BUFFALO, N.Y. -- Last month the University at Buffalo provided
the SUNY Board of Trustees, per its request, with a report that
summarizes the facts and circumstances regarding formation of the
Shale Resources and Society Institute (SRSI).
The report was released publicly today by the SUNY Trustees,
which continues to review it. UB is making the report available in
its entirety (/content/dam/www/news/imported/pdf/SRSIReport9-27-12.pdf)
to the UB community and the public at large.
The report noted that:
-- The University at Buffalo's College of Arts and Sciences has
been the sole source of funding for the Shale Resources and Society
Institute. There has been no sponsored funding for the
-- SRSI's first report, "Environmental Impacts During Shale Gas
Drilling: Causes, Impacts and Remedies," complied with all
University at Buffalo ethics and conflict policies, which conform
to national standards.
-- The SRSI report followed an open peer-review method; five
reviewers publicly identified in the published report had been
asked for comment prior to publication. Because the SRSI report was
self-published, the anonymous form of peer review common to many
scholarly journals could not be used.
-- The initial report of the SRSI contained two errors that were
subsequently corrected; an errata noting and correcting these
editorial errors appears prominently on the first page of the
-- No concerns have been raised by the relevant scientific
community about the data used in developing the report's
In examining the report, UB Provost Charles Zukoski said, "As
with all research at UB, regardless of the source of funding, it is
not the role of the university nor of the funding source to dictate
the conclusions drawn by faculty investigators. This core principle
is critical to the preservation of academic freedom.
"Faculty sometimes undertake research in areas that are the
subject of significant public debate, which is the case with regard
to the Shale Institute. These activities are supported on the basis
of academic freedom and as an essential part of the research
mission of our university."
Zukoski emphasized that while the Shale Institute has not
received any industry funding to date, the institute is expected to
generate support for its research and scholarship through
competitive grants, philanthropy and from industry.
"This, too, is consistent with UB's policies and practices," he
said, noting that other institutes and centers at the university
receive external sponsorships.
All research universities pursue external research funding, UB
noted in its report to the SUNY Board of Trustees. For example,
National Science Foundation data for 2009 (the most recently
published data available) indicate that national university
research expenditures funded by industry were almost $3.2 billion
of total research expenditures equaling $54.9 billion.
The UB report stated that the university has taken, and will
continue to take, action to strengthen its policy regarding funded
Early this semester, the university adopted the new conflict of
interest policy to conform with new federal guidelines issued by
the U.S. Public Health Service. Zukoski has asked UB's Faculty
Senate and the UB Office of the Vice President for Research and
Economic Development to establish a joint committee to provide
advice on university policies and practices related to research,
scholarship and publication.