Tuesday, March 29, 2011

The Tea Party and Religion

A new analysis by the Pew Research Center’s Forum on Religion & Public Life finds that Tea Party supporters tend to have conservative opinions not just about economic matters, but also about social issues such as abortion and same-sex marriage. In addition, they are much more likely than registered voters as a whole to say that their religion is the most important factor in determining their opinions on these social issues. And they draw disproportionate support from the ranks of white evangelical Protestants.

Source: Pew Research Center’s Forum on Religion & Public Life

Link to online report

Monday, March 28, 2011

EU - Women and men in the EU seen through figures

Among the 200 million private households in the EU27, what share consists of single women with or without children? And what proportion are couples? How does the number of children affect the employment rate of both mothers and fathers? How do women and men perceive their general health?

Answers to these questions can be found in this News Release, published by Eurostat, the statistical office of the European Union, on the occasion of the International Women’s Day on 8 March 2011. The tables in this News Release only show a small part of the large amount of gender based data available at Eurostat. A dedicated section on the topic of gender equality has recently been created on the Eurostat web site, where many of these indicators are presented, as well as links to the website of the General Directorate Justice, Fundamental rights and Citizenship of the European Commission and to the European Institute for Gender Equality.

Source: European Agency for Safety and Health at Work

Download pdf publication
| Link to Eurostat website

National Healthcare Quality Report (NHQR) and the National Healthcare Disparities Report (NHDR)

For the eighth year in a row, the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality (AHRQ) has produced the National Healthcare Quality Report (NHQR) and the National Healthcare Disparities Report (NHDR). These reports measure trends in effectiveness of care, patient safety, timeliness of care, patient centeredness, and efficiency of care. New this year are chapters on care coordination, health system infrastructure. The reports present, in chart form, the latest available findings on quality of and access to health care.

The National Healthcare Quality Report tracks the health care system through quality measures, such as the percentage of heart attack patients who received recommended care when they reached the hospital or the percentage of children who received recommended vaccinations. The National Healthcare Disparities Report summarizes health care quality and access among various racial, ethnic, and income groups and other priority populations, such as residents of rural areas and people with disabilities.

Source: Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality (AHRQ) - U.S. Department of Health and Human Services

Download full pdf publications:
National Healthcare Quality Report (NHQR)
National Healthcare Disparities Report (NHDR)

Title Hobbling the Monitors: Should UN Human Rights Monitors Be Accountable?

The critical issue examined in this Article is whether a group of monitors explicitly created to hold governments to account, can themselves be subjected to a strong accountability regime controlled by those same governments, without thereby destroying the independence that is considered to be the system’s hallmark. In 2007, a group of powerful governments pushed through a Code of Conduct to regulate the activities of Special Rapporteurs - the UN’s main system of human rights monitoring by independent experts. The same group has now proposed the establishment of a Legal Committee to enforce compliance with the Code through sanctions. Other governments, the SRs, and civil society groups are highly critical of the way in which the Code has been used so far to stifle the work of the monitors and strongly oppose the creation of any compliance mechanism. The Article notes the powerful pressures which have succeeded in insisting that almost all international actors should be accountable to their principals, and explores the strongest case that can be made for exempting SRs from this general trend. It concludes that existing forms of accountability are weak, and probably inadequate, but that serious concerns about the undermining of the SRs independence are also warranted. It calls for a new approach which recognizes the multifaceted nature of the notions of independence and accountability and ends with a specific proposal for a legal committee designed to strengthen both values and enhance the legitimacy of the system as a whole.

Source: New York University Public Law and Legal Theory Working Papers

Download full pdf publication
| Link to online abstract

Threatening Communications and Behavior: Perspectives on the Pursuit of Public Figures

Today's world of rapid social, technological, and behavioral change provides new opportunities for communications with few limitations of time and space. Through these communications, people leave behind and ever-growing collection of traces of their daily activities, including digital footprints provided by text, voice, and other modes of communication. Meanwhile, new techniques for aggregating and evaluating diverse and multimodal information sources are available to security services that must reliably identify communications indicating a high likelihood of future violence.

In the context of this changed and changing world of communications and behavior, the Board on Behavioral, Cognitive, and Sensory Sciences of the National Research Council presents this volume of three papers as one portion of the vast subject of threatening communications and behavior. The papers review the behavioral and social sciences research on the likelihood that someone who engages in abnormal and/or threatening communications will actually then try to do harm. The focus is on how the scientific knowledge can inform and advance future research on threat assessments, in part by considering the approaches and techniques used to analyze communications and behavior in the dynamic context of today's world.

