Managing financial conflicts of interest in research
Journal of the American College of Dentists 72(2): 4-9
Evidence points to commercial sponsorship and personal financial gains for researchers leading to reporting more favorable results, tainting the climate of academic integrity, and negative public perceptions. Research institutions attempt to protect their own reputations and those of their faculty through establishing thresholds for reporting financial involvement and through committee review that may suggest that the sponsoring organization impose management practices designed to reduce conflicts or declining the funding. In one prominent university research system, a quarter of research projects reviewed required management because of conflicts of interest, the most common of these stemming from high "consulting fees" paid to researchers. The degree of understanding of policies regarding conflicts among researchers is uneven, and some regard these as private matters. Differences of opinion exist in the research community over whether disclosure of financial interests, although necessary, is sufficient to ensure a reasonable level of freedom from bias and to maintain public trust.