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Animal Nutrition Views

Ioannis Mavromichalis, Ph.D., gives his views on poultry, pig and dairy nutrition based on his experience as a nutrition consultant with clients around the world.
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Is academia using commercial research money not science?

Scientist
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Many professionals outside academia (or even within) confuse the meaning or use of the terms research and science.

June 29, 2017

Following my blog about my experiences during the European Symposium on Poultry Nutrition (ESPN), I had a great exchange of ideas with some attendants, sponsors and even one of the organizers, which led me to this blog today.

All of us truly understand the line and link between science and commerce. There can be no (long-term) commerce without (real) science, and no science without commerce (even if commerce funds science indirectly through taxes). Now, all these are the easy part, which has become somewhat blurred by the decision of many governments to ask their science people to personally solicit research money directly from commercial entities, but I digress.

As it happens, many professionals outside academia (or even within) confuse the meaning or use of the terms research and science. I recall a very prominent professor (back then) who once told me that I would no longer be a scientist when I related to him my decision to abandon pursuing an academic dream in favor of a commercial career. What he really meant was that I was no longer going to be a researcher — something he knew I loved doing. Again, blurred lines here as today there is the paradox of having commercial researchers make the initial discovery only to use academic researchers to verify (or glorify?) their findings, but here I am being cynical (on purpose!).

When what we do is true and right, then this is science.

All I want to say is that research in science is testing a hypothesis and reporting your findings one way or the other. Easy to say, hard to do, as any Ph.D. graduate student will verify without hesitation. But, science is what we all do, even when we take science and convert it into a tangible product or intangible service and market or sell it or just use it to raise our animals. Otherwise, we might claim that using commercial money (direct) is no longer science, and those doing it are no longer researchers — but this is absurd! When what we do is true and right, then this is science. When we use pseudo-science to profit from it, whether we work in academia or in the commercial part of the industry, then this is where legal science experts should intervene to research the problem.

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