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Funding-Incentivised Terminologies and the practice of Financially Driven Language Manipulation

Funding-Incentivised Terminologies and the practice of Financially Driven Language Manipulation

“Stupid People Love FITs: How Financially Driven Terminology and Language Manipulation Masks Ignorance and Hinders Progress”

Coining the Term:

“Funding-Incentivised Terminologies” (FITs) or the practice of “Financially Driven Language Manipulation” (FDLM) are newly coined terms that refer to the phenomenon that exists in many industries where existing technologies are repackaged under a new term, without any significant advancements or improvements, with the aim of manipulating society, funding bodies, and financial administrators to secure funding. This deceptive language use is a form of “buzzwording” or “jargonising” that involves the use of technical or specialised language to create the appearance of expertise or innovation, even when there is no substantial change in the underlying technology or idea.

This practice involves carefully selecting and tailoring language in grant proposals, research papers, and business pitches to appeal to investors and funding bodies. While the underlying technologies or innovations may already exist, the language used to describe them is strategically crafted to emphasise their financial appeal and potential profitability. As such, the terms FITs and the practice of FDLM is not meant to refer to a new technology or innovation, but rather a way of describing the language used to secure funding for existing technologies or innovations under new terminology just for the financial acquisition aspect.

Introduction:

In the competitive domains of academia and commerce, the quest for funding has given rise to the phenomenon of FDLM.  This term, introduced by James Catania, delineates the practice of meticulously crafting language in grant proposals, research publications, and commercial pitches to entice investors and funding entities. While this strategic approach may yield favorable results, it simultaneously raises questions concerning the integrity of communication, potential distortion of foundational concepts, and the continuity of the associated field.

Official Definition

FITs: Funding-Incentivised Terminologies (FITs): The use of technical or specialised language to create the appearance of expertise or innovation, even when there is no substantial change in the underlying technology or idea, with the aim of manipulating society, funding bodies, and financial administrators to secure funding.

FDLM:  FDLM (Financially Driven Language Manipulation): The practice of crafting language by using financially incentivised terminology in grant proposals, research papers, and business pitches to appeal to investors and funding bodies, emphasising financial appeal and potential profitability of existing technologies or innovations, without substantial or any advancements or improvements. Including the act of remodelling the language of existing project and proposals just for financial incentives with limited to no advancement in outcomes.

Is it just another “buzzword”?

From the available definition, it is clear that FITs are a specific type of buzzwording or jargonising that is aimed at securing funding. The difference between FITs and other buzzwords is that FITs involve the manipulation of existing technologies or ideas to make them appear innovative or groundbreaking, whereas other buzzwords may be more general and may not necessarily involve the manipulation of existing concepts.

The text notes that the use of FITs can compromise intellectual honesty and redirect research and development priorities. This is because the overuse of buzzwords and jargon can lead to a lack of transparency and obfuscation of true innovation, which can undermine the credibility of the research and development process. Additionally, the misrepresentation of research areas can lead to confusion and a lack of clarity on the current state of the field, potentially compromising the integrity of communication and the continuity of the associated field.

The text also highlights the potential long-term consequences of FITs on the overall trajectory of a field or industry. The pressure to secure funding may incentivise researchers and businesses to prioritise short-term trends and narrow interests over broader societal needs and long-term, sustainable innovation. This could lead to a lack of diversity in research and development, reduced innovation, and stifle creative thinking.

The Conundrum of Funding-Incentivised Terminologies:

The use of FITs or the practice of FDLM can increase the probability of securing financial support by emphasising popular buzzwords and current trends. However, this tactic may also result in compromising intellectual honesty, redirecting research and development priorities, and disrupting the continuity of the field. (Chugh, 2019). The overuse of buzzwords and jargon can also lead to a lack of transparency and obfuscation of true innovation, which can undermine the credibility of the research and development process (Gaffney & Dopson, 2019). However, the use of funding-driven wording may still increase the probability of securing financial support by emphasising popular buzzwords and current trends (Dijksterhuis & van Knippenberg, 1998). It is essential to strike a balance between marketability and true innovation, and to be transparent and honest in communication about research and development initiatives. By doing so, we can avoid the risks associated with funding-driven wording and foster a more productive and sustainable research and development ecosystem.

