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National Science Foundation

NSF tries radical peer-review process

Written by: Deb Hamernik, ASAS Public Policy Committee Chair

At most federal funding agencies, individuals who submit an application for review are not allowed to serve as a peer reviewer (mail or panel) for applications submitted to the same program. This is usually considered a conflict of interest because the individual could be overly critical of other applications competing for the same pool of funds as their own application.

As the number of applications for federal funding increases, it becomes more difficult to find qualified scientists to write top-of-the-line reviews and spend their valuable time reviewing applications with good ideas that have little chance of being funded. In 2013, NSF received 49,000 applications, which was 53 percent more than 2001. With an increase in applications and a relatively flat budget, the NSF success rate has dropped from 31 percent to 22 percent over the same timeframe. Read more

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JAM Overview: Removing the shroud of secrecy

Written by: Penny Riggs

Dr. Sonny Ramaswamy, Director of the National Institute of Food and Agriculture (NIFA), spoke to JAM participants by video conference last week. He reiterated his call to Animal Scientists to broadly share compelling impact statements in order “to remove the shroud of secrecy surrounding the agricultural enterprise.” He noted that Congress, in particular, has many competing interests.

“If we don’t tell the story, no one will,” Ramaswamy said. Read more

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What the data say about Beta-Agonists

Written by: Jacquelyn Prestegaard

Beef and pork producers are well aware of the increasing global demand for their product. They also know their feed and land resources are exponentially shrinking. For them, modern agricultural technologies are a necessity to keep reasonably priced meat on consumers’ plates.

One of these essential technologies comes in the form of beta-adrenergic agonists, commonly referred to as beta-agonists or BAA’s. Beta-agonists are feed additives given to market hogs and cattle to maximize feed efficiency. They work by more effectively converting feed intake to lean muscle growth. Read more

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Researchers develop new horse industry mobile apps

Written by: Laci Jones

During the Extension Education Symposium at the Joint Annual Meeting, researchers presented new technologies to be used in the livestock industry.

Dr. Krishona Martinson, professor at the University of Minnesota, and her team developed two new mobile apps for the equine industry: Healthy Horse and Hay Price Calculator.

Martinson said the Healthy Horse App allows users to calculate the estimated and ideal body weight of horses. The app also produces a body weight score, which is similar to the body mass index in humans. Read more

Recent Articles

28
Jul

Secret Science Reform

Written by: Public Policy Committee Member

The Secret Science Reform Act of 2014 (HR 4012) was recently debated by the House of Representatives. The Act was introduced by Rep. David Schweikert (R-AZ) and co-sponsored by 51 additional representatives. The bill would amend the Environmental Research, Development and Demonstration Authorization Act of 1978 to prohibit EPA from “proposing, finalizing, or disseminating a covered action based upon science that is not transparent or reproducible”. A covered action is defined as a risk, exposure, hazard assessment, criteria standard, limitation, regulation or guidance. AAAS in a letter to Congress asked the House Science, Space and Technology Committee to extend their evaluation of HR 4012 until the data access policies associated with America COMPETES Reauthorization Act of 2010 is finalized. Major concerns are the definitions of some terms in the bill and the potential costs to research institutions to share and archive data. On June 24, 2014 the bill passed the Committee with a vote of 17:13.

28
Jul

USDA announces formation of FFAR Board

Written by: Public Policy Committee Member

On July 23, 2014 Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack announced the initial members of the Board of Directors for the Foundation for Food and Agriculture Research (FFAR).  Authorized by Congress as part of the 2014 Farm Bill, the foundation will operate as a non-profit corporation seeking and accepting private donations in order to fund research activities focusing on problems of national and international significance. Congress also provided $200 million for the foundation which must be matched by non-federal funds as the Foundation identifies and approves projects. Read more »

28
Jul

Further policy reading

Written by: Public Policy Committee Member

The Guardian recently published an editorial (July 6, 2014) entitled “The Guardian view on the end of the peer review”, in which questions are asked regarding the rigor of the peer review system. Two papers in the British Medical Journal describing data having serious implications to human health were “corrected” with an investigation into whether or not they should be retracted.

Additionally, Nature’s policy to keep retracted papers on its website came under fire.

Later in the month, Adam Marcus and Ivan Oransky published a blog in The Guardian on Monday July 14, “Retractions are coming thick and fast: Its time for publishers to act”, in which they discuss the recent problems with peer review and suggest post publication peer review. Marcus and Oransky discuss instances in which scientists have cheated in the peer review system and published large numbers of fraudulent articles and postulate this behavior is on the rise. One option that Marcus and Oransky favor is post publication peer review with groups such as PubPeer, an on-line journal club, in which readers themselves identify data or images that seem questionable. Regardless of the method by which fraudulent publications are identified, peer review and the peer review process must remain the place in which bad science is discovered.

24
Jul

Texas A&M associate department head received Fellow Award

Written by: Laci Jones

forrest_photoDr. David Forrest, associate department head and professor at Texas A&M University, was recognized for his teaching and advising leadership at the American Society of Animal Science National Awards Program on July 21. He received the Fellow Award in the teaching category.

Throughout the past 32 years, Forrest has taught nearly 10,000 students in reproductive physiology courses. He has improved instructional programs nationally through the Houston Livestock Show and the ASAS Academic Quadrathalon committees. Read more »

24
Jul

Researcher recognized for contributions in international education

Written by: Laci Jones

ledoux_photoMany researchers are known for their dedication to education. However, Dr. David Ledoux, professor at the University of Missouri, is a leader for his contributions to international education.

Ledoux has presented his research findings in over 20 countries worldwide. He has hosted seven international faculty and 18 international interns in his laboratory. He is also a visiting lecturer at the University of San Paulo, Brazil.

In honor of his contributions, Ledoux received the Bouffault International Animal Agriculture Award on July 21. Read more »