The Biggest Problems Facing Science (Part 2)admin
In a previous article, The Biggest Problems Facing Science (Part 1), we looked at the first 4 biggest problems facing the field of science, according to Vox Media. Read that article here. Read the additional 3 reasons below.
5. Too much science is locked behind paywalls
The solution: The current method of dissemination is often costly, due to for-profit publishers locking articles “behind pricey paywalls”, and making them difficult to access. Many respondents urged their peers to publish in open access journals, even though there’s pressure to publish in more prestigious (read – not free) journals. Another option is to abolish for-profit publishers and move toward a nonprofit model.
6. Science is poorly communicated
The solution: We’ve all seen our share of science-related articles making outrageous – sometimes even contradictory – claims. But again, researchers were split on how to address this problem. Some blamed the media, others press offices, and some even called out the scientists themselves.
Some suggested that science journals would move away from hyping up individual studies, but rather put the research in contex and “pay more attention to the rigor of a study’s methodology.” Others believe scientists themselves should spend more time learning how to communicate with the public, rather than trusting other avenues to explain their work to “a non-scientific audience.” On the flipside, still others argue that the focus should be on improving science literacy of the general public.
7. Life as a young academic is incredibly stressful
The solution: Many concrete suggestions were offered, including offering more generous family leave policies and child care for graduate students or increase the number of female applicants they accept to balance gender disparity. These respondent researchers also point out that some of the biggest issues related to this problem stem from the industry itself. Young researchers are typically low-paid postdocs, and due to the aforementioned limited funding (see The Biggest Problems Facing Science (Part 1)), academic institutions are more likely to rely on these “highly trained but relatively inexpensive sources of labor for faculty”, without creating new positions for them, or training them for a career outside of academia. Doing either of these things would go a long way in supporting the next generation of scientists.
So what does all of this mean?
“Science is not doomed,” the authors at Vox assure us. “For better or worse, it still works.”
But of course they have some suggestions.
First, the field of science needs to acknowledge and address its money problem. This issue is the root of many of the other problems previously mentioned. Second, science needs to celebrate and reward failure. This would alleviate the “publish or perish” cycle researchers are currently stuck in. Third, the field has to be more transparent. This can be achieved by scientists sharing their data in ways “that are easily accessible and digestible for those who may want to reanalyze or replicate their findings.”
These fixes will take time take, however, but all good things do take time.