Monday, 30 March 2009

EPSRC considers blacklisting measures

The Guardian reports that the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC) has 'announced plans to "blacklist" academic researchers who submit three unsuccessful research proposals in any one year and have a low personal success rate of winning grants'. The EPSRC has said the proposal will help to manage demand for grants. David Reid, EPSRC's head of communications is quoted as saying, "A small number of people put a disproportionate burden on the peer-review system. We're talking about weeding out consistently low-quality proposals."

However, the announcements have caused fear and anger in the chemistry community, with concern about the impact of such measures on scientist's careers and potential department closures as a result.

In a letter to the Guardian, Professor Joe Sweeney (University of Reading) states: 'This policy will not increase the number of scientific projects funded: only the success rate will improve. Thus, then it presents the ludicrous possibility that the distribution of public funding for science will now be judged not by quality, but by the amount of money, in a self-destructive negative-feedback loop: the less money available, the less success, and the higher the body count of blacklisted scientists.'

A petition against the policy has been set up on the Number 10 website.

Read the Guardian letter in full.
Read Professor Joe Sweeney's letter in full.
Sign/view the online petition.

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