Future science leaders 2011

A few weeks ago I went to a conference at the University of Oxford – called the future science leaders conference 2011 and it was one of the main reasons that I started writing a blog. The conference was aimed at early career researchers (so PhD students and post-doc researchers) working in any aspect of science. There were a range of presentations but one was about networking and really getting your work and yourself known and out there. This was followed by an after dinner talk by nobel laureate William D Phillips who talked about his surprise that many researchers were fearful of talking about their research and ideas just in case someone else decided to jump in and use them or do the same before you managed to finish and publish the work.

I now know that this fear of being gazumped harks back to the days when Watson and Crick received the nobel prize for the discovery of the DNA double helix. Their theory was based on Rosalind Franklin’s data and findings and she had also been about to publish this idea but they got there first. Sadly and this was not Watson & Crick’s fault, the nobel prize was also awarded to W&C after Rosalind Franklin died and at the time the Nobel prize committees did not award the prize to dead researchers (Glynn, 2008).  I learnt all this after the conference when I was telling my supervisor about Prof Phillip’s ideas on being open about your research ideas. Prof William’s talk became even more interesting when I heard the Franklin, Watson and Crick story because the conference was funded by a the Rosalind Franklin award (from the Royal Society). I wonder what Rosalind Franklin herself would say about being open about one’s research. Prof Phillip’s idea was that one should publish and talk and write about the good and bad things about one’s research what worked, what didn’t because even if it helps another research team – this furthers your research field, moves it on, leaving you to get on with bigger and better things, the faster the field develops the faster your work does too.

I agree with him.. So I am now writing this blog although I know I haven’t put my ideas out there yet as I just don’t know where to start (and I am still a teensy bit apprehensive – one step at a time)!

 Glyn, J. (2008). Rosalind Franklin: 50 years on. Notes and Records of the Royal Society, 62(2), 253-255. doi: 10.1098/rsnr.2007.0052

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