American Institute of Biological science

Reston, VA, United States

American Institute of Biological science

Reston, VA, United States
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Gallo S.A.,American Institute of Biological science | Sullivan J.H.,American Institute of Biological science | Glisson S.R.,American Institute of Biological science
PLoS ONE | Year: 2016

Although the scientific peer review process is crucial to distributing research investments, little has been reported about the decision-making processes used by reviewers. One key attribute likely to be important for decision-making is reviewer expertise. Recent data from an experimental blinded review utilizing a direct measure of expertise has found that closer intellectual distances between applicant and reviewer lead to harsher evaluations, possibly suggesting that information is differentially sampled across subject-matter expertise levels and across information type (e.g. strengths or weaknesses). However, social and professional networks have been suggested to play a role in reviewer scoring. In an effort to test whether this result can be replicated in a real-world unblinded study utilizing self-assessed reviewer expertise, we conducted a retrospective multi-level regression analysis of 1,450 individual unblinded evaluations of 725 biomedical research funding applications by 1,044 reviewers. Despite the large variability in the scoring data, the results are largely confirmatory of work from blinded reviews, by which a linear relationship between reviewer expertise and their evaluations was observed-reviewers with higher levels of self-assessed expertise tended to be harsher in their evaluations. However, we also found that reviewer and applicant seniority could influence this relationship, suggesting social networks could have subtle influences on reviewer scoring. Overall, these results highlight the need to explore how reviewers utilize their expertise to gather and weight information from the application in making their evaluations. © 2016 Gallo et al. This is an open access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original author and source are credited.

Gallo S.A.,American Institute of Biological science | Lemaster M.,American Institute of Biological science | Glisson S.R.,American Institute of Biological science
Science and Engineering Ethics | Year: 2016

Despite the presumed frequency of conflicts of interest in scientific peer review, there is a paucity of data in the literature reporting on the frequency and type of conflicts that occur, particularly with regard to the peer review of basic science applications. To address this gap, the American Institute of Biological Sciences (AIBS) conducted a retrospective analysis of conflict of interest data from the peer review of 282 biomedical research applications via several onsite review panels. The overall conflicted-ness of these panels was significantly lower than that reported for regulatory review. In addition, the majority of identified conflicts were institutional or collaborative in nature. No direct financial conflicts were identified, although this is likely due to the relatively basic science nature of the research. It was also found that 65 % of identified conflicts were manually detected by AIBS staff searching reviewer CVs and application documents, with the remaining 35 % resulting from self-reporting. The lack of self-reporting may be in part attributed to a lack of perceived risk of the conflict. This result indicates that many potential conflicts go unreported in peer review, underscoring the importance of improving detection methods and standardizing the reporting of reviewer and applicant conflict of interest information. © 2015, Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht.

Agency: NSF | Branch: Cooperative Agreement | Program: | Phase: CROSS-EF ACTIVITIES | Award Amount: 199.95K | Year: 2014

Of the estimated 1.8 million named species of organisms on Earth, many are becoming or are already extinct. This vast biodiversity is documented in millions of research specimens housed in the collections of natural history museums, universities, and botanical gardens. These collections are an untapped source of knowledge that is critical for research, education, and decision-making about the environment, public health, food security, and commerce; however, most collections data is underutilized because it is not accessible electronically. This project will administer an NSF innovation inducement prize that will engage a broad community to develop pioneering technologies for automated digitization of biological specimens.

The challenge is to digitize pinned insect collections, one of the most daunting tasks confronting the digitization of biological collections. Developing fully automated approaches will likely require the design and deployment of robotic 3D digital imaging instruments, image-capture software, advanced optical character recognition methods, metadata integration, and workflow optimization. Beyond collections digitization, the technologies developed for this prize should have national value in their wider application to research, education, and manufacturing. The American Institute of Biological Sciences will administer the prize and will convene an interdisciplinary committee of expert volunteers to develop the prize criteria and judge the entries. A prestigious prize competition mechanism has the potential to create new partnerships and transformative technologies. Additionally, the prize will inform the public about science and engineering research areas that are important to the NSF and the Nation.


Title: Proposal for a Workshop on Reducing Barriers for the Management, Integration, and Public Sharing of Large and Complex Data among Biologists Working at Genome-Phenome to Macrosystems Levels (EF-1450894)

American Institute of Biological Sciences (AIBS) will convene a workshop for biologists from plant sciences and environmental macrosystems to discuss public access to federally funded research. The workshop will focus on challenges associated with research that requires combining data from multiple sources to conduct the research. The need to consider data management practices and problems is especially pressing for research communities in biology that require and generate large complex data, particularly when the resulting data will be used for future research. While different fields of biology may require different data these same research communities have common (and unique) issues they face related to managing and integrating these complex data, complying with standards and requirements, and how they can improve their science and its ongoing usefulness to the general public that support it through federal tax dollars.

