Archive by category | Competing interests

A really serious conflict

Not all financial interests in drug discovery are detrimental, and many are essential for its success. But focusing on perceived conflicts of interest may cause true scientific corruption to go unnoticed, an opinion expressed in the latest Editorial in Nature Medicine (15, 463 – 464; 2009).  Read more

Straight talking and the myth of ‘independent’ research

Nature Medicine (14, 1006 – 1007; 2008) features a question and answer session with Senator Charles Grassley. “What would a trim 75-year-old grain farmer have to say about drug safety and the payments given to medical researchers by drug companies? Lots, if he happens to be Charles Grassley, who has represented the state of Iowa in the US Senate since 1980. As the senior Republican on the Senate’s finance and judiciary committees, he has carved out a role as a relentless watchdog who acts as a magnet for whistleblowers in government agencies ranging from the US Department of Defense to the FBI.  Read more

How journals can help enforce research integrity

In the Nature Network discussion on ‘repairing research integrity’, David Lewis of the Georgia-Oklahoma Center for Reseach on the Environment, writes: “My feeling is that the only real hope of cleaning up the corruption of the scientific process that federal agencies have increasingly institutionalized and spread throughout academia lies with the editors of scientific journals. They are the Strait of Hormuz through which scientific information flows to the rest of the world”. In an earlier comment in the forum, Dr Lewis wrote: “Every scientific institution that permits academic misconduct to invade its top management levels depends on science journals to publish their data and give their scientists credibility. Publishers and editors simply need to become better educated on how scientific misconduct gets institutionalized in government and academia and then develop effective ways to hold these institutions accountable when it is not corrected.”  … Read more

Perceived and actual conflicts of interest

February’s Edtiorial in Nature Medicine (14, 106; 2008) addresses the question of what we mean by ‘perceived’ conflicts of interest. The reader wrote: “This term crops up frequently in the editorials of Nature journals, and I would be extremely grateful if […] you would like to explain the difference between a perceived and an actual conflict of interest.”  … Read more

Declaring conflicts of interest

From The New York Times (19 Jan 2008): “The National Institutes of Health do almost nothing to monitor the financial conflicts of university professors to whom it provides grants, a government report found, and the huge federal research agency does not want to start now. The agency does not know the number of conflicts or the nature of them, nor does it track how universities and other institutions went about solving those conflicts, according to a report issued Friday by the inspector general of the Department of Health and Human Services.”  … Read more

University researchers and patent infringements

Academic researchers have regularly ignored patents on key technologies as a strategy to maneuver around patent thickets and freedom-to-operate issues, but they may be more at risk than they realize, write Amy Yancey and C Neal Stewart, Jr of the Department of Plant Sciences at the University of Tennessee, Knoxville, in the current issue of Nature Biotechnology (25, 1225-1228; 2007). From their article:  … Read more

Statements of competing interest

Philip Ball’s column in this week is about Richard Doll, and whether he should have stated in his publications that he received consultancy fees. The Nature journals’ policy on competing interests is summarized here. As ever, we welcome comments from scientists about the practice of declaring such interests, whether financial, ethical or personal, in published papers. How relevant are any or all of these conflicts to the strength of the scientific conclusions reported in a peer-reviewed paper? In particular, we welcome feedback about our own policy, via comments to this post.  Read more