Check out the Columbia University Center for New Media Teaching and Learning’s extensive resource on conflicts of interest. It’s also neat as a “historical document” of sorts; it was published in 2003, well before the issue of conflicts of interest in academia went mainstream (ish).
* “A conflict of interest involves the abuse — actual, apparent, or potential — of the trust that people have in professionals. The simplest working definition states: A conflict of interest is a situation in which financial or other personal considerations have the potential to compromise or bias professional judgment and objectivity.”
* “An apparent conflict of interest is one in which a reasonable person would think that the professionals judgment is likely to be compromised. A potential conflict of interest involves a situation that may develop into an actual conflict of interest. It is important to note that a conflict of interest exists whether or not decisions are affected by a personal interest; a conflict of interest implies only the potential for bias, not a likelihood.”
* “While conflicts of interest apply to a “wide range of behaviors and circumstances,” they all involve the use of a person’s authority for personal and/or financial gain.”
* “Bias can be too subtle to recognize and too difficult to control. It can creep into how research questions are selected and framed, the choice of research design, the selection of research participants, and how the data are collected, analyzed, interpreted, and ultimately published.”
* “The research community has long recognized academic conflicts of interest. Lately, however, there has been a sea change within the research enterprise, whereby the accelerating commercialization of biomedical research is of mounting concern. A few statistics are telling: research-and-development investments by pharmaceutical companies increased from $1.3 billion in 1977 to $32 billion in 2002, a 24-fold increase in just 25 years, and PhRMA companies alone spent more on pharmaceutical R. & D. than the total 2002 NIH operating budget of $24 billion.”
* “Clearly, commercialism is driving the scientific establishment, and this, indeed, can be beneficial. Yet the intertwining of academic research and commercial interests can lead to financial conflicts of interest.”
* “Strategies are emerging to manage institutional conflicts of interest, several of which are similar to conflicts of interest that occur on the individual level.
1. Encourage transparency via disclosure of conflicts of interest among trustees and former trustees as well as university officials who often have close connections with boards of companies doing business with the institution;
2. Place limits on involvement of faculty members and other institutional officials in companies;
3. Exercise caution when technology-transfer official’s remuneration is tied to stock values, as personal biases can influence judgments regarding stock sales or the acceptance of sponsored research agreements;
4. Manage and review conflicts of interest using independent sources and external reviewers;
5. Build organizational firewalls so that potentially conflicted parties do not interact. The institutional technology-transfer office should not be in the decision chain of identifying or managing conflicts of interest;
6. Anticipate situations that could be perceived as compromising research and fiduciary integrity.”