Archive for the 'Politics' category

The Donald Trump War on Science: Week 1: How bad could it be?

Jan 30 2017 Published by under Politics, Trump war on science, Uncategorized

How bad could it be? On so may fronts, the first week or so of the Donald Trump administration was the shit show to end all shit shows.

But we're only going to talk about the science stuff here.

As the more astute observers among my readership will observe, I still haven't updated the Pre-Inauguration Edition of this post. Nor should this post really be considered a true beginning to tracking the post-inauguration devastation that the Trump administration will wreck on science, technology, the environment and public health. I'm hitting the high lights here with a more complete accounting to come with the first real chronology post. As well, some of the actions I list below may have been reversed in the days after they were suggested or inacted, but I still include them because the intention to do something negative still counts.

But it's a start. It's a wake-up call.

Note: This post will eventually be rolled into the first real chronology of the Trump presidency and science, which I expect to post probably in February or March sometime. My plan is also to disconnect lists of commentary from lists of incidents. In the pre-inauguration post, there are together, which is partly the reason why it's taking me so long to update. What I will be doing is bare bones lists of commentary fairly frequently and updating the list of incidents only occasionally. Or at least that's the plan.

Here is a list of the damage done during the first week of the Donald Trump presidency.

 

As usual with these posts, I rely on you, my readership, to catch the things I'm missing. Please let me know in the comments or via email at dupuisj at gmail dot com. Any incidents I report need to be documented in some form on the open web, either a media report or some sort of blog post or something. Suggestions to beef up the "more" sections of each item will definitely be welcomed, especially the ones where I haven't added to much additional information.

9 responses so far

The Donald Trump War on Science: Scholarly and Professional Society Statements in Support of Open Science Communications

It's been a very bizarre week for those of us interested in science policy and the interface between government research and the public interest.

To say the least: Trump bans agencies from 'providing updates on social media or to reporters'. Which is, of course, very reminiscent of the Canadian Conservative government under Stephen Harper and how they muzzled government scientists.

Where Canadian scholarly and professional societies weren't really prepared for what happened and took a while to respond, in the US these societies have been quite a bit more pro-active in responding President Trump's attempts to muzzle government scientists. In fact, as soon as Donald Trump was elected we started to see societies releasing extremely cautious statements about their hopes for science under the Trump administration.

With the recent gag orders issued to various agencies like the EPA and the National Parks Service, various societies have responded with public statements.

I've pointed to a bunch of those statements below. I have only concentrated on statements released since inauguration rather than going back to November, December or early January. I have also no doubt missed many statements. Please feel free to include links to statements of either type either in the comments below or to me via email at dupuisj at gmail dot com. As for the societies themselves, please feel free to toot your own horns and let me know about your statements.

I obviously know the library- and science-based societies much better than those associated with other disciplines so would particularly welcome links to statements from a broader range of disciplinary areas.

Update 2017.01.27. Added American Society for Biochemistry and Molecular Biology.

No responses yet

The Trump War on Science: What Can the US Learn From Canada's Experience?

Sarah Boon's post yesterday, The War on Science: Can the US Learn From Canada?, is an excellent answer to a very popular topic on Twitter yesterday. With the Trump government seemingly determined to roll back decades of environmental protections and at the same time make sure no body in government talks about it, everyone wants to know what advice the Canadian science community might have for our cousins to the south.

Read Sarah's post to for an excellent first answer to that question.

In the four days since Trump’s inauguration, however, it has become increasingly clear that Trump is declaring war on science, and that his war will be much more widespread and insidious than we might have expected – and worse than what we saw in Canada. Canadian scientists are working with their American colleagues to archive as much online science data as possible, as there’s a very real threat that it will be removed without a trace. The Trump transition team requested a list of employees in the Energy Department who work on climate change issues – a request which was, thankfully, rejected. Trump has signed an executive order freezing hiring across all government departments, which will impact scientists. He’s also put in place a restrictive communications policy that stops federal employees – including scientists – from even talking to members of Congress (though Badlands National Park went rogue this morning, tweeting climate science facts until they were deleted. Though I have to add – they’ve now created a resistance Twitter account: @altUSNatParkSer!). The EPA has put a freeze on all grants and other funding vehicles, and the CDC has abruptly cancelled a long-planned conference on climate change and human health.

Sarah points to a number of fantastic resources for concrete strategies and actions.

