Friday, October 13, 2017

NSF Announces $19.5M in Awards to Support Fundamental Research to Advance the Nation's Local Cities and Communities

National Science Foundation 
News Release 17-102
October 12, 2017

The National Science Foundation (NSF) has long been a leader in supporting fundamental research to equip U.S. cities and communities with more responsive and adaptive technologies and services. Today, NSF's Smart & Connected Communities (S&CC) program announces its first round of awards totaling approximately $19.5 million. This funding will support 38 projects involving researchers at 34 institutions across the nation.
Smart and connected communities successfully integrate people with information and communication technologies to improve economic opportunity and growth, safety and security, health and wellness, and overall quality of life. Successfully achieving this vision requires advanced understanding of the physical, social and technical aspects of our local cities and communities.

Wednesday, September 27, 2017

A Revolt at a Journal Puts Peer Review Under the Microscope

The Chronicle of Higher Education
Vimal Patel
September 25, 2017

Even longtime admirers of Shahid Qadir were puzzled.
Mr. Qadir, editor of Third World Quarterly, a journal about international studies, this month published a paper provocatively titled "The Case for Colonialism." The abstract sets the tone for the piece: "For the last 100 years, Western colonialism has had a bad name. It is high time to question this orthodoxy."

Tuesday, September 5, 2017

Elsevier Embraces Data-Sharing Standards, in Step Toward Scientific Openness

The Chronicle of Higher Education
Paul Basken
September 5, 2017

The cause of scientific transparency and accuracy got a boost on Tuesday with the decision by the publishing giant Elsevier to endorse a broad set of standards for open articles and data.

Elsevier agreed to add its 1,800 journals to the 3,200 that already accept the "Transparency and Openness Promotion" guidelines drafted in 2015 by a group of university researchers, funders and publishers.

Tuesday, August 15, 2017

Elsevier Is Becoming a Data Company. Should Universities Be Wary?

The Chronicle of Higher Education
Paul Basken
August 15, 2017

Like many big research institutions, the University of Florida pays the publishing giant Elsevier millions of dollars a year so its scientists can read the articles they helped create.

Payments like that have made Elsevier an industry monolith; they have also made the company a popular target of faculty protests and boycotts.
At an institutional level, "there’s not a lot of leverage" to hold down prices, concedes Florida’s library dean, Judith C. Russell. That’s because Elsevier publishes many influential titles that faculty also prize as markers of reputational success, she said.

Wednesday, July 26, 2017

Journal Pulls Paper That Refers to Surgeons as Only Men

STAT News Morning Rounds
Megan Thielking
July 25, 2017

The editors of Annals of Surgery have retracted a new paper on the “modern surgeon” after it was pointed out the paper only referred to surgeons with male pronouns. The piece — "Modern Surgeon: Still a Master of His Trade or Just an Operator of Medical Equipment?" —was actually a copy of a speech from Dr. Marek Krawczyk, the president of the European Surgical Association. As critics of the piece pointed out, the choice of language matters to the perception of women in the field and doesn’t reflect their important work. “Unfortunately, our own editorial review did not catch the singular use of male pronouns to refer to surgeons,” the journal’s editors said in a statement.

The incident also points to another issue: the gender diversity of journal editorial boards. A 2008 analysis found that fewer than 10 percent of the members of the Annals of Surgery editorial board each year were women, with only slightly more diversity seen in other major medical journals. That’s improved in the years since — now, women make up about 20 percent of the Annals of Surgery editorial board.

Wednesday, July 19, 2017

New Report Concludes Social, Behavioral and Economic Sciences Help Advance National Health, Prosperity and Defense

National Science Foundation News Release
July 18, 2017


At the request of the National Science Foundation (NSF), the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine has produced a report, "The Value of Social, Behavioral, and Economic Sciences to National Priorities." The report concludes that social, behavioral and economic sciences (SBE) further NSF's mission to advance U.S. health, prosperity, welfare and defense.
"Nearly every major challenge the United States faces -- from alleviating unemployment to protecting itself from terrorism -- requires understanding the causes and consequences of people's behavior," the report says.

