Release Date: October 12, 2012 This content is archived.
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 institute.
-- 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 published report.
-- No concerns have been raised by the relevant scientific community about the data used in developing the report's conclusion.
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 research.
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.