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Science for Sale

The Perils, Rewards, and Delusions of Campus Capitalism

In recent years the news media have been awash in stories about increasingly close ties between college campuses and multimillion-dollar corporations. Our nation’s universities, the story goes, reap enormous windfalls patenting products of scientific research that have been primarily funded by taxpayers. Meanwhile, hoping for new streams of revenue from their innovations, the same universities are allowing their research—and their very principles—to become compromised by quests for profit. But is that really the case? Is money really hopelessly corrupting science?

With Science for Sale, acclaimed journalist Daniel S. Greenberg reveals that campus capitalism is more complicated—and less profitable—than media reports would suggest. While universities seek out corporate funding, news stories rarely note that those industry dollars are dwarfed by government support and other funds. Also, while many universities have set up technology transfer offices to pursue profits through patents, many of those offices have been financial busts. Meanwhile, science is showing signs of providing its own solutions, as highly publicized misdeeds in pursuit of profits have provoked promising countermeasures within the field.

But just because the threat is overhyped, Greenberg argues, doesn’t mean that there’s no danger. From research that has shifted overseas so corporations can avoid regulations to conflicts of interest in scientific publishing, the temptations of money will always be a threat, and they can only be countered through the vigilance of scientists, the press, and the public. 

Based on extensive, candid interviews with scientists and administrators, Science for Sale will be indispensable to anyone who cares about the future of scientific research.

288 pages | 8 tables | 6 x 9 | © 2007

Economics and Business: Economics--Government Finance

Education: Education--Economics, Law, Politics, Higher Education

History of Science


“Greenberg is the dean of U.S. science journalists. . . . He is a journalist in the best and most exact sense. His latest book is likely to become the first port of call for those seeking the fine structure of decisions, actions, and consequences associated with the post-Cold War political economy of American science.”

Steve Fuller | BBC Focus

“Overall, Greenberg has done an outstanding job of detailing the problems and successes of academic entrepreneurship and has provided an excellent analysis of the current state of university science. The book will certainly be of interest to anyone involved in such activities or interested in the future of U.S. research.”

Xavier Bosch | Journal of the American Medical Association

"In an age when careers tend to take tortuous paths, journalist Daniel Greenberg has been doggedly following one beat for more than 45 years: the federal government’s funding of scientific research. . . . Greenberg invariably brings a critical perspective to the scientific enterprise and is deeply cynical about the flow of money that sustains it. But his strongly worded judgments are always built on a bedrock of integrity. . . . Greenberg has provided an important assessment of the state of academic science."

Roger L. Geiger | American Scientist

"This book is clearly an interesting read, even if it may raise the temperatures under the collars of many company personnel and the faculty and university administrators with high stakes in technology transfer."

Chemical and Engineering News

"A conspicuously well-balanced assessment, grounded both in abundant new evidence and . . . [Greenberg’s] deep knowledge of US science policy. . . . He points to the need for an increased commitment to transparency so that the sources of potential bias are there for all to assess. Investigative journalism has long played a crucial role in maintaining this transparency, and Greenberg again proves himself to be the most important practitioner of this craft in the realm of science and technology."

Daniel Sarewitz | Bioscience

"Science for Sale is a valuable resource in the continuing debate on this important topic. The clearly articulated lessons that emerge are an indispensable resource for individual scientists as well as for institutional leaders, drug company executives, and other policymakers."

Eric G. Campbell | Health Affairs

"Journalist Greenberg’s well-written, well-researched book details the ins and outs of the actual gains and losses, both financial and academic, to science, values, and the public in regard to the perceived and real relationship between science and corporations. . . . The epilogue is a must-read parable for any graduate student or university administrator. Highly recommended."


Science for Sale offers a sweeping analysis of the complex and at times disturbing relationships among science, government, industry, and politics. . . . Greenberg, a distinguished science journalist, examines that development and its consequences. . . . Greenberg’s research is extensive. His knowledge of the institutions, policymakers, and industries involved in the development of marketable science, and their effects on the science community and public policy, is vast. . . . Science for Sale is a cautionary tale that should provoke thoughtful discussions among researchers and academic administrators.”

William H. Wing | Physics Today

"Greenberg’s keen analysis of the capitalistic attitudes galloping through American academe provides valuable insights that can sharpen our understanding of the present as well as the past."

Jeffrey K. Stine | Technology & Culture

"Even-handed and fairly sympathetic. . . . [The book] made for thought-provoking reading, and would make a welcome addition to any scientist’s book list."

Dennis J. Sardella | Nucleus

"Historians will take delight in Greenberg’s rich use of interviews, his informed discussions of science policy, and his lively wit. These qualities make his book a good pick for use in an undergraduate class on the history of modern American science."

John W. Servos | Isis

Table of Contents

A Background Note and Acknowledgments         
Part One: The Setting and the System
1          Money for Science: Never Enough 
2          Elusive Industrial Angels     
3          Commercialize! It’s the Law
4          Changing Attitudes  
5          The Price of Profits   
6          Conflicts and Interests          
7          A New Regime          
Part Two: As Seen from the Inside—Six Conversations
8          Success and Remorse           
9          A Congenial Partnership     
10        When the Rules Change in Midstream       
11        Profits and Principles           
12        Generations Apart    
13        The Journals Revolt   
Part Three: Fixing the System
14        What’s Right and Wrong, and How to Make It Better     

List of Abbreviations
Appendix: Statistical Data   

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