The Editors' Notepad
The goal of this blog is to help EPIDEMIOLOGY authors produce papers that clearly and effectively communicate their science.

Friday, March 10, 2017

Saving science: One journal's role

It's safe to say that the 45th President of the United States is not a fan of science. The views he has expressed on climate change have ranged from skepticism to dismissal as a hoax perpetrated by China, and the White House reportedly demanded that the EPA remove all its web pages referring to climate change, though this order was quickly rescinded. The President believes vaccines cause autism and has proposed a commission on vaccine safety led by anti-vaccine activists. He has said that the U.S. National Institutes of Health is "terrible." His newly appointed director of Health and Human Services, which comprises several science agencies among others, had a thin track record on science funding during his tenure in Congress. This journal recently published a Commentary on behalf of the International Society of Environmental Epidemiology, this journal's sponsoring society, advocating against the President's nominee for administrator of the Environmental Protection Agency. The nominee, who was confirmed, seems to hold the view that climate and environmental health science are at best inconvenient. Looking further to the Congress, a current legislative initiative aims to shut down EPA entirely by the end of 2018.

None of this will be news to Epidemiology's readership, but governmental research, government sponsored research, and the voices of all researchers are at risk of being suppressed. Government scientists at a range of agencies have already been warned not to speak directly with legislators or the press. Although requirements for agency clearance around politically sensitive topics are not unprecedented, communications from the White House and agencies have been somewhat messy and contradictory, leading to uncertainty. The landscape changes daily, perhaps intentionally cultivating chaos. In reaction, scientists, programmers, and others are scrambling to download pages and data, especially climate change data, from government websites and servers, lest they be destroyed.

In this political climate, government and government-funded epidemiologists may understandably want to protect the data they collect and the knowledge they create. It may be helpful to our contributors to know that, via the Editorial Manager submission system (administered by Epidemiology's publisher, Lippincott Williams & Wilkins) any articles submitted, even if rejected without review, are archived for one year. This archived material includes all original content, including submitted manuscripts and supplemental digital materials, which may include original data. After one year, the system compiles and saves indefinitely a PDF from the materials, but this may not include all supplemental digital materials. Editors and authors can access the materials using their password-protected account.​

We will continue to monitor the news and to think about ways the journal can support and protect public health science, and we welcome readers' input to that end.

 

The views and recommendations of contributors do not necessarily indicate official endorsements or opinions of the Journal, Wolters-Kluwer, or the ISEE. All views are those of the authors and the authors alone.