I've begun my own chronology of the anti-science activities of the Trump government, with more updates and posts in the coming days and weeks.

4 responses so far

Around the Web: Saving Government Data from the Trumpocalypse

Jan 21 2017 Published by under climate change, Politics, Trump war on science

While I'm working on a major update to my Documenting the Donald Trump War on Science: Pre-Inauguration Edition and preparing for the first of the post-inauguration posts, I thought I'd whet everyone's appetite with a post celebrating all the various efforts to save environmental, climate and various kinds of scientific and other data from potential loss in the Trump presidential era.

The list only includes one or two items per project. Plus I'm very likely missing some. Please let me know in the comments so I can add ones that are missing.

It's worth noting that libraries and libraries are closely involved in pretty well all the projects mentioned.

I'm also including some projects that are saving data about Donald Trump, his campaign and his presidency.

The Environmental Data and Governance Initiative is coordinating many of these events.
 

Project Archiving Government Information to Protect from Trump Administration

 

Archived Information About Donald Trump

 

As mentioned above, please add any projects I've missed in the comments or send to me at dupuisj at gmail dot com.

One response so far

Friday Freak Out: Dystopian reading for a nervous new year

Somehow I think 2017 is going to be a bit more of a Friday Feak Out year than a Friday Fun year...

And in that spirit, some freak out fiction for your reading list this year. It'll be a great year for novels highlighted how truly awful the world could get if we let it.

For your 2017 reading please, a year of dystopian reading. A dozen suggestions (with a few bonus suggestions) for dystopian reading in the new year, one per month to keep us all grounded in an unforgiving world, but not so much that we'll lose hope. One per month should leave plenty of time for reading comedy!

Of course, in compiling the list below I took advantage of some other who were also thinking along the same dystopian lines...

I've read most of these, mostly quite a while ago. A few others have been widely recommended in the lists I cite above so I'm considering them part of my new year's reading list. I also tried to come up with a few that haven't been widely recommended on other lists. I'm currently re-reading 1984 and may over the course of the year reread one or two others which I haven't read in decades, like The Handmaid's Tale. I've also included a couple of perhaps less strictly dystopian politically-themed novels that seem appropriate for variety's sake.

Enjoy! Freak out!

  1. 1984 by George Orwell (Bonus: Animal Farm)
  2. Bug Jack Barron by Norman Spinrad
  3. A Clockwork Orange by Anthony Burgess
  4. The Dispossessed by Ursula K. Le Guin
  5. Fahrenheit 451 by Ray Bradbury
  6. The Gate to Women's Country by Sheri S. Tepper
  7. The Handmaid's Tale by Margaret Atwood (Bonus: The MaddAddam Trilogy)
  8. The Hunger Games Trilogy by Suzanne Collins
  9. Parable of the Sower by Octavia Butler (Bonus: Parable of the Talents)
  10. The Space Merchants by Frederik Pohl and C. M. Kornbluth
  11. Station Eleven by Emily St. John Mandel
  12. V is for Vendetta by Alan Moore

Bonus political novel: The Manchurian Candidate by Richard Condon.

What are some dystopian or political novels you would suggest? Or maybe even some comedy for balance?

6 responses so far

Presentation: The Conservative War on Science: What's a Librarian to Do?

Just a quick post to get a recent set of presentation slides up here on the blog.

Earlier this week a colleague in the Science and Technologies Studies program here at York hosted me in her fourth year undergraduate seminar class. Rather than my accustomed and normal role of librarian (I happen to be the STS liaison librarian at the moment), I was invited to appear as seminar subject. In other words, she wanted me to talk about my long history of science policy advocacy and activism and a little about how I feel about the current Canadian government.

Which I sort of did, I guess. I also ended up talking about how I view activism in an academic research context, which of course, lead me to talk a little about the implications of altmetrics in a "publish or perish" academic environment.

Of course, there's a surprise ending, but I'll leave that to you to discover in the slides. By the way, it might seem that there are a lot of slides, but most of them are really quite brief.

Enjoy!

2 responses so far

Documenting the Donald Trump War on Science: Pre-Inauguration Edition

Update 2017.01.31: First post-inauguration chronology post is done, covering the first week of the Trump administration.

