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ResourcesResearch IntegritySeven Costs of the Money Chase: How Academia’s Focus on Funding Influences Scientific Progress – APS (James McKeen | September 2017)

Australasian Human Research Ethics Consultancy Services Pty Ltd (AHRECS)

Seven Costs of the Money Chase: How Academia’s Focus on Funding Influences Scientific Progress – APS (James McKeen | September 2017)

 


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This essay is adapted from the article “Psychology’s Replication Crisis and the Grant Culture: Righting the Ship,” published as part of the Special Symposium on the Future of Psychological Science in the July 2017 issue of Perspectives on Psychological Science.

You may recall Willie Sutton, the thief who, when asked by a reporter why he robbed banks, purportedly replied, “because that’s where the money is.” Whether or not Sutton actually said this (he denied it), the Willie Sutton Principle makes a point self-evident to those familiar with the matching law: When organisms, including academicians, are confronted with two or more choices that differ substantially in reinforcement value (read: grant dollars), they will apportion more of their efforts to the alternative possessing the highest reinforcement value. This pattern of behavior is amplified when administrators impose incentives (e.g., tenure, promotions, awards, salary increases, resources) and penalties (e.g., threats of being denied tenure, loss of laboratory space) tied to the acquisition of grant dollars.

As our field gradually rights the ship — addressing questionable research practices (QRPs) that have contributed to the replication crisis — we have been insufficiently proactive in confronting institutional obstacles that stand in the way of our scientific progress.

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