Arctic Council on Models Validation

The Protection of the Arctic Marine Environment working group of the multi-nation Arctic Council has produced and published Underwater Noise in the Arctic, a State of Knowledge Report. On page 39, this Arctic Council report criticizes the accuracy of certain “modeling studies” of the effects of underwater noise on marine animals:

“Modeling studies allow for examination of potential noise levels and impacts on animals in regions where direct empirical measurements are difficult to obtain. Modeling studies can also be used to forecast future impacts that have not occurred yet. Challenges associated with modeling studies in the Arctic, especially for all of the studies reported here, is that there has been almost no ground-truthing, so the precision and accuracy of the results are unknown.”

U.S. State Department Seeks Comment on Updated NEPA Rules

The U.S. Department of State  is issuing a final rule to update the Department’s Regulations for Implementation of the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) to reflect a recent Executive Order that revised the process for the development and issuance of Presidential permits for certain facilities and land transportation crossings at the international boundaries of the United States. This is rule is effective July 13, 2020. Comments will be received until June 29, 2020.

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U.S. EPA Seeks Comment on Changes to Proposed Strengthening of Transparency in Regulatory Science Rules

On March 3, 2020, the United States Environmental Protection Agency released a “Supplemental notice of proposed rulemaking” for the Agency’s previously proposed rule entitled “Strengthening Transparency in Regulatory Science.”  EPA explained in its notice:

“This supplemental notice of proposed rulemaking (SNPRM) includes clarifications, modifications and additions to certain provisions published on April 30, 2018. This SNPRM proposes that the scope of the rulemaking apply to influential scientific information as well as significant regulatory decisions. This notice proposes definitions and clarifies that the proposed rulemaking applies to data and models underlying both pivotal science and pivotal regulatory science. In this SNPRM, EPA is also proposing a modified approach to the public availability provisions for data and models that would underly significant regulatory decisions and an alternate approach. Finally, EPA is taking comment on whether to use its housekeeping authority independently or in conjunction with appropriate environmental statutory provisions as authority for taking this action.”

Peer Review Week

The latest global Peer Review Week, “Quality on Peer review,” occurred September 16-20, 2019.  The Peer Review week Homepage is here.  The Homepage explains:


Peer Review Week is a global event celebrating the essential role that peer review plays in maintaining scientific quality. The event brings together individuals, institutions, and organizations committed to sharing the central message that good peer review, whatever shape or form it might take, is critical to scholarly communications. We organize virtual and in-person events, webinars, interviews and social media activities.


  • To emphasize the central role peer review plays is scholarly communication

“A plea for consistency, transparency, and reproducibility in risk assessment effect models”

Valery E. Forbes, Amlie Shmolke, Chiara Accolla, and Volker Grimm authored the above-captioned article, which was published in the Environmental Toxicology and Chemistry. It reads in part as follows:

“Ecological risk assessments (ERAs) are moving toward using populations and ecosystem services as explicit protection goals, and impacts on these goals are difficult, if not impossible, to measure empirically. Mechanistic effect models are recognized as necessary tools for ERA that complement empirical data (National Research Council 2013; European Food Safety Authority 2014), but we need a strategy to make them consistent, transparent, and reproducible following principles similar to those used to develop standardized experimental designs for empirical tests, while recognizing that the models should be allowed to evolve as understanding, data availability, and ERA questions change over time.

“Ghostwriting Peer Reviews”

Editor’s note: Inside Higher Ed posted the above-titled article by Colleen Flaherty. It reads as follows:

“It’s considered extremely bad form — or misconduct — for a professor to take credit for a graduate student’s or postdoctoral researcher’s work. And yet this happens commonly within the peer-review process, according to a new study in eLife.

The study, which is based on an online survey of about 500 early-career researchers concentrated in the life sciences, found that nearly half of respondents had ghostwritten a review for an invited reviewer, typically a faculty adviser. Three-quarters of respondents had engaged in what the authors say is the much more honest and beneficial process of co-reviewing articles.

“Science’s Quality-Control Process Gets a Makeover”

Editor’s note: UNDARK published the above-titled article examining the problem of too many article to be peer reviewed and not enough peer reviewers. The article explains,

New research reveals worrying trends in science’s quality-control process — and new incentives may help correct them… Now, a new movement aims to improve the process: Many academics and journals are pushing to acknowledge and incentivize peer review. Reviewers are also recording their activities on new online platforms, which opens a new source of data about the process. And several new studies, some of which reveal worrying trends, are among the first looks at the nuances of peer review.”

UN BBNJ “Agreement” Would Establish Internationally Uniform Environmental Impact Assessment Standards

The United Nations’ project Biodiversity Beyond National Jurisdiction (BBNJ) is a spinoff of the Law of the Sea.  The UN explains the BBNJ here,  part of which follows below:

“In its resolution 72/249 of 24 December 2017, the General Assembly decided to convene an Intergovernmental Conference, under the auspices of the United Nations, to consider the recommendations of the Preparatory Committee established by resolution 69/292 of 19 June 2015 on the elements and to elaborate the text of an international legally binding instrument under the United Nations Convention on the Law of Sea on the conservation and sustainable use of marine biological diversity of areas beyond national jurisdiction, with a view to developing the instrument as soon as possible.

Nature’s Peer Review Debate

Proposing international peer review standards for regulatory science and risk assessment is one part of CRE’s Voluntary Commitment with the UN. Nature, “the international weekly journal of science,” has posted a “web debate” on peer review. We think this debate is useful background on some of the issues (e.g., peer review of published studies used in risk assessment and regulation) posed by international peer review standards. This Nature website explains:

“Peer review is commonly accepted as an essential part of scientific publication. But the ways peer review is put into practice vary across journals and disciplines. What is the best method of peer review? Is it truly a value-adding process? What are the ethical concerns? And how can new technology be used to improve traditional models?

Peer Review Under The U.S. Information Quality Act

On April 24, 2019, The Executive Office of the United States President, Office of Management and Budget (“OMB”), published a “Memorandum for the Heads of executive Departments and Agencies” entitled “Improving Implementation of the Information Quality Act” (“OMB Memorandum”). This Memorandum states that its purpose “is to reinforce, clarify, and interpret agency responsibilities with regard to responsibilities under the Information Quality Act (IQA).”

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