Category Archives: Research

Academic researchers and their ideas.


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…


Northeastern U. Will Pay $2.7 Million to Settle Claims It Mishandled Research Funds

Northeastern University has agreed to pay a $2.7-million penalty to resolve allegations by the federal government that it didn’t adequately keep track of research funds from the National Science Foundation.

According to a news release from the U.S. Department of Justice, Northeastern improperly accounted for research funds awarded over a 10-year period to a physics professor then employed by the university, with some of the money being used for personal expenses. The department also says Northea…


3 Military Psychologists Accuse Torture Investigator of ‘Bias’ and ‘Grandstanding’

Three Army psychologists have harshly criticized an independent investigation that found that the American Psychological Association had colluded with the Department of Defense in shaping ethics rules related to torture, accusing its author of “prosecutorial bias” and “grandstanding rhetoric.”

In a statement posted to an APA email list over the weekend, the three psychologists wrote that the 542-page report put together by David H. Hoffman, a former federal prosecutor, “ignores or distorts key f…


Vanderbilt Releases More Information on Elusive Red-Tape Study

Vanderbilt University has released more information about its noted red-tape study, which for months has been trumpeted by some observers as evidence of smothering government regulation in higher education. The Chronicle has repeatedly requested access to the study, which asserts the university spent roughly $150 million to comply with regulations in 2013-14.

The information, released on Friday, takes the form of a fact sheet, a PowerPoint presentation, and a summary that reiterate key points re…