Science Policy and Diplomacy Newsletter—Covid-19 special edition August 2020

Science Policy and Diplomacy Newsletter COVID-19 Special Edition August 2020

This special COVID-19 edition of the Science Policy and Diplomacy Newsletter highlights the role of science in the policy response to the pandemic and the impact of the pandemic on science. Future special editions will also focus on topics and themes that are prevalent in the science, policy and diplomacy realm.

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Policy and diplomacy news: COVID-19

Rebooting science diplomacy in the context of COVID-19

This Issues in Science and Technology article discusses the power of science diplomacy in improving communication and de-escalation in times of heightened tension between countries. As a case study, the article focuses on the current relationship between the United States and China in the context of the COVID-19 pandemic.

The most prominent voices of the COVID-19 pandemic revealed

A joint project from the Australian Science Media Centre (AusSMC) and Streem media monitoring examined the highest profile voices among COVID-19 coverage in the nation’s leading newspapers and news websites. The Australian Academy of Science was recognised as one of the top ten institutions.

The Academy has been one of the top 10 most prominent voices of the pandemic. Credit: Streem / AusSMC.

Global COVID-19 Index

The Global COVID-19 Index (GCI) has been launched and is being championed by the ISC Regional Office for Asia and the Pacific, of which the Australian Academy of Science is a member. Anchored on verified data on a given nation’s severity and recovery index, the GCI serves as a singular platform to further inform decision-making in the fight against COVID-19.

The World Pandemic Research Network: addressing the societal and human impact of the COVID-19 pandemic

The World Pandemic Research Network (WPRN) is a new resource for sharing and advancing knowledge on the societal and human impacts of COVID-19. This International Science Council article interviews the network coordinators of the WPRN to discuss the project and the necessity of a global response to the COVID-19 pandemic.


The role of science in COVID-19

COVID-19 Expert Database

The Australian Academy of Science’s COVID-19 Expert Database provides a mechanism for governments, the business sector, the research sector and other decision-makers to easily access the expertise they need to inform their decision making. The expert database has around 1800 experts ready to contribute to responses to COVID in the broader community.

International Science Council (ISC) COVID-19 Global Science Portal

The ISC COVID-19 Global Science Portal shares scientific commentary and analysis and provides access to information on various initiatives, highlighting the scale and scope of response and encouraging ISC members and partners to collaborate and share best practices during this global emergency.

Scientific advice in a complex world

The ISC released an article in conversation with Pearl Dykstra that discusses the importance of the recently published expert advisory report, Scientific Advice in a Complex World. The report provides insight to the significance, impact and potential improvement of science advice to policymakers. The European Union is a world leader in terms of institutionalising science advice to policymakers. This is done through the Group of Scientific Advisers that are informed through the Scientific Advice for Policy by European Academies (SAPEA), which gathers expertise from scientific academies and societies across Europe.

Crystallographers unite to tackle coronavirus

The International Union of Crystallography (IUCr) is showing how crystallographers are contributing to efforts to find a vaccine for COVID-19. This article highlights how science, and specific disciplines such as crystallography, are contributing to the response to COVID-19.


Policy response to COVID-19 and science

Rapid Research Information Forum (RRIF)

As part of its response to COVID-19, the Academy has worked as the lead organisation in producing rapid evidence-based responses to COVID-19 related questions in Australia. The Rapid Research Information Forum (RRIF) is convened by the Chief Scientist, Dr Alan Finkel AO FTSE FAA FAHM and is a forum for rapid information sharing and collaboration within the Australian research and innovation sector. The questions have been posed by the Prime Minister of Australia, the Minister for Health, Minister for Education, Minister for Industry, Science and Technology, and the National COVID Commission, and demonstrate the value of science to inform decision-making. Reports have been varied and range from vaccines and serological testing to online school education and the impact of the pandemic on the workforce. Read the RRIF reports.