From the point of view of someone sitting North of the Canadian/US border, the results of this week's US Federal election are somewhat terrifying. And honestly and truly as a Canadian and a Torontonian, I say this without a bit of smugness. Been there, done that, if not quite on the same scale.

And by done that, I mean that I've often seen my mission to document important stories in the world. In the past, mostly Canadian or mostly in the library world and all basically about science.

This time around, I'm going to start a project about science in the new Donald Trump administration. I believe Trump will be terrible for science, technology, the environment and public health. And I intend to document that here. Of course, Trump won't be terrible for science in exactly the same way that Harper was in Canada. For example, he may not target research funding in the same way. On the other hand, the environment may fare much worse and ultimately muzzling may also prove to be a problem. It's only over the course of the next couple of years that we'll really and truly get a sense of the implications.

But why wait until we see the share of how exactly Trump is bad for science to start keeping track?

I like what David Kipen said today in the LA Times.

If all these experiences have taught me anything, it’s that librarians may be the only first responders holding the line between America and a raging national pandemic of absolutism. More desperately than ever, we need our libraries now, and all three of their traditional pillars: 1) education, 2) good reading and 3) the convivial refuge of a place apart. In other words, libraries may be the last coal we have left to blow on.

First Responder -- Information Division is a role I can live with.

Like Anil Dash says, "Forget “Why?”, it’s time to get to work."

Don’t waste a single moment listening to the hand-wringing of the pundit class about Why This Happened, or people on TV talking about What This Means. The most important thing is that we focus on the work that needs to be done now. While so many have been doing what it takes to protect the marginalized and to make society more just, we must increase our urgency on those efforts, even while we grieve over this formidable defeat.

It is completely understandable, and completely human, to be depressed, demoralized or overwhelmed by the enormity of this broad embrace of hateful rhetoric and divisive policy. These are battles that have always taken decades to fight, and progress has never been smooth and steady — we’ve always faced devastating setbacks. If you need to take time to mourn, then do. But it’s imperative that we use our anger, our despair, our disbelief to fuel an intense, focused and effective campaign to protect and support the marginalized.

And it has to start now.

My small contribution is focusing on the effects the Trump administration will have on science, technology, the environment and public health. (As with my Canadian project, I consider healthcare funding models outside of my scope.)

So let's get started. I have a few sections to this post. The first will focus on documenting what happened before November 8, 2016. What he said about science and the environment. The second section will focus on commentary in the past few days since the election. The third section will be similar, but focusing on the implications for Canada. The final section will begin documenting actual anti-science actions and policies (yay, we already have a couple!)

Wish me luck. As usual, everyone should feel free to suggest things I've missed, either in the comments or privately at dupuisj@gmail.com. I'm not attempting to be comprehensive or complete in the commentary I'm picking up, but I do want to attempt to be fairly representative.

 

Pre-Election Commentary

 

Post-Election Commentary

 

Post-Election Commentary Added November 21, 2016

 

Post-Election Commentary Related to Implications for Canada

 


And finally, the beginning of the tally of cuts, etc.

 

Some Meta-Commentary Related More to Activism than Directly to Science

 

To repeat. This initial list is quick and very preliminary. Please let me know if there's anything you think I should include, either in the comments or at dupuisj@gmail.com. I'm not attempting to be comprehensive or complete in the commentary I'm picking up, but I do want to attempt to be fairly representative.

If I've missed anything or if anything I've included probably shouldn't be included, let me know and I'll take a look and evaluate.

I will be updating this master list as time goes by.

 

Update 2016.11.21. Quite a bit of commentary added, as well as some general info related to activism and resistance. One incident added, related to Steve Bannon. I'm treading a fine line between "what might happen and it would be bad" and "this is a thing that we know is actually happening." Probably the announcement of the actual cabinet will bring more information on the what the Trump presidency will mean for science, the environment and public health.
Update 2016.12.06. Quite a bit added again, lots of commentary and "meta" items. In particular, as the cabinet and other appointments are fleshed out, there's more to identify as issues.

14 responses so far

Am I the only one who wants to see a review of Canadian Federal Science Library infrastructure?

Aug 02 2016 Published by under Canada, Politics, Science in Canada, Uncategorized

I'm afraid the answer to that might be "Yes." Perhaps I'm the only one who's still interested and perhaps not, but there seems to be little movement towards launching a review of Canadian Science Library infrastructure.

Why do I think such a review is a good idea?

