The Parasite Awards
Celebrating rigorous secondary data analysis

The "Parasites"

PSB Awards for rigorous secondary data analysis.

The act of generating new hypotheses from existing data is a major component in the process of science. Dr. Albert Szent-Györgyi has been quoted as saying "discovery consists of seeing what everybody has seen, and thinking what nobody has thought." Recent advances in data sharing, combined with the expectation that publicly funded research will be shared, have led to projects that consist largely of secondary analysis of data. The practitioners of this craft may analyze or combine these data in ways that answer scientific questions that the initial investigators did not consider. In a 2016 editorial, the New England Journal of Medicine termed these people "research parasites."

The Parasite awards, given annually, recognize outstanding contributions to the rigorous secondary analysis of data. This practice of secondary analysis plays a key role in the scientific ecosystem: conclusions that persist through substantial reanalysis are expected to be more credible; and analyses that extract more knowledge from underutilized data make the practice of science more efficient.

Or, phrased slightly differently:

The Parasites currently consist of two awards: the first recognizes an outstanding contribution from a junior parasite (postdoctoral, graduate, or undergraduate trainee), and the second recognizes an individual for a sustained period of exemplary research parasitism.

Eligibility & Application

How to apply for an award.

Application Process

We encourage readers to broadly share this call, and we strongly encourage members of groups that are underrepresented in scientific communities to apply for this award.

Applications for the 2018 Research Parasite Awards must be received by September 30, 2017 at 5PM HST (Hawaii Standard Time) at parasite.award@gmail.com. An application requires:

  • An application letter describing how each selected paper meets the criteria for the award.
  • Junior Parasite (aka the sporozoite): a PDF of one paper published after peer review on which the application will be judged.
  • Sustained Parasitism (aka the merozoite): PDFs of three papers published after peer review on which the application will be judged.

The award winners will be recognized at the Pacific Symposium on Biocomputing each year and listed on the PSB website along with links to the winning papers.

Eligibility

Selection criteria (both awards) for the work in question:

  • The awardee must not have been involved the design of the experiments that generated the data.
  • The awardee published independently of the original investigators, and the original investigators are not authors of the secondary analyses but are appropriately credited in the manuscripts.
  • The awardee may have extended, replicated or disproved what the original investigators had posited.
  • The awardee has provided source code and intermediate or final results in a manner that enhances reproducibility.

Additional selection criteria for the Junior Parasite award:

  • The awardee must have published the work at the training stage of their career (postdoctoral, graduate, or undergraduate). If the awardee has assumed a position as an independent investigator she or he should not have been in that position for more than 2 years.
  • The award will be based on work described in a single manuscript (submitted alongside the application letter).

Additional selection criteria for the Sustained Parasitism award:

  • The awardee must be in an independent investigator position in academia, industry or public sector.
  • The awardee must be a last or corresponding author on the three manuscripts submitted alongside the application letter.
  • At least a five-year period must have elapsed between the publication of the first manuscript and the final manuscript.

By submitting an application you agree that the decisions of the parasite award committee are final, and the committee is unable to provide feedback on applications that were not selected.

Prize & Supporters

Those who make this possible.

Prizes

Recipients of both awards will receive a leather lamprey with a magnetic head. This lamprey can be attached to ferromagnetic surfaces. Previous award winners have attached them to lamps, to produce lamp-reys. Support from Springer Nature and Scientific Data will support filming of the award ceremony.

Due to support from GigaScience, the recipient of the junior parasite award will also receive:

As we understand that the cost of travel to receive the award may be more than $2950, the recipient may rebudget the cash prize into the travel reimbursement portion of the award.

Annual Sponsors

GigaScience

GigaScience aims to revolutionize reproducibility of analyses, data dissemination, organization, understanding, and use through open access and open data publication of 'big data' studies across the life and biomedical sciences.

GigaScience Logo

Scientific Data

Scientific Data is an open access journal for descriptions of scientifically valuable datasets from a broad range of research disciplines – helping make research data more available, citable, discoverable, interpretable, reusable and reproducible.

