A recent article (via Retraction Watch) notes that many scientists feel obliged to exaggerate or, more accurately, lie about the greater impact their science will have. So maybe the following could be a template for more honest researchers…
“Broader Impacts: Funding this proposal will finally turn PI’s frown upside down, increasing the welfare of coworkers at Big State University who have been taking antidepressants every time the PI came into their offices. PI’s exam questions will no longer include “in the unlikely event scientific research is ever funded again…” as a preface to hypothetical questions. PI’s dog will finally feel the weight of oppression from the PI’s bad mood lift, and will also get better quality dog treats. PI’s children will finally get the upgraded electronic gizmos they so desperately need in order to stay cool, thus increasing the technological literacy of the next generation. PI’s graduate student will finally feel like she is no longer destined to be a scientific outcast and will willingly let others know that she does in fact attend graduate school at B.S.U., thus increasing the visibility of an otherwise barely recognizable appendage to a football team.
“PI’s relatives will be forced to temporarily acknowledge that not all of their tax dollars are wasted, thus reducing disillusionment with the federal government. PI’s student’s parents will finally decide that they can spend their rainy day fund since their child now will earn some money doing research; their purchase of a motor home and subsequent travels across the country will increase GDP.
“PI will finally admit to being a research scientist and not a homeless guy looking for a shower in encounters in elevators, and will now share details of his successful project with all who will listen and many who would rather not, thus increasing the dispersal of scientific knowledge to the general public. PI will patronize sit-down restaurants, increasing the tip income of underpaid waitstaff (and B.S.U. alums), thus helping to reduce income inequality in the region while perhaps enlarging B.S.U.’s endowment.
“B.S.U. administrators will share the PI’s success with the university regents and state legislators, reducing the demands that B.S.U. simply become an arm of the University of Phoenix. NSF program managers will finally be relieved of the burden of PI’s repeated unsuccessful grant applications and irate phone calls for the duration of this award.
“In short, the world will be a brighter and happier place.”