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April 24, 2014

Take our survey on academics, universities and Scottish independence

“I’ve kept my head down a bit,” a senior university figure in Scotland told me recently. “There’s the feeling that coming out is career suicide.”

He was talking about taking a position (or not) on Scottish independence. Although a handful of academics have thrown their support behind the yes or the no camp, most academics are keeping quiet.

To find out more about this phenomenon—and to count academics on both sides—Research Fortnight is conducting an anonymous, independent and unattributed survey of researchers and university staff. Respondents can be entered into a draw to win one of five subscriptions to Research Fortnight or Research Europe.

Take the survey here. It’ll close on 13 May.

It is the only survey we know of that is focused on the implications of independence and the debate on research, higher education and science. The five-minute survey is open to researchers in universities, research office staff, managers and researchers in industry. Responses will not be attributed to individuals or their institutions.

As well as counting the number of ayes and naes held on university campuses across Scotland, we want to hear more about what might stop academics from speaking their minds and which aspects of independence they’re concerned or hopeful about—be it research funding, tuition fee policy or science policy.

If enough people take the survey, the results will be fascinating and give us the first true picture of researchers’ views, hopes and concerns. We’ll publish the results in a supplement to Research Fortnight magazine, which will be made available for free to everyone who takes the survey regardless of whether their institution subscribes to the magazine or Research Professional, our online news site and funding database.

The survey itself is free and shareable online, so please pass it on to colleagues and ask them to participate too.

“It is absolutely right that academics…are encouraged and feel free to express their views,” said a spokesman for the first minister Alex Salmond in November. He was defending Chris Whatley, a historian at the University of Dundee who identified himself as a no voter while taking part in an academic debate on independence and found himself under fire from a Scottish National Party MSP.

Even if you feel you can’t voice your view in public, we hope you can feed into our anonymous and independent survey.

Click here to take the survey.

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Comments

My practical experience says that the researcher, especially those who are working under direct government funded projects, are either on a direct or indirect threat of towing the government line or just keep their lips sealed. There are two popular ways of threats on government funded or even in private funded researches:
1. In case of not so vocal researchers they are asked directly by the guides or research heads not to side with any notion, or
2. Create unnecessary trouble in the research process or payment process or other indirect ways that give the concerned person hint of remaining neutral.
Until and unless researchers are freed from these kinds of problems I personally think these academicians can't come out of their 'neutrality'.
Researcher and Tutor at https://www.cornertrader.ch/en/trading-insight-support/tutorials/categories/forex-tutorials/


Thanks for the comment, Derick. I hope you can take the survey too, or forward it on to colleagues and peers.

Many thanks,


Adam Smith
Reporter
Research Fortnight

t:    +44(0)20 7216 6515
m:   +44(0) 7816125827

e:   as@researchresearch.com
a:   Unit 111, 134-146 Curtain Road, London EC2A 3AR
w:   www.researchresearch.com
w:   www.researchprofessional.com

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