Friday, December 01, 2006

Don Kennedy to speak
A reader sent along some information about this month's American Geophysical Union meeting in San Francisco.

There will be a session entitled "Defining and Protecting the Integrity of Science: New Challenge for the 21st Century".

Don Kennedy of Science will speak on "Science, Policy, and Peer Review": These are intense times at the convergence between science and public policy. Because issues like climate change, stem cell research and environmental protection are being contested in choppy political water, political interests are being deployed to challenge science and researchers, and also to generate pseudo- scientific claims made in the interest of particular policy ends. In a number of cases reported in Science, administration officials have silenced their own employees, or withheld data selectively from draft reports. Added to that challenge to integrity, there is a new statutory environment that adds some complexity of its own. Beginning with the Data Quality Act, more familiarly the "Shelby Amendment," research results with significant economic impacts through regulation are now available through the Freedom of Information Act. Its successor, the Data Quality Act -- which opens a route of challenge to information released by government or gathered by others and used in advice or regulation has exposed scientists not only to having their primary data reanalyzed for the purposes of others, but to charges of research misconduct. These influences have made journal peer review more challenging in several ways, and I will outline some case examples.