The power of industry (money) in influencing science


Book Section

© Cambridge University Press 2015. An issue generating considerable controversy is whether scientists can remain objective and unbiased when accepting money from industry. Large amounts of money change hands between industry and scientists, and this practice has been challenged in prominent articles both in the profession and the press. Many thought leaders, infields where industry has a financial stake, have been approached and offered financial benefits. This takes a number of forms including research support, speaking fees, funds to serve on advisory boards, or trips to participate in meetings with other professionals. The money is consequential, sometimes amounting to more than an individual makes in his or her university salary. This leaves scientists in the difi cult position of accepting the enticements industry offers and feeling as if they can help change business practices from within, versus addressing questions of conflicts of interest and fearing the appearance and perhaps the reality of being tainted. The most extreme example in my own experience was an offer of $50,000 from a major food company for less than one day of consulting. One must guess at the motives of industry. There may be a genuine interest in input from scientists or there may be motives beyond the specific input. In the case where I was offered the payment of $50,000, I agreed to advise the company under three conditions: that I not receive payment, that I cover my own travel costs, and that my name not be listed in any publicity generated by the company. The offer to advise the company was withdrawn.

Full Text

Duke Authors

Cited Authors

  • Brownell, KD

Published Date

  • January 1, 2015

Book Title

  • Ethical Challenges in the Behavioral and Brain Sciences

Start / End Page

  • 197 - 199

International Standard Book Number 13 (ISBN-13)

  • 9781107039735

Digital Object Identifier (DOI)

  • 10.1007/9781139626491.063

Citation Source

  • Scopus