AGU suggests improvements to federal scientific integrity structure


On 28 July 2021, AGU submitted comments to the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy (OSTP)’s Request for Information to Improve Federal Scientific Integrity Policies.

Fostering scientific integrity is a key goal of our new strategic plan and we are actively engaged in supporting scientific integrity broadly, including with federal agencies. AGU urges OSTP to consider two key points:

  1. Fostering integrity — and in turn public trust in science and science policy — requires a broad, holistic view of practices that extend beyond the typical focus on transparency and ethics including ensuring deeper public engagement; addressing diversity and inclusivity in science; and supporting the backbone infrastructure that enables all of these.
  2. The way science is supported, practiced, conducted and communicated is changing significantly and these changes have important implications for fostering integrity in the 21st century. OSTP and federal policy can be a proactive force in improving the culture and reward system of science to align with these changes.

Science is embedded in and critical for nearly every major societal challenge in the 21st century, such as the current COVID-19 pandemic, all aspects of planetary sustainability, climate change, resource management, health outcomes and the availability of food, energy and water for a global population.

Success in addressing our societal challenges requires thinking about scientific integrity in broader ways than have traditionally been considered. Specifically, while individual responsibility and ethical practices are important, new institutional leadership is most needed. In addition to promoting transparency, access, replicability and the ability for scientists to communicate openly, fostering integrity in science in the 21st century also requires:

  1. An infrastructure to support integrity, especially around quality, machine readable and auditable FAIR data and software (The FAIR Guiding Principles for scientific data management and stewardship and;
  2. Inclusivity and diversity to expand perspectives, enrich science and build broad trust in its value and communication;
  3. Engagement with the public that builds trust with diverse communities globally and creates opportunities for all communities to participate in, guide, apply and benefit from science, which also enhances resilience, sustainability, improved health and equity; and
  4. A scientific culture and reward system that supports these goals.

OSTP and federal science agencies have an opportunity to lead and shape this broader perspective of scientific integrity for the future. The AGU community and other societies can be key partners.

Read AGU’s full comment here.  These comments were prepared by:

  • Caitlin Bergstrom, AGU Senior Specialist Digital Policy Engagement
  • Chris Erdmann, AGU Assistant Director, Data Stewardship
  • Matt Giampoala, AGU Vice President, Publications
  • Brooks Hanson, AGU Executive Vice President, Science
  • Raj Pandya, AGU Senior Director, Thriving Earth Exchange
  • Lexi Shultz, AGU Vice President, Science Policy and Government
  • Shelley Stall, AGU Senior Director, Data Leadership
  • Billy Williams, AGU Executive Vice President, Diversity Equity & Inclusion

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