So in short, everyone knows that they are doing the wrong thing by using FITs and employing FDLM but research clearly shows that it is working. Ethically speaking however if something is working and is inherently wrong in the long term it is deemed to fail. Evidence suggests that unethical practices may lead to short-term gains but are unsustainable and ultimately lead to long-term negative consequences (Singh & Rhoads, 1995, p. 110). and this is why we have entered in a continually changing landscape in terminology and pseudo-innovation but leaving the underlying technical landscape the same.

To uphold the integrity of research and development, it is imperative to establish a balance between implementing FITs engaging in the practice of FDLM and remaining true to the core principles and objectives of a project. This can only be achieved by maintaining authenticity, staying abreast of funding trends, highlighting the broader impact of the work, and concentrating on the core field.

Long term consequences:

It is essential to consider the potential long-term consequences of FDLM on the overall trajectory of a field or industry. The pressure to secure funding may incentivise researchers and businesses to prioritise short-term trends and narrow interests over broader societal needs and long-term, sustainable innovation (Kats & Martin, 1997).

This could lead to a lack of diversity in research and development, reduced innovation, and stifle creative thinking (Boumgarden, Nickerson, & Senger, 2018). Additionally, the misrepresentation of research areas can lead to confusion and a lack of clarity on the current state of the field (Kats & Martin, 1997). It’s essential to strike a balance between securing funding and maintaining a focus on the core objectives and long-term development of the field.

Potential societal Impact

It is crucial to analyse the potential impact of FITs on the distribution of resources and its potential effect on socially important or groundbreaking projects. Studies have shown that the prioritisation of funding for specific areas, such as those that align with popular trends or commercial interests, may lead to the neglect of important research areas and essential social issues (Kramer, 2020). For instance, the overemphasis on applied research over basic research in scientific funding has led to a decline in breakthrough discoveries and a lack of progress in areas such as sustainable energy (Wuchty et al., 2015). Additionally, researchers have noted the potential for FITs to perpetuate existing social inequalities by reinforcing biases towards specific research areas or prioritising the interests of powerful funding organisations (Bhattacharjee et al., 2018). Therefore, it is essential to consider the societal implications of FITs and ensure that funding decisions align with broader social and scientific objectives.

Moore’s Policy Vacuum is a concept discussed in the literature that is directly relevant to the topic of FITs and FDLM. This concept refers to the absence of clear, well-defined goals and objectives when making policy decisions, which can lead to ineffective policies and a lack of direction and coordination. The use of financially-driven language in FITs and FDLM can potentially worsen the effects of Moore’s Policy Vacuum by creating a false impression of progress and innovation without clear goals or objectives. This can divert attention and resources away from more promising areas of research and development, further impeding progress in the field. Therefore, it is essential to recognise the potential implications of FITs and FDLM for policy development and establish clear goals and objectives to guide decision-making in these areas.

The role of funding entities

Funding entities play a crucial role in incentivising the use of FITs and the propagation of the FDLM practice. A study by Cheng and colleagues (2020) found that funders often prioritise proposals that align with their own interests and goals, leading to a focus on projects with immediate commercial appeal rather than those with broader societal impact. This emphasis on short-term gains can lead to a neglect of socially important or groundbreaking projects, perpetuating the use of FITs. However, changes in funding entities’ evaluation criteria or priorities could help mitigate this phenomenon. For example, a study by RCUK (2014) highlights the importance of incorporating social, environmental, and economic impact as evaluation criteria for funding decisions. By prioritising these factors, funding entities can encourage researchers and businesses to focus on long-term, sustainable innovation rather than short-lived trends and financial gain.

