"The debunking of a recent academic paper on changing views about same-sex marriage has raised concerns about whether other political science research is being properly vetted and verified. But the scandal may actually point to vulnerabilities in a different field: public polls. After all, the graduate student who wrote the paper on same-sex marriage, Michael LaCour, was called to account. Basic academic standards for transparency required him to disclose the information that ultimately empowered other researchers to cast doubt on his findings. But even before the LaCour case, it was becoming obvious that a different group of public opinion researchers — public pollsters — adhere to much lower levels of transparency than academic social science does. Much of the polling world remains shielded from the kind of scrutiny that is necessary to identify and deter questionable practices."
Friday, May 29, 2015
Nate Cohn, New York Times; Polling’s Secrecy Problem:
Thursday, May 28, 2015
Eliott C. McLaughlin, CNN; Sepp Blatter: FIFA's 'few' corrupt officials must be 'discovered, punished' :
"Amid calls for his dismissal Thursday, FIFA President Sepp Blatter blamed allegations of widespread corruption within soccer's governing body on "a few" and called for those involved to be punished as FIFA works to rebuild its reputation. Blatter spoke at the opening of a FIFA World Congress that's expected to be like no other. Swiss authorities are investigating the 2018 and 2022 World Cup bids, while a U.S. investigation has led to the arrest of some of FIFA's leading officials on corruption charges, casting a shadow over the congress' 65th edition in Zurich, Switzerland, and a planned presidential election Friday. "Let this be a turning point," Blatter said. "More needs to be done to make sure everyone in football acts responsibly and ethically.""
Associated Press via New York Times; FCC Head Unveils Proposal to Narrow 'Digital Divide' :
"The head of the Federal Communications Commission is proposing that the government agency expand a phone subsidy program for the poor to include Internet access. The FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler, has emphasized that Internet access is a critical component of modern life, key education, communication and finding a keeping a job. With the net neutrality rules released earlier this year, the agency redefined broadband as a public utility, like the telephone, giving it stricter oversight on how online content gets to consumers. That triggered lawsuits from Internet service providers. The proposal Thursday to expand the Lifeline phone program to Internet service aims to narrow the "digital divide" — those with access to the Internet and other modern technologies and those without."
Wednesday, May 27, 2015
Lisa Peet, Library Journal; New Orleans Library Foundation Board Members Resign in Funding Scandal:
"While Hammer’s report emphasized the fact that the money channeled to NOJO had originally been donated in support of NOPL, what is at issue is the conflict of interest engendered by Mayfield and Markham’s profiting as salaried employees of NOJO. “If this had in fact been the best use of the money,” explained Tetlow, a former federal prosecutor, “then what needed to happen is that the NOJO directors needed to resign from the library foundation board and then ask the independent library foundation board whether they thought that was the best use of library foundation money, and go from there.” She added, “It’s not that the project is inherently a bad idea.""
New York Times; Should Authors Shun or Cooperate With Chinese Censors? :
"A report by the PEN American Center, which found some books were expurgated by Chinese censors without the authors even knowing it, called on those who want their works published in the lucrative Chinese market to be vigilant, and recommended a set of principles in dealing with publishers. But each author may approach the problem differently. How should Western authors and artists deal with Chinese government censorship? Accept or negotiate changes, or decline to have their work published at all?"
Carl Elliott, New York Times; The University of Minnesota’s Medical Research Mess:
"These days, of course, medical research is not just a scholarly affair. It is also a global, multibillion-dollar business enterprise, powered by the pharmaceutical and medical-device industries. The ethical problem today is not merely that these corporations have plenty of money to grease the wheels of university research. It’s also that researchers themselves are often given powerful financial incentives to do unethical things: pressure vulnerable subjects to enroll in studies, fudge diagnoses to recruit otherwise ineligible subjects and keep subjects in studies even when they are doing poorly. In what other potentially dangerous industry do we rely on an honor code to keep people safe? Imagine if inspectors never actually set foot in meatpacking plants or coal mines, but gave approvals based entirely on paperwork filled out by the owners. With so much money at stake in drug research, research subjects need a full-blown regulatory system. I.R.B.s should be replaced with oversight bodies that are fully independent — both financially and institutionally — of the research they are overseeing. These bodies must have the staffing and the authority to monitor research on the ground. And they must have the power to punish researchers who break the rules and institutions that cover up wrongdoing."
