Navigating Financial Conflicts of Interest in Research

Sunday, February 19, 2017: 3:00 PM-4:30 PM
Room 302 (Hynes Convention Center)
Kevin C. Elliott,Michigan State University, East Lansing, MI
In response to high-profile scandals involving industry (e.g., tobacco research, efforts to cast doubt about climate change, failure to reveal side-effects of pharmaceuticals, the Volkswagen emissions scandal), many have become concerned about situations in which industry has large financial incentives to obtain specific sorts of research results. This talk will discuss ways to navigate financial conflicts of interest (COIs) in research, which is especially important given that industry now funds roughly two-thirds of scientific R&D in the United States. It will begin with an overview of major scandals and findings that have generated worries about financial COIs. It will then explore some of the specific mechanisms by which financial COIs can influence research results (e.g., design bias, publication bias, and interpretive or rhetorical effects). Finally, it will explore how two principles (transparency and critical review) can help to prevent problematic influences. While these principles can be difficult to implement, a number of steps can be taken to help promote their effectiveness.