Thursday, July 13, 2017

House Republicans Counter Trump on University Research Costs

The Chronicle of Higher Education
Paul Basken
July 12, 2017

House Republicans issued a fiscal 2018 budget plan on Wednesday that rejects the Trump administration’s proposal to eliminate or sharply cut so-called indirect-cost payments to universities for medical research.
The plan, offered by Representative Tom Cole, Republican of Oklahoma and chairman of the House Appropriations subcommittee that oversees the National Institutes of Health, makes clear that indirect-cost payments on NIH grants should continue "to the same extent and in the same manner" as has existed.

Wednesday, July 5, 2017

Europe's Next Big Science-Funding Programme Urged to Double Its Budget

The Chronicle of Higher Education
Paul Basken
July 4, 2017


Midway through the European Union’s sprawling 7-year, €75-billion (US$85-billion) research-funding programme known as Horizon 2020 (H2020), scientists are already angling for more money and less red tape in its successor.
So researchers are delighted with an influential 3 July report that urges the EU to double the budget of its next funding scheme, called Framework Programme Nine (FP9), which is due to launch in 2021. The report says that FP9’s structure should be largely similar to that of H2020, but with less bureaucracy, and suggests that it includes a few major ‘moonshot’ missions in areas such as energy and information technology. 
Read More…

Thursday, June 29, 2017

A New Theory on How Researchers Can Solve the Reproducibility Crisis: Do the Math

The Chronicle of Higher Education
Paul Basken
June 28, 2017

From the beginning, it seemed like a difficult prediction.

In an article published last October in Nature, three researchers affiliated with the Albert Einstein College of Medicine in New York City said they had crunched the numbers and concluded that humans will never consistently live much beyond 115 years.

"From now on, this is it," one of the three authors, Jan Vijg, a professor of genetics at Albert Einstein, told The New York Times one of several major news outlets that helped promote the sobering news. "Humans will never get older than 115."

Read More…

Wednesday, June 28, 2017

Universities Are Getting a Lesson in the Value of Early Training to Apply for Grants

The Chronicle of Higher Education
Paul Basken
June 27, 2017

As a doctoral student at the University of Michigan at Ann Arbor in the 1980s, James L. Olds had an adviser who taught him how to apply for federal grants by including him directly in the process.

"I was very lucky" to have that comparative advantage, said Mr. Olds, whose early training in seeking grant support furthered his subsequent progress to become a college professor and, now, head of the biological-sciences directorate at the National Science Foundation.
But many other research professors at American universities don’t provide their graduate students the same training that his adviser did.

Read More…

Thursday, June 22, 2017

How to Help Social and Behavioral Research Findings Make Their Way into Practice Settings

NIH Office of Behavioral and Social Sciences Blog
June 15, 2017

“Why fund behavioral intervention research if the interventions found effective are not adopted in practice?” This was a recurring question I heard when meeting with various National Institutes of Health (NIH) institute and center directors to seek their input on the Office of Behavioral and Social Sciences Research (OBSSR) 2017-21 Strategic Plan.

Their perspective is consistent with what our field has acknowledged and worked to address: Health researchers in general – and behavioral and social sciences researchers specifically – cannot be satisfied with leaving our research findings at the water’s edge and hoping these findings will be adopted into practice.

Monday, June 19, 2017

Open Opportunities to Do Collaborative Research

NIH Office of Behavioral and Social Sciences Blog
June 14, 2017

The National Institutes of Health is the world's biggest public funder of biomedical research, investing more than $32 billion each year—and a sizable amount of that money can be tapped by mental health and behavioral science researchers, especially those who are interested in collaborating with other disciplines.

Several major initiatives welcome a transdisciplinary perspective, even if on the surface they don't sound terribly psychological. Among them are the All of Us/Precision Medicine Initiative, the Brain Research through Advancing Innovative Neurotechnologies (BRAIN) Initiative, Environmental influences on Child Health Outcomes (ECHO) and the Big Data to Knowledge (BD2K) program.

