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USGS to review scientists' studies prior to publication

Thursday, December 14, 2006

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New rules at the U.S. Geological Survey require that agency supervisors screen the work of all its scientists before studies can be published or presented.

The rules apply to all scientific papers as well as public talks, according to documents obtained by The Associated Press and reported Wednesday.

The new USGS policy comes as federal investigators are probing whether Bush administration officials tried to block government scientists in other federal agencies from speaking freely about global warming and attempted to censor their research.

Top officials at the USGS say the rules only standardize what scientists must do to ensure the quality of their work. But agency scientists quoted by the AP say the practice borders on censorship.

From now on, USGS supervisors will demand to see the comments of outside peer reviewers who critique research papers submitted for publication by agency scientists.

In Lakewood, USGS climatologist Greg McCabe said the new policy would not concern him unless a supervisor "decided to intercede and not let the peer review process decide whether a paper should be published."

"That might become a problem, but I haven't heard of that happening," said McCabe, who has studied the timing of snowmelt runoff in the West, a topic linked to human- caused climate change.

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