Researcher Perspectives on Conflicts of Interest: A Qualitative Analysis of Views from Academia

Science and Engineering Ethics 21 (4):843-855 (2015)
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Abstract

The increasing interconnectedness of academic research and external industry has left research vulnerable to conflicts of interest. These conflicts have the potential to undermine the integrity of scientific research as well as to threaten public trust in scientific findings. The present effort sought to identify themes in the perspectives of faculty researchers regarding conflicts of interest. Think-aloud interview responses were qualitatively analyzed in an effort to provide insights with regard to appropriate ways to address the threat of conflicts of interest in research. Themes in participant responses included disclosure of conflicts of interest, self-removal from situations where conflict exists, accommodation of conflict, denial of the existence of conflict, and recognition of complexity of situations involving conflicts of interest. Moral disengagement operations are suggested to explain the appearance of each identified theme. In addition, suggestions for best practices regarding addressing conflicts of interest given these themes in faculty perspectives are provided

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