Want to read Slashdot from your mobile device? Point it at m.slashdot.org and keep reading!


Forgot your password?
Google Businesses The Almighty Buck

Google Has Been Paying Academic Researchers Who Write Favorable Papers: Report (cnbc.com) 53

Google has paid researchers and academics who have worked on projects that support the company's positions in battles with regulators, a report in The Wall Street Journal (paywalled) said on Tuesday. From a report: Google's practice might not sound all that different from lobbying, but The Wall Street Journal revealed that some of the professors, including a Paul Heald from the University of Illinois, didn't disclose Google's payments. Heald is one of "more than a dozen" such professors who accepted money from Google, according to The Wall Street Journal. Google has reason to try to get as many folks on its side as it can. The company has faced almost constant scrutiny for its business practices, most recently a record antitrust fine of $2.7 billion in the European Union. Tens of thousands of dollars to professors here and there could have helped it avoid that fine, and others.
This discussion has been archived. No new comments can be posted.

Google Has Been Paying Academic Researchers Who Write Favorable Papers: Report

Comments Filter:
  • Just another Madison Avenue outfit, updated for the Digital Age.

    That's Google.

  • Deplorable (Score:2, Insightful)

    by budsetr ( 4952293 )
    Just like every other company that does it. I'm looking at you Big Oil.
    • Oil, Coal, Sugar, the list goes on. At least what Google is peddling won't kill you.
    • by Anonymous Coward

      I for one am shocked, SHOCKED, that academics would accept money from a group on a long term basis to publish results that favor said group's financial position! *Cough* pharma, agriculture, oil, tobacco, global warming *cough*

  • News at 11.

    • No it isn't. Some academics are, some are not, many are not in any position to be.

      Academe is not a monolithic entity.

      • I agree with you but how is the laymen supposed to figure out good academics between bad academics when reports like this, the reproducible problem, and the pushing of politically driven ideology in science (feminist glaciology) are fairly common now?

        It isn't hard to see why so many view and distrust many of our long standing institutions. An individual an only do so much until their opinion is warped by example after example of malice, incompetence, and greed.

        • Probably through a similar process that most people have to use to figure out who are the good and bad people in their lives: reputation, reporting, and results. I'm not saying that people are generally good at this process (they're probably not which explains a lot of life's problems for many people) but the average person isn't going to suffer too many ill effects if they can't tell good academics from bad and there probably isn't enough time in their day to even start.

          Other academics might have an int
      • I agree, over all it is not all corrupt, there is some corruption for profit. And we must admit there is work to do. Where are the concepts of peer review when we have to deal with proprietary data, secret data, the actual modification(normalization?) of data where the original is deleted?

        But then I am older and removed from current reality. But I do see issues. For profit journals, auto written articles, fakes, subscription journals, paywalls. I feel a good shot of open would be great ;)
  • by imidan ( 559239 ) on Tuesday July 11, 2017 @05:09PM (#54789255)

    Okay, so Google paid a bunch of researchers to do research related to Google. That's how most privately-funded research grants work. Groups don't pay researchers to research things that aren't relevant to the group's purpose. So this part of the article should not be particularly surprising.

    As academic researchers, we have a responsibility to disclose potential conflicts of interest and sources of funding for our work. It is in our best interest to do so because our credibility can be called into question when it is revealed that we omitted this information from a paper, intentionally or not.

    The article is light on details, but if one researcher failed to report a conflict and/or funding source, that's his fault, not Google's. The context is unclear, however. What paper did he publish that failed to acknowledge Google's funding support? Was it about or related to Google? Did he have reason to believe that the paper was insufficiently related to create a conflict of interest? Without this information, it's hard to estimate whether anyone in this scenario has actually done anything wrong.

    • by e r ( 2847683 )

      Without this information, it's hard to estimate whether anyone in this scenario has actually done anything wrong.

      Indeed, without this information it's hard to believe that anything happened at all.

      I know this one guy who make twenty million dollars overnight by doing odd jobs for this one dude over the internet. You should look into it, maybe something going on there, y'know?

    • Not sure about google, but many large companies have absolute policies on ensuring that paid researchers declare funding too as it not only looks bad for the researcher but also bad for the company when things like this are discovered (e.g. current story) so saying it isn't googles fault too is absolutely WRONG. It shows they are not doing their own due diligence when involving these researchers.
    • Not to mention that if some of the researches ended up writing unfavorable papers, the headline would still be true.
    • The Wall Street Journal is part of News Corp, owned by Rupert Murdoch.
      Murdoch holds a grudge on Google, and wants Google to pay him for linking to his stinking articles.
      Editorial distance between the owner and the minions running the newspaper?

  • ... I welcome our behemoth search overlords.

  • Google used to have the slogan "Don't be evil". They did away with it (or watered it down). They are becoming the New Microsoft.

    • They just paid some researchers to redefine the terms for the dictionary. This way gives them a bit more wiggle room to do what they want.

  • ah forget it.

  • Scientists are all just hired guns now.

    You pay money and the Scientist creates the proof you asked for.

"I shall expect a chemical cure for psychopathic behavior by 10 A.M. tomorrow, or I'll have your guts for spaghetti." -- a comic panel by Cotham