Scientific Data Logo

Springer Nature

Springer Nature is a global publisher dedicated to providing the best possible service to the whole research community. Committed to open research, it offers researchers, institutions and their funders open options for journals, books and sharing research data.

Springer Nature Logo

Long-term Sustainability

Starting for the 2019 award year, The Research Parasite Award will be supported in part by an endowment. This endowment is housed at the University of Pennsylvania and will provide modest prizes to the recipients as well as some travel support. If you would like to contribute to this endowment, donations may be made here. The initial donors to this endowment include:

  • Jeff Stibel
  • Mr. and Mrs. Stephen Canon
  • Drs. Casey and Anna Greene

Administrative support is provided by University of Pennsylvania Perelman School of Medicine's Department of Systems Pharmacology and Translational Therapeutics. If you would like to team up with us to celebrate secondary data analysis with a one-year contribution (e.g. via a travel award), please send an e-mail to Casey Greene.

Selection Committee

The committee has sole responsibility for determining the recipient of the parasite awards. As discussed in the conflict of interest rules, the committee and individual members are unable to comment on any unselected applications.

Casey Greene

Chair. Award Cycles 2017-2020.*

Lana Garmire

Award Cycles 2017-2019.*

Melissa Haendel

Award Cycles 2018-2021.*

Marylyn Ritchie

Award Cycles 2017-2018

Erick Turner

Award Cycles 2018-2019.

*Selection of new committee members: For the three four-year term positions (current members marked with a star), the award committee will have the right to nominate new members, and the PSB organizers will have the right to confirm selected nominees. For the two two-year terms positions, recipients of the Sustained Parasitism award will rotate on to the committee.

Former Members

  • Larry Hunter (Founding Member, 2017 Award Year)
  • Jack Gilbert (Founding Member, 2017 Award Year)

Award Recipients

Exemplars of research parasitism.

Award and Conflict of Interest Rules

  1. PSB conference co-chairs do not serve as nominator or endorser for any application submitted for this award.
  2. Members of this award committee do not serve as a nominator for any application for this award. If you have nominated a candidate, inform the committee chair immediately so that one of two actions may be taken: (a) the application will be set aside for the year, or (b) you will step down from the committee for the year.
  3. Members of this committee should not be directly involved in application prior to their submittal. Members can answer general questions about what a application should include but may not pre-review or comment on draft applications.
  4. Members must maintain confidentiality about the internal discussions of the committee. Information about committee deliberations should not be shared with anyone outside the committee, nor should the winner be discussed until PSB has issued a formal statement.
  5. Members of this committee and the committee as a whole do not provide feedback to unsuccessful candidates. If a member is asked for feedback, this policy should be cited.
  6. Members of this committee are not eligible to be nominated for the award during their time on the committee. Individuals in the research group of a committee member are also not eligible to be nominated for the award during that member’s time on the committee.
  7. Members of this committee must self-identify any relationships/affiliations that might be perceived as a source of potential bias, and inform the committee chair of the COIs before any candidates have been discussed. Identify any candidates with whom you: have had close personal or working relationships within the past 5 years or the period covered by the award, whichever is longer; anyone for whom you were thesis advisor/advisee; anyone for whom you were a postdoctoral advisor/advisee; anyone for whom you were a faculty mentor/mentee; or any other case where your judgment could be affected. Also identify any candidates from your current institution or one where you worked within the past 5 years.

In the event that a committee member has a relationship described in rule 7 with one or more nominees, s/he should disclose that relationship to the other committee members and describe the nature of the relationship(s). The other committee members should then decide (without the conflicted committee member) whether the conflict is adequately mitigated by disclosure. In the event that a majority of the other committee members believes the conflict is not adequately mitigated by disclosure, the following procedure should be followed: (1) The conflicted committee member may not participate in the discussion of the conflicted nominee; (2) If the non-conflicted committee members feel a conflicted nominee should be an awardee, then those committee members should send a written description of the conflict and the rationale for their decision to the PSB co-chairs; (3) if a majority of the PSB co-chairs believe the decision has been improperly biased by the conflict, the conflicted nominee cannot be the award winner, and the committee will be tasked with selecting a different awardee.