[CODATA-international] NSF failures Re: October 2019: Publications in the Data Science Journal

Falk Huettmann fhuettmann at alaska.edu
Sun Nov 3 14:22:00 EST 2019

Dear Colleagues, Mercury,

thanks indeed.
As it came up with Mark's comment, and just was requested, here my NSF
feedback/opinion on the process and Open Access, as I know and see it last
20 years:

NSF is a global player and it matters,
but to no big surprise it is vastly broken and full of convoluted
nothingness, including strategy, bias, career'ism and politics .
It's a waste of everybody's time and just serves a small CLIQUE; a pretty
bad one btw.

The rejection rates in NSF proposals are now up to 90% (no kidding).

Many victims are found of that process.

The few awardees who win there are ~always the same, and very old and
established ones; of course U.S. centric.
These are ones that are so far away from computers, coding and data, as
Silicon Valley from Donald Trump.
And the few young ones are just the ones that follow the same old mold;
business as usual.
The actual ecology and science, or relevant sustainability and progress in
there is tiny, if at all.

Just see the climate change or Arctic data debacle (add Antarctica or
Himalaya, or China NSF, and global ocean crisis to that;
poverty is another major one; even STEM education or NASA).

NSF is not really performance-based, I know of rejections of AI and machine
learning work for decades there (instead they love p-values and AIC
parsimony to this very day).
NSF is also 100% not interested in applied projects even (for what I see
and know)
I also know of people that have over 200 publications but NEVER really got
an NSF award.
How come if performance matters, as claimed by NSF ?
NSF flps it all just on the head (already the fact that worthy people 'need
to apply' to NSF turns the concept of being award-based).

I think NSF has widely lost the concept of how to fund relevant science,
and what for, and how done.
The Royal/National Academies are specifically lost in that, so is ICSU and
the U.N.

What those NSF quality improvement discussions, as Mark stated for the
Arctic, remind me of:
It's like The World Bank (TWB), when it was criticized it would
support/loan bad and harmful projects, e.g. low environmental impact
assessments for mine sites.
TWB then upped its minimum standards..."hooray", looks great in public...
but the majority of mining then instead went on with banks and nations
outside of TWB, and that was China for instance.
The net effect is that TWB has less business with mine loans, China etc
have more, and most mine sites are now operating
world wide without western oversight and driven by Chinese etc standards
(which are way below what The West does and allows, or wants to see).
Just see Congo, or see here for an example for Tibet and associated water
regions; in case it matters to anybody; hydrodams built for such mines I

People suffer and die because of it, so does biodiversity and climate.

NSF is hardly different in the net outcome, so are its champions and
jockeys, nor are the EU funding agencies or other nations who follows them.

It's a lame money grab game ('singing chairs') that I do not recommend
anybody to be involved in, certainly not as an academic or institution.
It's not science or sustainability, nor good governance at all.
It has perverse outcomes.

Needless to say that I have seen government researchers (=the gov that
gives out NSF funds) who essentially review and sit in those panels
competing for the same funds as academics do. This happens directly or
Guess who wins ?
And guess who sets those rules and ethics ?

As NSF is so complex and big, you will find exceptions but this just makes
my case further.
I find, it's all widely broken and requires a massive fix.
A good way to start is to review this independently, put those details out
there, accept those as broken systems, and
then work for a fresh start; ideally, outside of capitalism and industrial,
NGO and contractor impacts
(yes, NSF can partner with industry etc, e.g. for technology and in
fisheries etc).

So yes, put it in your Data Journals.

It's a global  tragedy and must be perceived and reported accordingly for a
Please follow up with me as needed.

I just share my review here based on the request; it's my opinion based on
20 years of first-hand experience worldwide.
We have also published on several aspects of it for years btw. But nobody
really cares, certainly NOT NSF.
Instead, just 'the messenger gets shot', mobbed and marginalized.
So what's really new since medieval times ?

Thanks; very best
      Falk Huettmann PhD, Professor
        Uni of Alaska Fairbanks

RE NSERC in Canada and Arctic, different concept to review and give away
the funds, but ~SAME OUTCOME than in the U.S.
Canada shares little Arctic and Polar data, in real world. Lots of mining
there, too! What a coincidence.

