Marine geophysical data acquired aboard research vessels operated by academic institutions were critical in fomenting the plate tectonic revolution in Earth science over a generation ago. In the past 15 years, however, the gap between academic and industrial marine geophysical data acquisition and processing, especially seismic, has widened. In the United States, this perhaps reflects the fact that funding for academic ocean science research has fallen from 7% to less than <4% of the nation's total basic research budget. Today, state-of-the-art marine geophysical techniques routinely employed by industry are essentially off limits to academic researchers. The global research community now needs to critically evaluate the historical modus operandi of academic marine geophysical research.