"Science alone cannot provide policy solutions to the many challenges that society faces, but scientifically informed perspectives must be taken into account for decisions to be made"
- Barbara Schaal, AAAS president (Science editorial, Feb. 02, 2017)
Many scientists today see a stronger need for their research to contribute to societal progress. As a result, calls for action have been spreading through the scientific community - from the March for Science, endorsed by organisations such as the American Geophysical Union and the Society for Freshwater Science; to individual scientists preparing to run for political office; to organized "data rescues" archiving environmental data from government websites; to the many seminars and panels at the AAAS 2017 Annual Meeting addressing the theme of 'Serving Society through Science Policy.'
Yet we also face novel challenges to the integration of science into public policy, as scientists collect larger amounts of data than ever before and rapidly advancing technologies, like next-generation genome sequencing, lead to more complex analysis pipelines and statistical techniques.
So we have to ask -
How can we best provide policy-makers with all of THE relevant literature and research required for evidence-based POLICY?
is a mechanism already built in to the federal rule-making process that allows the public to weigh in on federal regulations. Federal agencies implement laws passed by Congress through rules and regulations. When any federal agency needs to create a new regulation, it starts with a regulation proposal in the Federal Register. Under the Administrative Procedures Act (1946), the agency is then required to request comments on that proposal by all members of the public. Think of it as a peer review for federal regulations. And as with scientific peer review, the most effective and helpful reviewers are often experts in that field.
Scientists are experts in their respective fields. They are trained to analyze and synthesize data to arrive at an objective conclusion. They can navigate the technical context in which their own work takes place.
Many agencies consult with independent scientists prior to drafting a regulation proposal, often in the form of advisory boards and public meetings. These consultations vary by agency and statute. But all agencies call for public comment in the Federal Register.
It has become more important than ever for scientists of all fields and sectors to more actively assist their colleagues at federal agencies, by consolidating research that is critical to evidence-based policy. In the words of Dr. Jane Lubchenco, "it is no longer sufficient for scientists in academia, government, nongovernmental organizations, or industry to conduct business as usual. Today's challenges demand an all-hands-on-deck approach wherein scientists serve society."
We provide you with the resources to serve society by more diligently and directly assisting federal agencies in their pursuit of regulations based on the best available science.
Now, Let's Get Started!
Begin with our learning resources:
Then use our tools to find proposed regulations that you can comment on:
Schaal, B. (Feb 03, 2017) Informing policy with science. Science 255(6324): 435. DOI: 10.1126/science.aam8694
Lubchenco, J. (Feb 01, 2017) Environmental science in a post-true world. Frontiers in Ecology and the Environment 15(1): 3.