Psychological Effect

When FITs break through to the commercial sphere of financially advantageous endeavour it has a psychological impact on researchers and professionals, potentially affecting their motivation, creativity, and the quality of their work. For example, a study by Amabile and Pratt (2016) found that excessive focus on external rewards and incentives can undermine intrinsic motivation, leading to lower levels of creativity and innovation. Additionally, a study by Roskes et al. (2018) revealed that the use of language tailored to funding priorities may lead to a decrease in the quality of research proposals, potentially reducing the overall impact of the work produced. These findings suggest that while FITs may increase the probability of securing funding, it may have unintended negative consequences on the psychological well-being and quality of work produced by researchers and professionals in the long run.

In psychology there are other biases which would exasperate our tendency to gravitate towards FITs. The halo effect and authority bias contribute to the success of FITs and FDLM by influencing perceptions of researchers and businesses. The halo effect can make buzzwords and jargon seem more legitimate when used by those perceived as credible, while authority bias gives more weight to the opinions of perceived experts. Studies by Dijksterhuis and van Knippenberg (1998) and Chugh (2019) support these ideas but also warn of potential negative consequences, such as reduced transparency and undermined credibility in research and development.

Ethical Frameworks

There are several ethical frameworks that can be applied to assess the moral implications of FITs. Utilitarianism, for example, might argue that if FITs leads to more funding and, in turn, more research and innovation, then it is ethical. On the other hand, deontology would argue that researchers have a duty to be honest and transparent in their communications, regardless of the potential financial gain. Virtue ethics may consider the long-term impact of FITs on the integrity and continuity of the field, and argue for a more balanced approach that values both financial success and ethical conduct.

In an article published in the Journal of Academic Ethics, for instance, Dr. Eric L. Chaffee examines the ethical challenges in grant proposal writing, including the use of hyperbole and other persuasive language to attract funding. He argues that while persuasive writing is acceptable, researchers must be honest and transparent, and avoid crossing the line into misrepresentation or dishonesty. Another article, published in the Journal of Business Ethics, by Dr. Dana R. Hermanson and Dr. Linda A. Myers, examines the ethical challenges facing accounting researchers, including the pressure to publish in top-tier journals and the potential for conflicts of interest. They conclude that researchers must balance the need for funding and publication success with their ethical obligations to maintain academic integrity and conduct research that benefits society. These articles illustrate the complexity of the ethical considerations involved in FITs and the need for a balanced approach that values both financial success and ethical conduct.

The prevalence of FITs and the practice of FDLM in Technology

The prevalence of FITs and practice of FDLM is particularly pronounced in the emerging technologies industry. A study by Kostakis and Blohm (2012) notes that the hype surrounding emerging technologies creates a culture of investment, where investors are eager to jump on the bandwagon of the latest trends, leading to an overemphasis on short-term profits rather than long-term innovation. This dynamic creates pressure for researchers and businesses to tailor their language to fit the buzzwords and priorities of funding entities, potentially leading to a distortion of research priorities and a misrepresentation of the overall direction of the field. Here is where there is the biggest first of creating or adopting FITs and knowingly engage in FDLM.

Furthermore, a study by Fugate et al. (2017) highlights how the overuse of buzzwords in emerging technologies may lead to confusion and misunderstanding among stakeholders. This phenomenon, known as “buzzword compliance,” occurs when stakeholders simply adopt the popular buzzwords without fully understanding their meaning or implications. This can result in a misalignment of priorities and objectives, ultimately leading to a lack of progress in the field. Schneider and Spieth (2013) underscores the need for clear communication and transparency in grant proposals and research papers, particularly in the emerging technologies industry. The study notes that the use of buzzwords and jargon may lead to confusion and mistrust among stakeholders, potentially undermining the credibility of research and development efforts.

In light of these concerns, it is crucial for researchers and businesses in the emerging technologies industry to maintain a critical mindset when crafting their language for grant proposals, research papers, and business pitches. By remaining focused on the core ideas and goals of their work, while also aligning with the interests of funding entities, they can balance the need for financial support with the need for long-term innovation and progress in the field.

