Sociologists -- especially those who study sexuality -- have for years done research that was considered controversial or troublesome by politicians or deans. Many scholars are proud of following their research ideas where they lead -- whatever others may think. But at a session Monday at the annual meeting of the American Sociological Association, sociologists considered the possibility that some of their colleagues may feel enough heat right now that they are avoiding certain topics or are being forced to compromise on either the language or substance of their research.
When Robert M. Gates, the secretary of defense, announced plans for the Minerva Consortia last month, he surprised many social scientists. Gates proposed the creation of a series of university-based consortiums to support research on questions of importance to the military, but said that the research would be unclassified and would not be subject to political litmus tests.