Three ways science is being corrupted by money cover image

Three ways science is being corrupted by money

Dorian Minors • April 9, 2016

This is an archived article from our predecessor website, The Dirt Psychology. The idea there was to take psychological scholarship and turn it into wisdom. The Armchair Collective tries to go a little further than just psychology. As such, these articles live here in archive form, until they're updated.

Researchers don't get paid per article. They get paid a salary based on a kind of 'level' system. The more eminent you are, the higher your level, the more you get paid. Publishing an article actually costs a researcher money. Most publishers, even those of open access journals, will charge a fee for the author to publish the article (that links to a study of journals charging publishing fees. Academics will study bloody anything, it's very cute). This is called an article processing charge and it's the equivalent of that rubbish 'service fee' everyone tacks on to everything.

Scientists have to pay to get promoted

You'll notice that I mentioned that the more eminent a researcher becomes, the higher their level and the more they get paid. To become more eminent, one must publish more articles. 'Gotta spend money to make money' never applied more accurately than here. But unlike the service fee you might pay for something like letting the bank make money off your money, article processing charges can cost you as much as $4,000 (according to that delightfully quaint study of the fees charged for studies) with the average hovering around $1,000.

. Seems like a legitimate career option, no?

Your school fees pay for research

It's no secret that the money we spend on courses at university subsidises our research efforts. Usually, researchers will pay the fee from a grant given to them by the government, but not all research gets a grant. Universities are invested in high research output because that boosts their international reputation. So universities also give researchers grants that come straight from their own coffers. But research makes zero money unless it's somehow commercialised (something that researchers are simply awful at doing). So the student pays for it instead.

It stops research from being published in the first place

But, hey, universities would probably just spend the money on other stuff if they didn't have to spend it on research. The real problem lies with researchers who are with institutions that simply can't afford break into the market.

. The bathrooms in business and economics faculties all over the world would look like this if universities didn't have to pay for research.

So, this means when governments make cuts to education, all of a sudden the research output goes down as seen in the massive education cuts that happened in the U.K. a short while ago. But it also means dire straights for the developing world. This is of particular interest because as the world becomes more globalised, the need for cross-cultural research becomes more imperative. Most of the psychology I write about here only applies in the westernised world and even then only in communities that aren't overly influenced by the values of other cultures. Why? Well, because research done in other cultures can't get published!

Money might be the root of all evil, but it's also the root of all knowledge

So, scholars can't contribute to the knowledge pool because publishers demand too much cash. It's almost like the money corrupted them. Who would have thought?

“If you want to know what God thinks of money, just look at the people he gave it to.” - Dorothy Parker

Speaking of corruption, learn how when one person goes mad it can corrupt the mind of another. Or explore how the mind corrupts your memories when it thinks they might hurt your feelings. Turning scholarship into wisdom without the usual noise and clutter, we dig up the dirt on psychological theories you can use. Become an armchair psychologist with The Dirt Psychology.

Turning scholarship into wisdom we can use at The Armchair Collective.

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Dorian Minors

I mostly do brain science. Sometimes I train honeybees. I promise they're related. I made this site because there's no reason why scholars should be the only ones to own knowledge. My special interests are interpersonal relationships, the science of community, spirituality and the brain, and the neural basis of complex behaviour. I hope this stuff is as interesting to you as it is to me. You can find out more about me here.