About Us
Write for Us
Media Info
Advertising Info

Study reveals: Academics exaggerate the impact of their research on society in order to obtain grant money


(NaturalNews) Finding a job in this economy can be a cutthroat business at times. The world of academia is no exception. According to a recent study published in the Studies in Higher Education, many academics exaggerate the impact their research will have on society in order to obtain grant money.

The authors of the study interviewed senior academics based in the UK and Australia. The interviewees reported that projections forecasting the impact research projects will have on the public are "charades," "illusions," "virtually meaningless," and in some cases, "made up stories," reports The Conversation.

Until recently, hyperbole attached to science and health-related claims was largely attributed to the mainstream media. Academics aren't immune to hyperbole, however. Scientists working on the fundamentals of human nature, for example, might be coaxed into claiming their research will boost the overall happiness of society, when in reality, the causal relationship between the two is not so cut and dry.

In the UK, researchers have to provide evidence for the benefits their research will have outside the towers of academia. It is required that all applications seeking funding from the UK research council write up a section in their proposal predicting the impact the project might have on society.

Anger ensues among academics over grant application requirements

Several academics based in the UK are outraged about having to highlight the benefits their research could have on the public at large in order to receive funding. They believe that this new feature limits the marketplace of ideas, because it treats knowledge as instrumentally valuable rather than intrinsically valuable.

The authors of the study tried to gauge researchers' responses to how their research contributed to the public good, especially during times when funding was limited and competition was fierce. They interviewed both authors and reviewers of impact studies from a myriad of disciplines, including the arts, humanities, and biological and physical sciences, from two prestigious institutions in the UK and Australia.

Although several academics agreed that they ought to communicate the benefits of their research to the public, many opposed the way in which funders require researchers to predict the "impact" of their studies in funding applications. The authors of the study found that if the immediate benefits of a particular research study aren't obvious, academics feel they have to exaggerate the benefits of the study in order to receive grant money. Many researchers felt that sensationalism and hyperbole were unfortunate, though necessary, in order to survive in academia.

According to one Australian research professor the authors of the study interviewed:

"If you can find me a single academic who hasn't had to bullshit or bluff or lie or embellish in order to get grants, then I will find you an academic who is in trouble with his Head of Department. If you don't play the game, you don't do well by your university. So anyone that's so ethical that they won't bend the rules in order to play the game is going to be in trouble, which is deplorable."

Following in the trail of these remarks, a UK professor told the researchers, "Would I believe it? No. Would it help me get the money? Yes."

Damned if you do, damned if you don't

In many cases, academics feel as if they have a gun to their head. On the one hand, if they don't exaggerate the potential benefits of their research, they won't be able to advance their careers. On the other hand, it's difficult to determine all the potential benefits any single research project might have, and in many cases, the potential benefits noted are completely off target.

Some of the academics interviewed said that they felt conflicted about having to exaggerate the potential benefits of their research. Competition in higher education is fierce, especially in the UK and Australia. Although academia is not without its fair share of charlatans and lunatics, many researchers are simply trying to survive. They aren't failing the system as much as the system is failing them. With this background in mind, it should be unsurprising, as the epidemiologist John Ioannidis noted in a blockbuster 2005 paper, that "most published research findings are false."

Sources include:





Receive Our Free Email Newsletter

Get independent news alerts on natural cures, food lab tests, cannabis medicine, science, robotics, drones, privacy and more.

comments powered by Disqus
Most Viewed Articles

Natural News Wire (Sponsored Content)

Science News & Studies
Medicine News and Information
Food News & Studies
Health News & Studies
Herbs News & Information
Pollution News & Studies
Cancer News & Studies
Climate News & Studies
Survival News & Information
Gear News & Information
News covering technology, stocks, hackers, and more