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Just "Preliminary" Work

The US Department of Agriculture instructed researchers there to label work appearing in peer-reviewed, scientific journals as "preliminary," according to the Washington Post.

The directive came down last July from Chavonda Jacobs-Young, the acting USDA chief scientist, it adds, saying that the label scientists were told to include reads: "The findings and conclusions in this preliminary publication have not been formally disseminated by the US Department of Agriculture and should not be construed to represent any agency determination or policy."

Ed Gregorich, editor of the Journal of Environmental Quality and a researcher at Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada, tells the Post that researchers who see such a statement in a journal article would likely be "very confused" as peer-reviewed articles are "the end product to your research."

William Trenkle, the USDA departmental scientific integrity officer, tells the Post in a statement that the term "formally disseminated" refers to the publication of official agency positions and that the department plans to change the phrasing of the label soon.

The Post adds that the disclaimer appears to be a compromise that USDA researchers reached so that they would be able to publish their findings without having to get them officially reviewed as policy.