Science in Trump’s America

Science March 2017 Blacksburg VA

It was raining on the evening of April 22, 2017. This did not stop the townies of Blacksburg; faculty, and students from Virginia Tech marching down the streets of Downtown and the VT campus. The protesters were vocal,  they did not want the United States Government and particularly President Trump to go ahead with the new budget that will kill funding for almost all federal science organization.

The direness of the situation becomes evident with this protest. because most scientists are peace loving people. One of the slogans that stood out to me was:

“What do we want?”

“Evidence based science”

“When do we want it?”

“After peer-review”

I hope the effort of the thousands of people does not get wasted and something positive comes out of this effort.

Open Access Journal : eLife

eLife is a peer-reviewed open access journal for the life sciences. It started as a collaborative effort by the three institutes:

  • Howard Hughes Medical Institute, MD, United States
  • Max Planck Society, Munich, Germany
  • Wellcome Trust, London, United Kingdom

at the end of 2012. Their administrative office is located in Cambridge, United Kingdom.

The eLife website gives the viewers a list of reasons for choosing it, they are:

  • Speed: The initial decision is made within a few days of submitting the paper for review and the final decision is made in about a month.
  • Review: There is only a single round of review process after which the reviewers give the authors a fair and constructive review. If the paper gets published then the reviews are also published along with the paper.
  • Research Assessment: The papers that get published will have indicators that describe the reach and influence of the paper. The journal also makes a point that it does not promote the use of a single number that describes the journal

eLife Sciences Publications, Ltd is a non-profit, for about four years the journal did not charge the authors for publishing in the journal and starting January 1, 2017, it charges the authors a nominal fee to publish their research. For the readers, the journal is completely free to read as soon as the paper gets published.

MOOCs: What did edX learn in 4 years?

In December of 2016, the edX team released HarvardX and MITx: Four Years of Open Online Courses. Some of the important statistics that stood out to me in this report are:

  • There are about 2.4 million participants from all over the world, out of which 60% of the participants are from the outside of United States of America.
  • Only 33% of the participants were female. The percentage of female participation was as high as 47% in fields like humanities, religion, design and education while it was a low of 16-17% in fields like STEM and computer science.
  • About 45% of the participants belong to 20-30 years age group.
  • 73% of participants have a bachelor’s degree.
  • The median certification rate is as low as 7.7% across the 263 courses offered.