Weird science

Corporations have become major funders of science and medical research, right? So you might expect evidence of that to show when research is published, right? Wrong. At least that’s the key finding of a study published in Science and Engineering Ethics, part of News Hits’ regular bedside reading. (OK, News Hits never heard of this journal before being tipped to it by the New York Times, but it will be regular reading from now on.)

Sheldon Krimsky of Tufts University and L.S. Rothenberg of UCLA determined that of 1,396 “highly ranked scientific and biomedical journals,” in 1997 only 16 percent had policies on the disclosure of conflicts of interest. A study of 61,134 papers in 181 of those journals with disclosure policies found only 327 papers in which authors disclosed financial interests, a staggering .5 percent. Ever cautious, Krimsky and Rothenberg say either A) authors of the other 99.5 percent of the papers had nothing to disclose or B) some of them didn’t fess up. News Hits suspects the latter, but hopes that Krimsky and Rothenberg aren’t counting on corporate funding to further this inquiry.

MT managing editor W. Kim Heron contributed to News Hits, which is edited by Curt Guyette. He can be reached at 313-202-8004 or [email protected]
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