Letter from the President
Events over the past few weeks have left me with so many questions. Social injustice, racism, and health inequity are weighty challenges. I was saddened to hear a colleague, a pioneer who has devoted a lifetime to understanding the effects of these issues on health and society, has been repeatedly told that the methods used are weak, anecdotal, and not ‘hard science’ – to the point of not feeling welcome in our community. Yet, top tier journals are rapidly publishing so called hard science on COVID-19 that is misleading at best, after peer review by the same community that is unwelcoming of mixed methods and qualitative research. Why are we willing to sacrifice quality for speed? Why do we revere big numbers and statistics yet dismiss thoughtful observation?
I am not a student of Greek literature or history; I am a student of numbers and quantitative science. But, I am reminded of Aristotle’s writings, and of Aesop’s fables. According to Aristotle, inductive reasoning, drawing insight from observation, is the very foundation of science:
“If, therefore, it is the only other kind of true thinking except scientific knowing, intuition will be the originative source of scientific knowledge.”
Every case report or unexpected experimental result is the foundation of new theories and ideas that can then be subsequently tested through deductive reasoning, or application of ‘hard science.’ The qualitative methods, the lifetime of my colleague’s research, are the very foundation of new theories of cause and effect that we can use to develop interventions that will have a direct impact on our health and welfare. It is time to embrace diversity, of people, of thinking, and of ideas and to recollect the whole of the scientific method. To meet the challenge of injustice and inequity, team science has never been more important.
While Aristotle tells us about the importance of both the observation and the subsequent testing of a hypothesis, Aesop tells us about the consequences of going too fast without paying attention. Do you recall the tale of the hare and the tortoise? The tortoise challenges the hare to a race. The hare has almost won but is conceited and careless. He takes a nap to mock the tortoise. The tortoise passes the hare while he slumbers and goes on to win the race. As my parents used to tell me – “more haste, less speed.” To meet the challenge of COVID-19, we cannot just be fast. We must be rigorous, and our science must be the best it has ever been. To do otherwise is not just to suffer the fate of the hare, but to undermine the credibility of science and the scientific method while allowing untold suffering among those who will not benefit and may be harmed because of our misguided priorities. This need not be the outcome.
The main question I have right now is where do we go from here? I do not know the answer. I can assure you that ACTS is deeply committed to the principles of respect and team science, and to scientific rigor. Learning from history instead of repeating past mistakes, let’s make a difference together.
Christopher John Lindsell, PhD
ACTS Career Center
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Join the Evaluation SIG on Wednesday, July 8 at 12:00 pm EST for a free live webinar entitled Current Trends in Qualitative Methodology for Translational Science Research and Evaluation.
In this one-hour webinar, five experts will demonstrate the application of current qualitative methods to evaluate clinical and translational science programs, organizations, and enterprises.
This session was originally scheduled for Translational Science 2020 and is co-sponsored by the ACTS Evaluation SIG and the American Evaluation Association (AEA) Translational Research Evaluation Topical Interest Group (TRE TIG).
Interested in participating? Register for the session here.
Are you a medical or public health researcher who would like to learn a bit more about biostatistics? Or, do you work with medical or public health researchers who would like to learn a bit more about biostatistics? If so, check out the recently launched Biostats4you website.
The Biostats4you website identifies and reviews biostatistical training tools and resources for medical and public health researchers and professionals who wish to learn more about biostatistics. It was developed by the University of Minnesota CTSI’s Biostatistical Design and Analysis Center (BDAC) in partnership with the Association for Clinical and Translational Science (ACTS) Biostatistics, Epidemiology and Research Design Special Interest Group (BERD-SIG). Each of the training resources is reviewed by leading experts in biostatistics who make up the BERD SIG workgroup. The site fills a need for aggregated, high-quality training tools that are accessible to a wide audience.
The Biostats4you website currently contains resources organized into four topics:
- Sample Size Calculators,
- Power and Sample Size Concepts,
- Data Collection and Management, and
- Finding and Working with a Biostatistician.
Biostats4you continues to grow and showcase more tools and training materials. We welcome feedback and input from clinicians, researchers, biostatisticians and other site users, including suggestions for additional topics and resources to include. Feel free to contact the BERD-SIG workgroup leader, Ann Brearley (email@example.com), with comments and suggestions.
Journal of Clinical and Translational Science
Volume 4 / Issue 2 of the Journal of Clinical and Translational Science is available online!
JCTS's mission is to provide a forum for the rapid communication of topics of interest and relevance to the large and diverse community of clinical and translational scientists with the goal of improving the efficiency with which health needs inform research and new diagnostics, therapies, and preventive measures reach the public. The Association for Clinical and Translational Science has partnered with the American Physician Scientists Association (APSA) and the Clinical Research Forum (CRF) to support the growth and development of JCTS.
Submit your article today to be featured in future issues of JCTS! Please also visit the JCTS website for information on our themed issue related to Design, Development, Evaluation, and Dissemination of Team Science Interventions in Clinical and Translational Research.
Translational Science Today
Addressing racism, equity and diversity in the sciences
On June 10, researchers around the world are undertaking deliberate efforts to challenge systemic anti-Black racism in science and academia. And in light of recent events, which follow patterns going back to the earliest days of our nation,...