Scientific research is hard …so you have to enjoy it!

Today we’re talking to Tim Donohoe, Professor of Chemistry at the University of Oxford and Editor of Tetrahedron Letters.

What are your research interests/describe a typical working day
“I research organic chemistry in the broadest sense, but am particularly interested in total synthesis and catalysis.” Tim leads a research team of 16-20 people, a mixture of graduates/undergraduates plus postdoctoral researchers. “My job is to support them and together do the best research possible.” As well as this, Tim is also responsible for teaching and has various administrative duties. What’s more, he’s also an editor for Tetrahedron Letters! 

How do you measure success in your work?
“One thing that gets my fist pumping is when we get a really nice piece of work accepted for publication. Or when a grant gets funded – we can then do more research! Another thrill is when a member of the group gets a job (especially if it’s in chemistry!).”

Do you have any particular advice for younger researchers?
“Scientific research is hard”, says Tim “…so you have to enjoy it! The opportunity to have a job you enjoy is a privilege. If you enjoy it, work at it to be best you can be. Read widely. Make sure you are good at communicating science – presentations, writing at the board and that sort of thing.”

What drove you to become an Editor?
“I was invited!” Tim started his editorial work with the journal in January 2014. 

What is the most rewarding aspect of editorial work for you and what do you find difficult about the role?
In terms of reward, Tim finds it pleasing to be able to “help get great science published”. He sees his job to help the journal and grow its reputation. He also likes helping researchers around the world. “It’s great to see a manuscript coming back with helpful referees’ comments, then see the improvements in the revised version.” What’s not so good is having to make difficult decisions. Sometimes papers are “in the middle” – which way to go? Occasionally referees’ comments are short and unhelpful to both the author and the editor – so then one’s left in a quandary. 

What professional use (if any) do you make of social media and/or scholarly collaboration tools like Mendeley?
Tim does make use of some tools. Not much social media though. Tim finds Mendeley helpful to share ideas with other editors and Elsevier staff: the group discussion aspect is useful. “At the TET conference in Budapest – we had a virtual poster symposium. You could join the [Mendeley] group and look at the science that was being presented. You could comment and interact, even from home. That was great as it gave those unable to attend a chance to participate.” Tim doesn’t use Twitter as an active user but browses journals’ feeds.

If we could build a tool/device to help you most in your career or editorial work; what would it be?
If we’re looking at a scientific demand then something that would help organic chemistry research, in particular catalytic reactions. “There’s a lot going on in a catalytic reaction. If a particular reaction doesn’t work, we don’t know why. What we need is a simple way of working out WHY: some way of interrogating unsuccessful interactions!”

Have you any particular interests in what remains of your time apart from university and editorial work?
“Family! Squash. And I go to the gym to keep fit.”

Tim was interviewed by Christopher Tancock

Don’t do whatever everyone else is doing

Today we’re talking to Rob Field, Professor of Biological Chemistry, John Innes Centre and editor-in-chief of Carbohydrate Research.

What are your research interests/describe a typical working day

“Generally a lot of it is spent on a train somewhere!” As well as working at the John Innes Centre, Rob is active as CEO of Iceni Diagnostics, which develops diagnostic tools for examining and/or diagnosing infectious diseases e.g. influenza or the norovirus. If that wasn’t enough, Rob has also recently taken over a role as President of the chemistry-biology interface division with the Royal Society of Chemistry! Rob spends much of his time nowadays doing managerial or strategy work but was trained as a chemist and is active with his research teams.

How do you measure success in your work?

The academic markers of success are clearly important, but Rob also looks to the question of impact. For example Rob and his team got involved after anglers on the Norfolk Broads complained of finding large numbers of dead fish. Working with them – and the environment agency, Rob discovered that the issue was down to algae which had been infected by a virus. Rob’s team had similar experiences with their work on influenza so they worked out a method of tracking and neutralizing the algae as well as implanting measures to keep an eye out for reoccurrence. This was hugely important for the local community.

Do you have any particular advice for younger researchers?

“Don’t do whatever everyone else is doing” is Rob’s motto! It’s a very competitive environment, so you have to be distinctive. To Rob’s mind; there is a “growing realization that chasing the Impact Factor is not the best way to do the best science”. More important is to hit the right audience – by e.g. targeting a specific journal. At the same time, it’s important to note that there is a lot of pressure on researchers and corruption that needs to be tackled.

What drove you to become an Editor?

Rob got gradually involved with his journal as a handling editor then in time became editor-in-chief. In doing his editorial work, Rob recognizes that science is “never static” but nonetheless some traditional journals occasionally stay still. Rob is keen to ensure that Carbohydrate Research leads from the front and maintains its edge and usefulness to the community.

