Research funding from the dairying and soft drink industries could be declined on ethical grounds under proposals being worked through by the University of Canterbury.Who the hell cares who funds research? Surely the issue is the quality of the research, not who funds it. If research is able to be published in peer-reviews journals or books hasn't it meet the standards required of academic research? After all if someone thinks you have said or done something wrong in your paper they can write a response to your work pointing out the error. Such a thing is not unusual.
The university is in the midst of a wide-ranging debate about ethical research funding - who academics should and shouldn't accept money from, and for what research purpose.
Currently, research funding from the tobacco and armaments industries could be declined.
Some academics have argued that should extend to certain industry-funded alcohol, gambling, dairying, mining and soft drink research.
Others believed there should be no prohibition and that the acceptance of funding should be left to individual moral judgements.Some sanity after all.
Later we are told,
Professor Sally Casswell, a Massey University public health researcher with a particular focus on alcohol, said she strongly believed research funding should not be accepted from the alcohol industry.But let me guess, she has no problems whatsoever about researchers taking money from anti-alcohol groups.
Such funding was an attempt by the industry to position itself as a partner in policy research, Professor Casswell said, but only industry-friendly policies were supported.And of course the anti-alcohol groups support all research on alcohol not just industry-unfriendly work. You may not like the conclusions reached by some research but you should play the ball not the man.
Eric Crampton makes good sense on this issue:
However, Dr Eric Crampton, head of research at the NZ Initiative think-tank, said industry-funded research could be extremely valuable, so long as funding arrangements were disclosed and unethical behaviour could be censured.Yes indeed. All research money comes with strings attached, that's why you judge research not on the source of funding but on the quality of the output produced. Unless, of course, you want to make sure your views are the only ones heard.
Dr Crampton previously worked at the University of Canterbury's economics department and was frequently critical of research on the societal harm from alcohol.
He maintains an adjunct senior fellow position with the department.
One-fifth of his university position was funded through a grant from the Brewers Association of Australia and New Zealand, he said, "and everything that I did was totally up for anybody to look at or comment on, or censure me if I was behaving badly".
"It is distortionary to automatically believe that industry funding is bad and evil and that government money comes with no strings and no agenda."