Most US professors are trained at same few elite universities – Nature

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US universities hire most of their tenure-track faculty members from the same handful of elite institutions, according to a study. The finding suggests that prestige is overvalued in hiring decisions and that academic researchers have little opportunity to obtain jobs at institutions considered more elite than the ones at which they were trained.

“Is the system a meritocracy?” asks Daniel Larremore, a computational scientist at UC Boulder who is a co-author . “In peer review, no; in the spread of ideas, no; and in faculty hiring, surely no.”

Battle over US overtime pay rules leaves many postdocs in limbo – Nature

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An ongoing fight over overtime pay rules has left many US postdocs in financial limbo. Labour regulations set to take effect on 1 December would have effectively increased wages for many of these researchers, but on 22 November a US federal judge in Texas temporarily blocked the new rules. “The injunction coming down, especially right before the holiday weekend, was really disheartening,” says Colm Atkins, a postdoc at the University of Texas Medical Branch in Galveston.

Mining the secrets of college syllabuses – Nature

Illustration by The Project Twins

Despite a growing movement to glean insights from scholarly materials that are available online—from articles and data sets to conference presentations and lectures—one kind of academic document remains little examined. And that is the syllabus: a document that lays out the reading materials, topics and expectations of college courses. That, at least, was the case until January this year, when the Open Syllabus Explorer launched, integrating more than 1 million publicly available syllabuses and laying open their data in a conveniently searchable format.