Category Archives: Research

Academic researchers and their ideas.


U. of Calif. to Pay $500,000 in Case Alleging Double Dipping by Researchers

The University of California will pay $499,700 to settle allegations that scientists on its Davis campus received research money from two federal agencies for the same project by submitting “false and misleading statements” in grant applications, the San Jose Mercury News reported.

A spokesman for UC-Davis said the project was in the material-science field and involved a five-year, $1.1-million grant from the Department of Energy and a one-year, $100,000 grant from the National Science Foundati…


Harvard Took Secret Photos of 2,000 Students for Attendance Study

Researchers at Harvard University secretly took photographs of roughly 2,000 students to study classroom attendance, prompting privacy complaints from faculty members, The Boston Globe reports.

Researchers in Harvard’s Initiative for Learning and Teaching conducted the study, which was approved by the university’s institutional review board and involved installing cameras in 10 classrooms in the spring of 2013. The cameras took one image every minute, and a computer program scanned the photos to…


Stanford U. Apologizes for Fliers That Rated Montana Candidates’ Politics

Stanford University has apologized for a research project that sent fliers to Montana residents rating the political leanings of candidates for the state’s Supreme Court, the Associated Press reports. The fliers, which bore Montana’s state seal, were condemned by its secretary of state, Linda McCulloch, who called them “deceitful.”

The university said it was investigating the methods of the project’s leaders, who are researchers at Stanford and Dartmouth College. “We do share the concerns that t…


Finally! Academics Describe Their Research in Terms We Can Understand

A few weeks ago, The Chronicle Review published an essay by Steven Pinker that took academics to task for their incomprehensible writing.

“In writing badly,” wrote Mr. Pinker, “we are wasting each other’s time, sowing confusion and error, and turning our profession into a laughingstock.” The implication is that academese could use a grand stroke of simplification.

What follows, however, might be taking things a little far.

Researchers took to Twitter over the weekend to rally around the hashtag …


University Paid $4.5-Million in Legal Fees for Fatal Lab Fire at UCLA

The University of California paid nearly $4.5-million in legal fees to defend itself and a UCLA professor in the case of a 2008 lab fire that left one dead, the Los Angeles Times reports. Records obtained by the Times show that nearly five dozen lawyers and other staff members billed the university for upwards of 7,700 hours of work on the case.

On December 29, 2008, a chemical ignited and burned a 23-year-old research assistant, Sheharbano (Sheri) Sangji, who died 18 days later. The professor …


Controversial Philosopher Will Step Down as Editor of Influential Rankings

Brian Leiter, the philosopher who has come under intense criticism in recent weeks for his caustic rhetoric, will step down as editor of The Philosophical Gourmet Report, an influential ranking of philosophy departments.

Mr. Leiter, director of the University of Chicago’s Center for Law, Philosophy, and Human Values, announced the change in a blog post on Friday, after the publication’s advisory board voted overwhelmingly in favor of the move. Mr. Leiter will remain the publication’s editor unti…


Army War College Revokes Senator’s Degree After Plagiarism Investigation

The U.S. Army War College has revoked Sen. John E. Walsh’s master’s degree after investigating allegations that he plagiarized his thesis, the Associated Press reports. Mr. Walsh, a Montana Democrat, said he disagrees with the investigation’s outcome but accepts the decision.

A July article in The New York Times revealed that Mr. Walsh had copied large portions of the thesis from other sources without attribution. The senator subsequently dropped his campaign for a full term in the U.S. Senate, …


U. of Illinois Chancellor Corrects ‘Serious Errors’ in 2006 Paper

Phyllis M. Wise, chancellor of the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, has made a significant correction to a paper, published in 2006, that presents non-original work as original, the blog Retraction Watch reports.

According to a correction in the journal Neuroscience, Ms. Wise’s paper contained “a number of serious errors” and was “written in a way that misleads the readers to think that it is an original article.” The article, “Estrogen Therapy: Does It Help or Hurt the Adult and Agin…


Facebook Announces Tighter Guidelines for Research on Its Users

Facebook announced new guidelines on Thursday for research on the social-media giant’s 1.3 billion users. The new oversight includes enhanced reviews of any proposed studies that would focus on particular groups or populations, or that would relate to “content that may be considered deeply personal (such as emotions),” the company said in a statement written by Mike Schroepfer, its chief technology officer.

The policy change followed a months-long debate over a controversial study that manipulat…


Carnegie Corp. Awards $5-Million to Tie International Research to Policy

Five international-affairs programs will split $5-million from the Carnegie Corporation of New York to finance projects aimed at bridging the gap between academic research and policy making.

The foundation announced on Tuesday the grant winners, each of which will receive $1-million over two years:

  • Columbia University’s School of International and Public Affairs
  • Syracuse University’s Maxwell School of Citizenship and Public Affairs
  • Tufts University’s Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy
  • The Uni…