Coming soon: Don’t be an asshole reviewer!

Gather the reviews that you got for your research papers and grant applications. Everyone has one or more of those idiotic reviewers’ comments. Bring them out to have some fun. ūüôā

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Pope’s resignation and scientific research.

Pope Resignation_bYou may wonder what has Pope Benedict’s resignation to do with scientific research. Well, not much. But the discussions that followed his resignation may be relevant.

A prominent question arose whether there would be major changes after this pope is gone. Analysts looked at the roster of the College of Cardinals and observed that the cardinals are relics of the past. They were inducted by either Pope John Paul II or Pope Benedict. They espouse the old ideas of their ‘mentors’. So the consensus emerged that given the pedigree and age of the cardinals, major reforms cannot be expected. Bummer!

Scientific research establishment is a living fossil.  The scientific establishment, like the Church, is recalcitrant to change and resistant to new ideas.  The policies, review processes, money allocation, research activities, hiring of scientists, publication of research papers, and the decisions on tenure and promotion of faculty are conducted in the spirit of medieval feudal system.

A scientist is supposed to push the boundaries of knowledge. ¬†Unfortunately, old duds on review committees’ rosters are impervious to new ideas. ¬†Some are mean and greedy who have outlived their scientific utility and are unable to grasp the explosion of knowledge in ¬†modern science. ¬†Many are insecure and are bitterly critical of new developments yet they pretend to be broad-minded. ¬†Others are fools who still hold on to the idea of ‘hypothesis driven research’ as sacred. ¬†Together, they have stymied the progress of science and emergence of new ideas more than any politician could ever do. ¬†Scientific progress cannot be achieved at its fullest if the research is to be judged by scientists entrenched in their archaic research ideas.

The question is not whether the old scientists sitting at the helm of affairs should be replaced by the young blood, but how soon it should be done.  Take action, write to your elected representative.  Every voice counts.

One PI =One R01 grant.

The great economic crisis in the Western world has affected the academic and research institutions. ¬†One of the major funding agencies NIH has seen effective funding cut that has translated in reduction of both number of research grants and the amount of money apportioned to them. ¬†The situation has reached a crisis level. ¬†Yet, there seems to be no effect on the ‘higher echelons’ of the research community.

Research dollars are disproportionately distributed among researchers. ¬†Although we resent to the notion that 1% of the US population possesses 90% of the wealth, we do not react the same way to the financial disparity in scientific research. ¬†Relatively few scientists have monopolized the major chunk of tax-payers’ dollars while a large number of competent and innovative scientists do not. ¬†This needs to end!

In these difficult times, everyone is required to sacrifice a little.  We ought to ensure that publicly funded scientific research is distributed to all competent scientists and not only to the members of scientific power broker cartel.  There is no obvious reason why a researcher should have more than one R01 grant, especially during tough economic situation.  By adopting One PI= One R01, the NIH can support thousands more new scientists and diversify the scientific research base.  By doing so, NIH will promote innovative research to catalyze scientific growth.

We should also understand that NIH cannot make a law.  To achieve One PI=One R01, we have to inform and educate our legislators of the benefits of this formula.  Write to your House Representative and Senator asking them to consider broadening the productive and innovative scientific base by expanding the participation by new scientists.  Ask them to implement One PI= One R01 formula.  There are numerous benefits of One PI= One R01 to the scientific community. It will improve educational standards of the universities and will bring back talent to our educational institutions.  This is the only way to assure that dwindling scientific impact is regained.