Financial interests and research bias

Perspectives on Science 8 (3):255-285 (2000)
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: In the last two decades, scientists, government officials, and science policy experts have expressed concerns about the increasing role of financial interests in research. Many believe that these interests are undermining research by causing bias and error, suppression of results, and even outright fraud. This paper seeks to shed some light on this view by (1) explicating the concept research bias, (2) describing some ways that financial interests can cause research biases, and (3) discussing some strategies for mitigating or managing the influence of financial interests. These strategies include (a) using government funds to counter-balance privately funded research, (b) increasing public input into government funding decisions, (c) disclosing and managing conflicts of interest in research, (d) auditing data, (e) expanding access to data. Since it is neither possible nor desirable to eliminate financial interests from research, the wisest policy is to manage and counter-balance these interests for the good of science and society



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