A discussion about copyright for scientific content in the age of global sharing at London Info International 2017

A child’s idea of the scientist is wonderfully joyous: scientists are clever, hard-working and passionate about improving the world. To them, there’s no doubt that research builds a better future for everyone. As they grow into young adults in our connected world, how will their expectations for unlimited knowledge sharing clash with the current conventions of scholarly publication?

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Jon Dyer, a State of Oregon Forensic Scientist, demonstrates finger printing to students at an Elementary School in Portland (Source: Air National Guard)

Scientists are used to the idea of paywalls for academic publications, but the public are not. …

Aristotle’s 21st century comeback

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Photo by Giovanni Dall’Orto

Remember him? Aristotle?

The Eureka!-in-bathtub mathematician?
Nope, that was Archimedes.

Um, the one who said that philosophers should rule as kings?
Closer! That was Plato.

How about the “I know that I know nothing” one?
Ah, that was Socrates — Plato’s teacher.

Don’t worry, I’d also forgotten about Aristotle — turns out he was Plato’s student — until a conference last week about science policy, outreach and tools (#SpotOn17).

Enter the speech writer

The organisers had the brilliant idea of inviting the brilliant Simon Lancaster — a speechwriter who bears the sin of having written for the CEOs of faceless conglomerates like HSBC, Cadbury and Intercontinental Hotels — to show us scientists, former or current, how to better explain science. …

An informal history of how coders and researchers have been trying to answer one of academic life’s biggest questions — how can we stay on top of new publications?

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Photo by Tim Marshall on Unsplash

I’m drowning

A regenerative medicine professor at King’s College London once told me that “A PhD student should be reading at least five papers a week, and expect to find that four of the five aren’t actually relevant to their work.” My personal experience is more akin to 24 of 25 papers not being directly relevant to my PhD thesis—though obviously I had to read them to make sure they weren’t.

“A PhD student should be reading at least 5 papers a week, and expect to find that 4 of the 5 aren’t actually relevant to their work.”

The Internet has enabled instantaneous, low-cost dissemination of content, but with more and more information available, and increasingly multidisciplinary approaches to academic research, the problem becomes that of finding needles in ever growing haystacks. …

Over the course of five 3-minute talks and open Q&A, discover the latest answers to one of academic life’s biggest questions — how can we stay on top of new publications?

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Apologies for the (now obscure) ‘90s rom-com reference

Researchers, junior or senior, are perpetually haunted by the worry that they may have missed new publications of importance to their own work.

For those of you lucky enough to have experienced the ‘90s, you may remember rom-com classics like Four Weddings and a Funeral and innumerable boy bands, but also the popularisation of Internet usage and the advent of Google Search, which celebrated its 20th birthday this September.

Academics have, in some ways, been spoilt ever since — digital publication formats, electronic databases, email alerts for new journal issues, and a concerted effort by innovators from across the academic, publishing and technology spheres to provide researchers and librarians with increasingly sophisticated digital research tools. …

8 tips for staying in academia: A female perspective

As 2013 comes to a close, I’m temporarily abstaining from the festive eating and feeling guilty about all the work I haven’t been doing over the Christmas break to contemplate my future in science. Listed here are my favourite take-home messages from the WISE@QMUL November panel discussion about the female perspective on the struggle to stay in academia. Maybe you’ll find a gem or two below.

1. Try new places whilst you still have the flexibility to

Thinking about your next position? It might not be such a bad idea to look outside of your current city or even abroad whilst you still have the flexibility to move your entire life to somewhere new. All of our panellists agreed that moving abroad is one of the best ways to mature yourself, both personally and professionally. If you’re already in a relationship, it’s natural to worry about the distance, but try to make the best decision for yourself. Look out for pan-EU funding schemes such as Horizon 2020, and also keep in mind that specific fellowships exist for UK academics who have worked abroad and now wish to return to the UK. …


Sybil Wong, PhD

Partnerships @Synthace / biochemist / occasionally writes

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