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ESOF 2016 champion Nancy Rothwell

ESOF is a biannual event. And this year, it will be held in July in Manchester. Known for its manufacturing past, its footballing present and its graphene future, this vibrant city in the Northwest of England offers more than meets the eye. It is also the perfect location for an international forum such as ESOF2016. Find out more about what you can expect at this year’s event from its champion: Nancy Rothwell.

ScienceOpen: the next wave of Open Access?

The internet is transforming the way researchers communicate. And the pace of change is increasing. A number of issues have arisen under increasing public scrutiny. These include peer-review transparency, open data, evaluation of research impact—both based on articles and authors—as well as research reproducibility. At the same time, demand for real time Open Access (OA) to the latest scientific and medical results has rocketed.

Online reputation: necessary, but not sufficient

Social connections, of course, are a key part of being a researcher—all the more so as science becomes increasingly collaborative. Much of scientific success—in both intellectual and career terms—is down to finding the right mentors and collaborators. Networks are a resource as much as any other. So how important to academic success is cultivating your profile online?

Towards research excellence rather than excellence itself

Last April, leading researchers, politicians and key players in European research funding discussed how Europe can finance and provide optimal conditions for excellent research. They adopted the so-called “Aarhus Declaration” which states that “when aiming for excellence, one should aim at the stars: a new knowledge which changes paradigms, invents new fields and opens opportunities for broad societal consequences.” Increasingly, European Union and national funding is anchored around the idea of excellence in research. But what exactly is excellence? Is this yardstick a fair measure of a scientist’s work? Questions are being raised about whether this distorts the research landscape in Europe.

Dark matter – Missing you already

It’s a moot point that perhaps only one of Einstein’s papers went through the modern scientific peer review process and I often wonder whether an email received from him today suggesting that he’s overturned Newton’s work with talk of warped space-time and wormholes wouldn’t simply fail at the first or second step of my “Fraudulent Invention Debunkifier” flowchart mentioned around this time last year on the Pivot Points column.

Scientists can’t network and other myths

Recently, a newly minted science doctorate asked me for some help finding a job. He had applied for hundreds of advertised openings, both postdoc and non-academic positions, but to no avail. So I asked him about his networking strategy. “What networking strategy?” he replied, clueless to what I was referring. I spent the next hour emphasising the importance of networking in finding hidden job opportunities and communicating your value to decision-makers. I outlined for him a customised networking plan which would enable him to meet and interact with professionals who have the power to hire him for the jobs he so desperately wanted. When our meeting concluded, I asked for feedback on the career consulting session – “Did you find our discussion helpful?” I inquired, thinking I was up for a major pat on the back. “No,” he said instantly. “You didn’t tell me where I can apply for a job or places where there are more advertisements for jobs.”