Wanted: Records of revoked grants

Deciding when to pull a grant for any reason is one of the most difficult tasks any funding agency faces. It is not a decision that is taken lightly, and is usually a last resort. But it happens. Scientists who falsify data or misuse funds or even fail to show satisfactory progress do, from time to time, lose their funding. Image: Wikimedia commonsThe National Institutes of Health (NIH) admits to the occasional termination of basic research grants, emphasizing the rarity of such a drastic measu

Jef Akst
Jef Akst

Jef Akst is managing editor of The Scientist, where she started as an intern in 2009 after receiving a master’s degree from Indiana University in April 2009 studying the mating behavior of seahorses.

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Jan 19, 2010
Deciding when to pull a grant for any reason is one of the most difficult tasks any funding agency faces. It is not a decision that is taken lightly, and is usually a last resort. But it happens. Scientists who falsify data or misuse funds or even fail to show satisfactory progress do, from time to time, lose their funding.
Image: Wikimedia commons
The National Institutes of Health (NIH) admits to the occasional termination of basic research grants, emphasizing the rarity of such a drastic measure. But how rare is rare? I wanted numbers. To my surprise, they don't seem to exist. I started with the obvious -- an email to a press officer with a simple question: How many grants had been terminated? The response (attributed to NIH's Office of Extramural Research, OER): "...enforcement actions are taken on a grant-by-grant basis and are not captured centrally in NIH's electronic...




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