Wednesday, June 14, 2017

Journals’ Retreat From Data-Sharing Mandate Puts Onus on Universities and Government

The Chronicle of Higher Education
Paul Basken
June 12, 2017

A year ago the world’s leading medical-journal editors announced plans to require their authors to share with other scientists the data associated with their published articles about clinical trials.
Those editors have now backed off, and instead are predicting an even longer wait before such a mandate actually comes to pass.

Monday, June 12, 2017

NIH Abandons Plan to Limit Per-Person Grant Awards

The Chronicle of Higher Education
Paul Basken
June 8, 2017

Facing protests from senior scientists, including members of its own advisory board, the National Institutes of Health on Thursday abandoned a plan to help younger researchers by imposing a general three-grant limit.
Instead, the NIH is moving forward with a more complicated formula in which scientists who win a first grant under a program designed to aid first-time applicants will get priority for their second grant.
"We are shifting the approach quite substantially," the NIH’s director, Francis S. Collins, told a gathering of his advisory panel, a collection of about 15 senior academic researchers that largely opposed his first plan.

Friday, May 26, 2017

Lawmakers Show Sympathy for Trump Plan to Squeeze Research Costs

The Chronicle of Higher Education
Paul Basken
May 25, 2017

When the Ohio University economist Richard Vedder thinks of his counterparts at Harvard, he sees more than just a great research university.

He sees shiny marble floors.

Such high-end decor is a signal, Mr. Vedder told lawmakers Wednesday on Capitol Hill, that the federal government spends too much money on the extraneous costs surrounding university research.

Thursday, May 18, 2017

NIH Is Firm on Plan to Limit Per-Person Grant Awards

The Chronicle of Higher Education
Paul Basken
May 17, 2017

Despite facing protests, the National Institutes of Health promised Wednesday to move ahead with a plan to impose a general limit of three major grants per researcher, persuaded by data linking quantity to declining effectiveness.
"We are determined to take some action now that we have this data," the NIH’s director, Francis S. Collins, told a House appropriations subcommittee. "When you’ve seen that data," he added after the hearing, "you can’t just walk away and say, ‘Oh, that’s fine.’"

Wednesday, May 10, 2017

Called to the White House, Business Leaders Attest to NIH’s Value

The Chronicle of Higher Education
Paul Basken
May 9, 2017

Not even two months ago, the Trump administration shocked the biomedical research community by proposing an 18-percent cut to the budget of the National Institutes of Health.
On Monday at the White House, that attitude began to look like ancient history.
Ushered into the Executive Mansion by a contingent of biomedical industry chiefs, NIH leaders spent two hours with top administration officials — followed by a visit with President Trump himself — carefully explaining the economic and human-health importance of the federal investment in medical science.

Monday, May 1, 2017

A Worrisome Harbinger of Changes in Copyright Law

The Chronicle of Higher Education
Pamela Samuelson
April 23, 2017

With all the dysfunction in the White House and Capitol Hill this year, you might think that the copyright bills pending before Congress do not need your attention. Think again. Momentum is building for three of these measures, and their impact on institutions of higher education will not be welcome.
The most likely of the bills to pass (and scheduled for a vote this week) is the Register of Copyrights Selection and Accountability Act of 2017. It has bipartisan support from 32 cosponsors in the House, and the endorsement of three key members of the Senate Judiciary Committee. The bill calls for the Register of Copyrights to be a presidential appointee for a 10-year term, subject to Senate confirmation. This bill has already been reported out of the House Judiciary Committee.

