Is Open Access/Science the Biggest Problem We Face? (How About a Different Emphasis For 2014?)

Before the new year, there was a bit of a backlash against boycotting the glamour magz, spurred by Nobel Laureate Randy Schekman’s call to avoid said glamour magz. I like open access and alternative publishing models–hell, I would just as soon dump it all in bioArxiv and let the Intelligent Designer sort it out.

That said, despite the importance of communicating scientific results, I don’t think this is the most important issue facing scientists in 2014. The key issue is that biomedical job creation has stalled, even as we continue to produce more and more PhDs. When you add in that inflation has completely eroded the doubling of NIH funding during the Clinton and Bush eras, the dollars per applicant has plunged (there are more us today than in the 1990s).

What this means in terms of research is that innovative research is getting crushed. Regarding scientists–who do matter in all of this–salaries are starting to decline compared to 2009 in real dollar terms at every level (though poorer paid scientists are actually getting hit harder).

It seems to me that looking out for junior scientists and those who aren’t tenure track should be a higher priority in 2014.

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4 Responses to Is Open Access/Science the Biggest Problem We Face? (How About a Different Emphasis For 2014?)

  1. Matt Russell says:

    Great points and spot on.

  2. Interesting points. You should check out the work of UAW5810 the union for UC post-docs. We had several successful science funding petitions last year. It would be great to get an even broader audience behind these politics, because they can make a real change at Congress, Senat and White House. One of our petitions was supported by over 30 Congress men and women.

  3. Drugmonkey says:

    I am even more worried than you are. I fear that 2014 will be the turning year in which our concerns about apocalyptic collapse of the US scientific enterprise will be realized. Salary rises will not be important when labs close.

  4. caydenberg says:

    Isn’t this like saying global warming/cancer/terrorism/obesity/the wealth gap/the deficit is not the biggest problem America faces right now? Only one of those things can be THE biggest problem, and yet all of them are problems, with passionate advocates and putative solutions. If you arguing that more scientists should take up the call for more money, the issue it’s that not everyone agrees that is a reasonable, sustainable, or even wise solution.

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