INGSA (International Network for Government Science Advice) Policy Tracker

The INGSA Policy Tracker aims to mobilise the INGSA network to help keep track of how policy interventions are being made by various national and sub-national governments across the world. It focuses on the advice, evidence or other justifications that underpin governments’ decisions as the crisis unfolds.

ISC experts appointed to the COVID-Education Alliance (COVIDEA)

The International Science Council (ISC) has announced the selected group of international experts that will join COVIDEA, a COVID-Education Alliance of partners with expertise in digital education. The initiative aims at contributing to responses to the educational challenges associated with the COVID-19 pandemic. The Academy’s nominee, Professor Neil Selwyn (Monash), is a member of the expert group and will provide insights from an Australian perspective.

Dissection of a policy response—the two meetings that changed the trajectory of Australia’s coronavirus response

The Guardian article, The two meetings that changed the trajectory of Australia’s coronavirus response, dissects Australia’s policy response in the early stages of the COVID-19 pandemic. INGSA’s editorial note on this article acknowledges the article's discussion of the policy response timeline in Australia and the insight it provides into the interplay between the politics and the evidence in a multi-level system of governance.


The importance of international science

Global Science TV

Mobilising the knowledge and resources of the International Science Council’s scientific community, Global Science TV is convening internationally renowned scientific experts as it presents thought-provoking discussions on the pressing events of our times. Hosted by Australian journalist Nuala Hafner, Global Science is an initiative of the International Science Council (ISC) and the Australian Academy of Science.

Scientists’ worlds will shrink in the wake of the pandemic

This Nature article titled Scientists’ worlds will shrink in the wake of the pandemic discusses the impact that the COVID-19 pandemic will have on international science. The article, which references the Academy’s report on the impact of the pandemic on Australia’s research workforce, discusses the impact of the pandemic on international collaboration in science, noting that research teams are smaller and involve fewer nations, and that researchers will have to review their topics of inquiry as their travel is restricted.


The impact of COVID-19 on science: publishing, open science and scientific practice

COVID-19 impacts Australia’s research workforce

Australia’s research workforce will be severely impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic and the effects are likely to be felt for an extended period. A research report details how a dramatic drop in international student fees and business research spending will impact the sector significantly in the next six months and beyond. An ABC News article titled Research jobs set to go as coronavirus takes hold throughout Australian universities discusses the findings of the research further.

The quiet crisis of PhDs and COVID-19

Recent research has been published regarding the quiet crisis of PhDs and COVID-19: reaching the financial tipping point. The research surveyed PhD students to find that almost half of Australian PhD students are considering disengaging from studies due to the pandemic. As Australia’s rising research workforce feels the financial impacts of the pandemic, the warning issued by the research displays the vulnerability of science to the pandemic.

Will the pandemic permanently alter scientific publishing?

A Nature article poses and responds to the question, Will the pandemic permanently alter scientific publishing? It acknowledges that the COVID-19 crisis has underlined just how fast and open science publishing can be when scientists want it that way, though recognising the barriers to fast publishing, from pre-print servers to rapid peer review processes and financial constraints.

Australian scientists call for data underpinning COVID-19 decision making to be made public

In a letter from the Academy’s President, Professor John Shine, Australian scientists called for the decision making data to be made public, arguing that the open publication of data and evidence supporting government decisions will allow all scientific knowledge to be brought to bear to solve this global crisis. The Australian Government released the modelling data, to which Australian scientists responded by stating that the release of the scientific evidence base will show the role of science in informing key decisions and in turn build trust, confidence and compliance among the community.

The importance of open science during COVID-19

The Academy’s thought piece, Open science: after the COVID-19 pandemic there can be no return to closed working, discusses the importance of open science in fighting the COVID-19 pandemic, highlighting that open science has enabled a unified and rapid global scientific response—but that COVID-19 open access agreements are likely to be temporary.

© 2021 Australian Academy of Science

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