Wednesday, April 26, 2017

Focusing on the Feds

Inside Higher Ed
Rick Seltzer
April 26, 2017

WASHINGTON  The presidents of three of the country’s top research universities gathered for a public discussion Tuesday, dedicating some of their most in-depth comments to concerns about federal policy.
The presidents of Harvard, Stanford and Ohio State Universities took part in a wide-ranging discussion on the future of higher education hosted by the Economic Club of Washington, D.C. While they covered a lot of ground, they delivered their most timely remarks while addressing worries about cuts to federal research funding and possible changes in immigration policy that could affect the students at their institutions.
Read More…

Tuesday, April 25, 2017

Under Fire, National Academies Toughen Conflict-of-Interest Policies

The Chronicle of Higher Education
Paul Basken
April 25, 2017

The National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine are toughening their financial conflict-of-interest policies after publishing reports that some critics have said are tainted by undisclosed corporate influences.
The 154-year-old scientific academy, chartered by Congress during the Lincoln administration, has long enjoyed a reputation as a top-quality producer of in-depth, impartial academic analyses on a range of national policy questions.
But that reputation has been challenged by complaints about two reports — one on medical pain relief and another on genetically modified organisms — whose authors’ ties to industry were not made clear.
Read More…

Friday, April 7, 2017

How a Browser Extension Could Shake Up Academic Publishing

The Chronicle of Higher Education
Lindsay McKenzie
April 6, 2017

Open-access advocates have had several successes in the past few weeks. The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation started its own open-access publishing platform, which the European Commission may replicate. And librarians attending the Association of College and Research Libraries conference in March were glad to hear that the Open Access Button, a tool that helps researchers gain free access to copies of articles, will be integrated into existing interlibrary-loan arrangements.
Another initiative, called Unpaywall, is a simple browser extension, but its creators, Jason Priem and Heather Piwowar, say it could help alter the status quo of scholarly publishing.
Read More…

Tuesday, April 4, 2017

Higher Education’s Megagift Boom Hits New Highs, Survey Shows

The Chronicle of Philanthropy
Drew Lindsay
April 3, 2017

Big gifts to higher education last year topped $6 billion for the first time, continuing a postrecession surge in eight- and nine-figure donations to colleges and universities even as data suggest giving from their smaller contributors is declining.
Donors made 194 gifts of $10 million or more to higher education last year, also a new high, according a new survey by Marts & Lundy, a fundraising-consulting firm. A decade ago, just before the Great Recession, higher education received just 124 gifts of that size.
Read More…

Monday, April 3, 2017

Should Taxpayers Cover the Light Bills at University Labs? Trump Kicks off a Tense Debate

STAT
Meghana Keshavan
March 31, 2017

Medical research can’t be done in the dark. But should taxpayers be covering the light bills at university labs across the country?

The Trump administration’s answer is no. The president has proposed a massive $7 billion budget cut for the National Institutes of Health over the next 18 months. And Secretary of Health and Human Services Tom Price said this week that he may find those savings in the “indirect expenses” that NIH funds, which includes everything from buying lab equipment to paying the electric bills for thousands of academic research labs from Harvard to Ohio State to Stanford.
Read More…

Friday, March 31, 2017

Trump Proposal to Cut Indirect Research Payments Would Hit State Universities Hardest

The Chronicle of Higher Education
Paul Basken
March 31, 2017

The Trump administration’s plan to cut billions of dollars in research spending by eliminating indirect cost reimbursements would devastate university science, especially at public institutions, experts warned.
The U.S. secretary for health and human services, Tom Price, told Congress this week that the idea is to save taxpayers money while giving them the same amount of research activity. Indirect cost payments are funds spent on "something other than the research that’s being done," Dr. Price told a House of Representatives subcommittee on health appropriations on Wednesday.
Read More…

Wednesday, March 22, 2017

In the Age of Trump, Scientists See Reproducibility as Risky Business

The Chronicle of Higher Education
Paul Basken
March 21, 2017

Earlier this month, just a short walk from the White House, Richard M. Shiffrin led dozens of his academic colleagues through a three-day examination of the trustworthiness of science.
He’s not totally sure it was a good idea.
The colloquium that Mr. Shiffrin and two colleagues organized at the National Academy of Sciences headquarters was planned long before Donald J. Trump took up residence in the nearby executive mansion, capping a campaign that repeatedly challenged science and facts as basic tools of understanding.
Read More…

