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The UK House of Commons Science and Technology committee has published a report on its inquiry into Government Horizon Scanning. This concludes that current efforts have weaknesses, citing the separation of efforts from the new Cabinet Office hub (created following the Day Review) and the established Foresight Unit in the Government Office for Science. One area of difficulty is on terminology, with horizon scanning, futures analysis, visioning and other ideas being only approximately defined and used interchangeably in some cases. External engagement is recommended as a key development to provide challenge and broader perspectives.
The UK government has responded to the House of Commons Science and Technology Committee's inquiry on Women in Scientific Careers. The government response highlights various initiatives - the recent Call to Action; the Equality Challenge Unit; Athena Swan and a range of others. Much of the response points to these, to the activities of RCUK, and to the independent role of universities in deciding on initiatives to foster scientific careers for women.
The Higher Education Funding Council for England (HEFCE) has initiated an independent review of the use of metrics in research assessment with an emphasis on four areas of interest:
a. Identifying useful metrics for research assessment.
b. How should metrics be used in research assessment?
c. ‘Gaming’ and strategic use of metrics.
d. International perspective
Deadline for submissions 30 June 2014.
The 2012 San Francisco Declaration on Research Assessment (DoRA) represents a commitment by individual scientists, funders and institutions to adopt a sophisticated approach to the assessment of research quality, including avoiding the use of Journal Impact Factors. It states that decision-makers should "For the purposes of research assessment, consider the value and impact of all research outputs (including datasets and software) in addition to research publications, and consider a broad range of impact measures including qualitative indicators of research impact, such as influence on policy and practice". It also states that publishers should "Make available a range of article-level metrics to encourage a shift toward assessment based on the scientific content of an article rather than publication metrics of the journal in which it was published."
In order to support this, an initiative has been trialling digital taxonomies that should enable researchers to clearly identify the nature of contributions to papers. A comment piece in Nature outlines initial analysis and an ongoing consultation and development approach for the following taxonomy of roles
- Study conception
- Formal analysis
- Investigation: performed the experiments
- Investigation: data/evidence collection
- Data curation
- Writing/manuscript preparation: writing the initial draft
- Writing/manuscript preparation: critical review, commentary or revision
- Writing/manuscript preparation: visualization/data presentation
- Project administration
- Funding acquisition
Allen, L., Scott, J., Brand, A., Hlava, M. & Altman, M. (2014) Publishing: Credit where credit is due. Nature 508, 17 April 2014 312-313.doi:10.1038/508312a
The UK government's Department of Business, Innovation and Skills has published the report of the Triennial Review of the Research Councils. The review concluded that the current structure remained appropriate, but makes recommendations on various changes that aim at improving the use of public funds, accountability and efficiency. The report contains much interesting material
The UK parliament's Environmental Audit Committee produced a report on 16 April 2014 on Invasive Non-Native Species - it's a fair overview of the current situation in the UK and was prompted by the drafting and development of EU regulation on invasive alien species. The EU measures are still in process and include the use of lists of invasive organisms that are common priorities across the EU.
update June 2014: the Government response to the EAC report has been published also.
On 14 April 2014 the European Council approved a Regulation of the European Parliament and of the Council on compliance measures for users from the Nagoya Protocol on Access to Genetic Resources and the Fair and Equitable Sharing of Benefits Arising from their Utilization in the Union (PE-COS 131/13).
This is the final step for regulation on ABS on an EU level: member countries will now bring in measures to implement on a domestic level to fulfill obligations under the Nagoya Protocol to the UN Convention on Biological Diversity. The regulation discusses and interprets the Nagoya protocol but develops particular measures of interest to collections-holding institutions:
- a voluntary register of collections will be established with the intention of reducing risk of accessing non-compliant genetic resources: the standards associated with registration will mean that users can state that they have exercised due diligence with respect to information on origins, consent and terms of access.
- provision for recognition of best practice in the form of procedures, tools and mechanisms, developed by associations of users or others. The intention of this is that adherence to recognised best practice will enable compliance with key requirements of the regulation. Not stated in the regulation, but forming part of the discussion between various interest groups, is the intended benefit of maintaining international confidence on compliance and so facilitating continuing international scientific collaboration on collections materials.
The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change has issued three Working Group Reports for its Fifth assessment
- The Physical Science Basis
- Impacts, Adaptation and Vulnerability (in two volumes)
- Mitigation of Climate Change
A synthesis report is expected following a meeting of IPCC in Autumn 2014.