Weekly Advocacy News Roundup
U.K. Government Pulls Back From Rule ‘Gagging’ Researchers
April 19, 2016 | Nature
U.K. university scientists who receive public funds won’t be prevented by an ‘anti-lobbying’ rule from speaking about the political implications of their work, the government has confirmed. Although this has assuaged fears that the incoming ban on using public funds for political lobbying would stifle researchers, it’s still unclear whether all researchers who receive government funds will be exempted from the contentious ban, which is due to be applied to grants awarded from this May.
- Learn about worldwide neuroscience initiatives at SfN.org.
NSF Test Finds Eliminating Deadlines Halves Number of Grant Proposals
April 15, 2016 | Science Magazine
In recent years, NSF has struggled with the logistics of evaluating a rising number of grant proposals that has propelled funding rates to historic lows. Annual or semiannual grant deadlines lead to enormous spikes in submissions, but now, one piece of the agency has found a potentially powerful new tool to flatten the spikes and cut the number of proposals: It can simply eliminate deadlines.
- Learn more about NSF funding of neuroscience research at SfN.org.
E.U. Urged to Free All Scientific Papers by 2020
April 14, 2016 | Science Magazine
Last week, the Dutch government held a 2-day meeting in which European policymakers, research funders, librarians, and publishers discussed how to advance open access to scientific literature. The meeting produced an Amsterdam Call to Action that included the goal to make all new papers published in the European Union freely available by 2020.
- Read open access neuroscience research at eNeuro.org.
Monkeying Around in China
April 20, 2016 | Nature
China has been struggling to implement a major brain project, specifically one that is unique given that similar efforts are already under way in Europe, the United States and Japan. Now researchers say that the project will be announced soon, and that primate research will feature heavily. It is natural for China to be willing to extend this line of research — and useful for the rest of the world, because elsewhere it is becoming more difficult.
- Find global sources of research funding at SfN.org.
Articles of Interest
Lab Mice Have a Chill, and That May Be Messing Up Study Results
April 19, 2016 | Stat News
The National Academy of Sciences recommends housing mice between 68 and 79°F. But the natural comfortable temperature for mice is 86 to 90°F, and colder mice experience more stress than normal. However, because room temperature is not usually reported in scientific studies, it may be invisibly skewing results and contributing to failed replication of published studies. A new opinion piece is looking to change that.
- Read about SfN’s support of animals in neuroscience research at SfN.org.
Neuroscience is Changing the Debate Over What Role Age Should Play in the Courts
April 18, 2016 | Newsweek
The Supreme Court has increasingly called upon new findings in neuroscience and psychology in a series of rulings over the past decade that prohibited harsh punishments—such as the death penalty and mandatory life without parole—for offenders under 18. Due to their neurological immaturity, they may be less culpable than those 18 or older. In addition, because their wrongdoing is often the product of immaturity, younger criminals may have a greater potential for reform. Now people are questioning whether the age of 18 has any scientific meaning.
- Learn more about teenagers and their changing brains on BrainFacts.org.
You Pay to Read Research You Fund - That’s Ludicrous
April 18, 2016 | Wired
Every year, hundreds of billions in research and data are funded, in whole or in part, with public dollars. Publishers acquire this research free of charge, and retain the copyrights, even though the public funded the work. There’s no way anyone can know what research and data can reveal unless we set it free. Innovation can come from anywhere—not just academics—but only if we allow for a non-linear and unrestricted approach to inquiry and discovery.
- Join the advocacy network to stay informed on issues of science policy at SfN.org
The Unintended Consequences of Trying to Replicate Research
April 18, 2016 | Slate
While ‘reproducibility’ and the reproduction of studies should be a much higher priority for science, replication as a goal in itself may, paradoxically, make the literature even less reliable. Some think that positive publication bias, or the issue that journals would rather publish studies that find a positive result rather than a negative one, could get worse with an increase in replication attempts. Changing this bias in scientific publication won’t be easy, but is not impossible.
- Find science funding advocacy tools at SfN.org.