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Business Influence

By Xihan1 Sep 04, 2013 589 Words
With the tighter bond between business and scientific research, debates regarding the substantial commercial influences on scientific research are heated recently. Although it looks like that research would struggle without financial support from business (David Weatherall 2001), and Pisano(2006)even pointed out that promoting new forms of entrepreneurial activities might have positive impact on basic scientific medical research, the majority still believe that business becomes increasingly harmful to scientific research. This essay try to argue that commerce could be detrimental to scientific research to some extent.

One manifestation of the destructive influence on scientific research is that few academics could run independently without sponsor from business. Parkinson and Langley (2009) have drawn attention to the fact that chemical engineering are strongly impacted by Oil Company, and engineering departments have to depend on funds from the arms industry. Ho&Saunders (2001) also expressed a similar view that scientists could not make up their own mind on selecting the research fields without considering other factors. To illustrate this, scientists might be constrained to do “practical research” and give up “theoretical research” because the former one would receive more capital from funders, even though the latter one is more attractive to scientists. What’s more, some unpopular research could be neglected. Monbiat (2001,July 10) mentioned that the biotechnology and the medicine area are funded well but the genetic engineering is completely overlooked. In other words, the scope of scientific research could be easily constrained by commercial influences. Thus the freedom and independence of scientists are being eroded and scientists feel hard to insist on their interested areas.

Research might be a little short-term interest oriented. Parkinson and Langley (2009) indicated that government policy also create the profitable surroundings for academic researches. Monbiot (Ho&Saunders, 2001) also criticize government for its preference to immediate interest. In this case, universities are lured to prioritise research which produce immediate economic gains. One example given by Parkinson and Langley (2009) is that research on security issues are inclined to new military technology, however, research related to conflicts or negotiation usually receives little attention compared to the former one. Research regarding environmental and social problems and “blue sky” may also give their way to short-term profit Thus, scientific research may not be simply academic and factors of immediate interest might occupy the mind of scientists.

The validity and reliability of research might be impaired. Research carried by Parkinson and Langley (2009) indicated that results of research may be misleaded by the restricted share of information only between scientists and interest bodies. Nancy Olivieri (2001) also suggested that she was forced to suspend her medical research finds which were contrary to the interest of a drug company. In this situation, scientists may cover the results that is not in favor the interest of funders and suppressed to produce for the sake of funders, which could easily damage the quality of research and violate the spirit of science—to tell the truth. Despite Weatherall (2012) claimed that scientists are somewhat ‘naïve and easily exploited’ which seems that scientists themselves should be partially blamed for the commercial interest oriented behavior. It may be a bit hard for scientists to get rid of control of business to remain reliability.

While the commercial support may release the financial pressure of the scientific research, negative impacts from commerce outweighs the positive ones. Government should create an critical scientific environment, scientists should become more aware of how they are being misused and try to focus on research itself.

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