The papers in the collection were written within the context of protecting high-profile public figures from potential attach or harm. The research, however, is broadly applicable to U.S. national security including potential applications for analysis of communications from leaders of hostile nations and public threats from terrorist groups. This work highlights the complex psychology of threatening communications and behavior, and it offers knowledge and perspectives from multiple domains that contribute to a deeper understanding of the value of communications in predicting and preventing violent behaviors.

Source: National Academies Press

Link to download publication at NAP

Understanding Society: Early findings from the first wave of the UK’s household longitudinal study

Understanding Society is a world leading study of the socio-economic circumstances and attitudes of 100,000 individuals in 40,000 British households.

It is funded by the Economic and Social Research Council (ESRC) and run by the Institute for Social and Economic Research (ISER). The study allows for deeper analysis of a wide range of sections of the population as they respond to regional, national and international change. Understanding Society will greatly enhance our insight into the pathways that influence peoples longer term occupational trajectories; their health and well-being, their financial circumstances and personal relationships.

Understanding Society also breaks new ground with its interdisciplinary focus. The study will capture biomedical data on 20,000 participants and place this alongside rich social histories, helping us weigh the extent to which people's environment influences their health.

Source: Economic and Social Research Council.

Download full pdf publication: Understanding Society:Early findings from the first wave of the UK’s household longitudinal study

Link to site where downloads are available by chapter.

Friday, March 25, 2011

RAND Report: A Worksite Parenting Program That Works

Summarizes research on Talking Parents, Healthy Teens, a worksite-based parenting program designed by RAND and University of California at Los Angeles researchers that improves communication between parents and their adolescents on sexual health.

Source: Rand Corporation

Download full pdf publication | Link to online report at RAND

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Peer Review in Academic Promotion and Publishing: Its Meaning, Locus, and Future

From the abstract:

The challenges of assessing the current and future state of peer review are exacerbated by pressing questions of how the significant costs of high-quality scholarly publishing can be borne in the face of calls for alternative, usually university-based and open access, publishing models for both journals and books. There is additionally the insidious and destructive “trickle down” of tenure and promotion requirements from elite research universities to less competitive and non-research-intensive institutions. The entire system is further stressed by the mounting—and often unrealistic—government pressure on scholars in developed and emerging economies alike to publish their research in the most select peer-reviewed outlets, ostensibly to determine the distribution of government funds (via research assessment exercises) and/or to meet national imperatives to achieve research distinction internationally. The global effect is a growing glut of low-quality publications that strains the efficient and effective practice of peer review, a practice that is, itself, primarily subsidized by universities in the form of faculty salaries. Library budgets and preservation services for this expansion of peer-reviewed publication have run out. Faculty time spent on peer review, in all of its guises, is being exhausted.

Source: Center for Studies in Higher Education, UC Berkeley

Download full pdf publication | Link to eScholarship Repository

status of women in science and engineering at MIT

From MIT News
Follow-up to previous reports shows improvement, but that still more can be done.

In the last decade, there has been a near doubling in the number of women faculty in science and engineering at MIT, and those women have an increasingly positive experience at the Institute, according to a new report released today. However, there are still issues that need to be resolved to increase the recruitment, retention and equity of women faculty members at the Institute, the report notes.

A follow-up of two previous MIT reports, from 1999 and 2002, this new study examined the status of women faculty in the School of Science and the School of Engineering. It was commissioned as part of MIT's 150th anniversary, and coincides with an upcoming symposium, "Leaders in Science and Engineering: the Women of MIT," which will take place at Kresge Auditorium on March 28 and March 29.

The 1999 and 2002 reports showed that women faculty members at MIT felt professionally marginalized — through access to fewer resources and exclusion from departmental decision-making, for example. The reports had remarkable impact both at MIT and nationally, identifying several areas that needed to be addressed: the low number of women faculty, their exclusion from administrative decisions and the difficulty for them in combining work and family responsibilities.

Download full pdf publication | Link to MIT News Item

How Many Hispanics? Comparing Census Counts and Census Estimates

The number of Hispanics counted in the 2010 Census has been larger than expected in most states for which the Census Bureau has released detailed population totals so far, according to an analysis by the Pew Hispanic Center, a project of the Pew Research Center. The gap between the Census 2010 count and Census Bureau population estimates has been widest in states with relatively small Hispanic populations.

Source: Pew Hispanic Center

Download full pdf report | Link to online overview