On Sun, Nov 3, 2019 at 9:32 AM Mercury Fox <ceds at email.arizona.edu> wrote:

> Hi Anita and All-
> I am in the early stages of developing a proposal for an institutional
> review of NSF's award process.  I believe that they are currently
> receptive to this type of review, and support from publishers and the
> open research community would be very helpful.
> The solution here is so simple and obvious--tie the money to the data
> by making it a deliverable--that there must be something seriously
> dysfunctional in the award process.
> Funders can just withhold the last 20% (or whatever) of the award
> until the data, which they paid for, is formatted and posted according
> to agency guidelines. Then we can forget this nonsense about how to
> shift community norms toward open research and data sharing, and focus
> on how to promote and incorporate FAIR principles in those agency
> guidelines.
> I think we all know why these simple solutions aren't adopted, and I
> think that an institutional review would be a good place to start
> moving past those encumbrances.
> On 11/3/19, Dewaard, Anita (ELS-HBE) <A.dewaard at elsevier.com> wrote:
> > It would actually be very interesting to 'get you started on the
> publishing
> > industry', Mark!
> >
> > I completely agree with Mercury that 'publishers should be partners in
> the
> > research ecosystem, not gatekeepers who determine what gets in
> > and what stays out of the sphere of public knowledge':  so what should we
> > do, that we're not currently doing, to be the best partners that we can
> be?
> >
> >
> > Thanks so much for your advice!
> >
> > Best,
> >
> > Anita
> >
> >
> > Anita de Waard
> > Vice President of Research Collaborations
> > Elsevier Research Collaborations Unit
> > 71 Hanley Lane, Jericho, VT 05465
> > @anitawaard | +1 (619) 252 8589
> >
> > -----Original Message-----
> > From: CODATA-international <
> codata-international-bounces at lists.codata.org>
> > On Behalf Of Parsons, Mark
> > Sent: Friday, November 1, 2019 1:56 PM
> > To: Mercury Fox <ceds at email.arizona.edu>
> > Cc: Falk Huettmann <fhuettmann at alaska.edu>; CODATA International
> > <codata-international at lists.codata.org>
> > Subject: Re: [CODATA-international] October 2019: Publications in the
> Data
> > Science Journal
> >
> >
> > I totally agree, Mercury. (Don’t get me started on the publishing
> industry).
> > I just wanted to give credit to one small program (NSF Arctic) that is
> doing
> > the right thing, and that other agencies and programs should follow its
> > lead.
> >
> > cheers,
> >
> > -m.
> >
> >> On 1 Nov 2019, at 11:52, Mercury Fox <ceds at email.arizona.edu> wrote:
> >>
> >> Thanks, Mark--that's a great point.  That program's open data policy
> >> is stated in the DCL
> >> (https://www.nsf.gov/pubs/2016/nsf16055/nsf16055.jsp), which also
> >> states that the policy is a requirement of international treaty, which
> >> probably provides some context for the political will behind the
> >> policy in this case.  My point is that this kind of clear policy
> >> directive shouldn't be a one-off.
> >>
> >> And since I'm on a soap box about it, I also don't think it's
> >> acceptable for NSF & c. to expect the scientific community to simply
> >> shift norms and practices in this regard, when the federal funding
> >> agencies are unwilling to change the institutional conditions that
> >> drive those norms.
> >>
> >> And another thing... I also think it's inappropriate for them to pass
> >> their oversight and quality control duties to the publishing industry,
> >> which is basically a roadmap for corruption.  I'm not pointing fingers
> >> at any specific publisher or agency; but publishers should be partners
> >> in the research ecosystem, not gatekeepers who determine what gets in
> >> and what stays out of the sphere of public knowledge.
> >>
> >> OK, that's all the rant I have left in me for today.  Thanks everybody
> >> and have a great weekend!
> >>
> >>
> >> -Mercury
> >>
> >> On 11/1/19, Parsons, Mark <parsom3 at rpi.edu> wrote:
> >>>
> >>>
> >>> On 1 Nov 2019, at 10:04, Mercury Fox
> >>> <ceds at email.arizona.edu<mailto:ceds at email.arizona.edu>> wrote:
> >>>
> >>> they could change the norm overnight by simply tying the policy to
> >>> the award and requiring open data as a deliverable.
> >>>
> >>> For the record, the NSF Arctic Program does just that, and they
> >>> follow up and do QC, AND they fund an archive to make it possible.
> >>>
> >>> cheers,
> >>>
> >>> -m.
> >>>
> >>
> >>
> >> --
> >> Merc Fox
> >> Director, CODATA-UA Center of Excellence in Data for Society
> >> Data7 + iSchool
> >> University of Arizona
> >> Tucson, AZ  85721
> >>
> >> https://ceds.arizona.edu
> >>
> >> https://orcid.org/0000-0002-0726-7301
> >
> > _______________________________________________
> > CODATA-international mailing list
> > CODATA-international at lists.codata.org
> >
> http://lists.codata.org/mailman/listinfo/codata-international_lists.codata.org
> >
> --
> Merc Fox
> Director, CODATA-UA Center of Excellence in Data for Society
> Data7 + iSchool
> University of Arizona
> Tucson, AZ  85721
> https://ceds.arizona.edu
> https://orcid.org/0000-0002-0726-7301
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