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What’s happened to China’s Mars rover?
Is something amiss with Zhurong, China’s first Mars rover? The vehicle has been in induced hibernation since May. It was supposed to awaken last month, but the Chinese space agency has been tight-lipped about its status, leading some researchers to speculate that it might not have survived the harsh Martian winter and dust storms. “There’s a long history of solar-powered landers and rovers on Mars running out of power,” says astrobiologist David Flannery.
Gender gap and self-publishing at journals
A study of more than 80,000 Elsevier journal editors reveals a bigger-than-expected gender gap in senior editors. Women made up just 14% of editorial boards and filled 8% of editor-in-chief positions. The proportion of female editors has changed little over the past four decades. Self-publishing was also common. One-quarter of editors published at least 10% of their papers in journals that they edit. But some published as much as two-thirds of their career output in their own journals.
Dig deeper with an expert analysis by sociologist Molly King in the Nature News & Views article (3 min read, Nature paywall)
Reference: Nature Human Behaviour paper
ChatGPT banned from authoring papers
The artificial-intelligence (AI) chatbot ChatGPT has been listed as a co-author on four papers and preprints. Publishers are starting to ban AI authorship because chatbots can’t take responsibility for a paper’s content and integrity. Some publishers say that chatbot use should be documented in the methods or acknowledgements sections — and that not doing so could be considered plagiarism.
No prison for China Initiative scientist
US chemical engineer Feng ‘Franklin’ Tao will not go to prison after being convicted of failing to disclose ties to China on a university form. He was the first academic to be prosecuted under the now-defunct China Initiative, which was intended to protect US science from espionage but faced accusations of being biased against researchers of Chinese descent. Prosecutors had asked for 2.5 years prison, but the judge sentenced Tao to ‘time served’, which amounts to a week in jail. According to one of Tao’s attorneys, the judge “reiterated that this was never a case about espionage”.
Features & opinion
Beyond mentorship: sponsorship
Sponsorship relies on senior researchers leveraging their influence to help junior colleagues to climb the career ladder. This can come in many forms, write psychologist Christine Parsons and sociologist Pat O’Connor, such as inviting a PhD student to an informal meeting with a visiting professor or including an early-career researcher on a prestigious conference panel. Such small but career-making actions particularly benefit those from under-represented groups — they might receive formal mentoring, but what’s missing is sponsorship.
How to break bad news to grant applicants
It’s hard for researchers to find out that their proposal won’t be funded. Giving good feedback can soften the blow, writes research-development manager Adam Golberg. His top tips for breaking the bad news: start with a clear and quick message about the outcome, then follow up with more details. Never share ‘raw’ reviewers’ comments — take the time to produce a humane summary. Researchers need to remember that funding is a contest, not a test, Golberg says: “The reason applications don’t get funded has at least as much to do with the applications that are chosen.”
Futures: The Schwarzschild defence
A daredevil takes a jump too far into a black hole in the latest short story for Nature’s Futures series.
Podcast: a laser lightning rod
Scientists have used a high-energy pulsing laser to divert lightning strikes on top of a Swiss mountain. Physicist Jean-Pierre Wolf tells the Nature Podcast what it was like seeing photos of the system in action for the first time: “Wow, we dreamed of this picture for 20 years.” Researchers hope that, eventually, lasers will be used to force cloud discharge to better protect large infrastructure, such as airports.
Nature Podcast | 20 min listen
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