July 14, 2017

Scientists and researchers, not CEOs and politicians

Funding decisions and research granting agencies should be free from political and corporate influence.

To facilitate the transfer of funding from discovery-driven research to market-driven research, the federal government has changed the composition of the boards of the granting councils, appointing industry and political figures at the expense of scientific experts. Furthermore, public agencies such as the National Research Council are seeing their mandate narrowed and explicitly tied to industrial interests.

When governments bind research too closely to industry needs or political preferences, clear dangers arise. The commercialization of research can undermine the integrity of public research. Industrial partners, interested in preserving their commercial interests, have attempted to suppress or delay the publication of research results and to steer research away from inquiry that promises public benefit but offers little commercial profit.

The history of scientific progress has shown that the economic, social and environmental benefits of research can only be fully realized if governments recognize that good research does not emerge from political diktats or narrow industrial demands. The value of scientific studies and projects is best assessed by impartial experts through peer review, not by politicians or special interests.

What we want:

Canadians and their elected representatives need unbiased and non-partisan advice on science policy.

  • The federal government should review its science policy based on the principle that research funding decisions should be free from political or corporate influence. Scientists and researchers, not CEOs and politicians, should decide who gets research funding. 

History professor Jacqueline Holler on the dangers of steering research funding: