In the USA federal academic grants are intended to advance scholarly research. When they are approved through "earmarking" they are taken out of competitive science funding and may result in support of projects of a parochial or scientific questionable nature. Such research projects are approved not on the basis of public evaluation of their merits but by an influential politician (usually on an appropriations committee) adding phrases to the fine print of an appropriations bill. Frequently only the sponsor knows the funding is in the bill when Congress approves it. Earmarked projects are never subject to the peer review process whereby the agency allocating the funds seeks the views of a panel of independent experts to evaluate the project. In 1993 25 earmarked projects, ranging from $75,000 to $60 million were challenged.
In 60 percent of media stories reporting on pharmaceutical breakthroughs or new medical technologies, there is no account given of the link between the researcher and the drug company or medical development firm.