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.
Conflicts of interest, always an emotional topic, returned to the headlines this week as Sen. Charles Grassley, a longtime critic of the drug industry's potential influence on research, released new evidence that prominent Harvard University scientists had failed to disclose much of their outside income from pharmaceutical companies over the past eight years.
The numbers will not surprise anyone who has closely tracked federal budget discussions about science and technology in recent years. But that won't make the data released Friday by the National Science Foundation any more palatable for those concerned about the American research enterprise.