First of all, I've documented the devastation wrought on that infrastructure under the Conservatives. Not only do I chronicle the destruction, but at the same time you can clearly see from the assembled articles I link to in that post how much the various opposition parties -- including the now-in-government Liberals -- used those cuts to attack the science record of the Conservatives.

Clearly, damage was done those critical of the situation demanded something be done to fix it. At least some of people are in government now.

Second of all, the current Liberal government is certainly in a reviewing mood. They've currently launched a review of Federal Support for Fundamental Science as well as concurrent and related reviews of their Innovation Agenda and Environmental Assessment Review processes. Both are areas savaged by the Conservatives. And clearly the government sees and understands when that so much long term damage is done to government program capacity and capability, you have to be thoughtful and deliberate about how you go about repairing that damage. Band aids aren't the solution.

I would argue that the same is true with Federal Science Library infrastructure. That a transparent and independent review process needs to be established. But that doesn't seem to be happening.

Rather we are getting an internally developed Federal Science Library project.

Which in and of itself isn't a bad idea. The aim of the FSL project is to build a shared capacity across all the science-related departments that would effectively replace all that was cut and destroyed. Of course, this project was initiated by the Conservatives and seems to be proceeding apace without any external oversight or meaningful input. Unlike what is happening with the various reviews, where the government is clearly seeking external input. Is a review of science library capacity included in those other reviews? We just don't know.

Some more info on the FSL project from these links: Rethinking Federal Library Services - A Collaborative Model CLA 2015 presentation and mentions in the Royal Society Expert Panel on Canada's Libraries, Archives and Public Memory and the Canada's Action Plan on Open Government 2014-16 document.

Which brings me to what prompted this post in the first place. The Feds have posted a job ad for the head of the FSL. I've reproduced most of it below; it has some relevant descriptions of what the FSL project is all about.

In a sense, I'm happy to see that the government is proceeding with the project and that they're taking seriously the need to support research and policy making in their science-based departments and beyond.

But as I say, we really do need to step back and evaluate what happened under the Conservatives and plan a way forward, with the Federal Science Library project openly and transparently working with the broader science, library and science library communities in Canada to make sure that new infrastructure meets the needs of government and, by extension, all the citizens of Canada. I hope that this will be the first task of the new chief of the Federal Science Library project.

When the issues at the DFO and other libraries became apparent, everyone made a big deal of it. It was a crisis, it was a disaster, it was the destruction of our heritage and an attack on knowledge and science and evidence. It was an embarrassment. It was a travesty that all those collections were dispersed and destroyed so cavalierly and that staff with so much expertise were let go. All of those statements were true at the time and resonated greatly beyond the usual echo chambers. The anger around the destruction of Canada's science libraries contributed in some small way to the downfall of the Conservatives. But now it's time to follow through and make sure that what gets built on the ashes of that infrastructure is what's needed. We're not relying on purely internal government processes to make sure that fundamental science is rebuilt properly. No, we're having a public review process. Same with the innovation agenda and environmental review processes.

Let's do the same for science libraries.

To finish, I'll include a couple of snippets from some previous posts where I cover some of the same territory.

 

Your Feedback Needed: Government of Canada Launches Review of Federal Support for Fundamental Science

Library infrastructure is another Platform technology that needs to be properly funded. Science and other libraries were devastated under the Conservatives, as was Library and Archives Canada. Yes, I know we have the Federal Science Library project in progress and yes, we have a new head of LAC. I know that we already have three (!) reviews on going (see below). But given the devastation of the Conservative years, I think a review of Federal government library infrastructure is sorely needed.

 

Science in Canada: Some advice for a new Chief Science Officer

What hasn’t really appeared on any of the lists I’ve seen is fixing the damage that the previous Conservative government did to the science library infrastructure in Canada, most prominently to the Department of Fisheries and Oceans library system but also to the systems at Environment Canada and others.

While those libraries were being closed and consolidated, we were assured that the collections were properly merged and weeded, that new scanning and document delivery procedures were being implemented that would effectively replace the local staff and collections and that researchers would see no difference in the level of service. The Federal government did announce an extensive re-visioning of it’s science library infrastructure. Which looks good on paper.

