Thursday, February 20, 2014

Researchers Resist Pressure to Show Impact of Their Work

February 9, 2014
Aisha Labi, Chronicle of Higher Education

A few years ago, Philip Moriarty, a professor of physics at the University of Nottingham, had had enough. Mr. Moriarty was a member of a peer-review body for the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council, one of the agencies in Britain that control the purse strings of academic research. In 2009 the council began to require that applicants for grants include a "pathways to impact" statement outlining the potential economic and societal effects of their work and who might benefit from it and how. The professor objected, and eventually he said he would no longer review applications. "I said it would be unconscionable to take part in the process," he says.
Mr. Moriarty is one of a growing chorus of British academics troubled by the extent to which publicly financed research is now required to demonstrate its economic impact and value to society and how that emphasis may steer the direction of research.   Read more