UK Research and Innovation has apologized for encouraging the research tracking company ResearchFish to report any critical comments made by researchers about the company to it, The Scientist reports.
According to Chemistry World, some researchers complained online about the time-consuming nature of using ResearchFish, whose service is used to measure research impact. ResearchFish responded that it found the criticism "inappropriate" and that it shared its concerns with the researchers' funders, it adds. After a backlash, ResearchFish apologized for its response, though Chemistry World notes that it was "not well-received" and the company further posted an open letter saying it was taking "steps to revise procedures and improve communication."
Six such complaints were reported to UKRI and the funding agency acted on three of them, the Times Higher Education reports, noting that the comments were shared with the researchers' employers. In two cases, the researchers deleted their tweets and the third did not respond, according to THE.
In a statement, the funding agency has now apologized "for our approach and actions" and says the flagging of tweets was meant to prevent abuse, The Scientist reports.
"We believe that all staff have the right to work free from abuse, bullying or threat," UKRI adds. "We recognize the right of people to criticize an organization or system without fear of reprisal."