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Friday, January 21, 2005

Grant Restrictions on "Objectionable" Reasearch

Okay, lemme get this straight. You get a grant to do some research. You're merrily doing your research, and then the granting agency decides that someone at your institution has done something which it sees as promoting or engaging in "violence, terrorrism, bigotry or the destruction of any state." So you may be researching a new drug and someone over in a totally different school, say School of Humanities and Sciences, that crosses the line somehow, maybe by studying the attraction of Islamic extremism in 12-20 year old Afghani males. Instead of that research director getting in trouble, you lose your grant even though you have nothing to do with that other person and have never met them nor were even vaguely even aware that they or their research existed.

For one, they clearly have no concept of how balkanized a university is. For two, this is a bizarre restriction. You should be judged on the merits or failings of your own research, not on what happens at the university with every dollar spent, not merely grant funds, but "all salaries, scholarships and university payments to outside vendors." For three, how do they judge whether any other activity on campus is promotion or engagment in the forbidden activities? It could be so easy for something to be misconstrued, and then you'd lose your grant through no fault of your own. Somehow that just doesn't seem quite right.


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