Scientists complain of industrial meddling in research
Hands off our results!
More than one in ten scientists working in the UK have been asked by private sector backers to tailor the conclusions of their research. Women are more likely to be asked than men, with 15 per cent saying they've been asked to alter their work, either to suit the funder's preferred outcome, to discourage publication of results or to win further research contracts.
These rather alarming findings are part of Professional Voices; a survey carried out by Prospect and the AUT (Association of University Teachers), the unions representing workers in the higher education sector, government and the NHS.
The survey revealed huge concern over a trend towards "short-termism", poor resourcing and the loss of respect for the work done. Over eighty per cent of those surveyed said their working lives would be improved by better funding, better career progression and better pay.
Nearly half of respondents said that they should be expected to produce work with commercial potential, but over 97 per cent see their primary responsibility as being to develop impartial and objective advice. One respondent said: "Our task is at least as much to identify the questions which policy-makers are not asking and possibly should ask rather than answer their questions". ®