Impact of Social Sciences – The FIRST Act’s demand for relevance at the expense of replication puts the entire scientific enterprise at risk.
gavinbaker's bookmarks 2014-06-23
"The United States’ controversial FIRST Act would have profound implications for how social science research is managed and its funding allocated. David Takeuchi argues that even if the act doesn’t pass, it is clear that politicians are demanding more of a say in federally funded research. While a push to ensure research remains relevant can be a good thing, scientists and politicians must not forget that initial outcomes do not constitute substantive evidence. Scientific integrity and replication shouldn’t have to be sacrificed in order to meet political timeframes. A few weeks ago, I penned an Op Ed for the Boston Globe alerting colleagues and the general public about impending legislation that could have severe negative implications for those engaged in social science inquiry. Called the Frontiers in Innovation, Research, Science, and Technology Act, or FIRST Act, the new law, if enacted, would limit funding directed to American social science projects, while empowering politicians, at the expense of scientists, to define our nation’s priorities in research. It’s probable that FIRST will come out of committee and before our Congress in the coming weeks, and that, as is often the case, a potential vote would be determined according to party lines. By and large, Republicans would support the legislation, using fiscal austerity as a catch phrase to gather more control on the kinds of science they’d like to fund ('areas that promote economic growth,' according to one prominent Republican congressman), and away from the kind of science they’d prefer not to fund (such as climate change). Most Democrats, on the other hand, would be likely to vote against the bill, supporting the idea that funding decisions should be left to those who have devoted their life’s work to research ..."