The macrosystems biology community works on quantitative, interdisciplinary, systems-oriented research on biosphere processes and their complex interactions with climate, land use, and invasive species at regional to continental scales. The systematics, evolutionary biology, and biological collections communities are also grappling with big data and long tail data issues. The genome-to-phenome community works in disciplines that include, but are not limited to, plant physiology, quantitative genetics, biochemistry, and bioengineering, especially in plants of economic importance.

This workshop has broad reaching implications as researchers from different fields learn of each others data, tools, and techniques, new scientific questions and opportunities can be expected to emerge, many at the intersection of previously independent lines of scholarship. Coupled with increased public access, the results can stimulate new private sector innovations and contribute to new scientific discoveries as different research communities access data collected by other disciplines. Results of the workshop and plans for further cross-disciplinary collaboration will be shared in a publicly accessible article that will be placed in the BioScience journal.

Agency: NSF | Branch: Standard Grant | Program: | Phase: | Award Amount: 79.70K | Year: 2012

Biological collections are an irreplaceable resource that informs our scientific understanding of the history and diversity of life on Earth. The value of these research collections is greatly enhanced when the specimens and data are digitized and made widely and publically available. The biodiversity collections community recently united to develop a ten-year Strategic Plan for establishing a Network Integrated Biocollections Alliance (NIBA), but to date, no detailed community-informed plan has been developed to guide the implementation of that Strategic Plan. The American Institute of Biological Sciences (AIBS) will conduct a workshop of diverse stakeholders with the specific goal of deriving a detailed implementation plan for the NIBA.

A detailed community-informed plan will help the scientific community more effectively curate specimens and data, increase research productivity by improving access to collection resources, develop innovative tools to capture and validate data, develop protocols that enhance the efficiency of digital capture, and provide education and training to develop the biodiversity collections workforce. As data and specimens are captured and made publically available, there will be new opportunities for the public to access and learn about biodiversity and Earth systems, and the plan will recommend methods to promote citizen science activities to expose the public directly to these scientific resources.

Agency: NSF | Branch: Standard Grant | Program: | Phase: | Award Amount: 22.84K | Year: 2014

The American Institute of Biological Sciences (AIBS) will convene a meeting to identify productive ways in which more journals could encourage sharing of research data. AIBS member societies represent the breadth of the biological sciences, including organismal, comparative, ecological, and evolutionary biology. Currently, scientific societies and their journals have taken varied approaches to publication of data. By enacting coordinated policies, societies and their journals could play a key role in ensuring a smooth transition to greater public access to research data. Key stakeholders will gather with scientific publishers, government officials, and biologists to discuss possible models for journal policies that could help to improve public access. AIBS will also involve graduate students interested in conducting research with publicly available data, as well as science policy, communications, and publishing.

In February, 2013, the Office of Science and Technology Policy(OSTP) put forth a memorandum on Increasing Access to the Results of Federally Funded Scientific Research, which is serving as a guide for government agencies now developing plans to improve public access to scientific publications and data. In this context, participants will make preliminary assessments of the implications of current and expected changes in data management practices and essential elements of model policies for journals. Among the issues are 1) concerns about attribution of published data and about how professional credit will accrue to researchers who publish them; 2) ensuring adequate quality control and application of standards (for example, what authorities should be consulted on species names?); 3) the identification of legal constraints on publication; 4) The consideration of ?data papers? that describe a data set but do not offer analyses; and, 5) the time and expense that might be involved in publishing primary research data in a way that will be useful to others. The workshop will be broadcast by Webcast and available for future viewing; an online discussion forum will be established to enable public comment. To extend the benefits of the workshop, an advisory working group will be established to sustain awareness and engagement by the editors of the biological journals, their readers, and society members.

Agency: NSF | Branch: Standard Grant | Program: | Phase: | Award Amount: 75.44K | Year: 2012

The American Institute of Biological Sciences (AIBS) is awarded a grant to work with the collaborating organizations in the Partners in Undergraduate Life Science Education (PULSE) initiative: National Science Foundation (NSF), the National Institutes of Health-NIGMS (NIH), and the Howard Hughes Medical Institute (HHMI) and the PULSE working partner, Know Innovation (KI), to achieve the goal of coordinating systemic change in undergraduate life science education. AIBS core strengths in working with the community and facilitating high quality peer advisory and review services are a strong addition to this unique and exciting program designed to mobilize change in undergraduate life sciences education. The award fits the EArly-concept Grants for Exploratory Research because of its high potential for producing an implementation framework for transforming biology departments within the nation?s colleges and universities.

