Category Archives: Research

Academic researchers and their ideas.

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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 …

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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…

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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, …

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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…

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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…

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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…
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If You’ve Dressed Up as a Polar Bear in Front of Reindeer, Read This

You’re on a research expedition at the North Pole to study reindeer while dressed in a polar-bear suit. You’re hungry, so you pull out a piece of toast you’ve packed for the day. Lo and behold, its shape is the spitting image of Jesus Christ. You rush back to base to tell your research partner (stopping once to let your husky defecate, though he can’t settle on an orientation in which to do so, which is strange). When you get back to base, your partner is unimpressed and says, “That’s not Jesus….

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Supporters of Israel Say Programs in Middle East Studies Misuse U.S. Funds

Several groups supportive of Israel are urging Congress to overhaul a federal grant program to keep funds from going to programs in Middle East studies that show an anti-Israel bias.

In a joint statement issued on Wednesday, the groups argue that Title VI of the Higher Education Act, which provides funds to international-studies and foreign-language centers to educate the public and train security specialists, is being misused “to support biased, politicized, and imbalanced programs of Middle …