NOTinitially, a third of government science grant summaries now use terms such as “equity,” “diversity,” and “inclusion,” according to a new report, up from just under 3% in 1990.
The report, released earlier this month by the Center for the Study of Partisanship and Ideology, details how the National Science Foundation, the main distributor of government science grants, has dramatically increased the use of “highly politicized terms” in grant summaries.
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“The frequency of documents containing highly politicized terms has steadily increased over the past three decades,” the report said. “In 2020, 30.4% of all grants had one of the following politicized terms: ‘equity’, ‘diversity’, ‘inclusion’, ‘gender’, ‘marginalize’, ‘under-represented “Or” the disparity. “This is up from 2.9% in 1990.”
While all academic fields have seen a substantial increase in the use of the aforementioned terms in grant summaries, some have seen a substantially greater increase than others.
Education and human resources have grown from a tiny 4.3% in 1990 to 53.8% in 2020, while mathematics and physical sciences have increased from 0.9% to 22.6%.
The study was written by Leif Rasmussen, a PhD candidate in computer science at Northwestern University who said he began to look into the issue while researching how to write a grant proposal for himself.
“I started searching the archives for NSF grant proposals for work that looked a bit like mine,” Rasmussen said. “And then I got pretty curious about how often a lot of these terms diversity, equity and inclusion are being used and if it’s increasing.”
Rasmussen said increasing diversity, equity and inclusion terminology could “potentially filter” conservative applicants for NSF grants because they are less likely to want to use such terminology.
“It sort of serves to filter people out, it looks like kind of a political litmus test built into this funding for science,” he said. “This is positive proof … that the NSF is getting politicized.”
The report also states that over the past 30 years, grant summaries have become increasingly similar, regardless of the academic discipline they fund.
“This arguably shows that there is less diversity in the types of ideas that are funded,” the report says. “This effect is particularly strong in recent years, but the trend is clear over the past three decades when a technique based on word similarity, rather than exact term matching, is used.”
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“Taken together,” the report continues, “the findings imply that there has been a politicization of science funding in the United States in recent years and a decrease in the diversity of ideas supported, indicating a possible decline in the quality of science. research and the potential for reduced public confidence in scientific institutions. “
Original location: Government science grants increasingly promote ‘awake’ ideas, study finds
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