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Strangled science: Govt asks dumb questions and scientists lie to get grants

It’s just another way the bureaucracy is throttling science. In grant applications the government asks scientists to tell us what impact the discoveries they haven’t made yet will have on the world. The scientists dutifully make something up, knowing the whole process is unscientific, but what does it matter? A little lie here, a little lie there and pretty soon we’re rewarding corruption.

Does Government-science punish the honest? Everyone behaves as if it does:

Another professor in Australia said: “It’s really virtually impossible to write an (Australian Research Council) ARC grant now without lying.”

Times Higher Education

Academics ‘regularly lie to get research grants’

Scholars in the UK and Australia contemptuous of impact statements and often exaggerate them, study suggests

A new study anonymously interviewed 50 senior academics from two research-intensive universities – one in the UK and one in Australia – who had experience writing “pathways to impact” (PIS) statements, as they are called in the UK, and in some cases had also reviewed such statements.

It was normal to sensationalise and embellish impact claims, the study published in Studies in Higher Education found.

We reward those who exaggerate, then wonder what happened to the straight-talkers.

Respondents said that future projections of impact were “charades” or “made-up stories”. As one UK professor put it: “would I believe it? No, would it help me get the money – yes.”

 The whole idea of predicting the impact of the undiscovered is “unscientific”. One scientist lamented that “authors would require skills of clairvoyance …”

Would it help if that impact statement was printed in the Sydney Morning Herald?

If scientists want this to change they need to protest, not pander. But after decades of the grant game, how many real scientists are left?



UPDATE: See Gee Aye try to defend current scientists and my response #21.

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