1887

The Interrelationship between Research Integrity, Conflict of Interest, and the Research Environment

    Author: Frederick Grinnell1
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    Affiliations: 1: Department of Cell Biology, Ethics in Science Medicine Program, UT Southwestern Medical Center, Dallas, TX 75390-9039
    AUTHOR AND ARTICLE INFORMATION AUTHOR AND ARTICLE INFORMATION
    • Published 15 December 2014
    • Corresponding author. Mailing address: Department of Cell Biology, Ethics in Science Medicine Program, UT Southwestern Medical Center, 5323 Harry Hines Blvd., Dallas, TX 75390-9039. Phone: 214-648-3972. Fax: 214-648-5814. E-mail frederick.grinnell@utsouthwestern.edu.
    • ©2014 Author(s). Published by the American Society for Microbiology.
    Source: J. Microbiol. Biol. Educ. December 2014 vol. 15 no. 2 162-164. doi:10.1128/jmbe.v15i2.851
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    Abstract:

    Quite distinct regulatory measures have been established to try to deal with research misconduct and conflict of interest. To decrease research misconduct, the emphasis has been on education aimed at promoting an understanding of and commitment to research integrity. To decrease the impact of conflict of interest, the emphasis has been on management of the research environment. In this essay I discuss the idea that research misconduct and its close relative “questionable research practices” should be framed in the context of conflict of interest. If we take seriously the implication of conflict of interest regulations that even a $5,000 financial interest might bias the design, conduct, or reporting of research, then how much more risk of bias will be in play when what is at stake is ongoing funding of short-term research grants on which a researcher’s salary and job depend? Education is important and necessary to promote research integrity but by itself will not be sufficient. Placing problems of research misconduct and questionable research practices in the context of conflict of interest makes it clear that we also will need to develop new approaches to manage the structure of the research environment. One example of such a management strategy would be for NIH to phase in a limit on the overall percentage of a faculty member’s salary permitted to be supported with NIH grant funds, complementing the already existing upper dollar limit that can be used for faculty salaries.

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References & Citations

1. Collins FS, Tabak LA 2014 Policy: NIH plans to enhance reproducibility Nature 505 612 613 10.1038/505612a 24482835 4058759 http://dx.doi.org/10.1038/505612a
2. Fanelli D 2009 How many scientists fabricate and falsify research? A systematic review and meta-analysis of survey data PLoS One 4 e5738 10.1371/journal.pone.0005738 19478950 2685008 http://dx.doi.org/10.1371/journal.pone.0005738
3. Fang FC, Steen RG, Casadevall A 2012 Misconduct accounts for the majority of retracted scientific publications Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A 109 17028 17033 10.1073/pnas.1212247109 23027971 3479492 http://dx.doi.org/10.1073/pnas.1212247109
4. Grinnell F 2013 Research integrity and everyday practice of science Sci Eng Ethics 19 685 701 10.1007/s11948-012-9376-5 http://dx.doi.org/10.1007/s11948-012-9376-5
5. National Academies – Institute of Medicine 2002 Integrity in scientific research: creating an environment that promotes responsible conduct The National Academies Press Washington, DC
6. National Academies Panel on Scientific Responsibility and the Conduct of Research. 1992 Responsible science: ensuring the integrity of the research process The National Academies Press Washington, DC
7. National Institutes of Health 2011 posting date. NOTOD-10-019: Update on the requirement for instruction in the responsible conduct of research. [Online.] http://grants.nih.gov/grants/guide/notice-files/NOT-OD-10-019.html
8. National Institutes of Health 2012 Biomedical research workforce working group report. [Online.] http://acd.od.nih.gov/biomedical_research_wgreport.pdf
9. National Science Foundation. 2010 Chapter IV – Grantee Standards; Part B. Responsible Conduct of Research (RCR). [Online.] http://www.nsf.gov/pubs/policydocs/pappguide/nsf10_1/aag_4.jsp
10. Office of Research Integrity. 2014 Annual reports. [Online.] http://ori.hhs.gov/annual_reports
11. President’s Science Advisory Committee. 1960 Scientific progress, the universities, and the federal government U.S. Government Printing Office Washington, DC
12. Research Trends. 2013 A funding profile of the NIH. http://www.researchtrends.com/issue-34-september-2013/a-funding-profile-of-the-nih/
13. Schachman HK 2006 From “publish or perish” to “patent and prosper.” J. Biol. Chem. 281 6889 6903 10.1074/JBC.X600002200 16531416 http://dx.doi.org/10.1074/JBC.X600002200
14. U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. 1989 Responsibilities of PHS awardee and applicant institutions for dealing with and reporting possible misconduct in science: final rule. Federal Register 42 CFR part 50 subpart A 32446 32451
15. U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. 2011 Responsibility of applicants for promoting objectivity in research for which public health service funding is sought and responsible prospective contractors: final rule. Federal Register 76 165 53255 53293
16. U.S. House of Representatives – Committee on Government Operations. 1990 Are scientific misconduct and conflicts of interest hazardous to our health? U.S. Government Printing Office Washington, DC
17. U.S. House of Representatives – Committee on Science and Technology – Subcommittee on Investigations and Oversight. 1981 Fraud in biomedical research U.S. Government Printing Office Washington, DC
18. U.S. Public Health Service. 1995 NIH Guide: NOT-95-179. Objectivity in research. [Online.] http://grants.nih.gov/grants/guide/notice-files/not95-179.html
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/content/journal/jmbe/10.1128/jmbe.v15i2.851
2014-12-15
2017-09-20

Abstract:

Quite distinct regulatory measures have been established to try to deal with research misconduct and conflict of interest. To decrease research misconduct, the emphasis has been on education aimed at promoting an understanding of and commitment to research integrity. To decrease the impact of conflict of interest, the emphasis has been on management of the research environment. In this essay I discuss the idea that research misconduct and its close relative “questionable research practices” should be framed in the context of conflict of interest. If we take seriously the implication of conflict of interest regulations that even a $5,000 financial interest might bias the design, conduct, or reporting of research, then how much more risk of bias will be in play when what is at stake is ongoing funding of short-term research grants on which a researcher’s salary and job depend? Education is important and necessary to promote research integrity but by itself will not be sufficient. Placing problems of research misconduct and questionable research practices in the context of conflict of interest makes it clear that we also will need to develop new approaches to manage the structure of the research environment. One example of such a management strategy would be for NIH to phase in a limit on the overall percentage of a faculty member’s salary permitted to be supported with NIH grant funds, complementing the already existing upper dollar limit that can be used for faculty salaries.

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