BuzzFeed News, September 2, 2017
Teresa L. Carey and Aylin Woodward

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[...] In the past few years, some scientists have complained that FOIA has been weaponized by activists and special interest groups to “bully” and “harass” researchers involved in climate science, animal experiments, and other controversial work.

But when it comes to grant proposals — in which scientists detail their scientific plans, so they can win government funding — the most common requesters are not bullying political activists, but individuals at academic institutions looking to get an upper hand, a BuzzFeed News analysis has found.

Through our own FOIA requests, BuzzFeed News obtained logs of all the FOIA requests received by two major science agencies. Over the past 10 years, the NIH, the main federal funder of biomedical research, has received more than 13,300 requests for grant proposals, these records show. In 2015 and 2016, nearly 30% of these requests came from other academic institutions.

The National Science Foundation (NSF), which supports a wide range of science projects, received more than 1,800 requests for grant proposals between 2009 and 2016, and about half were filed by academic scientists or university officials. [...]

bioethics intellectual property privacy research research funding