Friday, March 10, 2017

Data Check: U.S. Government Share of Basic Research Funding Falls Below 50%

Science Magazine
Jeffrey Mervis
March 9, 2017

For the first time in the post–World War II era, the federal government no longer funds a majority of the basic research carried out in the United States. Data from ongoing surveys by the National Science Foundation (NSF) show that federal agencies provided only 44% of the $86 billion spent on basic research in 2015. The federal share, which topped 70% throughout the 1960s and ’70s, stood at 61% as recently as 2004 before falling below 50% in 2013.
The sharp drop in recent years is the result of two contrasting trends—a flattening of federal spending on basic research over the past decade and a significant rise in corporate funding of fundamental science since 2012. The first is a familiar story to most academic scientists, who face stiffening competition for federal grants.
Read More…

Wednesday, March 8, 2017

7 Projects Win Funding for Climate Change Solutions

The Harvard Gazette
March 6, 2017

Seven research projects led by scientists, historians, economists, and public health experts from five Harvard Schools will share about $1 million in the third round of grants awarded by the Climate Change Solutions Fund. This initiative, which was launched by Harvard President Drew Faust, encourages multidisciplinary research that seeks creative solutions to climate change.
“Universities have a uniquely important role to play in the battle against climate change, and Harvard must continue to be at the forefront of efforts to bring disciplines together, deepen awareness of the issue, and speed progress,” said Faust. “This year’s Climate Change Solutions Fund awards will help experts from engineering, medicine, chemistry, public health, public policy, and the arts confront the challenges facing our society and our planet at a moment when the dire consequences of inaction are becoming increasingly apparent.”
Read More…

Monday, March 6, 2017

We Need More ‘Useless’ Knowledge

The Chronicle of Higher Education
Robbert Dijkgraaf
March 2, 2017

On April 30, 1939, under the gathering storm clouds of war, the New York World’s Fair opened in Flushing Meadows, Queens. Its theme was The World of Tomorrow. Over the next 18 months, nearly 45 million visitors would be given a peek into a future shaped by newly emerging technologies. Some of the displayed innovations were truly visionary. The fair featured the first automatic dishwasher, air conditioner, and fax machine. The live broadcast of President Franklin Roosevelt’s opening speech introduced America to television. Newsreels showed Elektro the Moto-Man, a seven-foot tall, awkwardly moving aluminum robot that could speak by playing 78-r.p.m. records, smoke a cigarette, and play with his robot dog Sparko. Other attractions, such as a pageant featuring magnificent steam-powered locomotives, could be better characterized as the last gasps of the world of yesterday.

Albert Einstein, honorary chair of the fair’s science advisory committee, presided over the official illumination ceremony, also broadcast live on television. He spoke to a huge crowd on the topic of cosmic rays, highly energetic subatomic particles bombarding the Earth from outer space. But two scientific discoveries that would soon dominate the world were absent at the fair: nuclear energy and electronic computers.
Read More…

Tuesday, February 28, 2017

Private Funding for Basic Science Totaled $2.3 Billion in 2016

Philanthropy News Digest
February 21, 2017

U.S. research institutions received more than $2.3 billion in private funding for basic science research in 2016, a report from the Science Philanthropy Alliance finds.
Based on survey responses from forty-two universities and research institutions, the 2016 Survey of Private Funding for Basic Research (summary report, 5 pages, PDF) found that foundations, corporations, grantmaking public charities, and individuals awarded $1.9 billion, or 84 percent of the total, to research in the life sciences, $300 million (13 percent) in the physical sciences, and $80 million (3 percent) in mathematics. For the twenty-six institutions that completed the survey in both 2015 and 2016, private funding in those three areas increased 31 percent, from $1.19 billion to $1.56 billion, while funding for basic research in all areas — including  behavioral and social sciences and the arts and humanities — increased 28 percent, from $2 billion to $2.56 billion.
Read More…

