Archive for the ‘Science’ Category

Corporate sustainability: What it could mean for arms control, climate change, and biosecurity

May 15, 2013

Beyond compliance: Integrating non-proliferation into corporate sustainability

From Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists 

Corporate sustainability initiatives – commonly known for reducing accidents in the workplace and making businesses greener – may seem an unlikely deterrent to organizations bent on terror. But experts suggest that a tightly controlled supply chain is key to preventing weapon materials getting into the wrong hands. This paper takes a fresh look at corporate sustainability in a wider, more unconventional context, with authors exploring the topics of nuclear proliferation, biosecurity, and climate change.

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The challenges for science journalism in the UK

April 24, 2013

From Progress in Physical Geography

A science journalist is a specialist whose role is, broadly, to report scientific developments to a wider audience than that reached by the academic journals. The world of journalism is changing rapidly as online media grow, squeezing resources and putting pressure on journalists to produce maximum output on minimum resources.  The effect is to threaten to shift the role of science news production away from science journalists to public relations (PR) professionals, and to reduce the essential democratic role of the journalist holding the spenders of public money to account.

This study discusses in particular two significant pieces of recent research into science journalism in the UK, namely Williams and Clifford’s report into specialist science journalism in the UK national media (2010), and the recent BBC Impartiality Review. It also describes the working practices and pressures on science journalists with the intention of providing a guide to working with science journalists. The authors discuss the pressures facing the field as print news declines and online publication ascends.

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Older patients have higher expectations and are more satisfied with healthcare

April 18, 2013

Patients’ experiences of their healthcare in relation to their expectations and satisfaction: A population

From Journal of the Royal Society of Medicine

This paper on patients’ experiences of health services and how these relate to their expectations and satisfaction reveal that older people have higher expectations of their care and that they believe that their expectations are being met. The research questions prevailing stereotypes that characterise older patients as being satisfied with their care because their expectations are lower. Patients visiting their GP and hospital outpatient departments were surveyed before and after their consultations. They were asked about their experiences of the physical environment, finding their way around, communication with the doctor, the content of the consultation, the information given and the outcome of the consultation.

The leading researcher concluded that this research, chiming with the finding that satisfaction with the NHS among the general public is now at an all-time high, has implications for health professionals, managers and politicians. “There is no room for complacency, given that the delivery of healthcare in England is undergoing profound and unprecedented change, with many services facing severe cuts,” said Bowling and colleagues. “It will be essential for those who are delivering care in the midst of organisational and, frequently, personal turbulence, to remain focused on what matters most for patients, which means most of all effective communication, adequate information and good outcomes.”

 

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A proposal to improve the registration process of much needed pharmaceutical products in developing countries

March 28, 2013

Product registration in developing countries

A proposal for an integrated regional licensing system among countries in regional economic blocs

From Therapeutic Innovation & Regulatory Science

The product pipeline for diseases that disproportionately affect the developing world has considerably expanded over the last decade. There have been extraordinary efforts being committed towards research and development (R&D) of pharmaceutical products for diseases that disproportionately affect developing nations. There are currently about 134 products for these diseases in the pipeline, including vaccines, drugs, diagnostics, microbicides, and vector control tools. New regulatory models are urgently needed to offset product registration. This paper proposes how regional regulatory frameworks established by regional harmonization initiatives can be used to set up an integrated regional licensing system. By sharing the various regulatory tasks in an integrated manner, the total process will be accelerated and will facilitate product registration in the region. The authors review some of the challenges of regional regulatory cooperation, and then discuss the harmonized guideline process of regional harmonization initiatives (RHIs) as the main foundation of the proposed framework.

 

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Is ‘gene talk’ used to shift responsibility for ‘fat’ problems?

February 12, 2013

The role of genes in talking about overweight: An analysis of discourse on genetics, overweight and health risks in relation to nutrigenomics

From The Public Understanding of Science

This study looks at how it is evident from everyday talk that information about genetic susceptibility empowers people to live healthily and how people account for the relation between food, health and genes in everyday life. It uses discourse analysis to study accounts of overweight in six group interviews with people who are and who are not overweight. The  indirect focus on behavioral explanations as the norm and the related treatment of gene explanations as implying a denial of personal responsibility for one’s overweight shows the extent to which gene accounts are still connected with attributions of responsibility and blame and the need for self-discipline. The normative orientation to being relaxed about possible health risks and the allied resistance to health fanaticism has also been found in other studies. A nutrigenomics test that reveals genetic susceptibilities for overweight will possibly be treated as an invested account, that is, as an explanation of overweight that is informed by an interest in avoiding personal responsibility and/or blame. Unlike studies that look at how people cognitively understand science, this research shows how ‘gene talk’ can be deployed to shift responsibility for overweight problems, or how it can be drawn upon asymmetrically so as to allow thin children to eat fatty food. It is not the perception of genes per se, or health risks for that matter, but the way these notions are put to use in everyday talk. A gene-based ‘wellness’ focus on health may prove to be a helpful account for preventive behavior, that is, more in tune with the broader everyday notion of health. The article concludes by outlining that as long as the relation between genes and behavior is reproduced as a pure dichotomy, there is little chance of turning gene talk from a blaming device into an accountable and nuanced incentive for healthy behavior.

