Media hype and organic agriculture: a study published in the British Food Journal

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According to Kansas State University’s Doug Powell, news accounts of organic agriculture and organic food are more likely to be positive than negative, and inaccurately claim that organic food is safer. Powell co-authored the study “Coverage of organic agriculture in North American newspapers: Media – linking food safety, the environment, human health and organic agriculture” recently published in the British Food Journal, along with colleagues Stacey Cahill and Katija Morley at the University of Guelph. Analysing the content of 618 newspaper articles over six years, they found 41.4% has a neutral tone toward organic agriculture and food, 36.9% had a positive tone, 15.5% were mixed, and 6.1% were negative. “Organic agriculture was often portrayed in the media as alternative to allegedly unsafe and environmentally damaging modern agriculture practices,” says Powell. 

Peer review? Peer rejected?

Hey academics! Ever had a paper rejected? Hell ya. We all have. Then you might want to check out the latest issue of “The Scientist” It features articles on the failings of the peer review process and how some journals are trying to address the issues…

In “I Hate Your Paper”, journalist Jeff Akst outlines three problems (and some solutions):

1. Reviewers are biased by personal motives
Resolutions: eliminate anonymous peer review, run open peer review alongside traditional peer review

2. Peer review is too slow, affecting public health, grants and credit for ideas
Resolutions: shorten publication time to a few days, bypass subsequent reviews and publish first drafts

3. Too many papers to review
Resolutions: recycle reviews from journals that have rejected the manuscript, wait for volunteers and reward reviewer efforts

If a paper is rejected simply because it doesn’t belong in that journal, aren’t the review still valid? Good point, I say.
How do we accomplish a balance between “expedited publication” and “thorough, competent review”? Hmmm….

New Article by Ryan and Smyth “Facilitating Innovation in Agricultural Biotechnology” #agriculture #biotechnology #innovation

A stimulating read on a local (Sask-based) innovation model by ‘yours truly’ and colleague Stuart Smyth…
Facilitating Innovation in Agricultural Biotechnology: An Examination of the Ag-West Biotech Model, 1989-2004
AgBioForum, volume 13, Number 2, Article 9
Innovation is more than just science. Innovation encompasses a diversity of disciplines, such as law (patents and freedom to operate), economics (spill-over benefits and returns to investment), political science (government policy and international trade barriers), and psychology (consumer responses). Clearly, the multiple disciplines that can—and have—investigated aspects of cycles of innovation or innovation systems indicate that the concept of innovation is extremely broad. In the same stream, innovation is more than simply firms commercializing new products. It also involves public research institutions, federal regulators, and organizations representing stakeholders from farmers to consumers. In their role to facilitate innovation, governments have developed arm’s-length organizations to advocate, support, and service the agricultural biotechnology industry. This article examines Ag-West Biotech, a non-profit venture funded by the Saskatchewan government. Ag-West Biotech has delivered a wide range of services to the Saskatchewan biotechnology industry by acting as a mediator between business and government, as project facilitator and financier, and by offering visible leadership and direction for the biotechnology sector.

Modes of Collaboration in Modern Science: Beyond Power Laws and Pref Attach…

*Modes of Collaboration in Modern Science:*

*Beyond Power Laws and Preferential Attachment*

*Staša Milojevi*



The goal of the study was to determine the underlying processes leading to the observed collaborator distribution in modern scientific fields, with special attention to non power-law behavior. Nanoscience is used as a case study of a modern interdisciplinary field and its coauthorship network for 2000–2004 period is constructed from the NanoBank database. We find three collaboration modes that correspond to three distinct ranges in the distribution of collaborators: (1) for authors with fewer than 20 collaborators (the majority) preferential attachment does not hold and they form a log-normal “hook”
instead of a power law; (2) authors with more than 20 collaborators benefit from preferential attachment and form a power law tail; and (3) authors with between 250 and 800 collaborators are more frequent than expected because of the hyper authorship practices in certain subfields.

modes of collab Milojevic 2010.pdf
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new paper by Phillips & Ryan on network governance

Governance of International Networks:
A Social Network Analysis of International Institutions related to Plant Genetic Resources
Authors: P.W.B. Phillips and C.D. Ryan (yep, that’s me!)

Presented at the Political Studies Association Conference, Edinburgh, Scotland
March 2010

Governing in the modern times has become more complicated and complex, with an array of new governing structures encompassing the globe. Discrete institutions are increasingly intertwined and embedded in governing networks at sub-national, state and international levels. This paper investigates this new reality and uses it to examine the international governing system for plant genetics and genomic resources. Over the last century, issues have surfaced with technological progress and innovations that add complexity in the governing challenge, such as research management, intellectual property ownership, risk regulation and international trade in knowledge-intensive products. This paper explicitly examines one of the foundational issues of global knowledge management in the area of biotechnology—policies, practices and structures to support access and benefit-sharing (ABS) related to traditional knowledge (TK) and capacity-building in indigenous communities and developing countries. This paper uses social network analysis to investigate the complicated and complex interactions among a network of 108 international institutions and programs involved in ABS and TK. Using multiple layers of social network analysis, the structures and underlying meanings of the relationships in the governing network are studied and investigated for their structure, effectiveness and resiliency.

Admit it, you are SO excited to read this!

Keep it real, folks!

Phillips and Ryan 2010.pdf
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Governance of International Networks

Paper prepared for the Political Studies Association Conference in Edinburgh, Scotland from March 29 – April 1, 2010.

“Governance of International Networks: A Social Network Analysis of International Institutions related to Plant Genetic Resources.”
Peter W.B. Phillips and Camille D. Ryan
University of Saskatchewan

“On the face of it, the system exhibits small-world effects. [After] knocking out BI and CGIAR from the 2-mode, activity-based analysis, [we] discovered while the overall system looks to implode with the loss of the two core central actors, enough redundancy and interconnections exist to essentially rewire the functional sub-networks, such that while they are diminished, they largely remain functioning with their core members…” (p. 12)