‘Taxpayers underwrite many public services, including the funding of science. So it is entirely right for them to question funding decisions. If they do, granting agencies should have mechanisms for responding in ways that are informed but not patronizing.

On 18 September, the UK Arts and Humanities Research Council (AHRC) announced nine grants, most of which aimed to bridge the gap between science and the humanities. The majority were uncontroversial. Nobody blinked, for example, at the £1.95 million (US$3.1 million) given to Colin Blakemore of the Institute of Philosophy in London for a project entitled ‘Rethinking the Senses: Uniting the Philosophy and Neuroscience of Perception’. No eyebrow was raised when Randolph Donahue at the University of Bradford got £1.98 million to study ‘Fragmented Heritage: From the kilometre to the nanometre: Automated 3D Technology to Revolutionise Landscape, Site and Artefact Analyses’.

But when Mark Maltby at Bournemouth University was awarded £1.94 million for ‘Cultural and Scientific Perceptions of Human–Chicken Interactions’, the reaction from some tabloid newspapers was predictable…..’

Extract from an editorial article discussing the AHRC large grant award given to  ‘Cultural and Scientific Perceptions of Human- Chicken Interactions’ project, published in Nature, Vol. 502, 01/10/2013. Read the full article here