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Do long-term scientific animal experiments provide objective and testable evidence of human risk?

December 27, 2012

Regulatory Forum Opinion Piece: Long-term animal bioassays: Is the end near?

From Toxicologic Pathology

This piece argues that the scientific testing of rats and mice – the officially prescribed animals – are not relevant to humans and cannot reliably forecast risks to humans, especially cancer risks. It outlines how official regulations based on irrelevant information are unethical, contrary to the law, and contrary to the expectations of free citizens in free societies. Ethical regulatory alternatives exist, either grounded on science or on transparent precautionary decisions when scientific evidence may not be available. This is the first in the scientific literature to document the technical and ethical fallacies on which regulators in the US and worldwide have presumed to assess long term human cancer risks from tests in rats and mice. The article is timely within the current scenario of financial restrictions, as it highlights alternatives that would save millions of animals and hundreds of $ millions in the US alone, while being compatible with transparent scientific or precautionary evidence.

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Towards an emotional understanding of trust in a climate of public distrust in science and regulation

December 13, 2012

Risk, communication and trust: Towards an emotional understanding of trust

From Public Understanding of Science

Public distrust in science and regulation is widely discussed today. The issue of public trust is at the fore, and there is a growing body of literature that discusses its meaning and function. Voices are being raised that advocate the need for more deliberative, democratic, and communicative ways to earn trust.  Lack of public trust in regulation has also led to an explosion in risk management practices.  This study examines trust for public understandings of science and for risk communication. It argues that trust is a modality of action that is relational, emotional, asymmetrical, and anticipatory. Hence, trust does not develop through information and the uptake of knowledge but through emotional involvement and sense-making. The article summarises trust cannot be achieved by being a spectator, by passively being fed knowledge, or  standing alone outside of social life. Instead, trust is created when citizens are emotionally involved, take part, have a say, and in some sense are able to recognize themselves in the recipient of their trust. Trust is not only relational, but also emotional.

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German nuclear exit delivers economic and environmental benefits

November 15, 2012

Special Issue: The German nuclear exit

From The Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists

Following the accident at the Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Station in 2011, the German government took the nation’s eight oldest reactors offline immediately and passed legislation that will close the last nuclear power plant by 2022. This nuclear phase-out had overwhelming political support in Germany. Elsewhere, many saw it as “panic politics,” and the online business magazine Forbes.com went as far as to ask, in a headline, whether the decision was “Insane — or Just Plain Stupid.”

This special issue shows that the nuclear shutdown and an accompanying move toward renewable energy are already yielding measurable economic and environmental benefits. In his overview article Princeton researcher Alexander Glaser observes “Germany’s nuclear phase-out could provide a proof-of-concept, demonstrating the political and technical feasibility of abandoning a controversial high-risk technology. Germany’s nuclear phase-out, successful or not, is likely to become a game changer for nuclear energy worldwide.”

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SAGE Insight celebrates 100,000 views

November 8, 2012

SAGE has been part of the global academic community since 1965, supporting quality research that transforms society and our understanding of individuals, groups, and cultures. We passionately believe that publishing useful knowledge can create healthy minds and healthy cultures, in fact it is part of our vision to ensure that such research is widely disseminated around the world.

We’re also passionate about widening access to (and the public understanding of) research, especially social research. With that in mind, in June 2010 we launched SAGE Insight, and we are proud to announce that it has achieved an impressive 100,000 views. SAGE Insight puts the spotlight on topical and interesting journal research, new and archived published in our journals.  The articles on SAGE Insight provide a fresh perspective on major issues facing the public and policy makers. We cover everything from crime to medical practices, from psychology to education.  To date almost 400 posts have been published. The blog is available to everyone, globally. For the articles highlighted free access is made available to the full text.

Articles for SAGE Insight are chosen in a variety of ways. We are particularly delighted with the consistent and steady stream of excellent recommendations from SAGE authors. Many of these recommendations have achieved great success, most notably the top viewed SAGE Insight blog post listed below, which has gained over 2.400 views so far.

Top 5 most viewed  SAGE Insight posts:

  1. Better alternatives to tackle the road dangers of winter snow and ice?
  2. 100 cities ranked according to greenhouse gas emissions
  3. What makes Starbucks such a great place to work? A review of the HR policies across the best companies to work for
  4. Human trafficking: the unintended effects of United Nations intervention
  5. ‘Celebrity chavs’ like Jordan and Kerry Katona reflect the moral delinquency of white working-class girls

From early 2013 SAGE Insight will move location and will be available through SAGE Connection, making it even easier to stay up to date on the latest research trends along with the usual top tips and industry round ups you’ve come to expect from this blog. You can follow SAGE Insight posts by registering for email alerts at http://www.sagepub.com/sageinsight to receive notifications of new posts by email. The posts also appear via a Twitter account www.twitter.com/SAGE_News

This milestone feels a great opportunity to thank authors and readers. We hope you continue to enjoy this blog. If it covers topics that you find interesting, use these articles to spread the debate: write about it on your blog, microblog, or newsletter. Link to us, or if you’re a SAGE journals author suggest your article for inclusion.


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