Wednesday, February 22, 2017

Gates Foundation, AAAS Partner on Open Access Publishing

Philanthropy News Digest
February 18, 2017

The American Association for the Advancement of Science and the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation have announced a partnership aimed at advancing scientific communication and open access publishing.
Through the partnership, AAAS will allow Gates Foundation-funded researchers to publish their research under a Creative Commons Attribution license (CC BY), enabling any article submitted to an AAAS journal after January 1 to be immediately available to the public to read, download, and reuse.
Read More…

Wednesday, February 15, 2017

Indian Government Takes Over Gates-Funded Immunization Program

Philanthropy News Digest
February 9, 2017

In a move prompted in part by fears of foreign influence on public policy, India's health ministry has decided to take over funding responsibility for an immunization program backed by the Bill & Melinda Gates FoundationReuters reports.
Funded  by the Gates Foundation since its creation in 2012, the Immunization Technical Support Unit at the Public Health Foundation of India provides technical and monitoring assistance to the National Technical Advisory Group on Immunization (NTAGI), which supports the government's extensive immunization program. Starting in March, however, ITSU will be funded by the government, which felt the need to manage the program on its own, senior health ministry official Soumya Swaminathan told Reuters. "There was a perception that an external agency is funding it, so there could be influence," said Swaminathan, who also noted that no instances of inappropriate influence have been found.
Read More…

Thursday, January 19, 2017

At Long Last, Agency Completes Overhaul of Rules on Use of Humans in Research

The Chronicle of Higher Education
Paul Basken
January 18, 2017

With two days left in the Obama administration, the federal agency charged with protecting human beings in research on Wednesday issued an overhaul of rules that had been caught up in more than five years of acrimonious debate.

The rule changes, which will begin to take effect next year regardless of the change in presidents, will generally allow for a single review of human protections in studies that occur at multiple universities, and will allow broader exemptions from such reviews for researchers whose study interactions are limited to interviews.
Read More…

Friday, January 13, 2017

Publish and Perish

The Chronicle of Higher Education
Ted McCormick
January 8, 2017

My grandfather was born in 1909. Too young for the First World War and too old for the Second, he served in the U.S. Navy between the two. He finished eighth grade before leaving to work, returning to school — through correspondence courses — only in the 1950s. I remember him, though, as an old man prone to quoting Scripture and Shakespeare and singing lines of Handel’s Messiah (interspersed with saltier fare). His brushes with institutional education notwithstanding, he always struck me as self-taught in a way that is now difficult to fathom.
What I remember about him best are his things: his trumpet, with a mute that fascinated me; his tools, including, exotically, a glass cutter and some beekeeping gear; the decorations of his and my grandmother’s small-town New England house — an old wooden relief of an eagle, a framed map of Connecticut. When he died, I inherited — or chose to take — two of these things. One was a worn-looking hammer I still use. The other was a small, lined, leatherette notebook, the first page of which bears the penciled heading, "Thought for the day."
Right under that line is the first and last entry in the notebook: "Nothing so far."
Read More…

Wednesday, January 4, 2017

Uncertainty Remains Over China's Law on Foreign Nonprofits

Philanthropy News Digest
January 3, 2017

Although a law that places new requirements on foreign nonprofits operating in China was scheduled to go into effect January 1, foreign NGOs in the country remain unclear about the details of the rules and their impact on their ability to continue their work in the new year, the New York Times reports.
Passed by China's national legislature last April, the law states that foreign NGOs must not endanger China's national security and ethnic unity. To that end, foreign nonprofits such as foundations, charities, and most business associations must register with the police, be sponsored by state agencies and organizations, and submit regular reports on their activities. Many aspects of the law remain opaque, however, and some organizations fear their work will be curtailed or even banned. Calls to a hotline recently set up by the Ministry of Public Security to answer questions about the law have gone unanswered.
Read More…