What is the most rewarding aspect of editorial work for you and what do you find difficult about the role?

Workflows and timings are the difficult issues for Rob. Getting c.150 emails a day makes for a huge workload! On the plus side, Rob enjoys the position of being able to determine which research progresses into the journal. Whereas he sees some journals as taking in everything – and in doing so losing focus; Carbohydrate Research maintains selectivity and thus rejects c. 2/3 of submissions.

What professional use (if any) do you make of social media and/or scholarly collaboration tools like Mendeley?

“This really depends on whom I am working with – everyone has their own pet approach.” Part of the difficulty, Rob says, is that there is no standard format or tool at the moment – even for data sharing. It can be Dropbox for one project, Mendeley for another or something from Google for the next! More and more young people are coming in though and they are even more IT savvy than those in their 30s. There is an obvious and increasing use of Twitter or Facebook to access information. One big change that Rob has observed is the shift away from Web of Science type database searches to simple Google searching. Generally, there is more and more need to share data as part of collaborative work and have access to literature as well as documents and reports. “I sit on lots of funding bodies. In the past, you would have got a suitcase of hard copy – now there is a web portal!”

If we could build a tool/device to help you most in your career or editorial work; what would it be?

For Rob, one frustration dealing with primary research papers is dealing with different formats between publishers. Therefore, access to a central bank which smoothed out formats would be great. “Some formatting is overkill”, he says.  Another thing would be more streamlined access to research papers. “The move to OA makes sense but it is nightmare to get there.” Finally, quality control is getting more and more difficult. Younger people don’t have experience to navigate the huge number and variety of journals and sources. They often take everything at face value.

Have you any particular interests in what remains of your time apart from university and editorial work?

When he’s not wearing one of his many work hats, Rob enjoys fishing, watching rugby and travel.

Rob was interviewed by Christopher Tancock

Insights into funding: Indian Department of Science and Technology

Indian research spending is approximately $70 billion annually.

By Seema Sharma

Looking for DST Research Funding? Try Mendeley Funding!

Introduction

In 2016, India spent 0.85% of its GDP on research and development. Although this may lag behind some of the research commitments of its Asian neighbours, (China spent 1.98% and South Korea lead the region with a significant investment of 4% of its GDP), it still represents a non-trivial funding amount of ~$70 Billion annually. In recent years, Indian Research Institutes have significantly increased their influence in global rankings for research output, with the Indian Institutes of Technology (IIT) now ranking 41 globally, and in the top 10 in the Asia-Pacific region [1].

DST Funding Overview

In this post, we’re focussing on funding opportunities from the Indian Department of Science and Technology (DST). The department has a multi-functional role that includes setting scientific policy, advising the government, supporting its 21 research institutions and promoting emerging areas of science and technology (S&T). Additionally, together with its subsidiary body — the Science and Engineering Research Board (SERB), it allocates S&T research grants within its funding criteria to undertake research at its institutions and beyond. Note, there are several other Indian governmental departments, including the Department of Biotechnology (DBT), that also support grants in scientific research fields. The full list of all departments can be found here.

The funding focus available from the DST in India falls into the following 6 broad categories: Scientific & engineering research; technology development; international S&T cooperation; S&T socio-economic programmes; technology missions division and women scientists programmes.

There initiatives and projects funded in these categories are diverse. Some examples include: the technology mission division supporting solar energy research though a dedicated Clean Energy Research Initiative (CERI); women scientists programmes providing funding for those women returning to work after career breaks; the technology development funding a new quantum computation and communication systems project.

Calls for proposals have a definitive submission deadline and those currently available can be found listed at http://www.dst.gov.in/call-for-proposals. Announcements, in the form of ongoing funding opportunities are also invited throughout the year, with no definitive deadline, and are available here. The format and requirements for funding applications differ and researchers should play close attention to the guidelines stipulated in the individual call or announcement.The DST has adopted an electronic project management system portal (e-PMS) for the online submission of research proposals. Researchers are required to register on the portal (onlinedst.gov.in) and then upload the proposal in the given format specified in the call.

Proposals will be sent to at least three peer reviewers selected by DST. Applicants can nominate three reviewers and the DST guarantees to select at least one of these, subject to ensuring there are no conflicts of interest. Applicants have an opportunity to respond to reviewers’ comments in writing. In addition, applicants may also be called to an interview before a panel to gather more information and clarity on the proposals. The expert panel may review and moderate peer review reports and seek further information based the what it presented by the applicant at interview.

