There are growing concerns that the research system no longer benefits science or scientists. The pressures to publish and obtain funding, along with a lack of job security for early-career researchers, have created a working environment that values novelty and quantity over rigor and quality, sometimes at great personal cost. The articles in this selection explore a variety of topics within the broad area of 'research culture'. Other aspects of research culture are covered in our collections on mental health and being a scientist and parent. eLife also runs a number of initiatives to improve research culture.
Articles about doing a PhD tend to focus on the difficulties faced by research students: here we argue that the scientific community should also highlight the positive elements of the PhD experience.
The pandemic adversely affected the mental health and research productivity of postdocs in the US, and institutional resources helped to alleviate some of these stresses.
Having a formal onboarding procedure for new lab members can lead to a happier and more productive working environment.
Ensuring that public feedback on preprints is focused, appropriate, specific and transparent (or FAST) will help to develop a thriving culture for reviewing and commenting on preprints.
The San Francisco Declaration on Research Assessment (DORA) has developed a new tool called SPACE to support universities and institutions working to improve the assessment of research.
Grant applications submitted to the NIH by African-American/Black PIs are less likely to be funded than applications from white PIs, and the NIH must find a solution that eliminates this racial disparity.
Job insecurity is putting stress on early-career researchers in Australia, compromising their career development and potentially reducing the quality of research.
Virtual conferences benefit the scientific community by increasing the number and diversity of attendees compared to in-person conferences, and by being less time consuming, more economic and environmentally friendly.
Appointing early-career researchers to positions of influence within scientific societies would be mutually beneficial for both.
The DORA initiative offers practical guidance on improving the assessment of research by universities, research institutions, and funders.
Early-career researchers propose seven actions that can be taken by research institutions and departments to improve science training.
A survey of over 300 applicants for faculty positions reveals that there are many paths to securing a job offer.
Thousands of UK doctoral students and early-career researchers shared the repercussions of lockdown on their work and wellbeing.
A survey of scientists working in Germany reveals that most already travel to conferences in a sustainable manner and would be willing to make further changes to protect the environment.
Establishing a community of 'rigor champions' and building a comprehensive educational platform to teach the principles of rigorous science will help to ensure that the outputs of scientific research remain reliable and robust.
Improving the research culture of an institution may lead to a fairer, more rewarding and successful environment, but how do you start making changes?
Mentorship, financial security and a positive sense of self-worth increase the likelihood that underrepresented minority and female postdocs will pursue a career in academia.
Microbiology and Infectious Disease
Early career researchers commonly peer review manuscripts on behalf of invited reviewers, often without receiving feedback or being named to the journal.
The challenges faced by new PIs in the UK include difficulties in recruiting PhD students, maintaining a good work-life balance and securing permanent positions.
Institutions should value teaching and service, and not just research, when considering faculty for promotion and tenure.
A workshop run by DORA identified a number of ways to reduce bias in hiring and funding decisions.
A workshop convened by the Medical Research Council gave PhD students the opportunity to discuss how research careers could be made more inclusive for black, Asian and minority ethnic individuals.
We suggest five ways in which biology departments can improve their hiring processes in order to achieve gender equity in their workforce.
The quality of mentoring received while a postdoc influences career choice irrespective of field, gender, or ethnicity, according to a 7,603-respondent postdoc survey.
An international effort is needed to overcome the paywalls, customs regulations and lack of local suppliers that hinder research in low- and middle-income countries.
The organizers of a recent symposium on diversity challenges in science, technology, engineering and math outline approaches to improve diversity and inclusion across all career stages.
A method to assess the training of scientists, based on a set of 10 core competencies, is proposed.
Early-career researchers can learn about peer review by discussing preprints at journal clubs and sending feedback to the authors.
A more balanced distribution of NIH grant funding among investigators would strengthen the diversity of the research enterprise, increase the likelihood of scientific breakthroughs, and lead to a greater return on taxpayers' investments.
Standardizing the titles, terms and conditions under which postdocs are employed will benefit the biomedical research workforce.
What can institutions and funding agencies do to address an array of issues facing the biomedical research community in the United States?
A survey of researchers at the Montreal Neurological Institute and Hospital provides insights into the challenges and opportunities involved in adopting an open science policy across an entire patient-oriented academic institution.
Responsible agricultural practices provide a useful lens through which to consider the lives and careers of researchers.
To improve the diversity of the scientific workforce, we should not penalize researchers who are unable to move abroad for long periods.
Gender-bias in peer reviewing might persist even when gender-equity is reached because both male and female editors operate with a same-gender preference whose characteristics differ by editor-gender.
A systems-level analysis of the biomedical workforce in the US shows that current strategies to enhance faculty diversity are unlikely to have a significant impact, and that there is a need to increase the number of PhDs from underrepresented minority backgrounds who move on to postdoctoral positions.
By sharing their experiences, early-career scientists can help to make the case for increased government funding for researchers.
A cross-campus, cross-career stage and cross-disciplinary series of discussions at a large public university has produced a series of recommendations for addressing the problems confronting the biomedical research community in the US.
Members of UAW 5810—the union for postdoctoral researchers at the University of California—describe how their union has led to improved terms and conditions for postdocs.
The biomedical research enterprise in the US has become unsustainable and urgent action is needed to address a variety of problems.
eLife deputy editor Fiona M Watt recounts some of her personal experiences as a senior female academic in a male-dominated environment.