Category Archives: Research

Academic researchers and their ideas.


British Regulator Investigates Controversial Facebook Study

A government regulator in Britain will investigate whether Facebook violated data-protection laws by conducting a study that manipulated the emotions of unknowing users, the Financial Times reports.

The information commissioner’s office, which has the authority to force a company to change its policies or levy fines of up to £500,000, did not elaborate on which part of the law Facebook may have broken.

The study, which was conducted in 2012 by Facebook but designed by researchers at Cornell Univ…


Former Iowa State U. Scientist Pleads Not Guilty in Research-Fraud Case

A former scientist at Iowa State University pleaded not guilty on Tuesday to charges that he falsified research for an AIDS vaccine to secure millions of dollars in federal funding, the Associated Press reported.

The scientist, Dong-Pyou Han, resigned from his post as an assistant professor of biomedical sciences at Iowa State last fall after admitting responsibility for fraudulent findings in the case.

Mr. Han faces four felony counts of making false statements, each of which carries a maximum …


Marijuana Researcher Says She Lost Job at U. of Arizona Over Her Advocacy

Suzanne A. Sisley, a clinical assistant professor of psychiatry at the University of Arizona’s College of Medicine who is known for her research on marijuana, has accused the institution of not renewing her contract after her advocacy created unwanted attention for the institution, the Los Angeles Times has reported.

In March, Dr. Sisley received a green light from the federal government to study whether marijuana could benefit veterans who suffer from post-traumatic stress. The study had previo…


Embattled Former Literacy Specialist Sues U. of North Carolina

Mary C. Willingham, a former learning specialist at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill whose research called into question the literacy of athletes there, has sued the university, WRAL-TV reports.

Ms. Willingham, who resigned at the end of the spring semester, told the station that she had asked the UNC system’s Board of Governors to reinstate her. The university said in April that an external review had found that her claims about athletes’ literacy were unsupported. She did not o…


Top Biology Labs Run by Men Hire Fewer Female Scientists

Report: “Elite Male Faculty in the Life Sciences Employ Fewer Women”

Authors: Jason M. Sheltzer, a graduate student in biology at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, and Joan C. Smith, a software engineer at Twitter

Publication: Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences

Summary: Biology attracts many female graduate students and postdocs, but female faculty members in the field aren’t nearly as prevalent. The authors thought one reason might be that top scientists—who run the labs…


UCLA Professor Settles in Case of Lab Fire That Killed Research Assistant

A professor at the University of California at Los Angeles has agreed to pay $10,000 and perform 800 hours of community service as part of a settlement that may bring to a close the case of a 2008 lab fire that killed a research assistant, the Los Angeles Times reports.

Patrick G. Harran, an organic-chemistry professor, had been charged with four counts of willfully violating state health and safety standards in connection with the lab fire. In the incident Sheharbano (Sheri) Sangji was splashed…


U. of Ark. Library Draws Scrutiny Over Treatment of Conservative News Site

The University of Arkansas’s library has suspended the research privileges of a conservative news website, the Washington Free Beacon, and has drawn criticism for the decision. The Free Beacon said its suspension followed its publication of an article about Hillary Clinton’s 1975 defense of a man who was accused of raping a 12-year-old girl. The article drew on audio recordings from the library’s special collections, which the website published.

The Free Beacon said it had received a letter from…


10 Years Later, Drug-Trial Suicide at U. of Minnesota Will Be Reviewed

After a decade of controversy surrounding the suicide of a participant in a schizophrenia-drug trial, an auditor will review the University of Minnesota’s research practices, the Star Tribune reports. James R. Nobles, the state’s legislative auditor, will investigate both the 2004 drug trial in which Dan Markingson was participating when he committed suicide, and the state of the university’s psychiatric-research practices today.

In the past Mr. Nobles has declined to investigate the matter, but…


Judge Says He Will Not Unseal Records of Boston College’s Belfast Project

A federal judge said on Tuesday that he would not unseal records related to the Belfast Project, Boston College’s oral history of the conflict in Northern Ireland, The Boston Globe reported.

Judge William G. Young of the U.S. District Court in Boston said during a hearing that he did not have transcripts from the project but had only reviewed them and returned them to the college. NBC News sought the release of the documents in May.

The project has been the subject of controversy since the U.S. …


Scientists, Calculate Your Chances of Success in Academe

The likelihood that a scientist will find success in the academic-job market is highly predictable, and it depends largely on his or her publication record, according to the journal Current Biology.

The probability of becoming a principal investigator, according to the researchers behind the article, hinges mostly on three variables: the number of articles, the “impact factor” of the journals in which the articles were published, and the number of papers receiving more citations than the expecte…