• Journal Article

The Ethics of Research Sponsorship

Citation

Rothman, K. (1991). The Ethics of Research Sponsorship. Journal of Clinical Epidemiology, 44, S25-S28.

Abstract

Growing concern regarding ethics in science has prompted calls for reform. These proposals include the mandatory identification of funding source and prohibition of any financial connection between an investigator and a company whose products is being studied. Such reforms imply that scientific work supported by industry should not be considered reliable, that any potential for fraud or subconscious alteration of the work should be considered damning in itself. This thinking will promote an ad hominem evaluation of science, rather than an evaluation based on merits. The reality is that no scientist is impartial. To focus on the circumstances of the work rather than the work itself has the ironic effect of detracting from overall objectivity. Scientific objectivity does not arise through cultivation in the minds of individual scientists, none of whom can lay claim to this pinnacle of rationality, but by the process of open, rational criticism itself. Those who encourage that work be judged in respect to the funding source are slighting honest industry scientists and stifling rational discourse