Category Archives: Research

Academic researchers and their ideas.


U. of Colorado Returns Coca-Cola Money Used for Controversial Advocacy Group

The University of Colorado’s medical school is returning a $1-million grant from the Coca-Cola Company after revelations that the money was used to finance a research and advocacy group that urged people to focus more on exercise than how many calories they consume, The New York Times reported.

The group, known as the Global Energy Balance Network, was described in a news release from a wellness center on the university’s medical campus in March as an international network of researchers who wer…


What Was Jan Boxill Thinking? 3 Gems From Her Inbox

To many in academe, the most intriguing question following last year’s bombshell report of widespread academic fraud at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill was not “How could this happen?” but, instead, “What was Jan Boxill thinking?”

Ms. Boxill, an ethicist and former chair of the Chapel Hill faculty, was found to have been a willing participant in the fake-classes scheme, conspiring to manufacture grades in order to keep athletes eligible to compete when she was an academic counsel…


Berkeley Astronomers Call for Professor’s Departure After Harassment Allegations

The University of California at Berkeley’s astronomy department has called on the university to expel the professor whose alleged sexual harassment of graduate students has roiled the discipline. In a letter, the department’s members said their goal of having a “supportive, open climate” had been “compromised” by the policies surrounding the university’s investigation of Geoffrey W. Marcy.

“We urge the UC Berkeley administration to re-evaluate its response to Marcy, who has been found in violati…


Charges of Harassment by Famous Astronomer Prompt Soul-Searching About Sexism in the Sciences

The University of California at Berkeley is facing fierce criticism over its handling of an internal investigation that found that a prominent astronomy professor had repeatedly violated the institution’s policies against sexual harassment.

The subject of the inquiry, Geoffrey W. Marcy, is widely considered one of the world’s foremost researchers of “exoplanets” — planets orbiting stars outside the solar system. Mr. Marcy has been mentioned as a contender for the Nobel Prize in Physics.

In a rep…


Scientist Bars Countries That Let In Refugees From Using His Software

A German scientist has prohibited access to a widely used research tool he owns in European countries that he says are welcoming too many refugees, the magazine Science reports. Gangolf Jobb has pulled access to his Treefinder software, which lets researchers map species’ evolutionary ties, from scientists in Austria, Belgium, Britain, Denmark, France, Germany, the Netherlands, and Sweden.

“Immigration to my country harms me, it harms my family, it harms my people,” Mr. Jobb wrote on his website…


Charges Are Dropped Against Temple Professor Accused of Sharing Tech With China

The U.S. Department of Justice on Friday dropped all charges against a Temple University physics professor who had been accused of sharing semiconductor technology with China, The New York Times reported.

The professor, Xi Xiaoxing, had been charged with four counts of wire fraud. At the time the charges were announced, he was chairman of Temple’s physics department, but the university stripped him of that title and placed him on administrative leave.

Mr. Xi maintained that he was innocent, and …


Historians’ Group Issues Guidelines on Digital Scholarship, Tenure, and Promotion

The American Historical Association has published guidelines for how historians’ digital scholarship should be counted toward tenure and promotion.

According to the guidelines, scholars should be encouraged to experiment with digital scholarship, but must be prepared to explain the benefits of the digital medium to their departments. Meanwhile, departments are advised to make explicit which modes of digital scholarship will count toward tenure and promotion, among other things.

Read the associat…


Academic Scientists Are Foot Soldiers in Battle Over Bioengineered Foods

In the vast lobbying campaign over the safety of genetically modified foods, academic researchers are turning up on both sides of the debate, paid by biotechnology and organic agribusinesses to provide “the gloss of impartiality and weight of authority that come with a professor’s pedigree,” according to The New York Times.

Citing emails obtained through open-records requests, the Times article describes how both sides, often at the urging of public-relations consultants, have used scientists’ r…


Universities Are Falling Behind on Reproducibility Reform, Scientists Say

When it comes to ensuring that their faculty members produce rigorous, reproducible research, universities are not making the grade, according to a critique published on Tuesday in the journal Nature by a trio of scientists.

While research journals and financing agencies, spurred by the growing awareness of a reproducibility crisis in disciplines like psychology and preclinical biomedicine, have taken steps to improve the rigor of their scientific work, universities — along with hospitals, gov…


Less Than Half of Major Social-Science Studies Are Reproducible, Analysis Says

A study has found that fewer than half of 100 major studies in the social sciences could be replicated to produce similar results, The New York Times reports. Published in Science, the analysis was conducted by a team of researchers led by Brian Nosek, a psychologist at the University of Virginia.

The team sought to reproduce 100 studies published in 2008, but in more than 60 cases, the results came out different. That’s not a result of fraud, the researchers say, but an indication that the evid…