But it’s safe to say that basically no one believed the Conservatives were up to the challenge of doing a good job of this. All the evidence that we were able to see indicated that the merging and consolidation of collections was rushed, haphazard and devoid of planning at best and willfully destructive at worst. As far as I can tell, we have nothing but the previous government’s word that the scanning and document delivery services that were rushed into the breach are anywhere near sufficient. Nor did we see real evidence that they were truly committed to the revisioning.

One of the things that the Liberals promised in their platform was to appoint a Chief Science Officer.

We will value science and treat scientists with respect.

We will appoint a Chief Science Officer who will ensure that government science
is fully available to the public, that scientists are able to speak freely about their
work, and that scientific analyses are considered when the government makes
decisions

The CSO hasn’t been appointed yet, but I see no reason why we should all start thinking about what that new person should set their sights on when they start.

I propose that the new Chief Science Officer, in collaboration with the Minister of Science, the Minister of Heritage and all the rest of the science-related Ministers convene a special advisory panel to take a look at what’s left of Canada’s science library infrastructure and make any recommendations that are necessary to restore the collections and service levels to what Canada’s Federal government scientists (and all Canadians) need and deserve while the proposed revisioning takes place. At least fifty percent of the membership of this panel should probably consist of librarians and other stakeholders that currently employed by the Federal Government in any capacity. I also believe that this advisory panel should remain in place as a steering committee for the revisioning of the new Federal Science Library.

At the end of the day, the collections have been dispersed, the staff laid off and the physical spaces repurposed. So much of the damage that was done cannot be repaired.

I should be clear that I don’t think the function of this group should be to point fingers or assign blame or rehash past mistakes. It should be forward-looking and patron-focused, with a mission to make sure patrons have the services and collections they need in the short, medium and long term.

 

Comment and Response in Comments Section of above post

ScienceLibrariantoo
Ottawa
November 7, 2015

I like and applaud your efforts here to bring attention to the challenges in federal science and departmental libraries. In this case you are misrepresenting facts. The Federal Science Library (FSL) is nothing to do with past government and everything to do with library directors and their enlightened directors general working to preserve and create a more sustainable model for the future…together. FSL is being built entirely from current library operating budgets…creating scale and economy and sharing investment in new technology that none of us could realize separately – through what is a unique partnership built on years of collaboration. We need support for what we have built largely through our determination NOT to have our libraries thrown under the bus in efforts to reduce costs in departments. We invite shining a light on our efforts of the last three years designing and finding a way to gain endorsement in our departments and as an Open Government Open Information core commitment.

 

John Dupuis
November 7, 2015

Hi ScienceLibrarianToo, I’m glad to here I’m wrong here and that the FSL project represents a sincere effort to design and build a better federal science library infrastructure. But you have to admit, for people on the outside looking in, it’s really hard to tell if that is the case. Especially given that the old infrastructure seems to have been dismantled before the new one is put into place.

So maybe an interesting way to shine that light and build that support and endorsement is by engaging a steering committee or advisory committee or something that includes external stakeholders. (If there’s already such a thing and I just don’t know about it, that’s great too and I’m happy that’s in place.)

I really do wish you well. I want to reiterate that my post wasn’t at all meant as criticism or finger-pointing at the librarians and library staff at the various federal science-related ministries (and LAC as well, to be honest) who have no doubt laboured under difficult circumstances over the past few years.

===

 

Chief, Federal Science Library
Knowledge Management
Ottawa - Ontario

LS-5

This is a 2 year term position from the date of reporting.
Assignments and secondments may be considered according to NRC's policies. Interested applicants seeking an assignment or secondment opportunity must seek approval from their supervisor before submitting their application.

Your challenge

Help shape and build the Federal Science Library (FSL). FSL is a collaborative initiative between seven science-based departments, including the NRC. FSL is an integrated library model which provides expanded library services to members of participating departments. NRC is the technical lead for the FSL initiative and is the named employer of the FSL support team.

We are looking for a vibrant and dynamic Chief to support FSL. The Chief would be someone who shares our core values of impact, accountability, leadership, integrity and collaboration.

Working closely with library teams across seven departments and agencies, you will be responsible for the innovation, direction and management of FSL. This includes management of the FSL operations support team, the scientific knowledge base/systems, and the provision of expert strategic advice to senior management and external authorities.

Screening criteria

Applicants must demonstrate within the content of their application that they meet the following screening criteria in order to be given further consideration as candidates:

Education

Graduation from a recognized post-secondary institution with a master's degree in library science or in library and information science.

