Institutions' expectations for researchers' self-funding, federal grant holding, and private industry involvement: Manifold drivers of self-interest and researcher behavior

Brian C. Martinson, A. Lauren Crain, Melissa S. Anderson, Raymond De Vries

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

45 Scopus citations

Abstract

Background: Private industry involvement is viewed as tainting research with self-interest, whereas public funding is generally well regarded. Yet, dependence on "soft money" also triggers researcher and university self-interest. No empirical research has compared these factors' effects on academic researchers' behaviors. Method: In 2006-2007, a survey was mailed to 5,000 randomly selected biomedical and social science faculty at 50 top-tier research universities in the United States. Measures included a university's expectations or nonexpectations that researchers obtain external grant funding, the receipt or nonreceipt of public research funding, any relationships with private industry, and research-related behaviors ranging from the ideal, to the questionable, to misconduct. Results: Being expected to obtain external funding and receiving federal research funding were both associated with significantly higher reports of 1 or more of 10 serious misbehaviors (P < .05) and neglectful or careless behaviors (P < .001). Researchers with federal funding were more likely than were those without to report having carelessly or inappropriately reviewed papers or proposals (9.6% versus 3.9%; P < .001). Those with private industry involvement were more likely than were those without to report 1 or more of 10 serious misbehaviors (28.5% versus 21.5%; P = .005) and to have engaged in misconduct (12.2% versus 7.1%; P = .004); they also were less likely to have always reported financial conflicts (96.0% versus 98.6%, P < .001). Conclusions: The free play of university and individual self-interests, combined with and contributing to the intense competition for research funding, may be undermining scientific integrity.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1491-1499
Number of pages9
JournalAcademic Medicine
Volume84
Issue number11
DOIs
StatePublished - Nov 2009

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