Stanford denies Big Oil U. status

A Stanford University official has denied linkurl:allegations;http://www.the-scientist.com/blog/display/54188/ that the university's climate and energy research is influenced by its corporate sponsors. The linkurl:report,;http://cspinet.org/new/pdf/bigoilu.pdf released by Center for Science in the Public Interest accused Stanford and other major US universities of granting energy company sponsors control over research and publication. But Franklin Orr, the director of Stanford's linkurl:Global

Bob Grant
Bob Grant

Bob Grant is Editor in Chief of The Scientist, where he started in 2007 as a Staff Writer.

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Jan 22, 2008
A Stanford University official has denied linkurl:allegations;http://www.the-scientist.com/blog/display/54188/ that the university's climate and energy research is influenced by its corporate sponsors. The linkurl:report,;http://cspinet.org/new/pdf/bigoilu.pdf released by Center for Science in the Public Interest accused Stanford and other major US universities of granting energy company sponsors control over research and publication. But Franklin Orr, the director of Stanford's linkurl:Global Climate and Energy Project;http://gcep.stanford.edu/index.html (GCEP), said that its findings are inaccurate because CSPI boiled down the university's nuanced responses to survey questions to simple yes or no answers. For example, said Orr, for the question "Can the sponsors delay research publication?" Stanford scored a "yes." But sponsors can only delay publication when the research contains potentially patentable ideas. In these cases, corporate funders can delay publication for up to 60 days to decide whether to pursue patents based on the work. "[CSPI] chose to portray it as the company is determining the research," Orr...
y research is influenced by its corporate sponsors. The linkurl:report,;http://cspinet.org/new/pdf/bigoilu.pdf released by Center for Science in the Public Interest accused Stanford and other major US universities of granting energy company sponsors control over research and publication. But Franklin Orr, the director of Stanford's linkurl:Global Climate and Energy Project;http://gcep.stanford.edu/index.html (GCEP), said that its findings are inaccurate because CSPI boiled down the university's nuanced responses to survey questions to simple yes or no answers. For example, said Orr, for the question "Can the sponsors delay research publication?" Stanford scored a "yes." But sponsors can only delay publication when the research contains potentially patentable ideas. In these cases, corporate funders can delay publication for up to 60 days to decide whether to pursue patents based on the work. "[CSPI] chose to portray it as the company is determining the research," Orr told __The Scientist__. "[Sponsors] don't get to review papers before they get published." GCEP is funded with a ten-year, $225 million grant from ExxonMobil, Toyota, General Electric and oilfield services technology company Schlumberger. Its research includes studies on solar and hydrogen energy generation and carbon dioxide storage. Orr encouraged those who see a conflict in GCEP's relationship with its corporate sponsors to examine the project itself. "What we would like people to do is to actually look at what we do," he said. "The argument that somehow we've been bought to do research in a certain area simply isn't right. [GCEP] researchers conduct themselves without any interference from the sponsors or anyone else." Merrill Goozner, one of the authors of the CSPI report (but not the author who interviewed Stanford), stood by the report's findings. Goozner told The Scientist that, nuanced or not, most of the university's responses indicated an inappropriate relationship to corporate funders "These grants have strings attached," he said. "I don't think you can ignore that those strings are there." Those strings shift the work "to the side of contract research and away from the tradition of pure and independent, investigator-driven research," Goozner said. "How far it's driven in that direction is open to interpretation."

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