Getting published for the first time is a crucial career milestone, but how does a set of experiments evolve into a scientific paper?
In the first episode of this four-part podcast series about writing a paper, Adam Levy delves into the all-important first stage of the process, preparing a manuscript for submission to a journal.
He also finds out about the importance of titles, abstracts, figures and results, why good storytelling counts, and the particular challenges faced by researchers whose first language is not English.
Pamela Yeh, an evolutionary biologist at the University of California, Los Angeles, shares some personal pet peeves when she reads a paper: “I can’t stand those papers that have really long sentences with a ton of commas and a lot of jargon. I don’t think the writer is thinking about the reader,” she says.
Scientific research is not the endeavour of a single person. It requires a team of people. How can this be better reflected in graduate student training, asks Julie Gould.
Is science ready for “Team PhD”, whereby a group of students work more collaboratively, delivering a multi-authored thesis at their end of their programme?
Jeanette Woolard, who recently secured a £4.5m Wellcome Trust grant to fund a four-year collaborative doctoral training programme in her lab at the University of Nottingham, UK, believes it could happen one day.
“The team driven PhD is not distant dream. It’s soon-to-be a fulfilled reality,” Woolard, professor of cardiovascular physiology and pharmacology, tells Julie Gould. “If you give it enough of an incentive and wave the flag hard enough for team science, it will come.”
Woolard’s Wellcome grant allows four graduate students to have their own research focus but to work collaboratively. “Each of the individual candidates are still pursuing an individual PhD and they will each write up an individual thesis at the end of their four year period of study,” she says, arguing that the scientific community and students themselves aren’t yet ready for programmes that culminate in a team focused thesis. “I think individual students still either like the idea or deserve the opportunity to defend their own piece of work at the end of their studies.”
The new programme at Nottingham, she says, provides them with “the most collaborative environment possible, where they have the opportunity to work together as much as they can, to utilise as many skills as are available, and to really experience a dynamic, collaborative team-driven environment.
“Ultimately that’s what there are going to experience especially if they go into industry or pursue excellence in academia. Our best outputs now are judged as being multidisciplinary,” Woolard adds.
A team thesis may be some way off in science, but what about other disciplines? Jill Perry is Executive Director at the Carnegie Project. She tells Gould how the project is helping to redefine the education doctorate in the US.
Experience as a postdoctoral researcher might not fast-track your career outside academia, Julie Gould discovers.
Nessa Carey, a UK entrepreneur and technology-transfer professional whose career has straddled academia and industry, including a senior role at Pfizer, shares insider knowledge on how industry employers often view postdoctoral candidates. She also offers advice on CVs and preparing for interviews.
“It is very tempting sometimes for people to keep on postdoc-ing, especially if they have a lab head who has a lot of rolling budget and who likes having the same postdocs there, because they’re productive and they know them,” she says. “That’s great for the lab head. It’s typically very, very bad for the individual postdoc,” she adds.
Carey is joined by Shulamit Kahn, an economist at Boston University in Massachusetts, who co-authored a 2017 paper about the impact of postdoctoral training on early careers in biomedicine1.
According to the paper, published in Nature Biotechnology, employers did not financially value the training or skills obtained during postdoc training. “Based on these findings, the majority of PhDs would be financially better off if they skipped the postdoc entirely,” it concludes.
Malcolm Skingle, academic liaison at GlaxoSmithKline, adds: “You really will get people who have done their PhD, they’ve done a two-year postdoc, they think they’re pretty much going to run the world and single-handedly develop a drug.
“They have got no idea how difficult drug discovery is, and their place in that very big jigsaw.”
“And why don’t postdocs get great salaries straightaway? Well, actually, they haven’t proven themselves in our environment, where, if they’re any good, then their salaries will go up quite quickly.”
Nadia wanted to help patients. She had considered going to medical school, but found biomedical research to be an exciting opportunity to develop new knowledge and therapies.
After graduate school, she continued her training as a postdoc. She was on the faculty-track, making plans for her project and her next career advancement.
Then, COVID hit.
She was living and working in New York City as the largest pandemic in a century unfolded around her. She realized she had developed some skills over her years of training – PCR, data management, lab operations – that might make a difference in patient outcomes.
So she pressed pause on her postdoctoral work to start a clinical testing lab that now runs 60,000 COVID tests each week.
Center of a Pandemic
Dr. Nadia Khan is a Postdoctoral Researcher at Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai in New York City.
Dr. Nadia Khan, PhD
When the COVID-19 pandemic started, she realized that her experience preparing RNA samples and performing qPCR would be useful in performing COVID tests.
She reached out to her University, and got started preparing samples at the Mount Sinai COVID lab three days a week. But space was limited, and it wasn’t safe for her to continue working as a volunteer.
But the spark was already glowing: “I liked being able to use my scientific skills in a way that was useful tot he public in a time of need,” she recalls.
Charting a New Course
She teamed up with some contacts at a local biotech startup and forged a COVID testing lab to respond to the pandemic. She now manages nearly 30 employees and makes a sizable impact on COVID-19 in her community.
“I think I’ve always wanted to be a PI and have my own lab and direct a lab group, but now I’m starting to realize that I can be a scientific leader in a different way, and it doesn’t necessarily have to be in the academia world for me to feel successful,” she says.
Looking back at the path she took through her graduate training, Dr. Khan notes that “we only equate our successes with publications or getting awards, and we’re only really exposed to that. We only know one way to feel successful. Once you realize there are other ways to get that satisfaction, it opens doors for you. How else can I use my scientific skills in a way that makes me feel successful and makes me feel good about what I’m doing for the world?”
Her advice for early-stage scientists?
“Keep an open mind, and remember why you got into science.”
The podcast and artwork embedded on this page are from Joshua Hall and Daniel Arneman, PhDz, which is the property of its owner and not affiliated with or endorsed by Listen Notes, Inc.
In this episode, we are joined by Farhana Faruqe, a Data Scientist at Children’s National Health System and a Ph.D. candidate in Human-Technology Collaboration at The George Washington University.
Farhana outlines the various applications and developments in AI Ethics including Explainable AI and Trustworthy AI. We talk about what it means for a model or algorithm to be trustworthy and how we can mitigate risk at different stages of the data science pipeline. Finally, Farhana summarizes her recent publication “Monitoring Trust in Human-Machine Interactions for Public Sector Applications” where she measures people’s trust in Artificial Intelligence and Machine Learning.
Episode 9 w/ Larry Medsker HERE [https://theweeklyregression.buzzsprout.com/1630165/8286326-ep09-designing-ethical-ai-systems-with-dr-larry-medsker]
Follow the TWR Podcast on: Instagram HERE [https://www.instagram.com/theweeklyregression/] Twitter HERE [https://twitter.com/TheWeeklyReg] LinkedIn HERE [https://www.linkedin.com/company/the-weekly-regres]
The podcast and artwork embedded on this page are from Rayhaan Rasheed, which is the property of its owner and not affiliated with or endorsed by Listen Notes, Inc.
Even if you’re a judge, a prosecutor or a police officer, you might not have given a lot of thought to the question of why we punish people. You might simply conclude that we punish people when they need to be punished. Developmental psychologist Julia Marshall isn’t satisfied with that sort of simplicity. We’ll talk to her about when and why we punish.
The podcast and artwork embedded on this page are from Utah Public Radio, which is the property of its owner and not affiliated with or endorsed by Listen Notes, Inc.
It’s a terrible feeling when you know some of your students didn’t really learn the content, but you move them on anyway. Mastery-based grading solves that problem by requiring students to actually master key concepts before progressing to the next stage. In this episode, Kareem Farah of the Modern Classrooms Project shows us how it’s done.
This is the third and final episode of a three-part series that has taught us how to run a blended, self-paced, mastery-based model that works beautifully for remote, hybrid, or in-person learning. The first two episodes are 144, Making Great Screencast Videos, and 158, How to Create a Self-Paced Classroom.