Science Policy For All

Because science policy affects everyone.

Archive for May 2012

Science Policy Around the Web – May 31, 2012

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By: Rebecca Cerio

Our weekly linkpost, bringing you interesting and informative links on science policy issues buzzing about the internet.

Young Scientists Embrace Crowdfunding – Can’t get a small grant to do your research?  Some researchers are bypassing the government funding system and asking for money right from the source:  the public.  And it’s working.  Welcome to the world of “crowdfunding”, where personal letters of thanks, progress videos, and other small thank-you gifts are funding scientific research.  (By Kelly Slivka via the New York Times)

Health System Measurement Project – A new (and surprisingly fun and easy-to-use) database has come online with detailed, quantitative info on the US health care system, patients, and money spent.  “HHS’s Office of the Assistant Secretary for Planning and Evaluation has developed the Health System Measurement Project to ensure a robust monitoring system through which people inside and outside government can assess how the system is doing and identify areas that need improvement.”

When Is It Ethical To Prescribe Placebos? - Is it ethical to give some patients medication that has no pharmacological effect but which might make the patient feel better?  Anne Barnhill suggests that the American Medical Association’s current guidelines on prescribing placebos prevent physicians from best serving their patients.  “If the best available treatment is sometimes an undisclosed placebo,” she writes, “then the AMA’s policy prohibits physicians from offering the best available treatment in some cases.”  The full article can be found online here. (via the Hastings Center Report)

Found an interesting science policy link?  Share it in the comments!

Written by sciencepolicyforall

May 31, 2012 at 5:59 pm

Science Policy Around the Web – May 25, 2012

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By: Rebecca Cerio

Our weekly linkpost, bringing you interesting and informative links on science policy issues buzzing about the internet.

Dangers of Disclosure The PLoS Medicine Editors suggest that disclosing conflicts of interest does nothing to address the problem of biased advice…and may make it worse.  The original article can be read in its entirety in PLoS Medicine.  (by Ruth Williams via The Scientist)

Large-Scale Analysis Finds Majority of Clinical Trials Don’t Provide Meaningful Evidence – The main problem with gaining “meaningfulness”?  The lack of standardization between trials.  This is a huge, costly problem that will require a lot of restructuring of the research climate and culture to fix.  (Duke University Medical Center via Medical Daily)

New Database Gives Hard Numbers on Health Care Cost – Sarah Kliff’s blog post on the Washington Post website highlights the usefulness of a new database available through the Health Care Cost Institute.  “…health insurance data is crucial to understand how health care dollars get spent….  Health insurers, however, have tended to keep that data private, as it could tip competitors off to how they handle business.  That all, however, changes today. This morning a new nonprofit called the Health Care Cost Institute will roll out a database of 5 billion health insurance claims (all stripped of the individual health plan’s identity, to address privacy concerns).”  This database could provide hard evidence to hard questions about why health care costs are increasing so rapidly.  Are costs the culprit, or is it simply usage going up?  The HCCI’s own economists have already crunched some numbers from 2010 and found increased prices have driven health care costs.

Have an interesting science policy link to share?  Let us know in the comments!

Written by sciencepolicyforall

May 25, 2012 at 12:02 pm

Science Policy Around the Web – May 17, 2012

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By: Rebecca Cerio

Our weekly linkpost, bringing you interesting and informative links on science policy issues buzzing about the internet.

How should researchers talk about science to the public? – Anne Osterrieder discusses how researchers and academics can make their work more accessible. (via The Guardian)

And, via the excellent blog Brain Pickings, two links to videos that do very well at doing just that:

Every Child Is A Scientist – Food for thought from Neil deGrasse Tyson:  “I can’t think of any more human activity than conducting science experiments. Think about it — what do kids do? … They’re turning over rocks, they’re plucking petals off a rose — they’re exploring their environment through experimentation. That’s what we do as human beings, and we do that more thoroughly and better than any other species on Earth that we have yet encountered….”

Richard Feynman:  The Key to Science – “…we look for a new law by the following process: First we guess it; then we compute the consequences of the guess to see what would be implied if this law that we guessed is right; then we compare the result of the computation to nature, with experiment or experience, compare it directly with observation, to see if it works. If it disagrees with experiment, it is wrong. In that simple statement is the key to science. It does not make any difference how beautiful your guess is, it does not make any difference how smart you are, who made the guess, or what his name is — if it disagrees with experiment, it is wrong.”

Have an interesting science policy link to share?  Let us know in the comments!

Written by sciencepolicyforall

May 17, 2012 at 1:17 pm

Science Policy Around the Web – May 10, 2012

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By: Rebecca Cerio

Our weekly linkpost, bringing you interesting and informative links on science policy issues buzzing about the internet.

Studying Complementary and Alternative Therapies –  Dr. Offitt has never been shy about his disdain for the lack of scientific rigor displayed in and by most studies on complementary and alternative medicine (CAM), and he lays out his reasoning here.  A transcript of the full essay along with some incisive comments can be found in the first part of this post.  (by Dr. Paul Offitt, MD via Journal of the American Medical Association)

Fast Science:  No Time for Uncertainty – Marya Zilberberg on the Healthcare, Etc. blog suggests that the published literature, medical practice, and society in general could benefit from more “slow science” that embraces transparency and values studies that successfully repeat previous findings.

A study of Science PhD Career Preferences finds “…respondents across all three major fields feel that their advisors and departments strongly encourage academic research careers while being less encouraging of other career paths. Such strong encouragement of academic careers may be dysfunctional if it exacerbates labor market imbalances or creates stress for students who feel that their career aspirations do not live up to the expectations of their advisors. …[O]ur results suggest that PhD programs should more actively provide information and training experiences that allow students to learn about a broader range of career options, including those that are currently less encouraged. Richer information and a more neutral stance by advisors and departments will likely improve career decision-making and has the potential to simultaneously improve labor market imbalances as well as future career satisfaction.”  (by Henry Sauerman and Michelle Roach via PLoS ONE)

Have an interesting science policy link to share?  Let us know in the comments!

Written by sciencepolicyforall

May 10, 2012 at 4:36 pm

Science Policy Around the Web – May 3, 2012

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By: Rebecca Cerio

Our weekly linkpost, bringing you interesting and informative links on science policy issues buzzing about the internet.

Data Diving – What happens when tens of thousands of pages of clinical trials are condensed into <10 page publications?  Inevitably, information gets left out.  Kerry Grens suggests in The Scientist that such unpublished data is a treasure trove of scientific knowledge that needs to be more readily available.

Analytical Trend Troubles Scientists – Observational studies (studies where there is no investigator intervention, simply observation of what happens naturally) are on the rise, due to their being much cheaper to conduct than controlled experimental studies.  However, these studies seem to be particularly prone to faulty study design and statistical biases that make them difficult to interpret or reproduce.  (by Gautam Naik via the Wall Street Journal)

HealthNewsReview.org - An excellent resource where scientists and health professionals do the factchecking on health news reporting.  They check the reviewed articles for accuracy, bias, and a slew of other factors judging its usefulness to health consumers.

Have an interesting science policy link to share?  Let us know in the comments!

Written by sciencepolicyforall

May 3, 2012 at 4:49 pm

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