Conflicts of interest in research: For whom and how much?

There was an interesting Twitter exchange with someone who raised a precious point- for whom is the conflict of interest valid? I routinely sign the statement during the submission process, but those are “self-declaration” forms with no legal binding. I have heard nothing about anyone getting censured because of their “conflicts of interest”.

I won’t name a “leading research institute” which seemed to have all the machines with “latest technologies” and published the “leading experience” with radiation therapy modulation. Manufacturers seemed to favor specific clinical practises, so they reach out to others in conferences as “influencers”. Why isn’t the conflict of interest recognised when you have an advertisement for VMAT with an accompanying paper?

Advertisement driven funding of publications (besides publication fees and subscription) quickly adds up to the bottom line.

There is an element of plausible deniability to “research” publications. The conflicts of interest need to apply equally to editorial staff- those who sign on the advertising deals and their criteria to choose (or reject) based on subjective discretion.

Conflicts of interest are pervasive in medical research but must be managed effectively to maintain the integrity of research and public trust. Although most of the focus on conflicts and their management has been on financial conflicts, it is likely that non-financial and intrinsic conflicts have similar potential for creating bias and exerting undue influence on the judgment and actions of the investigator.

Further efforts are needed to develop and test methods for effectively identifying conflicts of interest, and strategies for their management should be evaluated for their capacity to promote high quality research, protection for research subjects, and public trust in medical research.

Conflicts of interest in research: looking out for number one means keeping the primary interest front and center

I remember shooting off an email to a prominent editor of an illustrious journal- the editor has long retired, but he pushed through some bizarre terminologies in hypofractionation schema. I had opposed it on the grounds of available scientific evidence that tinkering with the conventional wisdom needs to have sound scientific rationale. It was the quickest rejection I ever got! Opposing point of views are discounted (usually) and questionable discretionary powers are usually lobbed at the toothless “committees”.

Conflicts of interest are inherently biased/subjective and error prone. By assuming academic publications as a repository or public trust, we need to understand its financial incentives and reform the platform itself. Research agendas are here to stay; more so, the “cancer research” wherein the tremendous burden of communicable diseases still stays.

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