Recent charges of fraud brought against Pennsylvania State University electrical engineering professor Craig Grimes are highlighting a potential problem within the grant funding system, says Nature News' Eugenie Samuel Reich — the temptation for a researcher to accept funding for the same work from two different sources. Grimes recently pleaded guilty to charges that he accepted grants from both the US Department of Energy and the National Science Foundation for the same research, Reich says. Former NSF Inspector-General Christine Boesz tells Reich that while applying to different funding agencies for the same project is perfectly acceptable, taking money from more than one funder is illegal. "Such duplicate funding is banned in many leading scientific nations. Boesz says that there is no way of knowing how prevalent the problem is, but that cases tend to come to light only if peer reviewers spot similarities in grant applications," Reich adds.
US House Republicans say that this case shows there need to be more regulations in place to make sure researchers don't get duplicate funding, while House Democrats say the fact Grimes was caught shows the system to prevent fraud works. Some experts say the additional funding offered in cases like this "may pose too great a temptation for some researchers," Reich adds.