Experience

Significant experience in the creation and/or implementation of strategic or operational plans.

Significant experience in the management, design and delivery of library and information services in a federal government setting.

Significant experience managing a team.

Significant experience managing a budget.

Experience leading collaborative projects involving multiple stakeholders.

Experience providing strategic advice to senior management.

Condition of employment
Reliability Status

Language requirements

Bilingual imperative CBC/CBC
Information on language requirements and self-assessment tests

Assessment criteria

Candidates will be assessed on the basis of the following criteria:

Technical competencies:

Expert knowledge of issues, trends, best practices and solutions supporting the delivery of library services.

Knowledge of the legislative and policy framework related to the management of information and library services in the Government of Canada.

Knowledge of library/information science theories and principles, practices and processes including integrated on-line systems and electronic database management.

Knowledge of program management and framework planning and development.

Behavioural competencies:

Conceptual and analytic ability (Level 3)
Initiative (Level 3)
Partnering (Level 3)
Teamwork (Level 3)
Communication (Level 3)

For this position, NRC will evaluate candidates using the following competency profile(s): | Management Services

View all competency profiles.

 


Update 2016.08.08.
A couple of grammar issues fixed. Thanks Ziad!

3 responses so far

Your Feedback Needed: Government of Canada Launches Review of Federal Support for Fundamental Science

Jun 22 2016 Published by under Canada, environment, Politics, Science in Canada

One of the key faults of the Harper Conservatives' science policy was their emphasis on applied research to the detriment of basic, curiosity driven research. Obviously there needs to be a balance between any government's approach to those two kinds of research, neither polar opposite is appropriate. But the Conservatives were way out of wack with their policy, significantly favouring commercially-driven, industrial-partnership-focused, applied research. The signature policy in that vein was their transformation of the National Research Council into a Concierge to Industry.

Thankfully the new Liberal government under Justin Trudeau looks to be addressing some of the issues with the NRC transformation.

And Science Minister Kirsty Duncan is launching a very significant review of federal government support of basic research! And part of that review is seeking input from interested parties, including me, you and all the other stakeholders in Canadian society.

They're set up a "panel of experts" to launch the review as well as a website with all the various relevant information about the review. The deadline for feedback is a bit nebulous but it appears that the review will continue at least into the fall.

A description of the review process from the press releaase:

There's the list of members of the panel. More information on the members at the link.

Robert Birgeneau, Chancellor Emeritus, University of California, Berkeley, California
Martha Crago, Vice President (Research) and Professor, Dalhousie University, Halifax, Nova Scotia
Mike Lazaridis, Co-Founder and Managing Partner, Quantum Valley Investments, Waterloo, Ontario
Claudia Malacrida, Associate Vice-President, Research, University of Lethbridge
Arthur (Art) McDonald, Nobel Laureate and Professor Emeritus, Queen's University, Kingston, Ontario
David Naylor (Chair), Professor of Medicine and President Emeritus, University of Toronto, Toronto, Ontario
Martha C. Piper, Interim President and Vice Chancellor, University of British Columbia, Vancouver, British Columbia
Rémi Quirion, Chief Scientist Officer, Quebec Government, Montreal, Quebec
Anne Wilson, Canadian Institute for Advanced Research Successful Societies Fellow and professor of psychology, Wilfrid Laurier University

And a description of the mandate of the review.

The panel has been provided with the following overall questions to consider as part of its review:

  1. Are there any overall program gaps in Canada's fundamental research funding ecosystem that need to be addressed?
  2. Are there elements or programming features in other countries that could provide a useful example for the Government of Canada in addressing these gaps?

Funding of fundamental research

The central question regarding the effectiveness and impact of the granting councils in supporting excellence in fundamental research is whether their approach, governance and operations have kept pace with an ever-changing domestic and global research landscape. Key questions for the review:

  1. Are granting councils optimally structured and aligned to meet the needs of the current research community in Canada? Are the current programs the most effective means of delivering the objectives of these organizations? And are they keeping pace internationally? The review should take into account the several reviews and evaluations that were performed in recent years on the councils and on science and scholarly inquiry in Canada.
  2. Are students, trainees and emerging researchers, including those from diverse backgrounds, facing unique barriers within the current system and, if so, what can be done to address those barriers?
  3. Is there an appropriate balance between funding elements across the research system, i.e. between elements involving people and other direct research costs, operating costs, infrastructure and indirect costs? What are best practices for assessing and adjusting balances over time?
  4. Are existing review processes rigorous, fair and effective in supporting excellence across all disciplines? Are they rigorous, fair and effective in supporting riskier research and proposals in novel or emerging research areas or multidisciplinary/multinational areas?
  5. Are granting council programs and structures sufficiently flexible to reflect and accommodate the growing internationalization of research? Are granting council programs and structures accommodating the full range of research areas; multidisciplinary research; and new approaches ranging from traditional knowledge, including indigenous research, to more open, collaborative forms of research? If not, what steps could be taken?

Funding of facilities/equipment

  1. Is the Canada Foundation for Innovation optimally structured to meet the needs of the current research community in Canada? What are the strengths and weaknesses of the current model in delivering the objectives of this organization, including its ability to work complementarily with the granting councils? What is the appropriate federal role in supporting infrastructure operating costs and how effective are current mechanisms in fulfilling that role?
  2. What are best practices (internationally/domestically) for supporting big science (including, inter alia, international facilities and international collaboration)?
  3. Many requests for government support for research are not tied to the cycles of the four major research agencies, but they have economic or competitive relevance nationally or regionally, or major non-governmental financial support, or implications for Canada's international standing as an active participant in big science projects or major multi-institutional projects. How can we ensure that the Government has access to the best advice about funding these types of projects in the future?

Funding of platform technologies

  1. What types of criteria and considerations should inform decisions regarding whether the Government should create a separate funding mechanism for emerging platform technologies and research areas of broad strategic interest and societal application? Are there any technologies that would appear to meet such criteria in the immediate term? When there is a rationale for separate funding, how to ensure alignment of funding approaches?
  2. Today's emerging platform technology may rapidly become a standard tool used tomorrow by a wide variety of researchers. If such technologies are initially given stand-alone support via a dedicated program or agency, what factors should inform decisions on when it would be appropriate to "mainstream" such funding back into the granting councils?


Additional advice

The panel will be expected to consult widely with the research community and to solicit input from relevant stakeholders—including universities, colleges and polytechnics, research hospitals, research institutes, industry, civil society—and the general public representing the diversity of views from across Canada. Those consultations and submissions may lead the panel to raise additional questions and offer additional advice to the Government. Such input will be welcomed.

There's also a Questions and Answers page and a feedback form. The Q&A page is where they discuss how the panel was formed and, in particular, that it will run through the fall but with no as yet no defined end date for the consultations.

Minister Duncan and the government have quite a job ahead of them. I haven't had a chance to really formulate my own feedback yet to either of those initiatives, but here are a few initial thoughts. I wish them all the luck and wisdom in tackling the review.

  • Open access and open data are important. The Tri-Agencies have an established Open Access Policy for Publications and a brand new Statement of Principles on Digital Data Management to frame the review of fundamental science. But one main criticism of these initiatives is that they place burdens on the research enterprise to publish more openly but without actually putting any resources into helping make that happen. I suggest that funding infrastructure for openness be considered one of the Platform Technologies that gets funded during the review. How should support for open access and digital data management plans get funded? Good question and I'm sure lots of people have lots of answers. Let's get working on it!
  • Library infrastructure is another Platform technology that needs to be properly funded. Science and other libraries were devastated under the Conservatives, as was Library and Archives Canada. Yes, I know we have the Federal Science Library project in progress and yes, we have a new head of LAC. I know that we already have three (!) reviews on going (see below). But given the devastation of the Conservative years, I think a review of Federal government library infrastructure is sorely needed.
  • The panel as constituted heavily leans towards established researchers with fancy titles and lots of experience. The review needs to make sure the voices of early career researchers are heard listened to, researchers who've come to Canada from other countries, women and other under-represented groups in STEM research. The panel also would benefit from perhaps some voices from outside Canada, like from National Science Foundation in the US, Max Planck Institutes in Germany. The Tri-Agencies could also be better represented. In other words, diversity across all axes needs to be baked into this process.
  • A detail, but the self-description fields in the feedback form are woefully inadequate to capture the feedback from all the various stakeholder groups who might wish to be heard. Sure Academic Administrator, Academic Faculty, Grad Student, Other Researcher and Other Interested Person (especially combined with sector affiliation) are a start, but I can't understand why fields such as Undergraduate Student, K-12 teacher, librarian, business person and at least a few other possibilities. I'm sure people will end up embedding it all into their comments anyway, but why not give more options in the form?

