As the new decade unfolds, a remarkable trend is evident in the world. In 2020, the global community and the media have been focused on the surge of a novel virus, the spread of African swine fever, wildfires, outbreak of desert locust, and debates on the safe use of agricultural technology. These challenges have similar characteristics – they span borders, have significant economic outcomes, and require global scientific collaboration to effectively address them. Public policy makers look to researchers to advance critical knowledge and offer solutions, and this research requires international collaboration. For success, however, efforts must be grounded in foundational principles and values that support international science.
Core research values include openness, transparency, reciprocity, and merit-based competition. Openness and transparency are critical because they support reproducibility of results, promote accurate interpretation of findings, and help ensure appropriate disclosure of conflicts of commitment or interest (which is vital for fairly awarding research investments). Reciprocity ensures all parties mutually benefit from contributing to the research, meaning the contribution of each party needs to be proportionally aligned with what they receive, as perceived by each collaborator. Merit-based competition provides support to the best ideas. Together, these values provide the pillars for engagement. Yet, in a dynamic global research landscape with changing actors, shifting influence, and novel ways of working, we can’t take these values for granted. Foundational values need to be actively supported and promoted by all sectors, including agriculture.
In February, USDA had the opportunity to promote these core research values during the G20 Meeting of the Agricultural Chief Scientists (G20 MACS) in Saudi Arabia. USDA’s delegation, led by the Office of the Chief Scientist and the Mission Area for Research, Education, and Economics, worked with counterparts to capture the roles of openness, transparency, and reciprocity in the G20 MACS communique. The values were also discussed in the plenary and during informal engagement.
In addition to the G20 MACS, USDA looks forward to advancing the conversation on core research values and principles through our strong network of international collaborations.