Research alarm bells

April 14, 2000

The letter by Ron Amann of the Cabinet Office (April 7) did not address the substance of THES reports on the manipulation of research by government departments. From this, it seems clear that the academic freedom to publish openly - usually regarded as essential to the health of a democratic society - is no longer to be accepted by government departments. If Mr Blunkett really wants to see government policies based on hard research, he will have to free Whitehall's control culture and accept that research by its very nature will from time to time contradict government policies.

Failing this, the results of the research he sponsors and controls will be regarded with suspicion, if not contempt.

David Packham. Department of engineering and applied science, University of Bath.

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