Stress, insecurity and lack of alternatives are serious psychosocial risks for the research community. What ideas for improvement are proposed? Many are calling for an end to the endless days, missing leadership training and questioning the scientific quality assessment system.
At least one in three doctoral students has serious mental health problems. In the previous report, we looked at the causes, including work-life balance difficulties. We have now interviewed representatives of Spanish female researchers in four countries with different workloads: Germany, the USA, Denmark and the Netherlands.
The subject is not new, but its visibility is. Recent studies have uncovered high risks of depression and anxiety for researchers, especially doctoral students. Long days, scarcity of places, a hyper-competitive environment and the sacralisation of vocation lie behind the toxicity of the system.
Physical performance after periods of hypoxic training –in low-oxygen conditions– has become a matter of growing controversy within the scientific community. An international study, with the help of Spanish researchers, compared professional and amateur athletes’ knowledge and understanding of this type of training. According to the results, just 25% of amateurs are assessed and monitored by specialists.
Peer reviews in science, in which independent scientists who are experts on the subject assess the paper, is the current strategy for ensuring quality and control in scientific research and, therefore, it is essential for the academic world. However, a study led by the Portuguese, Catarina Ferreira, uncovers why this system frequently receives harsh criticism about its effectiveness and transparency, and she proposes alternatives to improve it.
Juan Meléndez Sánchez (Avila, 1964) earned a degree in Physics from the University of Salamanca and did his doctoral dissertation at the CSIC. He is currently a professor at Universidad Carlos III of Madrid (UC3M), where he combines his research in the Laboratorio de Sensores, Teledetección e Imagen en el Infrarrojo (Laboratory of Sensors, Remote Sensing and Image in Infrared) and teaching in the Physics Department with one of his greatest passions: science popularization. In fact, he has spent more than a decade teaching courses on the history and philosophy of science and has recently published a book whose objective is to help us understand the world we live in: “De Tales a Newton: ciencia para personas inteligentes” (Ellago Ediciones, 2013)(From Thales to Newton: science for intelligent people). The work is continuously evolving in the blog of the same name.