Benedict Carey and Pam Belluck, New York Times; Doubts About Study of Gay Canvassers Rattles the Field:
"Critics said the intense competition by graduate students to be published in prestigious journals, weak oversight by academic advisers and the rush by journals to publish studies that will attract attention too often led to sloppy and even unethical research methods. The now disputed study was covered by The New York Times, The Washington Post and The Wall Street Journal, among others. “You don’t get a faculty position at Princeton by publishing something in the Journal Nobody-Ever-Heard-Of,” Dr. Oransky said. Is being lead author on a big study published in Science “enough to get a position in a prestigious university?” he asked, then answered: “They don’t care how well you taught. They don’t care about your peer reviews. They don’t care about your collegiality. They care about how many papers you publish in major journals.” The details that have emerged about the flaws in the research have prompted heated debate among scientists and policy makers about how to reform the current system of review and publication. This is far from the first such case."
Sunday, May 24, 2015
Adam Marcus and Ivan Oransky, New York Times; What’s Behind Big Science Frauds? :
"Science fetishizes the published paper as the ultimate marker of individual productivity. And it doubles down on that bias with a concept called “impact factor” — how likely the studies in a given journal are to be referenced by subsequent articles. The more “downstream” citations, the theory goes, the more impactful the original article. Except for this: Journals with higher impact factors retract papers more often than those with lower impact factors. It’s not clear why. It could be that these prominent periodicals have more, and more careful, readers, who notice mistakes. But there’s another explanation: Scientists view high-profile journals as the pinnacle of success — and they’ll cut corners, or worse, for a shot at glory. And while those top journals like to say that their peer reviewers are the most authoritative experts around, they seem to keep missing critical flaws that readers pick up days or even hours after publication — perhaps because journals rush peer reviewers so that authors will want to publish their supposedly groundbreaking work with them."
Saba Imtiaz, New York Times; Pakistani Journalists Resign to Cut Ties to Axact, a Fake Diploma Company:
"Several senior journalists resigned from a developing Pakistani television network, Bol, on Saturday, in the latest fallout from a crisis engulfing the channel’s parent company, Axact, a software firm that profited immensely from international sales of fake diplomas."
Friday, May 22, 2015
Ben DiPietro, Wall Street Journal; Survey Roundup: Wall Street Still Lacking Sense of Ethics:
"Ethics? What’s That?: A survey of around 1,200 financial industry professionals by law firm Labaton Sucharow found 25% of respondents said they would use non-public information to make $10 million if there was no chance they would get arrested for insider trading. Of those who make $500,000 or more a year, 34% said they have witnessed or have first-hand knowledge of workplace wrongdoing, while 27% said they disagree with the statement the financial services industry puts the best interests of clients first. “Despite the headline-making consequences of corporate misconduct, our survey reveals that attitudes toward corruption within the industry have not changed for the better,” the survey authors wrote. “There is no way to overlook the marked decline in ethics and the enormous dangers we face as a result, especially when considering the views of the most junior professionals in the business.” Aware But Unknowing: A survey of 652 chief financial officers by Ernst & Young found while 66% said cybersecurity is a top priority for them, 44% said a lack of understanding of IT is a barrier to crafting an effective cyberdefense strategy."
Bill Chappell, NPR; Google Wins Copyright And Speech Case Over 'Innocence Of Muslims' Video:
"In a complicated legal battle that touches on questions of free speech, copyright law and personal safety, a federal appeals court has overturned an order that had forced the Google-owned YouTube to remove an anti-Muslim video from its website last year. Both of the recent decisions about the controversial "Innocence Of Muslims" video originated with the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals. Last year, a three-judge panel agreed with actress Cindy Lee Garcia's request to have the film taken down from YouTube on the basis of a copyright claim. But Monday, the full en banc court rejected Garcia's claim. "The appeal teaches a simple lesson — a weak copyright claim cannot justify censorship in the guise of authorship," Circuit Judge M. Margaret McKeown wrote in the court's opinion."
Sunday, May 10, 2015
Sam Thielman, Guardian; Super-scholars: MPAA offers $20,000 for academic research in copyright battle:
"If you’re an academic who loves conservative interpretations of copyright law, the MPAA might be willing to pay you enough to go see The Avengers about 1,500 times (not in 3D, though). In an effort to “fill gaps in knowledge and contribute to a greater understanding of challenges facing the content industry”, the Motion Picture Association of America is available to fund academic research to the tune of $20,000 per successful proposal, according to guidelines released recently by the movie industry lobbying group. An email from the Sony WikiLeaks hack, quoted by copyright news site TorrentFreak, had a fairly direct statement about the conference’s purpose from Sony global general counsel Steven B Fabrizio: “[T]he MPAA is launching a global research grant program both to solicit pro-copyright academic research papers and to identify pro-copyright scholars who we can cultivate for further public advocacy.”"
