How frequent is the following scenario?

A researcher on an NSF grant posts or publishes a paper which is thematically unrelated to the NSF grant, but acknowledges the grant for financial support. The NSF demands that the acknowledgment be removed.

Is this an extraordinary scenario, or is it considered normal? I have heard different accounts from different people.

Moreover, does this usually cause troubles to the researcher down the line, like extra scrutiny on their next NSF application?

  • 3
    I haven't heard of it happening - how would an author even be able to get the journal to remove funding information after publication? Also see On the use of grant funds for extracurricular research for evidence that NSF don't tend to complain if some unrelated research gets published. Now, if you don't produce any papers related to the research proposal there might be an issue.
    – Anyon
    Commented Sep 14, 2018 at 22:31
  • 2
    Well, I am aware of it happening once to an article in press, so it definitely exists. What I'm wondering about is whether it's extraordinary or not. Commented Sep 14, 2018 at 22:49
  • 2
    @darijgrinberg Well, it is alleged to have happened at least once; we only have one side of that story.
    – Thomas
    Commented Sep 14, 2018 at 23:00
  • 3
    That situation strikes me as extraordinary (in a bad way) in several regards. Also, possibly more-to-the-point, if someone with a bit of power wants to deep-six you, they can probably manage it one way or another, finding some bureaucratic justification, even if nonsensical... Just as citizens have civil rights until we're declared enemy combatants, etc. The issues are other than this, I think. Commented Sep 14, 2018 at 23:01
  • 1
    @paulgarrett: My question is deliberately set in a more general setting; shining light on this particular situation is only part of what I'm trying to achieve. Also, I have heard at least one colleague claiming that this is not extraordinary and the NSF has recently been getting more anal about grant-driven research being to the point. Commented Sep 14, 2018 at 23:30


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