, Volume 79, Supplement 5, pp 917–937 | Cite as

Financial Conflicts of Interest and Criteria for Research Credibility

  • Kevin C. ElliottEmail author
Original Article


The potential for financial conflicts of interest (COIs) to damage the credibility of scientific research has become a significant social concern, especially in the wake of high-profile incidents involving the pharmaceutical, tobacco, fossil-fuel, and chemical industries. Scientists and policy makers have debated whether the presence of financial COIs should count as a reason for treating research with suspicion or whether research should instead be evaluated solely based on its scientific quality. This paper examines a recent proposal to develop criteria for evaluating the credibility of research without considering its source of funding. It concludes that proposals of this sort are likely to be either ineffective or impractical in many cases. Nevertheless, this does not imply that all research funded by those with an interest in the outcome must be placed under a cloud of suspicion; there are conditions under which research is at much more serious risk of being corrupted than in other cases, and attention to these conditions can guide productive responses to financial COIs.


Funding Source Good Laboratory Practice External Review Financial Conflict Study Credibility 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.



I would like to thank the participants and attendees at the University of Cincinnati colloquium for Socially Engaged Philosophy of Science, the SPSP pre-conference workshop on Science, Policy, and Values at the University of Toronto, and the Science Studies Program at the University of California San Diego for helpful comments on earlier versions of this paper. I received particularly helpful feedback from Craig Callender, Jane Maienschein, David Resnik, David Volz, and two anonymous referees at various points in the development of the paper.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht 2013

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of PhilosophyUniversity of South CarolinaColumbiaUSA
  2. 2.Lyman Briggs College and Department of Fisheries and WildlifeMichigan State UniversityEast LansingUSA

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