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May 22, 2006
Volume 84, Number 21
p. 9

Science Policy

Science Board Looks At Scientific Openness

Susan Morrissey

Federal science agencies lack clear, consistent policies and procedures for disseminating the research results obtained by federal scientists, according to a new survey by the National Science Board, the governing body of the National Science Foundation. The results of the survey were outlined in a May 10 letter to Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.), who asked NSB to look at what policies agencies have in place to prevent the "suppression and/or distortion of research findings of federal scientists."

McCain sought the information from NSB, which did a study on scientific communication in 1988, in light of recent concerns that some agencies are censoring the release of federal research by government scientists.

NSB recommends that an overarching set of principles for communicating scientific information be set by the Bush Administration. Agencies should use these principles to guide the development of each agency's own policies and procedures. NSB also notes that "a clear distinction should be made between communicating professional research results and data versus the interpretation of data and results in a context that seeks to influence through injection of personal viewpoints, public opinion, or the formulation of public policy."

The agencies surveyed by NSB include the Environmental Protection Agency, the Fish & Wildlife Service, the National Aeronautics & Space Administration, the National Institutes of Health, the National Oceanic & Atmospheric Administration, the U.S. Geological Survey, and the Departments of Agriculture, Energy, and Health & Human Services.

Chemical & Engineering News
ISSN 0009-2347
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