 

Here's the links again for the Fundamental Science Review:

 

And of course, the Fundamental Science review isn't the only review happening. What with a decade of Conservative mismanagement (i.e. torching) of everything even vaguely science and environment, the feds are also launching a consultation/review of their "innovation agenda," which is the flip side of the fundamental science coin. In other words, how to commercialise research and spur economic activity and jobs. That's a process that's also worth watching and you can check that out here. As we can see from the list of topic areas below, this exercise will be related to the fundamental science review. As well, we could also see this consultation as the beginning of a comprehensive national digital strategy for the new government. The topic areas have an awful lot of overlap with the Conservative's Digital Canada 150. We shall see.

 

And, finally, information on the various Environmental Assessment Review processes being launched.

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Canadian Library Association National Forum: Readings for Digital Strategy and the Government of Canada

May 30 2016 Published by under Canada, librarianship, Politics, Uncategorized

I'll be attending upcoming Canadian Library Association National Forum, a kind of sunset conference as CLA reimagines and recreates itself. The idea is to take the pulse of Canadian librarians on the important issues in the library-related landscape. I'll be curating the session on Canada's National Digital Strategy, including presentations by me and two others, Emily Landriault and Bobby Glushko.

The details are below.

 

Digital Strategy and the Government of Canada

Presentation speakers

Date: Wednesday June 1st
Time: 3:30PM to 5:00 PM
Room: Joliet

Description:

An Introduction to Canada’s National Digital Strategy

Government digital strategy encompasses a wide range of topics, from fostering digital innovation, to open government data, to privacy and security legislation, to telecommunications policy, to cyberbullying prevention, and Canadian content regulations. Over the last few years of their mandate, the previous Conservative government put policies in place in many of those areas, with their high level strategy outlined in the Digital Canada 150 document.

  • Where will the new Liberal government take us?
  • Are there any hints as to what their digital strategy might be?
  • What previous initiatives will be discontinued and what new initiatives will be created?

Come to this interactive session where expert panelists will touch on a few of the most important areas of Canada’s digital strategy as well as engaging participants in a conversation about how the library community could both move forward on some initiatives of our own as well as influence the government’s direction.

The format of the session with be three 15 minute presentations by the speakers, a short Q&A (10 minutes), followed by individual group discussions at the tables (20 minutes) and finally, the groups reporting back to the room (15 minutes).

Some questions to spark the group discussions:

  • What are the most important digital strategy issues and priorities affecting libraries?
  • Where are our priorities diverging from the government's?
  • How should libraries, librarians and library associations advocate for change?
  • What opportunities can we seize or create?
  • What should we advocate for?
  • What outcomes are we looking for?

I'll also note what is out of scope in my session: topics that will be covered by other sessions at the National Forum: Copyright, Digitization and other issues related to Library and Archives Canada.

I've written a bit about the Digital Canada 150 policy document here and here. Also relevant and useful are the Ministerial Mandate Letters for the ministers of Heritage, Innovation and Science, all of which are available here.

Digital Canada 150 from 2014 is the closest we have to an active National Digital Strategy, so I'm using the structure of that document to frame my own thoughts and research. Below I have some of the readings I've done to prepare for the session.

I hope to see you there! The hashtag is #CLAOtt16. I'll post my slides once the conference is over.

 

The Five Pillars of Digital Canada 150

 

1. Connecting Canadians (CRTC/Cable TV/Broadband/Wireless Policy)

 

2. Protecting Canadians (Cyberbullying/Security/Privacy/Anti-Spam) (Mostly Bobby speaking to this)

 

3. Economic Opportunities (Innovation/Productivity/Big Data/Intellectual Property Laws, Canada Research Excellence Fund/NRC Transformation/CFI/CANARIE Digital Accelerator/MITACS)

 

4. Digital Government (Open Government/Open Data/Open Access/Access to Information) (Emily speaking to this and provide some of the readings)

 

5. Canadian Content (Digitization/LAC & Historica & Canadiana.org/NFB Digitization/CRTC/Canadian Content Rules)

 

As usual, if I've missed anything important, please let me know in the comments.

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