Monday, May 4, 2015
Adam Liptak, New York Times; Justices’ Opinions Grow in Size, Accessibility and Testiness, Study Finds:
"The court used to be a more decorous institution. A new computer analysis of about 25,000 Supreme Court opinions from 1791 to 2008 identified three trends that have transformed the court’s tone. The justices’ opinions, the study found, have become longer, easier to understand — and grumpier. The judicial-ethics decision was a good example of all three trends. It was simultaneously sprawling, accessible and testy... The new study, to be published next year in the Washington University Law Review, is the work of Daniel Rockmore and Keith Carlson, computer scientists at Dartmouth College, and Michael A. Livermore, a law professor at the University of Virginia. It is part of a cottage industry of quantitative analysis of Supreme Court opinions using linguistic software. The era of big data has yielded some uncontroversial findings about the Supreme Court."
Nicholas Kusnetz, Washington Post; Forget Bridgegate. New Jersey’s actually the most ethical state:
"Until Bridgegate, the past decade had seen few corruption charges against state-level officials in New Jersey, and that may be no coincidence: The shame of the McGreevey scandals led the state to pass some of the nation’s strongest ethics and transparency laws in 2005. Those reforms even helped New Jersey earn the top rank, with a grade of B+, in the 2012 State Integrity Investigation, a national ranking of state government transparency and accountability by the Center for Public Integrity, Global Integrity and Public Radio International. That’s not to say the Garden State is squeaky clean, but by our most recent measure, it’s better than any other state in the nation."
Sunday, May 3, 2015
Stephan Barker, Washington Post; Libraries help close the digital divide:
"As a librarian in Prince George’s County, I often see people struggle on the wrong side of the digital divide. The term “digital divide” describes the gap in our society between the computer haves and have-nots, between people who have apps on their smartphones to order lattes and those who have never sent an e-mail. The digital divide can seem to be a secondary issue to hunger, poverty, homelessness and long-term unemployment, but at the base of those problems are limited access to computers and a lack of computer skills... Recent studies suggest that the digital illiteracy is not insignificant in scope. A study by the Census Bureau found that 21 percent of households report no Internet access, at home or elsewhere... As a nation, we have to do more to make computers available to all people. While public libraries are one part of it, local librarians can’t do it all. The government should increase grants to schools, libraries and community centers, especially in low-income and economically depressed areas... And public libraries must do a better job of promoting computers and digital literacy. The people in the 25 million households without Internet access may not know they can get online at their local library. Books are important, but computers are necessary. For people without Internet access at home, libraries fill the gap."
Lisa Peet, Library Journal; Library Associations Spearhead New Copyright Coalition:
"A group of technology companies, trade associations, and civil society organizations have joined forces to form Re:Create, a national coalition to advocate for balanced copyright policy. In the wake of recent proposals to amend the Digital Millennium Copyright Act, as well as constant advances in the field of knowledge creation, coalition members are calling for responsive copyright law that balances the interests of those who create information and products with those of users and innovators, providing robust exceptions as well as limitations to copyright law in order that it not limit new uses and technologies. Particular attention will be paid to the concept of fair use, considered a “safety valve” within U.S. copyright law and an important reinforcement of the First Amendment right to freedom of expression. This emphasis is particularly timely, as on April 29 register of copyrights Maria Pallante announced at a House Judiciary Committee hearing that the U.S. Copyright Office would launch a Fair Use Index—a searchable database listing court opinions pertaining to fair use... Partners from all sectors will be working together toward Re:Create’s agenda: ALA, the Association of Research Libraries (ARL), the Center for Democracy & Technology, the Computer & Communications Industry Association, the Consumer Electronics Association, the Electronic Frontier Foundation, the Media Democracy Fund, New America’s Open Technology Institute, Public Knowledge, and the R Street Institute. According to its website, Re:Create will be “Supporting a Pro-Innovation, Pro-Creator, Pro-Consumer Copyright Agenda.”"
Aaron C. Davis and ZSteven Mufson, Washington Post; Five miles and a world away from Oval Office, Obama makes a rare visit:
"At the Anacostia Neighborhood Library, Obama unveiled initiatives to promote reading among young people, including those in low-income households. Obama announced that nine major publishing houses will donate digital access to about 10,000 of their popular titles, worth about $250 million, to low-income students. Also, the District and about 30 other towns and cities said they would introduce or press ahead with plans to put library cards in the hands of every student — giving lower-income students access to digital books in libraries even when they lack Internet access at home... Next school year, every student ID card in the District will double as a library card, the officials said, giving children easier access to libraries and the growing online catalogue of digital books they can access at home."