What’s Fair Is Fair: Leveling the Playing Field for Young Scientists
- Lengthening of the post-doc period to include the most productive years of a young scientist’s hands-on experimental work (typically mid 30’s). This is clearly reflected in the increased average age for first time R01 recipients from 36 in 1983 to 42 today. This restricts young scientists’ investigational freedom to fit with their post-doc boss’s interests and whims and assigns the lion’s share of the credit for their discoveries to said boss.
- Extreme, unsustainable, and unhealthy competition in obtaining a PI position, limiting the fraction of young scientists who get the opportunity to blaze their own path, and increasing post-doc career anxiety to debilitating levels.
- For the fortunate fraction of post-docs who actually land PI jobs, difficulty in obtaining the funding to purchase the saws, axes, worker bees etc. needed for path blazing.
- Shackles on creativity placed by funding committees that, while charged to support high-risk research, typically insist on just the opposite.
- The tendency in many fields, including influenza virus research, to assign a significant fraction of total funding to large program grants controlled by one or a few senior scientists. In some cases, publications may have to be cleared by a committee, with the possibility of imposing scientific censorship on findings that threaten established wisdom, particularly that of senior members of the group.
- The workings of old boy networks in reviewing grants, papers, and selecting conference speakers that inevitably favors established scientists.
- The increasing influence of luxury journals and their gatekeeping professional editorial staff who in essence decide which research topics are interesting and important. Senior scientists with well-established track records and reputations have a natural advantage of having their papers favorably reviewed, amplified if they are on personal terms with the editors from previous interactions as authors, reviewers, or contacts at meetings or their own institutions when editors go into the field.
Conflicts of Interest
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Yewdell, J.W. What’s Fair Is Fair: Leveling the Playing Field for Young Scientists. Vaccines 2018, 6, 33. https://doi.org/10.3390/vaccines6020033
Yewdell JW. What’s Fair Is Fair: Leveling the Playing Field for Young Scientists. Vaccines. 2018; 6(2):33. https://doi.org/10.3390/vaccines6020033Chicago/Turabian Style
Yewdell, Jonathan W. 2018. "What’s Fair Is Fair: Leveling the Playing Field for Young Scientists" Vaccines 6, no. 2: 33. https://doi.org/10.3390/vaccines6020033