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Impact factors are stupid

Impact factors are hugely important in journal publishing. Essentially, they determine which journals are more widely read (more “impactful”). Naturally, then, just like the Nielsen ratings in television, they are significant measures because publishing in high impact journals is considered more prestigious, and therefore more valuable for things that matter to researchers like academic tenure and funding opportunities. But what if impact factors were way off? It’s no secret in…

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Climate change opinions not budging much

According to a recent New York Times/CBS news poll, “a solid majority of Americans say the United States should join an international treaty to limit the impact of global warming.” While this may be encouraging news, other survey data cited in this article shows just how stubborn American public opinion has been over the last 20-plus years on the issue of climate change. For instance, when asked whether global warming…

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The assault on federally supported science

Distrust of government has long focused on economic and cultural matters, with conservative luminaries from Barry Goldwater to Ronald Reagan arguing that it should be kept out of private spheres ranging from the bedroom to the boardroom. This sentiment generally has not extended to the realm of science, however. Since federally supported science helped win World War II and put astronauts on the moon, there has been strong bipartisan support…

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In Australia, publications to become less important when funding research

The Turnbull government is set to overhaul the way university research is funded by dramatically downgrading the importance of publishing articles in little-read academic journals. Prime Minister Turnbull wants to end the “publish or perish” culture in which academics are pressured to focus on constant publishing rather than producing work with commercial and community benefit. In 2013, Australia ranked last in the developed world on the proportion of businesses which…

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Exxon’s Climate Concealment

Millions of Americans once wanted to smoke. Then they came to understand how deadly tobacco products were. Tragically, that understanding was long delayed because the tobacco industry worked for decades to hide the truth, promoting a message of scientific uncertainty instead. The same thing has happened with climate change, as Inside Climate News, a nonprofit news organization, has been reporting in a series of articles based on internal documents from…

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New studies deepen concerns about a climate-change ‘wild card’

Two new studies are adding to concerns about one of the most troubling scenarios for future climate change: the possibility that global warming could slow or shut down the Atlantic’s great ocean circulation systems, with dramatic implications for North America and Europe. The research, by separate teams of scientists, bolsters predictions of disruptions to global ocean currents — such as the Gulf Stream — that transfer tropical warmth from the…

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Dr. Frances Kelsey: American Hero, Government Regulator

Dr. Frances Kelsey passed away last week at the ripe old age of 101. She was a true hero in every sense of the word. How did she achieve this status? She did not pull someone out of a burning building. Didn’t dive into a lake to rescue a drowning child. Never threw herself on a hand grenade to save troops in combat, although she did find herself on a…

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Federal government to review GMO evaluation process

The Obama administration said on Thursday that it would update the way the government regulated genetically modified crops and some other biotechnology products, saying that the nearly 30-year-old system had become outdated and confusing and did not foster public confidence. “While the current regulatory system for biotechnology products effectively protects the health and the environment, advances in science and technology since 1992 have been altering the product landscape,” John P.…

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