Why Put So Much Emphasis on Academic Researchers?

Academic research sector has the potential to offer much to front-line persons

Tiny Beam Fund believes that the academic research sector can be of considerable help (directly and indirectly) to front-line persons tackling global industrial food animal production.

This sector is not infrequently criticized for its shortcomings (e.g. concerns with reproducibility of studies; defects in the peer-review process; undue influences from industries that fund research projects; less and less diversity of opinions; most academic journal articles are behind publishers’ paywalls).

In spite of its flaws and limitations, the academic research sector has certain unique characteristics that other sectors do not possess, including: Particular methodologies used to generate its “products”; how its members are trained and organized; the formal and informal resources available to them. This means academic researchers:

  • Have access to valuable opportunities and services (e.g. streams of funding such as government research grants, networks and conferences to test and discuss ideas with peers, first rate research libraries).
  • Are trained to analyze, elucidate, and synthesize complex issues. And top-tier unbiased academic researchers often possess formidable skills to capture robust data and provide powerful, penetrating insights.

Moreover, there is ample evidence that various social concerns have benefited greatly from the fruits of academic research and the involvement of researchers.

It is also very important to note that an academic study does not have to be focused exclusively on negative impacts of industrial animal agriculture to be useful to front-line persons. In fact currently most academic papers that discuss matters of interest to front-line persons do not address these impacts head-on. (That is why it is necessary to promote the production of works that do.) But if there are sound and useful data and information that can be gleaned from a research paper, there is no reason why these should not be lifted off the page and made use of while ignoring those parts of the paper that are irrelevant or unacceptable to the reader.

But steps need to be taken to turn this potential into real benefits for front-line persons

Various steps need to be taken before the strength of the academic research sector can be harnessed and unleashed and used to support front-line persons.

  • It is like knowing that light and heat from the sun can be utilized as a source of electricity. Many things need to happen before a town mayor can announce that the town’s electricity is generated 100% by solar energy.
  • At present, academic research that is helpful to front-line persons is annoyingly awkward to locate and put to practical use.

Therefore one needs to take additional measures. For example:

  1. Academic researchers need to be motivated and incentivized to produce the kinds of research needed by front-line persons.
  2. Their own level understanding and research needs to improve.
  3. Products from the academic research sector that are of use to front-line persons (whether produced specifically for them or not) need to be delivered into the hands of front line persons in digestible and usable forms.