Category Archives: Research

Academic researchers and their ideas.

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Dispute Among Scholars Dooms Gift to Russian-Studies Group

A controversy among scholars of Russian studies has resulted in the death of a proposed gift to a major association that would have provided much-needed financial support for the discipline, The New York Times reports.

The dispute concerns the Russia scholar Stephen F. Cohen, who is an emeritus professor at New York and Princeton Universities. Mr. Cohen’s views about American foreign policy in Ukraine are controversial, and he has been described as an apologist for Vladimir V. Putin, Russia’…

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Academics vs. ‘Ballghazi,’ Round 2

News outlets are no longer the only ones asking academics about the science of deflated footballs. Investigators for the National Football League have approached physics professors at Columbia University to help them understand how footballs supplied by the New England Patriots might have lost two pounds of air pressure during the first half of a conference championship game last week.

After first calling the university’s physics department, a representative of the law firm hired by the league…

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Physics Professors Tackle the NFL’s ‘Ballghazi’ Scandal

The National Football League’s “Ballghazi” scandal (also known as “Deflategate”) continues to threaten our national innocence, and some news media have turned to academe for answers.

After winning their conference-title game on Sunday, earning a place in the Super Bowl, the New England Patriots came under suspicion because 11 of the 12 footballs they supplied for the game were found to be underinflated two pounds per square inch below the league’s minimum standard, arguably making them easier to…

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28 Universities to Participate in AAU’s Sexual-Assault Survey

Only 27 of the Association of American Universities’ member institutions will participate in the organization’s much-publicized survey on campus sexual assault, according to a news release from the association. They will be joined by one non-member, Dartmouth College, in administering the survey, which will begin in April.

The participants represent less than half of the AAU’s members, some of whom have said they would not participate because they planned their own surveys, among other reasons. …

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Former Iowa State U. Scientist Will Plead Guilty in Research-Fraud Case

A former Iowa State University researcher who resigned in 2013 after being accused of falsifying results of an AIDS-vaccine study will plead guilty to federal fraud charges, The Des Moines Register reports.

A spokesman for the U.S. attorney’s office in Des Moines said he could not discuss details of any plea agreement in advance of its being filed in court. The high-profile charges have drawn the attention of, among others, U.S. Sen. Charles E. Grassley, Republican of Iowa, who has called for st…

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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…

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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…

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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…

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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 …

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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 …