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NSF Reveals First Details on Foreign-Influence Investigations

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NSF building

Credit: Sarah Penniston-Dorland / NSF

The U.S. National Science Foundation has released figures on the actions it has taken against researchers found to have violated rules on the disclosure of foreign ties. Since 2018, the agency has reassigned, suspended, or terminated grants, forced institutions to return funds, or barred researchers from applying for future funding in 16-to-20 cases in which rules weren't followed, according to Rebecca Keiser, the agency's first chief of research security strategy and policy.

Separately, the NSF's Office of Inspector General referred an undisclosed number of criminal and civil cases involving fraud and nondisclosure to the U.S. Department of Justice.

Furthermore, in the past two months, seven universities have contacted the NSF directly with information on faculty members who might have violated rules.

All but two of the cases involved ties to China, although a majority of the scientists in cases referred by the inspector general are U.S. citizens.

Most of the cases involve "very well-known academics," who seem to have been offered money or status because of their accomplishments in their fields, Keiser said.

From Nature
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