Not Just Jobs: ScienceCareers.org

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Science  18 Nov 2005:
Vol. 310, Issue 5751, pp. 1089
DOI: 10.1126/science.1122241

An issue that has been with us forever, it seems, is the status of the scientific workforce. Are we training too many? Sometimes it seems that way, as well-credentialed biochemists and physicists sit marooned in postdoctoral land, waiting for the right job or any decent job. Or, as the U.S. National Science Board and the National Academies, as well as other organizations worldwide, have proclaimed, are we training too few? Or perhaps not training the “right kind” of postdoc or talking unrealistically about the prospects of those we do train? No matter where the problem lies, it's serious. A healthy scientific community is in the interest of every nation. And in the United States, the decline in competitiveness has become a matter of special concern.

In the past, Science and its publisher, AAAS, have approached the issue through two different institutions: one focused on readers and prospective employees and the other on employers. Science has addressed the gap between personal aspirations and the realities of the job market by advising young scientists about career skills and the basics of sound career management. We have helped early-career scientists get around the fixed expectations that have plagued science trainees and their mentors, in order to shape their own professional futures, no matter what employment sector they choose. For more than 10 years, Science's Next Wave has been the online “knowledge environment” devoted to those objectives.

CREDIT: PAT N. LEWIS

Science has also long had an online entry on the hiring side, Science Careers, which posted job opportunities from academic and industrial organizations seeking to employ scientists. In addition to its online job listings, Science Careers sponsored career fairs at which employers could meet prospective recruits, and it helped bring about decades of mostly happy scientific careers.

Having both functions was useful, but having them separate was often confusing. Five years ago, one of our authors wanted to learn how postdoctoral scholars were making use of Science's Next Wave, so we rounded up half a dozen Stanford postdocs for a focus group of sorts. By the time the meeting ended, we were all wondering why AAAS had to have one place for job offerers and a separate place for job seekers. It took us awhile, but we've finally gotten around to ending this ambiguity by launching a new hybrid in the Science-AAAS ecosystem.

Henceforth, the functions formerly handled by Science's Next Wave and Science Careers will be handled by a single Web site: ScienceCareers.org (http://www.sciencecareers.org/). ScienceCareers.org will continue to list job opportunities and hold events that bring employers and job seekers together. On the editorial side, which is run independently out of Science's News office, we will continue to help scientists and science trainees learn about the wide range of science-related careers and to provide sound science-specific advice on interviewing, preparing CVs and resumes, networking, grant writing, and all the other nonscience skills scientists need to succeed, no matter what job sector they choose. Add access to GrantsNet, our science funding database, and several other improvements and you get a product—the new ScienceCareers.org—that is, we hope, a one-stop shop for all your science career needs. And all of it will be free to anyone with an Internet connection, no matter where they live and work.

This merger is part of a sweeping overhaul of the Science family of Web sites (http://www.sciencemag.org/). Our new design is intended to be easier to navigate and search as well as being visually more lively. In addition, the ScienceNOW daily news Web site will now be available to all readers without charge.

We at AAAS and Science believe that it benefits no one for scientists to be stuck in dead-end jobs. We merged our two career-related services to improve the fit from both ends by providing the most comprehensive science careers site on the Web. We hope that this combination will make it easier, globally, for a young scientist to find a job and for employers offering good jobs to find scientists to fill them. But our higher purpose is to help our younger readers build a career that is rewarding, fulfilling, and serves society as well as science. There is too much disappointment for comfort in that sector now, and the whole scientific community ought to be working to relieve it.

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