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Issue 1175: 19 December 2014
UK
Science policy and funding
Golden triangle pulls ahead in REF shake-out
An article introduces a special issue of 'Research Fortnight', which analyses the results and potential implications of the 2014 Research Excellence Framework (REF). The analysis shows that the University of Oxford has topped the 'power ratings' of UK institutions, followed by University College London, which replaces the University of Cambridge in second place. The results also show that 30 per cent of research submitted was "world leading" and a further 46 per cent was assessed as being "internationally excellent".

Research Fortnight    Issue.4470  - 18 December 2014 p.1-2, 12
  See Also:
THE      - 18 December 2014 p.30-31
Research Fortnight      - 18 December 2014 p.3
Northern universities’ staff may lose jobs after their research quality is hammered
New nationwide university research rankings published as part of the REF have shown that Oxford still tops the league table for research quality (with University College London overtaking Cambridge for second place). Northern universities have generally fared poorly, with fears that this could lead to a reduction in jobs, as the REF rankings will be used to allocate research funding of around £2 billion a year from 2015/16.

Independent      - 18 December 2014 p.15
  See Also:
THE      - 18 December 2014 p.7
Research Fortnight      - 18 December 2014 p.4
Times      - 18 December 2014 p.10
It may not be a revolution, but impact’s effect is felt
The inclusion of impact in the REF has increased the proportion of UK research that is deemed world class, but has not had the revolutionary impact some commentators had predicted, with pre-1992 institutions still dominating the rankings.

THE    Issue.2,183  - 18 December 2014 p.6-7
Don’t like the REF? Try doing it every year: you’d find it far easier
An opinion piece argues that annual reviews would diminish the problems associated with the current system of research assessment, including workload, uncertainty and pressure on researchers.

THE    Issue.2,183  - 18 December 2014 p.24-25
Slighted by the gatekeepers
A study from the University of Leeds has suggested that over half of academics feel they have experienced 'unprofessional' treatment from peer reviewers and journal editors. This includes "seemingly irrational or unexplained editorial decisions" and "abrogations of editorial decisions".

THE    Issue.2,183  - 18 December 2014 p.8
Health policy
World’s first ‘three-parent’ babies could be born in the UK
The use of mitochondrial donation to prevent a range of inherited diseases has come a step closer with the announcement this week that UK MPs will vote in parliament on proposed new regulations to enable the technique.

Guardian      - 17 December 2014
  See Also:
Daily Telegraph      - 18 December 2014 p.6
Independent      - 18 December 2014 p.12
Dementia overtakes lung cancer as third biggest cause of death in UK
Figures from the 'Global Burden of Disease Study 2013' have shown that dementia has overtaken lung cancer as the third biggest cause of death in the UK, with deaths from dementia rising by 52 per cent since 1990. The charity Alzheimer's Research UK said that the figures illustrate that dementia is becoming "our greatest medical challenge".

Guardian      - 18 December 2014 p.4
Education, training and careers
Dispel illusion of PhDs leading to jobs for life, says Royal Society
Dame Athene Donald, head of a Royal Society working group on the development of doctoral candidates, has stated that universities need to manage the expectations of doctoral students and do more to help them explore careers outside of academia.

THE    Issue.2,183  - 18 December 2014 p.10
Technology transfer
No stories this week.
Global Themes
Pharma and biotech sector
No stories this week.
Biomedical ethics
No stories this week.
Public engagement in science
No stories this week.
Publishing and data sharing
No stories this week.
Global health
No stories this week.
International science
365 days: the year in science
'Nature' presents a review of the key science stories of 2014, including the rise of the Ebola death toll, the controversy surrounding stem cell research in Japan, and the growth in projects aiming to further understand the brain.

Nature    Vol.516  Issue.7531  - 18 December 2014 p.300–303
  See Also:
Science    Vol.346  - 19 December 2014 p.1433, 1442-1451
Guardian      - 19 December 2014 p.12
Independent      - 19 December 2014 p.25
Fixing problems with cell lines
A comment article from the director and senior staff at the US National Institutes of Health (NIH) discusses the persisting problem of cell line mis-identification and the considerable challenges this continues to pose for biomedical research. It highlights actions that the NIH is considering as a funder, and the need for other parts of the scientific community to take proactive steps to address this issue.

Science    Vol.346  - 19 December 2014 p.1452-1453
Worldwide
European Union
No stories this week.
Europe
Putin’s Russia divides scientists
An article looks at the outcomes of a recent meeting on the future of Russian science at the European University at Saint Petersburg, which led to contention amongst eminent Russian researchers from across the globe. Topics of discussion included whether political unrest in the country was discouraging foreign scientists from moving to Russian institutions.

Nature    Vol.516  Issue.7531  - 18 December 2014 p.298–299
Africa
West African countries plan to strengthen health systems after Ebola
The WHO has advised that West African countries should build and strengthen health systems in the area by utilising the equipment and resources provided by non-governmental organisations and other governments to combat the Ebola epidemic. As a result of the epidemic, Sierra Leone and Liberia are planning to increase their numbers of healthcare workers, and Sierra Leone plans to waive tuition fees for medical and nursing students.

BMJ    Vol.349  Issue.7988  - 18 December 2014
Ebola: protection of health-care workers
Following the publication of the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's report on Ebola infections in health-care workers in Sierra Leone on December 9, an editorial discusses the measures which health authorities must take to ensure the safety of those caring for victims of the ongoing epidemic.

The Lancet    Vol.384  Issue.9961  - 20 December 2014 p.2174
Middle East
No stories this week.
Asia
No stories this week.
Australasia
No stories this week.
North America
Science agencies make gains despite tight US budget
In the 2015 federal budget approved by the US Congress last week, many scientific agencies have fared surprisingly well, receiving budget allocations that exceed the President's request. The US National Institutes of Health, however, received an essentially flat budget allocation of $30.1 billion - an increase of just 0.5 per cent.

Science    Vol.346  - 19 December 2014 p.1437-1438
Ambitious children's study meets disappointing end
The US National Institutes of Health (NIH) last week discontinued the National Children's Study - a $1.2 billion initiative that began in 2000 with the aim of following 100,000 children from before birth to age 21. A review panel found that the study was too flawed to be carried out in the current budget environment. NIH Director Francis Collins accepted the findings and announced that some of the $165 million allocated to the initiative in 2015 would be redirected to related research studies.

Science    Vol.346  - 19 December 2014 p.1441
Keep asking the question
An editorial supports the continued inclusion of 'Person Question 12' in the annual American Community Survey. The question, which asks university graduates what subject they studied, allows for an analysis of workforce mobility by degree - but there has been recent discussion suggesting the question may be removed from future surveys.

Nature    Vol.516  Issue.7531  - 18 December 2014 p.287
Latin America
No stories this week.
Top Stories

Top Story
365 days: the year in science

'Nature' presents a review of the key science stories of 2014, including ...

Top Story
Golden triangle pulls ahead in REF shake-out

An article introduces a special issue of 'Research Fortnight', which analyses the ...
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