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A Review of Conflict of Interest, Competing Interest, and Bias for Toxicologists
CLAXTON, L D. A Review of Conflict of Interest, Competing Interest, and Bias for Toxicologists. TOXICOLOGY AND INDUSTRIAL HEALTH. Princeton Scientific Publishers, Princeton, NJ, 23:557, (2007).
What is the study?
This is a review of the issues that surround conflict of interest (CoI) in the toxicological sciences. (It is not a commentary or editorial.)
Why was it done?
After developing and teaching a course on career development for the postdoctoral fellows and graduate students and after discussions with several journal editorial boards, it became evident that many scientists (especially younger scientists) had misunderstandings and concerns regarding CoI. Mentoring of these young scientists and others reinforced this observation. This review was done to give a thorough review of issues and guidelines that exist for CoI issues
What is the impact to the field and the Agency?
By understanding the history of CoI, readers become aware of the types of problems, issues, debates, and proposed solutions to inappropriate CoI practices that exist. By examining existing guidelines, scientists, managers, and editors can better understand their roles and the importance of their roles in maintaining scientific integrity. A review, without commentary, provides a common basis upon which discussions can be held.
One of the issues often associated with scientific misconduct is conflict of interest (CoI). Although there is a lack of uniformity in the definition of CoI, many express concerns that competing interests may bias research methods and the interpretation of data and conclusions. In extreme cases, CoI activity could contribute to scientific misconduct, hinder the training of scientists, delay the dissemination of research results, lead to the harming of human health and the environment, and misdirect society’s decisions that rely on science. This paper is not a commentary or editorial but an attempt to supply an overview for toxicologists of what has been said, researched, and accomplished in the area of CoI. Discussion of the financial, professional, and philosophical concerns associated with CoI will be followed by brief discussion of general management approaches and the roles of scientists and organizations from all sectors (i.e., academia, industry, non-profit organizations, and government).