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Security and intelligence incursions in academic research: a threat to all of social science

Research output: Contribution to specialist publicationArticle

Original languageEnglish
JournalDiscover Society
DatePublished - 2 Oct 2019


In the US in the late 1960s, state incursions into academia, which had occurred in the context of the Cold War, and in the wake of McCarthyism, faced a concerted push back from academics, students and social movements. The campaign to keep the CIA off campus, which lasted for over a decade, highlighted the relationships the agency had developed with academics via consultancies, scholars-in residence programmes and research contracts. In response to the growing criticisms of its activities, the CIA developed covert relationships, requiring that academics in receipt of funds should not publicly acknowledge their relationship with the agency. Scholars such as Samuel Huntington then produced articles in academic journals such as International Security (as late as 1985), which unbeknown to readers were connected to CIA funding.
Such deceptions are widely regarded as unethical, but it is an open question how extensive they now are. In this article, we examine a contemporary case of state incursion into academia: the Centre for Research and Evidence on Security Threats (CREST), based at the University of Lancaster, which is funded by the UK intelligence agencies. This, we argue, raises a number of serious issues around transparency, conflicts of interest and research ethics.

    Research areas

  • secrecy, Research, Conflict of Interest, Intelligence agencies, MI6, MI5, GCHQ, CREST, Secret state, Terrorism, Conflict

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