Web Review: Government Science and Technology Information

Excerpts from my August 2009 quarterly "Web Reviews" Column: The State of the Nation: Government Science and Technology Sites (August 2009). SciTech News. 64 (3).

In July the Pew Research Center announced (1) survey results indicating that Americans undervalue our nation's scientific progress. Only 17% of the public surveyed agree that US scientific discoveries are the "best in the world" (an assumption that citation patterns would support). In turn, a majority of scientists surveyed from the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS) feel that their research is inadequately covered by the media and that the "public does not know very much about science."
So what is the solution? In the digital age the burden cannot fall on the media alone to report scientific achievements. Instead we can rely on the fast exchange of information that the web provides and made publically funded research available to all. Scientific government agencies do this and more by providing reports, articles, and raw data to anyone savvy enough to navigate their myriad of interfaces and numerous .gov's available. Here is a concise list of a few that are attempting to help the public find the scientific information they need...understanding those reports can still a problem for the media.
(1) Pew Research Center for the People and the Press. (2009). "Public Praises Science; Scientists Fault Public, Media Scientific Achievements Less Prominent Than a Decade Ago" Accessed July 29, 2009 at http://people-press.org/report/528/

Download the full pre-print or try the reviewed sites for yourself (recommended in bold):

Other sci-tech government agencies:

Defense Technical Information Center, http://www.dtic.mil
National Agricultural Library, http://www.nalusda.gov
Department of Homeland Security Research, http://www.dhs.gov/xres
Environmental Protection Agency, http://www.epa.gov/nscep
Federal Communications Commission, http://www.fcc.gov
National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, http://www.noaa.gov
National Science Foundation, http://www.nsf.gov
US Patent and Trademark Office, http://www.uspto.gov