Friday, June 17, 2016

Facebook Reveals How It Decides if a Research Project Is Ethical

The Chronicle of Higher Education
Steve Kolowich
June 15, 2016

In 2014, Facebook came out as a player in social-science research, and a controversial one at that. Its “emotional contagion” experiment, in which the company tweaked the feeds of 700,000 users and studied how it affected their moods, drew harsh criticism and put pressure on the company to apply more scrutiny to its research projects.

Now, after nearly two years of soul-searching, Facebook has revealed how it reviews and approves the experiments the company runs on users without them knowing about it.


Friday, June 3, 2016

New Portal to Human Subjects Protections Information

National Institutes of Health
Office of Extramural Research
May 31, 2016

Confused as to whether your proposed study is considered human subjects research? Looking to obtain a Certificate of Confidentiality for additional protection of identifiable data from the individuals participating in your research? Want to take NIH’s free training on the protection of human subjects? The new NIH Human Subjects website can help! This site not only provides regulatory guidance and links to human subjects protection information, but also contains a number of tools and guides to help investigators and institutions meet federal and HHS/NIH standards for human subjects research protections. You can apply for certificates of confidentiality from NIH through this web site, as well. Visit to learn more.

How New US Overtime Provisions Will Affect Postdoctoral Researchers

National Institutes of Health
Office of Extramural Research
Mike Lauer
May 18, 2016

The Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) is the law that contains overtime pay provisions for employees across the United States, entitling all US workers to overtime pay unless they are exempted because they are paid on fixed, preset salaries; are engaged in executive, administrative, or professional duties; and are paid at least $23,660 per year. Today, a historic change to this act has occurred – under the new rule, the overtime pay threshold will be increased to $47,476, effective December 1, 2016.

Understandably, many members of the community have reached out to us with questions about how this rule will affect post-doctoral researchers, who are critical players in the biomedical research enterprise. During the FLSA revision public comment period, many universities and professional organizations provided feedback to the Department of Labor. Likewise, NIH communicated with the Department of Labor to echo the importance of supporting and acknowledging the significant contributions of postdoctoral researchers to NIH-supported research. In recent years we made increases to NRSA stipends as a result of analysis and recommendations stemming from the Advisory Committee to the Director biomedical workforce working group. Stakeholders ranging from academic faculty to scientific professional societies have recommended further increases post-doctoral compensation, and early-career researchers have likewise been vocal about the types of challenges postdocs face in the current research ecosystem. We acknowledge that more is needed to support the scientific leaders of tomorrow.

Friday, May 27, 2016

Failure to Fund Overhead Penalizes Nonprofits, Study Finds

Philanthropy News Digest
May 23, 2016

Funders' reluctance to fully fund overhead costs prevents many nonprofits from maximizing their impact, a report from the Bridgespan Group finds.

According to the report, Pay-What-It-Takes Philanthropy, the typical 15 percent cap on reimbursement for nonprofit overhead falls short, in many cases, of the actual indirect costs associated with the delivery of a service or services. In response to the finding, the report, which appears in the Stanford Social Innovation Review, urges grantmakers to re-think the 15 percent cap on nonprofit overhead reimbursement and calls for an approach that takes into account the actual costs associated with providing a given type of service, or what it calls "pay what it takes" philanthropy.

Friday, May 20, 2016

Elsevier’s Purchase of Social-Sciences Hub May Signal a Strategy Shift

The Chronicle of Higher Education
Jeffrey R. Young
May 20, 2016

The publishing giant Elsevier announced this week that it had bought the Social Science Research Network, an online community where scholars in the humanities and social sciences freely share preprints of their academic work. You may have heard about this on social media, where much of the reaction was fierce and frustrated.

As George Siemens, a prominent innovator in education, put it on Twitter: "Weird. Kinda like 'Satan buys the Vatican.'"


Academic Publishing: Toward a New Model

The Chronicle of Higher Education
Michael Satlow
May 18, 2016

The web, we all thought, was going to transform academic publishing. At the very least, it would make research far more accessible, lowering the cost and expanding the reach of publications. At most, it would fundamentally alter the nature of research itself, making it far more collaborative. In either case, though, academic publishing as we knew it was doomed.

Now, a decade later, as the web has fundamentally transformed so many areas of our lives, academic publishing is one area upon which its impact has been only modest at best. There are, it is true, a few open-access journals and many academics maintain blogs, but contrary to expectations, journal costs have soared and our writings remain perhaps less accessible, locked behind paywalls while libraries forgo buying print versions. While it is not difficult to understand why this has happened, a solution to it has been elusive.

Thursday, May 5, 2016

China Passes Law Tightening Control Over Foreign NGOs

Philanthropy News Digest
April 29, 2016

China's national legislature has passed a law that tightens controls over foreign nongovernmental organizations, a move critics say will have a detrimental impact on civil society in the country, the Associated Press and Wall Street Journal report.

In its third and final version, the law states that foreign NGOs must not endanger China's national security and ethnic unity and leaves unchanged the controversial provision putting the Ministry of Public Security in charge of the registration process for overseas nonprofits. The law grants police the power to question administrators, search residences and facilities, seize files and equipment, and blacklist "unwelcome" groups and prevent them from operating in the country if they commit violations, including "spreading rumors, slandering, or otherwise expressing or disseminating harmful information that endangers state security."