DST International Collaborative Funding

As part of a focus on international cooperation, the DST has a number of joint global calls for funding, teaming up with international partners. It’s notable that many of its current calls for proposals involve collaboration with one or more countries. The DST states that in recent years its cooperation has strengthened notably with Australia, Canada, EU, France, Germany, Israel, Japan, Russia, UK and USA.

UK-India, Germany-India, France-India and US-India collaborative calls are regularly announced. Here, research applicants are required to apply jointly from the two countries involved, and each proposal should involve one or more organisers from each country. Two funding councils will be involved, the DST and the joint partner research council.

In the UK, a number of recently funded grants have included joint collaborations between the DST with the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC) and Natural Environment Research Council (NERC) on projects for improving water quality through monitoring pollutants, and reducing energy demands in the built environment. Current Indo-UK joint research calls available through the Research Councils UK (RCUK) can be found here.

The DST is also involved in a UK-India Education Research Initiative (UKIERI), a bilateral governmental commitment from both countries to partner in research. They have a number of funding calls currently available, (independent to those listed by the RCUK), listed here. Equivalent bilateral research initiative centres also exist in France (Indo-French Centre for Promotion of Advanced Research), Germany (Indo-German Science & Technology Centre) and the US (Indo-US Science and Technology Forum), which are worth checking for regular funding calls.

The DST require that all international collaborative research projects proposals should emphasise the joint research effort between Indian researchers and the other participant country. Furthermore,  both applicants should clearly demonstrate the added value drawn from a collaboration with India. They also encourage the exchange of research staff, including travel funding specifically for that purpose. The Indian Lead applicant researcher must work at an institution that receives grants from the DST and have registered online at their portal.

Finally, we’ve listed a number of standard assessment criteria to help when submitting international collaborative projects with the DST, these include:

  1. Quality of proposal
  2. Importance
  3. Pathways to Impact
  4. Appropriateness of applicants (CV’s are submitted as part of this)
  5. Resources and management
  6. Fit with the call

Good luck with your application!

References

Useful Links

Need Funding Opportunities? Mendeley Users: visit Mendeley FundingMore Information

Find Out What You’ve Missed: Use Mendeley and Stay Up to Date

It’s time to fire up the laptop and the app and get back to work.

The hazy, hot days of summer are behind us, and it’s time to fire up the app and the laptop, catch up on what one may have missed whilst on the beach, and get back to work. With so much information being generated on a daily basis, it can be a daunting task to get on top of several months’ worth of new information.

Mendeley makes that process easier.  We have great features which make it more convenient than ever to stay up to date.

Suggest

Researchers have come to rely on Mendeley Suggest: as you add documents to your reference manager, Suggest learns what topics may be of interest to you and provides additional articles. The more documents you add, the more Suggest refines its recommendations.

Groups

If you are kicking off a new project, why not try using a Mendeley Group to share full-text articles with up to 25 collaborators? Article highlights, annotations and notes within private groups are synchronised to all group members, which is a convenient method to ensure context.

Feed

Mendeley Feed provides a convenient way to stay up-to-date with the latest information about your work or field of interest. Start by building your follower network; you can post news links and upload documents of interest as you find items worth sharing with your peers.

A great new feature of Mendeley Feed that you may have missed: You can now easily keep track of new publications authored by your collaborators. Simply link up your Scopus profile to your Mendeley account and we will post to your Feed whenever any of your co-authors publish something new.

Mobile

You can manage your library, read and annotate documents on the go with the Mendeley Mobile apps for iOS and Android.

We have enhanced the features of the Mendeley Mobile app, making it easier than ever to stay up to date no matter where you are.  Via the app, you can post status and drop comments onto the news feed.  Greater mobile functionality will become available over the autumn months.

Get productive with Mendeley

The transition from summer to autumn, from t-shirts to cardigans, from bathing trunks to full backpacks, will always be a dramatic shift.  But thanks to Mendeley’s features, it can be a productive time as well.

New Look, New Sign In

Updates to your Mendeley Sign In Experience

Starting this month, we’ll be making upgrades to your sign in experience; this will take place across our entire product range: web, mobile, and desktop.

New look Mendeley sign in

You’ll now only need one account to access the entire Mendeley and Elsevier ecosystem, thus minimising the number of sign in credentials you’ll need to remember.  It will also streamline your user experience, and allow us to deliver improved services to you in the future.

Some users will need to update their accounts. If you do, you’ll be prompted to go through our quick and easy verification process to ensure the security of your account and update your details.

If you experience any issues signing into your Elsevier account please check out the FAQs here or contact the Support Team.

If you have any feedback about the new sign in experience, please feel free to reply directly on this thread!

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].

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.