ASM Suggests Ways to Improve Federal Scientific Integrity Policies

July 29, 2021

On July 28, 2021, ASM issued a letter to the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy in response to their request for information (RFI) for ways to improve federal scientific integrity policies. 

ASM’s recommendations to the Scientific Integrity Fast Track Action Committee (SI-FTAC) RFI are based in large part on a 2016 colloquium held by the American Academy of Microbiology,  in which participants considered issues related to reproducibility, the ethical conduct of scientific research and good practices. ASM's suggestions include several key points:
  • ASM encourages the Office of Science and Technology Policy to develop and implement uniform scientific integrity policies and training across the federal research enterprise. Congress should ensure that funding is provided for this work.
  • ASM recommends that federal agencies, with OSTP coordination and stakeholder input, publish clear guidelines governing data stewardship and open access, and that Congress provide funds for data management and data infrastructure. SI-FTAC can lead in this area by taking thoughtful steps toward requiring open data but must do so with input from the nonprofit scientific publishers and the research community. Additionally, federal agencies should uniformly encourage adoption of fair data standards in federally funded science, as well consider incentivizing private companies to harmonize approaches to metadata underlying experiments.
  • Publishing both positive and negative data are valuable to the scientific community and reporting of negative results should be encouraged in respected venues. ASM encourage SI FTAC to consider how this practice might be implemented in federal science agencies.
  • ASM encourages SI-FTAC to harmonize anti-harassment and anti-discrimination policies across science agencies, to support and serve as convener for the various entities that are responsible for
    implementing those policies, and to collect data on an ongoing basis to inform anti-harassment and anti-discrimination policies. Federal support also is needed for the development of infrastructural resources, such as effective training programs to address harassment in science.
  • SI-FTAC should consider recommending that federal agencies expand their efforts to educate scientists on fundamental best practices in both conducting and reporting research at all research institutions and across the career spectrum.
  • While the scientific enterprise would benefit from federal scientific integrity policies that create a clear set of standards and mechanisms for enforcement across agencies, the SI-FTAC should also consider the underlying factors that drive mistrust, misunderstanding, and misconduct in science. These include inconsistent federal funding, misunderstanding of science among the public, and rhetoric that fuels mistrust.
  • We urge SI-FTAC to continue an open dialogue with the scientific community and research institutions, with the goal of finding an appropriate balance between our nation’s security and an open, collaborative, scientific environment.

Author: ASM Advocacy

ASM Advocacy
ASM Advocacy is making it easy and providing opportunities for members to advocate for evidence-based scientific policy.