USDA orders scientists to say published research is ‘preliminary’ - The Washington Post

peter.suber's bookmarks 2019-04-20


"Researchers at the Agriculture Department laughed in disbelief last summer when they received a memo about a new requirement: Their finalized, peer-reviewed scientific publications must be labeled “preliminary.”

The July 2018 memo from Chavonda Jacobs-Young, the acting USDA chief scientist, told researchers their reports published in scientific journals must include a statement that reads: “The findings and conclusions in this preliminary publication have not been formally disseminated by the U.S. Department of Agriculture and should not be construed to represent any agency determination or policy.” A copy of the memo was obtained by The Washington Post and the USDA confirmed its authenticity.

The disclaimer appears to conflict with the integrity policy that governs research at the USDA, said Susan Offutt, who was the administrator of the Economic Research Service, a USDA statistical agency, under Presidents Bill Clinton and George W. Bush. The claim that reports are not “formally disseminated” runs counter to the USDA policy that “permits and, indeed, encourages researchers to publish in scientific journals,” Offutt said....

William Trenkle, the USDA departmental scientific integrity officer...said in [a public] statement that the department plans to update the disclaimer’s phrasing "in the near future." ...

A successful review and publication is “the end product to your research,” said Gregorich, a scientist at Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada (the Canadian counterpart to USDA). “It is now finalized. There’s nothing preliminary about it.” ...

Before releasing scientific publications, USDA science agencies send them through the department’s Office of Communications. Although the communications office is not supposed to influence a paper’s conclusions, tensions may arise between scientific results and an administration’s agenda, Offutt said...."



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Tags: oa.funders oa.usa oa.usa.usda oa.trump oa.agriculture

Date tagged:

04/20/2019, 14:10

Date published:

04/20/2019, 10:10