found the recent “nematode” (anti-worm worm) amusing; http://www.theregister.co.uk/2016/10/31/this_antiworm_patch_bot_could_silence_epic_mirai_ddos_attack_army/ though it suggests a way to use offense as defence. A combination of proactively looking for problems, being aware of sensible measures like not using default or crack-able passwords, and also being more pro-active will help. In the long run, whatever you do to secure machines will be insufficient; in some ways it’s an arms race between sides. The trick is to catch problems early before any damage is done.

A sound prognosis. She also told us:

I am using Mendeley for my research, and have previously used it for a few personal projects. It’s a really easy tool to use, and visually much nicer than some other tools I’ve previously used.

Thank you, Frances!

Those who didn’t win this time are encouraged to respond to the latest Mendeley Brainstorm, regarding Open Data. Thanks again to all our participants.

Is the future of data more open?

Mendeley Brainstorm: Open Data – The Wave of the Future?

Is the future of data more open?
Is the future of data more open?

“Pirate Politics” are on the march. The Pirate Party of Iceland tripled their representation in the October election. Many organisations, including the Mozilla Foundation, are clamouring for copyright reform to allow more data sharing. Is Open Data the wave of the future? What are the downsides? We are looking for the most well thought out answer to this question in up to 150 words: use the comment feature below the blog and please feel free to promote your research! The winner will receive an Amazon gift certificate worth £50 and a bag full of Mendeley items; competition closes January 11, 2017.

Pirates on the March

The Pirate Party of Iceland tripled their representation on October 29. Part of their appeal in a country as technology literate as Iceland may be their emphasis on open data and reform of copyright laws to allow the free sharing of information.

A Rebellion?

The Pirates’ success may be part of a wider reaction to the increasing restrictions afforded by copyright. For example, the tractor manufacturer John Deere recently argued in court that its ownership of the software in its vehicles extended beyond the point of their products’ sale. The Mozilla Foundation has also set up a campaign whose aim is to make copyright less stringent.

What Next?

As cultural guru Stewart Brand said, “On the one hand…information wants to be expensive, because it’s so valuable…on the other hand, information wants to be free because the cost of getting it out is getting lower and lower all the time.” Is the future of data open? What are the positives and negatives of a more open paradigm? Tell us!

About Mendeley Brainstorms

Our Brainstorms are challenges so we can engage with you, our users, on the hottest topics in the world of research.  We look for the most in-depth and well thought through responses; the best response as judged by the Mendeley team will earn a prize.

References

COYLE, D. (2016). How the digital age cuts through notions of material ownership. The Financial Times. [online] Available at: http://www.ft.com/cms/s/0/d24bd5dc-83c8-11e6-a29c-6e7d9515ad15.html?siteedition=uk#axzz4M10uYtFG [Accessed 3 Oct. 2016].

DE FREYTAS-TAMURA, K. (2016). Iceland’s Prime Minister Resigns, After Pirate Party Makes Strong Gains. New York Times. [online] Available at: http://www.nytimes.com/2016/10/31/world/europe/icelands-prime-minister-resigns-after-pirate-party-makes-strong-gains.html?_r=0 [Accessed 2 Nov. 2016].

TURNER, Fred (2006). From Counterculture to Cyberculture: Stewart Brand, the Whole Earth Network, and the Rise of Digital Utopianism. Chicago: University of Chicago Press.

Climate change is altering our landscape...potentially forever.

Mendeley Brainstorm – Climate Change – We Have a Winner!

Climate change is altering our landscape...potentially forever.
Climate change is altering our landscape…potentially forever.

Many thanks to all those who entered the Mendeley Brainstorm related to Climate Change; picking a winner given all the well thought out answers was not a straightforward matter, however in the end, we selected Vinisha Varghese’s (of the Indian Institute of Science (IISc), Bangalore) response:

The answer is slightly more complex than a simple yes or no. On one hand, the Paris Agreement is celebrated as the documentation of the human race’s first collective effort to combat the biggest threat in our (relatively young) species’ narrative – climate change. On the other hand, this hot-air balloon is constantly shot down as nothing but a mere ‘green-washing’ of white paper. The bottom-line is that the assessed carbon budget is not sufficient to limit warming to 2°C nor does it help the SIDS – who have conveniently been handed a raw deal. While we have put our faith in negative emissions by means of CCS – scalable technology that we are yet to invent, there have been paradigm shifts to more sustainable practices. Personally, I look optimistically at this deal to restrict warming to below 4°C. To sum up, it all depends on our actions in the next 10 years.

We asked her what inspired her. She responded:

I believe what really inspired me to be more vocal is the idea that researchers can influence positive behavioral changes in the masses. We have to make known to the world that there is still hope and that there are ways of reaching that envisioned future if we only act on them. We can no longer sit back and expect our governments and policy-makers to take care of things though – the need of the hour is collective effort. As an optimist and someone closely involved in the environmental field, expressing my opinion on a platform like the Mendeley Brainstorm was a subtle way of giving a ‘nudge’.

Hopefully others will take the hint. Vinisha also told us:

Once again, I would like to express heartfelt thanks for choosing me from amongst so many well-informed experts! It was challenging to keep my opinion within the word limit.This recognition is incentive to keep a researcher like me (so early on in her career) well motivated.

Thank you, Vinisha!

Those who didn’t win this time are encouraged to respond to the latest Mendeley Brainstorm, regarding Hacking and Online Security. Thanks again to all our participants.