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Lunch Seminar Series: Prof. Adrian Treves

April 21 @ 12:30 pm - 1:30 pm

What does best mean in “best available science”?
STS Lunch Seminar with Adrian Treves
Professor, Nelson Institute for Environmental Studies
April 21, 12:30-1:30 pm, Nafziger Room (5055 Vilas Communication Hall)

Best available science (BAS) is a widespread requirement in environmental laws worldwide. More attention has been paid to ‘available’ than ‘best’ in jurisprudence and scholarship that addresses BAS in the U.S. Endangered Species Act (ESA). This disparity might unintentionally lower the quality of evidence used in public policy-making. In scholarship concerning the quality of the science used by the-agencies implementing the ESA, attention was focused on the quality of individual studies. By contrast, the scientific community has been grappling with issues of quality more than availability for centuries and more recently with a reproducibility crisis that suggests many published studies are inaccurate or false. That realization has led to laborious processes of both identifying and retracting individual, flawed studies and to a new field named open science. Open science is aimed at improving the progress of science with reliable findings via processes of improving the reproducibility of research practices, from pre-publication to post-publication. I examine why policy-making has been more focused on the availability of science than its quality and why the scientific community is more concerned with quality than availability. I offer that comparison to stimulate greater mutual understanding between scientists and policy-makers or policy scholars. I also aim for a measure of convergence in these all-too-often separated fields. I offer an expansion of this focus to principles of reproducibility which involve the entire scientific community of authors, reviewers, editors, publishers, post-publication reviewers, and those who attempt replication. I discuss how standards of evidence lie in the expertise of policy-makers and especially judges. Greater attention to the standards of evidence used for agency decisions and judicial review promises more effective and reliable public policy, especially in fields with a mandate to use the best available science.

Related readings:

Doremus, H., The Purposes, Effects & Future of the ESA’s BAS Mandate. Environmental Law, 2004. 34:397-450. https://escholarship.org/uc/item/3md016kg.

Epstein, Y., J. Lopez-Bao, A. Trouwborst, and G. Chapron, EU Court: Science must justify future hunting. Science, 2019. 366(6468):961.

Lowell, N. and R.P. Kelly, Evaluating agency use of “best available science” under the United States Endangered Species Act. Biological Conservation, 2016. 196:53-59.

Murphy, D.D. and P.S. Weiland, Independent Scientific Review under the Endangered Species Act. Bioscience, 2019. 69(3):198–208. https://doi.org/10.1093/biosci/biz001.

Plater, Z.J.B., Endangered Species Act Lessons Over 30 Years, and the Legacy of the Snail Darter, a Small Fish in a Pork Barrel. Environmental Law, 2004. 34(2):289-308.

Erickson, A.B., Grizzly bear recovery, whitebark pine, and adequate regulatory mechanisms under the endangered species act. Environmental Law, 2012. 42(3):943-976.

Allison, D.B., A.W. Brown, B.J. George, and K.A. Kaiser, Reproducibility: A tragedy of errors. Nature, 2016. 530:27-29. https://www-nature-com.ezproxy.library.wisc.edu/news/polopoly_fs/1.19264!/menu/main/topColumns/topLeftColumn/pdf/530027a.pdf.

Oreskes, N., Why Trust Science? 2019, Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press.

NAS National Academies of Sciences, E.M., Fostering Integrity in Research. 2017, The National Academies Press: Washington, DC. https://doi.org/10.17226/21896.

Clark, A. and G. Alvino, Building research evidence towards reproducibility of animal research, in PLoS ONE blog. 2018. https://everyone.plos.org/2018/08/06/arrive-rct/.

Marcus, A. and I. Oransky, The data thugs. Science, 2018. 359(6377):730-732.

Bohannon, J., Who’s Afraid of Peer Review? Science, 2014. 342(6154):60-65. http://www.umass.edu/preferen/You%20Must%20Read%20This/BohannonScience2013.pdf.

PLoS Medicine Editors, Making sense of non-financial competing interests. PLoS Med, 2008. 5(9):e199. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/18828670.