AIBS will work with the program partners throughout its lifespan by 1) working to raise awareness of the PULSE project among the community and encouraging participation in the project and 2) facilitating the selection of the Vision and Change Fellows in the initial phase.

Both the selection of Fellows and promotion of the project to the broad biology education community are integral to the success of the PULSE project. AIBS is extremely well qualified to carry out both of these activities. The Institute has years of experience successfully conducting high quality peer-review for private foundations, government agencies, and other clients. AIBS has been very successful in reaching intended audiences through its public policy and media relations work. The proposed strategy for developing and promoting a press release about the Request for Applications and Selection of Fellows is based upon expertise gained over the years and knowledge about the focused effort required to effectively reach an intended audience. Other scientific disciplines will learn about the outcomes of the PULSE project because AIBS is actively involved in collaborations and coalitions across the science, technology, engineering, and mathematics disciplines.

The results of AIBS?s work will ensure that the top individuals in the country are poised to work with the leaders in life science research and education, NSF, NIH, and HHMI, to move institutional reform efforts forward. The proposed activities are expected to make a significant contribution to an unprecedented transformation of the undergraduate biology education communitys understanding of institutional barriers to change and of strategies for overcoming them.

Agency: NSF | Branch: Standard Grant | Program: | Phase: BIOLOGICAL RESEARCH COLLECTION | Award Amount: 498.50K | Year: 2014

Biological collections (biocollections), such as those maintained by natural history museums, botanic gardens, universities, field stations, and other research centers across the United States are the result of nearly 250 years of scientific investigations, discovery, and inventories of living and fossil species from around the world. Billions of specimens (for example, plants, insects, and fossils) and their associated data (audio recordings of bird calls, field notes, geospatially referenced occurrence data, etc.) are held in more than 1000 biocollections across the United States. Until recently, these resources have largely been relegated to cabinets and drawers with few researchers, educators, or the public aware of their existence. The potential to digitally capture images of specimens and their associated data offers great promise to transform research on the environment, public health, food safety, commerce, and national security. Achieving the ambitious goal of digitizing the nations biocollections and making them available to the broader community requires an organized, coordinated, and sustained effort. The resources created will engage a new community of users that cuts across traditional boundaries of biology, geology, computer science and software engineering and connects academic researchers with educators, policy makers, and the wider public. Cooperation with similar efforts overseas will result in a truly global resource. The purpose of this Research Coordination Network is to create such a community.

The NIBA Research Coordination Network will enable new research; create novel, cross-disciplinary user communities; and promote the development of software and cyberinfrastructure that will not only support collections digitization, but will have more general applicability far beyond the bounds of this field. Most importantly, it will create sustainable structures, capable of maintaining effort in this field over the long period required for full digitization of the nations collections. The Steering Committee for the RCN will help to plan workshops and establish working committees that will evaluate and seek stakeholder input on the goals outlined in an Implementation Plan for a Network Integrated Biocollections Alliance (NIBA), a proposed mechanism for organizing and coordinating a sustained effort to digitally capture specimens and their associated data from biocollections. The RCN will engage the broader scientific community and public in an iterative process to evaluate the appropriateness and feasibility of the six goals articulated in the Implementation Plan for a NIBA, which include: 1) establishing an organizational and governance structure; 2) advancing engineering of the biodiversity collections cyberinfrastructure; 3) enhancing training of existing collections staff and creating the next generation of biodiversity information managers; 4) increasing participation from a broad range of stakeholders; 5) establish an enduring and sustainable knowledge base; and, 6) infusing specimen-based learning and exploration into formal and informal science education. The products of the workshops will include published reports and plans that will guide a national effort to build the infrastructure and implement NIBA. The new research communities and collaborations that are established through this RCN will stimulate the development of new tools, such as software or new data-mining techniques. As biocollections specimens and data become more publicly available, citizen scientists, government agency personnel, K-12 educators and many others will begin to access and use this information. All products will be archived and made available at

American Institute Of Biological Science | Date: 2013-10-15

journals concerning research, education, and public policy developments in the biological sciences, and other matters of interest to biologists and professional biological societies.

American Institute Of Biological Science | Date: 2014-02-05

printed materials, namely, journals concerning research, education, and public policy developments in the biological sciences and other matters of interest to biologists and professional biological societies.

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