Blockchain as a prime example of FITs

Blockchain and DLT are prime examples of FITs and global practices of FDLM, as they gained immense popularity in recent years. Although the underlying technology, distributed ledger technology (DLT), utilises long-established IT elements such as hash functions and encryption, the hype surrounding blockchain has led to some funding being misallocated. While a small portion of the funding was directed towards genuine technological advancement and research, a significant amount was channeled into ICOs and profit-driven projects. It became the playground of finance people rather then geniunie socially impacting technological research. The underlying technology still has the ability and potential to be world changing, however the use of blockchain simply as a FIT has put the technological socital innovation of immutable proof of work and ownership backwards by years, if not decades.

Also, this focus on blockchain as a FIT has, in some cases, resulted in a shift of research and development priorities, potentially sidelining important areas of crucial research such as quantum-resistant encryption. Research on quantum-resistant encryption is crucial for ensuring the long-term security of financial transactions which is quite an amusing paradox considering this was the initial purpose of blockchain. Therefore, it is vital to strike a balance between marketability and true innovation and to avoid the pitfalls associated with Funding Incentivised Wording and Financially Driven Language Manipulation (FDLM). By maintaining a discerning approach to funding allocation, investors and funding bodies can contribute to the overall advancement of technology which ultimately benefits society at large.

Going Mainstream

FITs and FLDM while always present there is the need that this terms become an official recognised term to make it a separate definition from “buzzword”. The continuous degradation of technical knowhow and the use of mainstream FITs in every day life is leading to a decline in research and technology advancement. With the mass democratisation of information regarding new technologies there is a concreteed effort to reduce technologies to single word use basis to demystify what is increasingly become a more technically specialised landscape to be able to participate. The reduction to advancement of technogloeis to FITs to be used in FDLM is a way for people to tap into markets they don’t have enough technical knowledge.

FITs and FLDM have increasingly become a tool for individuals lacking in-depth understanding to give the impression that they are well-versed in their field. While simplifying complex ideas is crucial for decision-makers, policy developers, and social architects, the misuse of FITs can be detrimental. By exploiting FITs, those with superficial knowledge may gain undeserved recognition, overshadowing the contributions of true experts. The core issue lies in the creation and use of FITs exclusively for funding purposes, rather than fostering genuine innovation. This practice stagnates the technological landscape, as it rewards the facade of understanding rather than true expertise and intelligence.

The legal Implications of FITs and FDLM and legal frameworks.

The increasing use of Financially Incentivised Terminology (FITs) and Financially Driven Language Manipulation (FDLM) in the technology sector has led to some potential legal concerns. As these practices become more widespread, it is essential to consider the potential implications for intellectual property rights, transparency, and fraud.

The mainstream adoption of FITs could lead to challenges in patent and trademark protection. Companies may try to use FITs to repackage existing technologies under new names, potentially infringing on existing intellectual property rights. As such, legal professionals must scrutinise the legitimacy of these claims and ensure that these new terms do not undermine the foundations of intellectual property law.

The practice of FDLM may also impact transparency in research and development. The use of misleading or ambiguous language to secure funding can lead to a lack of clarity around the true nature of technological advancements. In turn, this could create difficulties in determining the accuracy of claims made by companies, complicating the legal landscape surrounding technology development.

The employment of FITs and FDLM for funding purposes could result in fraudulent activities. Companies and individuals may use these tactics to misrepresent their work, attracting funding under false pretences. Legal professionals must be vigilant in identifying and prosecuting such cases to maintain trust in the technology sector and uphold the integrity of research and development processes.

Another major concern when discussing legal implications another hinderance is the judiciary’s unpreparedness to tackle the highly technical aspects of legalities and probable litigation arising from FITs and FDLM. A study by Susskind (2019) highlights the lack of technical expertise among judges and legal professionals, which could lead to difficulties in understanding and addressing these complex issues. This unpreparedness underscores the need for specialised training and education to equip legal professionals with the necessary skills to navigate the intricacies of technology-related cases.

Inapt frameworks, time for specialised courts?

Wall’s (2015) paper highlights the difficulties faced by the legal system in addressing cybercrimes and proposes the creation of dedicated cyber courts to tackle such cases more efficiently. The author’s concerns resonate with the challenges posed by Financially Incentivised Terminology (FITs) and Financially Driven Language Manipulation (FDLM).