Sanders, J., Jon Blundy, Anne Donaldson, Steve Brown, Rob Ivison, Miles Padgett, Kevin Padian , Katrin Rittinger, Kerry Rowe, Anthony Stace, Essi Viding, Chris Chambers, and M. Chaplain, Transparency and openness in science. Royal Society Open Science, 2017. https://doi.org/10.1098/rsos.160979.

Ioannidis, J.P., Why Most Published Research Findings Are False. PLOS Medicine, 2005. 2(8):e124.

Ioannidis, J., Meta-research: Why research on research matters. PLoS Biology, 2018. 16(3):e2005468. https://doi.org/10.1371/journal.pbio.2005468.

Arns, M., Open access is tiring out peer reviewers. Nature, 2014. ;515(7528):467.

Halffman, W. and S.P.J.M. Horbach, What are innovations in peer review and editorial assessment for? Genome Biology 2020. 21:87-91.

Haug, C.J., Peer-Review Fraud — Hacking the Scientific Publication Process. New England Journal of Medicine, 2015. 373:2393-2395.

Carroll, C., D.J. Rohlf, B.R. Noon, and J.M. Reed, Scientific Integrity in Recovery Planning and Risk Assessment: Comment on Wilhere. Conservation Biology, 2012. 26(743-745).

Carroll, C., B. Hartl, G.T. Goldman, D.J. Rohlf, A. Treves, J.T. Kerr, E.G. Ritchie, R.T. Kingsford, K.E. Gibbs, M. Maron, and J.E.M. Watson, Defending scientific integrity in conservation policy processes: Lessons from Canada, Australia, and the United States. Conservation Biology, 2017. 31(5):967–975.

Wilhere, G.F., L.A. Maguire, J. Michael Scott, J.L. Rachlow, D.D. Goble, and L.K. Svancara, Conflation of values and science: response to Noss et al. Conservation Biology, 2012. 26(5):943-944. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/22827266.

Wilhere, G.F., Inadvertent Policy Advocacy in Peer Review of Recovery Plans: Reply to Carroll et al. Conservation Biology, 2012. 26(4):746-748.

Rohlf, D.J., Scientists, agendas, and litigation: a response to Peery et al. Frontiers in Ecology and the Environment, 2019. 17(10):555-556. 10.1002/fee.2130.

COPE, Commitee on Publication Ethics. Guidelines: Retraction Guidelines, in Promoting integrity in scholarly research and its publication. 2019. https://doi.org/10.24318/cope.2019.1.4.

Retraction Watch. The retraction process needs work. Is there a better way? 2018 13 March 2018]; Available from: https://retractionwatch.com/2018/03/13/the-retraction-process-needs-work-is-there-a-better-way/.

Binning, S.A., F. Jutfelt, and J. Sundin, Exorcise citations to the ‘living dead’ from the literature. Nature, 2018. 558:981.

Lab Times, E., ‘Zombie articles…’. Lab Times, 2012. 7:3.

Esch , B.E., A.E.M. Waltz, T.N. Wasserman, and E.L. Kalies, Using Best Available Science Information: Determining Best and Available. Jornal of Forestry, 2018. 16(5):473–480. 10.1093/jofore/fvy037.

López-Bao, J.V., G. Chapron, and A. Treves, The Achilles heel of participatory conservation. Biological Conservation, 2017. 212:139–143.

Artelle, K.A., J.D. Reynolds, T. A., J.C. Walsh, P.C. Paquet, and C.T. Darimont, Hallmarks of science missing from North American wildlife management. Science Advances 2018. 4(3):eaao0167. https://doit.org/10.1126/sciadv.aao0167.

Artelle, K.A., J.D. Reynolds, T. A., J.C. Walsh, P.P. C., and C.T. Darimont, Distinguishing science from “fact by assertion” in natural resource management. Science Advances (eLetter), 2018. 4(3):eaao0167.


April 21
12:30 pm - 1:30 pm
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