Tuesday, 24 January 2012

Research imperialism/nepotism

What on earth is “research imperialism”? It’s a phrase I use to describe the situation whereby a researcher from an industrialized country with his or her pockets full of research dollars says to a more impoverished researcher in a developing-country university “Come on, let’s research this, I’ve got the dollars, and the funds will cover a trip or two by you to my university”. This is OK, of course, if the research topic is of genuine interest to both parties, but not if it’s only of real interest to the industrialized-country researcher. However, the developing-country researcher might well be tempted to go along with it as it will most probably look pretty good on his or her c.v. and the trip to Europe or the USA (or wherever) would be pretty good too. Does research imperialism exist? You bet it does! Constructed wetlands in East Africa, for one.

Say No to research imperialism!

And what about what I call “research nepotism”? Possibly even worse than research imperialism, research nepotism is giving large chunks of research money to your mates – and this includes people like your PhD supervisor. Does this occur? You bet it does! [Does Bwana Bill know? Sijui.]

Say No to research nepotism!