Academic research, along with teaching, has long been recognized as a primary responsibility of faculty members, and research accomplishments often bear heavily on tenure decisions. Moreover, research, and the publication of its results, constitutes one way in which academics serve the common good. As the 1940 Statement of Principles on Academic Freedom and Tenure proclaims, “Freedom in research is fundamental to the advancement of truth.”
“Freedom in research” is not always easily practiced. Academic researchers can face any number of obstacles to the pursuit of a research program, a lack of funding and a lack of access to research materials to name only two. Sources of funding—corporate sponsors, the federal government, nonprofit granting agencies—can present ethical issues for researchers and questions of research ownership. Access to materials can be obstructed by institutional research review bodies or by policies regulating Internet use.
The AAUP continues to address these and other issues related to academic research, particularly through its Committee A on Academic Freedom and Tenure and its Committee on Teaching, Research, and Publication. The impact of new technologies on the conduct of research and of institutional and governmental oversight of research topics will likely affect the freedom in research of faculty members increasingly in the coming years.
See more resources on academic research.