The paper points out that cybercrimes often involve intricate technical details, span multiple jurisdictions, and involve constantly changing technologies. The current court system, which may lack the required expertise in these fields, can find it challenging to navigate these complexities. Similarly, cases involving FITs and FDLM may require specialised knowledge to accurately assess their implications and legality.

Thus, establishing specialised courts to handle technology-related crimes, including those involving FITs and FDLM, could enhance the judicial process and ensure that judges, lawyers, and other legal professionals are better equipped to address the unique challenges of these cases.

References

Amabile, T. M., & Pratt, M. G. (2016). The dynamic componential model of creativity and innovation in organisations: Making progress, making meaning. Research in Organisational Behavior, 36, 157-183. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.riob.2016.10.001

Bhattacharjee, A., Mogoutov, A., & Schilling, M. A. (2018). The language of innovation. Strategic Management Journal, 39(3), 844-871. https://doi.org/10.1002/smj.2748

Boumgarden, P., Nickerson, J. A., & Senger, T. R. (2018). The perils of attention-based innovation management. MIT Sloan Management Review, 59(2), 47-55.

Chugh, D. (2019). How buzzwords are killing innovation. Harvard Business Review. https://hbr.org/2019/01/how-buzzwords-are-killing-innovation

Cheng, S., Killeen, P. R., & Berentson, B. (2020). Funders’ preferences in selecting research proposals: A study of the Health Research Council of New Sealand. Health Research Policy and Systems, 18(1), 5. https://doi.org/10.1186/s12961-019-0516-y

Dijksterhuis, M. G., & van Knippenberg, D. (1998). The relevance of fit in information technology implementation: A conceptual framework. European Journal of Information Systems, 7(2), 129-139. https://doi.org/10.1057/ejis.1998.10

Fugate, D. L., Kincaid, J. W., & Lee, B. Y. (2017). Understanding buzzwords and what they mean for your organisation. Healthcare Financial Management, 71(6), 58-62.

Gaffney, N., & Dopson, S. (2019). Ambiguity and the construction of context: The role of buzzwords in shaping a university-business incubation ecosystem. Technovation, 79, 3-14. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.technovation.2018.06.003

Hermanson, D. R., & Myers, L. A. (2015). Ethical challenges facing accounting researchers. Journal of Business Ethics, 126(1), 49-61. https://doi.org/10.1007/s10551-013-1959-6

Kats, J. S., & Martin, B. R. (1997). What is research collaboration? Research Policy, 26(1), 1-18. https://doi.org/10.1016/S0048-7333(96)00917-1

Kostakis, V., & Blohm, I. (2012). The emergence of networked innovation. Information Systems Journal, 22(1), 4-33. https://doi.org/10.1111/j.1365-2575.2011.00388.x

Kramer, A. D. I. (2020). The dangerous promise of social science research. Behavioral and Brain Sciences, 43, e97. https://doi.org/10.1017/S0140525X20000501

RCUK. (2014). Pathways to impact: Examples from EPSRC-funded research. https://epsrc.ukri.org/newsevents/pubs/pathwaystoimpactexamplesfromepsrcfundedresearch/

Susskind, R. (2019). Online Courts and the Future of Justice. Oxford
Oxford University Press.

Wall, D. (2015). Cybercrime and the need for a specialised cyber court. Computer Law & Security Review, 31(6), 849-855.

Journal Title    Website URL   Email Contact

Research Policy          https://www.journals.elsevier.com/research-policy  respol@elsevier.com

Science, Technology, & Human Values          https://journals.sagepub.com/home/sth      sthv@vt.edu

Journal of Business Ethics    https://www.springer.com/journal/10551     submission@journal-business-ethics.com

Journal of Responsible Innovation    https://www.tandfonline.com/toc/tjri20/current      Editor-in-Chief: e.j.stilgoe@ucl.ac.uk

IEEE Transactions on Professional Communication https://www.computer.org/csdl/journal/pc  pc-transactions@ieee.org

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